Quite a show

Hugh White on Rudd and foreign policy:

All this should make Rudd overwhelmingly the better choice as Prime Minister as far as foreign policy is concerned. But with Rudd nothing is ever that simple. Back in 2007 he came to office with lots of fresh ideas about how to position Australia in Asia, but after four years in office, as Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Rudd had done very little. Some modest achievements on marginal issues were overshadowed by major failures on things that really matter.

Rudd’s foreign policy went wrong for the same reasons that caused his government as a whole to fail. There were too many initiatives, too little preparation and too little follow-through, turbo-charged by a slightly deranged egocentricity that fed an illusion that he belonged at centre stage on every issue, no matter what he actually had to contribute.

Above all, the genuine policy thinker and hyperactive egoist also turned out to be a very timid politician.

White’s reservations may be a useful corrective in the face of Rudd’s exceptional display in the last two weeks. He’s taken control of the political agenda, apparently effortlessly. Certainly far more so than I had expected.

It’s early days and Rudd is sailing with a following wind so it’s much too early to draw any conclusions. All the hard stuff, and (perhaps) the nasty stuff is still to come. Still, even I must admit it’s been a pleasure of sorts watching him dance circles around everyone else.

As White suggests, the question is whether it’s anything more than a fine piece of performance art. Has Rudd brought something useful back from his period in the wilderness? Did he do the intense self-examination that alone might equip him to truly redeem himself?

I don’t know. His readiness to put himself ahead of pretty much everything in recent years isn’t encouraging but I suppose it’s possible the “hyperactive egoist” White describes may have taken on board some hard, pragmatic lessons from last time around.

In any case, early indications probably won’t be all that long in coming.


From Conversations at Stanley Park

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65 Responses to Quite a show

  1. Tyler says:

    For something they knew was a possibility for some time the coalition response to Rudd’s resurrection has been remarkably impotent

  2. Ingolf says:

    You’re right. It’s almost as if they’re transfixed by the oncoming headlights.

    I guess part of the problem is they don’t seem to have much in their bag of policy goodies. There’s no coherent vision, at least not that I’ve noticed. The ad hominem politics they’ve been able to get by on in recent years just isn’t going to wash any more. Not for a while anyway, unless Rudd stumbles badly, and soon.

    Turnbull might have been able to deal with this seachange but Abbott probably lacks the subtlety.

    Seems to me the only useful line of attack (as opposed to constructive policy responses) is for them to hammer away at the dichotomy White pointed to. Namely, Rudd can talk a good game but that’s about it. Trouble is, Abbott and co have been so negative for so long that people really may be sick of it.

  3. Tyler says:

    Shrill and desperate is the best that can be said for their response so far, ie Hunt’s ‘I don’t think he’s a fit and proper person to be PM’ theatrics the other day. Interestingly even that sort of absurd over-reach seems to disappear without trace within hours.

  4. I have been noting elsewhere that it is very clear to me that Rudd has picked up one thing that worked very well for Peter Beattie in Queensland: when something was obviously a stuff up, apologise and move on with a positive air.

    I really did not think that it was a good idea to replace Gillard, and I disliked the calls by left leaning academics that it had to be done. But unless Rudd suddenly collapses in a heap, it certainly looks like they are vindicated; but in my defence, I did not think that Rudd would have so carefully thought out he would approach his second go.

    The other point I think worth making is that the clean out of the ministry might turn out to be as significant as the Rudd himself. No matter how well they might actually have performed at their desk, I didn’t think Swan, Garrett or Conroy were good salesmen with the public. The new ministers are in the fortunate position of (probably) not having to show their instant expertise in Parliament, and are (by and large) looking like a fresh team with new energy that may well help electorally.

    • Tyler says:

      Conroy and Swan going are both serious positives imo, as well as Conroy knew the portfolio he just didn’t have the ability to do a better job with media on the NBN than Turnbull, Albanese will do better on this front.

      It goes almost without saying that Bowen is about 100x more effective with the media than Swan ever was, massive improvement for the Govt

  5. Michael says:

    I’d like to see some evidence that real policy substance makes much impact in the electorate. It seems the public isn’t interested much in the real substance of government and the long-term implications of policy. The two parties aren’t really that different and most policy is largely driven and implemented by the public service and government agency heavily influenced by various “stakeholders” and other special interest representatives. What’s left is the performance and the news cycle which can’t possibly handle anything nuanced or complicated. I found it almost endearing that Gillard was so hopeless at playing to the news cycle, pity it would have proved so disastrous in an election where management and policy matter so little.

    • Sancho says:

      Can we at least try?

      The difficulty with campaigning on policy is that it only works if the media do some explanation instead of focusing on personalities and manufactured scandal.

  6. Ingolf says:

    From today’s Politicoz:


    With Rudd’s return making Labor competitive again – in the polls at least – a new level of scrutiny is being applied to the Opposition.

    The growing pressure to explain how ‘turn-back-the-boats’ and the Direct Action climate change policy actually work has exposed the thinness of both – on the latter, see Lenore Taylor’s critique today. Abbott’s refusal to debate Kevin Rudd on either of these issues, or the economy, simply looks evasive.

    Yesterday, Guardian journalist Bridie Jabour took the opportunity of Abbott’s visit to Garlo’s Pies to ask a series of well-researched questions relating to some travel expenses incurred while promoting his book in 2009. Her persistence obviously irritated Abbott, and his reaction (‘Calm down’) provoked an immediate flurry on social media. Given that Peter Slipper had been hounded by the Coalition over expense claims worth far less, Abbott’s imperious response was ill-judged and, for many, indicative.

    He and his party will need to get used to genuine scrutiny.”

  7. m0nty says:

    The proof is in the pudding, and the pudding is baked in Cabinet and other meetings where Rudd’s thought balloons are supposed to be translated into executable policy. I thought it was a bad sign that the ALP leadership changes came from a small group, though admittedly they may be a special case in which it would be better off if Dastyari and Howe et al were out of the loop. We’re already seeing fractiousness with Carr butting in where he really doesn’t deserve to be with contributions that aren’t helping.

    I can only hope that Rudd is being open about his faults behind closed doors, and his cabinet colleagues are being frank about what he has to change for things to work this time. They’re all adults, supposedly.

    In the meantime, it sure is entertaining to see Rudd treat Abbott like a pinata. The removal of McTernan is the best thing to have come of out of this.

  8. Here’s something that’s delighting me about the right wing panic that is clearly on display at places like Catallaxy: the very question of who within the Coalition might out perform as leader against Rudd shows up the the fractious nature of the current Parliamentary party that has been more or less successfully papered over for the last 3 years by Turnbull (unlike Rudd) doing his best to be seen as a team player.

    Despite his personal charm and economics credentials, Turnbull is anathema to strong climate change skeptics – of whom there is a solid block in the parliamentary party.

    It has become a reliable rule of thumb, however, that strong climate change skeptics are unreliable on all sorts of policy – for example, as in the Tea Party, they’ll be OTT against Keynesian economics, think that getting into surplus by savage cuts is always a good idea, think that reducing taxes is always going to work, and that “illegal” immigrants are ruining the country.

    So, I find it improbable that I will find the Coalition attractive again until this substantial rump of nonsense skeptics, with their other problematic views, have minimal influence within the party room.

    The issue of alternative leadership shows up this divide between the sensible and the twits in the party room.

    • Sancho says:

      That’s what the Liberal Party gets for trying to imitate the Republicans.

      The Tea Party was a media sensation but never represented a majority, and wouldn’t even exist under an electoral system with compulsory, preferential polling.

      The closest Australia got to a Tea Party was the Convoy of No Confidence, in which conservatives took a holiday from work in order to drive fuel-thirsty trucks across the country and stay in hotels for a week to demonstrate how Labor had ruined the economy and driven them into poverty.

      While Gillard was PM the Liberals could generate media and internet interest by appealing to the neocons and getting a reaction, because most voters had tuned out anyway.

      Now that Rudd’s the enemy, they’re realising that Australians are paying more attention and aren’t actually that keen on neoconservatism.

  9. m0nty says:

    Catallaxy openly exploring the option of Turnbull is amazing to me. If this was America, the right wouldn’t be seen dead even thinking about anyone to the left of Josh Frydenberg. I suppose it a good sign for Australian centrism that this sort of thing is possible.

    • Sancho says:

      That’s because the representatives the US right chooses would never be elected if all Americans voted.

      Instead of being amazed, just relax, open a beer, and watch the Catallaxians tie themselves in cognitively dissonant knots trying to explain why being a republican atheist means Turnbull hates freedom.

  10. Sinclair hasn’t been appearing personally on the blog much (or at all?) this week, either.

    Perhaps Gina summonsed him for an emergency meeting with the the other Dark Lords of the IPA, and they haven’t been released yet?

  11. Fyodor says:

    This is all premature extrapolation from the inevitable honeymoon period for Rudd.

    As a long-time ALParatchik White has Rudd’s number. Rudd’s legacy in foreign affairs as Foreign Minister and PM is ultimately underwhelming, just like all aspects of his time as PM.

    I also think it highly unlikely that a bloke who’s proved time and again that he’s a vindictive, wrecking egomaniac will have changed his approach one iota. As this bloke shat his nest while sitting PM, with minimal assistance from Abbott, it’s no wonder the Opposition are taking the softly-softly approach. “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.”

    The panty-bunching over at the Catallaxy Pony Club is just as premature as the ALP apologistas’ glee over a meaningless poll bump.

    • Sancho says:

      Bit of a long bow to draw in claiming Rudd screwed it first time round.

      He was hardly a visionary leader and made efforts to imitate John Howard, but his government wasn’t overtly terrible.

      Interesting to see if he’s changed his stripes once the press gallery cameras are gone.

      • Fyodor says:

        As regards foreign policy, agreed: no better or worse than Howard. That’s a low hurdle, however, hence: “ultimately underwhelming”.

        As regards “overtly terrible”, I disagree, violently. Rudd’s premiership was a rolling clusterfuck of incontinently incompetent fubarity from go to woe, to the extent that I’m already starting to feel sorry* for Julia Gillard in catching the grenade lobbed into her lap by the union dicks running the ALP.

        *Only a little, mind. She gave the RCIIF a bloody good nudge of her own.

        • John Foster says:

          “Rudd’s premiership was a rolling clusterfuck of incontinently incompetent fubarity from go to woe..”
          I think you have really outdone Kevin on obfuscation here!

      • derrida derider says:

        Oh no, Sancho – he was genuinely terrible. His unpleasantness certainly made people relieved to see the back of him, but that wasn’t the main motive for the knifing. Yes, they are all adults and would have put up with purely personal shit for the wider good.

        White nailed it with:

        There were too many initiatives, too little preparation and too little follow-through, turbo-charged by … an illusion that he belonged at centre stage on every issue.

        To his credit so far he’s kept his inner deadshit in check, but not his inner control freak. Judging by the manic activity the “start lots of things, forbid anyone else to touch it, and then leave them hanging in the air before moving on to the next thing” syndrome is alive and well.

  12. jane says:

    I don’t think we should get too carried away because the msm have asked a couple of mildly difficult questions of Liealot and assume they will ramp up the pressure on the Liars. His Malevolence still owns 70% of print media & I notice his ABC is still doing imitations of cheap rugs wrt letting the Liars off the hook.

    As for Turnbull, he is still the same arrogant lightweight he always has been and I don’t think the Liars would be interested in recycling him.

  13. A further observation: Rudd getting on the front foot of “let’s stop with the negativity” does put a big dampener on the Coalition’s stock of (I’m guessing) scores of pre-prepared ads involving the now departed Gillard loyalists attacking Rudd.

    I wouldn’t mind betting that there are some heated discussions going on somewhere in Liberal tactical circles as to how many of the ads they can now run without it backfiring, as it did with Anna Bligh in Queensland.

    • Steve X says:

      It’s really very funny the way Rudd attacks negativity and then without missing a beat just goes massively negative on the Liberal Party and Abbott in particular.

      It’s like his statements in March on how he’d be in Gillard’s corner.

  14. nottrampis says:

    I have written about Rudd at my place and I agree with Steve about him copying Beattie.

    However although both he and bowen will certainly be better than Gillard and Swan on combatting deficits and debt I cannot seeing him or bowen being able to overcome the lower than tren nominal GDP growth which is what people feel!

    If Rudd hasn’t learnt from his mistakes before then one would wonder why he would try to be leader again.

    I remember Labour Outsider being particularly scathing

  15. Ingolf says:

    Any thoughts on Chris Uhlmann’s recent piece?

    The level of hatred that has been the hallmark of the Rudd-Gillard years is astonishing and it has not faded. If anything, it’s more entrenched. One departing Gillard government staffer asked if I had read the book Perfume, the story of a perfume apprentice in 18th-century France who murders young women to extract their aroma.

    “That’s Kevin Rudd,” he said. “He’d kill you for your scent.”

    So, as Rudd ponders the election date, he should reflect on how he felt after he had been deposed and wonder if others might wish him harm. The division in his party runs marrow deep. The longer he waits to call an election, the more likely it is that the unseemly stench below deck will become obvious.

    • Sancho says:

      Shorter Uhlmann: defeated factional partisan dislikes victorious enemy; victorious enemy may be disliked by defeated factional partisans.

  16. Ingolf says:

    Comment from a Piping Shrike thread:

    freddo on 6th July 2013 11:11 am

    AVALON DAVE – The media has already been quoting the sports psychologists. Abbott is going to be like the runner well in the clear in the home straight who suddenly senses danger and starts tightening up. Twinge here, twinge there…then full-scale panic. I’ve got my popcorn handy.

    Easy enough to imagine that happening. Can’t be much fun being Abbott at the moment.

    • Fyodor says:

      Dream on. Better analogy: he’s KO’d two sitting PMs without an election and now he gets to redo the first one because Team ALP panicked. Again.

      I’m sure he’s no more rattled than when Rudd was punted for Gillard. Same sinking ship, different fool at the helm.

      • Sancho says:

        Blimey. Barracking for the team is one thing, but that’s an Unskewed Polls level of optimism.

        Abbott isn’t some Churchillian warrior of parliament who dismantles governments; he fell backward into the leadership because he was the least-hated candidate and kept schtum while Labor fell over all by itself.

        Even if Gillard had stayed, the campaign season looked grim for Abbott simply because he’d have to start talking, which always causes his popularity to plummet. Now he has to campaign for the Lodge while avoiding the media and battling a resurgent Rudd.

        Abbott may still win by default, but it’s going to be a disheartening experience for anyone who thinks he’s a confident political operator who has the situation under control.

        That sound in the background is the internet apology machine cranking up to try and save Abbott from everything he’s going to say in the next few weeks.

        • Fyodor says:

          “Churchillian”? Your word, not mine.

          I’m under no illusions about Abbott’s limitations, but the facts remain that he trounced Rudd, destroyed the ALP majority in the 2010 election and subsequently trounced Gillard. Granted, he was assisted by many Rudd/Gillard own-goals, but he’s had the ALP on the run now for more than three years.

          As for “unskewed polls level of optimism”, have you been living in a cave for the past two years?

          Even if Gillard had stayed, the campaign season looked grim for Abbott simply because he’d have to start talking, which always causes his popularity to plummet. Now he has to campaign for the Lodge while avoiding the media and battling a resurgent Rudd.

          “Grim” campaign season? Like the 2010 election where Abbott smashed the Rudd majority? Is that the kind of “grim” campaign you’re talking about?

          You have this arse-about. Abbott destroyed the ALP majority in the last election and is on course to annihilate the ALP minority government at the next. That’s the ONLY reason that Rudd has been given another chance by his own party, much of which hates him, because he’s the ONLY chance the ALP have to avoid decimation, on the hope that his personal popularity with the punters overcomes the stink around this farce of a government.

          It’s up to Rudd to prove that he can raise a sinking ship. Your over-optimism on Rudd’s chances in this smacks of naive desperation .

          Abbott may still win by default, but it’s going to be a disheartening experience for anyone who thinks he’s a confident political operator who has the situation under control.

          WTFF? The ALP has just punted its second sitting PM in the space of three years, all under Abbott’s watch. Do you really think the electorate believes that Rudd has “the situation under control”, that it can’t smell the rot in this government?

  17. nottrampis says:

    Fyodor is naturally wrong again.

    The ship wasn’t sinking it was just the captain and first mate were acting like that.

    The ship is pretty good.

    Abbott wasn’t rattled last election because no-one expected to do well.

    The pressure is on him much more this time around.

    • Fyodor says:

      Speaking of fools and sinking ships: Homer Paxton, Ozblogistan’s 2nd-most derided buffoon. Your mediocrity is of such staggering dimensions that even in rank idiocy you’re an also-ran.

      When have you ever proven me wrong on anything, Homerkles?

      Abbott wasn’t rattled last election because he was the one rattling. The ALP’s farcical merry-go-round in the office of PM is testament to who’s really rattled in Australian politics.

  18. derrida derider says:

    Heh, nottrampis. When John Gorton was knifed from the PMship there was a famous cartoon of him standing sopping wet on the deck of a burning sailship, with a wonderful parody of the Victorian poem:

    “The boy stood on the burning deck
    Whence all but he had fled
    And a terrible piece of insight kept running through his head:

    When the flame of truth hits the ship of state
    Upon a sea of troubles
    They tend to bucket the captain when the ship is what is burning!

    It seems apposite for the ALP today, unfortunately. I think Abbott will still shit this election in.

  19. nottrampis says:

    don’t get me wrong I still think there will be a change of government and I think there should be one but only catallaxy clowns believe this is a sinking ship as a government.

    Ah john gorton knifed by tiberius on a telephone! those were the days

  20. I saw about half of Rudd’s talk at the Press Club. Again, a very self assured performance, sounding like he’s across a lot of detail (as Abbott often doesn’t), consultative (more so than in his past), and the odd bit of self deprecation which didn’t come over as cringeworthy.

    I am, quite honestly, amazed at how good he’s coming across at the moment.

    And, of course, he is making Abbott more than ever sound like a shallow sloganeer in comparison.

  21. Doug says:

    Rudd’s first period in office seems to attract massive overstatement in critique. Criticism on some issues is clearly in order but the critiques seem to get wound up to a level of verbal extravagance that seems quite out of proportion. The GFC outcome was a big plus – we avoided substantial long term unemployment that has long term implications for family well being.

    what I have liked about the past couple of weeks is that some attempt is being made to discuss issues in a way that acknowledges there is a wider world out there that we cant’ control and must engage with in a respectful way.

  22. Michael says:

    I find it of continuing amusement that Rudd’s popularity with the electorate is confounding so many commentators. They keep saying, why can’t they see what we see – the guy is a disaster.

    The character assassination confirms the public’s perception, rightly or wrongly that this guy isn’t like all the other politicians. The current political system is stalled, it was built for yesterday’s problems not tomorrow’s or even today’s, and the two party system is powerless to adapt with it’s narrowing bases. The remnants are increasingly detached from the mainstream and extremely unattractive to the electorate, union stooges on the left and libertarians and cranks on the right.

    Rudd’s main appeal is that he appears to be willing to look outside of the system for answers. Gillard and Swan failed to make any case for why they were doing what they were doing (at least not in a way that many cared to listen to). Rudd’s initial strength was to cut-through. Implementation happens after the election anyway.

    I wouldn’t yet concede that Abbott is going to sail through – most of the people who confidently predict this didn’t predict where we are now. Abbott is in real trouble. He only looked good when Labor’s political failings dominated just about every news cycle. He now finds himself in the spotlight and unable to set the agenda with Rudd suddenly setting it – not a good place for Abbott to be with half-baked policies and no clue how to construct a encompassing narrative, he is pretty much all liability. What’s he going to do – sell austerity and direct action with a good dose of small mindedness – he doesn’t have Howard’s skill with electorate? The libs aren’t ready for Turnball, but he is their only chance at this stage.

    • john r walker says:

      I agree Rudd is a more effective opposition leader than, the opposition leader …. His clear, unrelenting hatred of the government he did so much to bring down, does make him popular…. But does that make him a desirable proposition as the next prime minister?

      One figure that I have not seen is the current size of ‘undecided’ , any idea?

  23. Michael says:

    Abbott’s main policy is that he isn’t Gillard (the deposer of an elected PM). Rudd won the election in 2007, not the ALP. It offends people on so many levels to admit this but that is basically what happened.
    Now that Abbott’s main policy is redundant he has nothing for the middle ground. Climate denial isn’t for the middle ground – that’s for the loonies in the lib/nat base. The negativity worked when it aligned with the electorate’s distaste for the palace coup, but it looks shallow and off base now.

  24. Mr Denmore says:

    I agree with Michael. The two/party system and the dying media that report on it reflect an Australia that no longer exists or exists only at the margin. The return of Rudd has given the ALP a head start in reoccupying the centre and leaving the Tea Party-mimicking Abbott ‘Liberals’ stranded out on the Far Right. Abbott is toast.

  25. nottrampis says:

    No Rudd wasn’t done over or anything like that by Abbott. He was on his way to a comfortable win. Rudd was done over by the faction heavies who wanted their power back!

    wow Fyodor living in dreamtime.

    I haven’t see any evidence thus far that the next election is going to be anything but close

  26. Fyodor says:

    No Rudd wasn’t done over or anything like that by Abbott. He was on his way to a comfortable win.

    You’re delusional. The polls – the only available evidence – contradict your assertion, commencing with Abbott’s successful wrecking action on the CPRS.

    Rudd was punted without a formal caucus vote. That’s how little confidence the party had in his ability to win the coming election. Try again – preferably with facts.

    • Ingolf says:

      Rudd was punted without a formal caucus vote. That’s how little confidence the party had in his ability to win the coming election.

      With luck, a real expert will pop in and enlighten us both, Fyodor, but in the meantime I wonder about the picture you’re painting.

      No argument the huge margin enjoyed by the ALP melted away in the first half of 2010. We can argue about how much that was due to Abbott and how much to Rudd’s faults becoming ever more apparent, but going into the coup the ALP was still generally a few points ahead.

      I got the impression he was punted because without his popular support, he was seen by his colleagues as an unpleasant liability. A menace even. When the plan to topple him came along, they overwhelmingly figured they might as well bite the bullet and get rid of him pre-election.

      In any case, the polls still mostly favoured the ALP under Gillard right up to the election and she may well have won outright without Rudd’s efforts.

      Seems to me Gillard and co made a fatal error in not explaining why they got rid of him. Because they didn’t, they were permanently tainted with the blood of an apparently inexplicable knifing. The furious attacks on him in 2012 were too late and looked far too opportunistic. If anything, they just played into his role as martyr.

      The most interesting question, for me at least, is whether there’s any change under the slick surface. I’m still guessing no but it seems too early to rule it out entirely.

  27. Tel says:

    Abbott’s main policy is that he isn’t Gillard (the deposer of an elected PM).

    Sadly, that’s also Rudd’s main policy. Shows you how fed up people are.

  28. Ingolf says:

    Michael, when you say “the current political system is stalled” do you mean in the sense that Mr Denmore describes it or something even more fundamental?

    • Michael says:

      I mean it in the sense that both parties have lost their grand narratives of organised labour vs anti-communism. What remains are ephemeral notions that can’t be expressed without sounding ridiculous – and managerialism which hardly sets peoples passions on fire. Gillard (and her entire frontbench) struggled to make any kind of coherent case for the government’s legislative program. I’m not meaning to dismiss her achievements which are real and substantial, but her failure to capitalise politically on them. Abbott hasn’t put forward anything of substance yet worth discussing, but I don’t imagine he will have any more success once he has to do more than just throw stones. Australia faces environmental challenges, problems of entrenched disadvantage and problems supplying meaningful work opportunities for the population – hardly unique to Australia. We are living on borrowed time in terms of planning and infrastructure and neither party has anything to serious to say about any of it. I’m not saying Rudd has the answers just that he is appears as an outsider to the old system.

      • Ingolf says:

        Thanks Michael.

        Those grand narratives were largely relics even in the 80s, though, weren’t they? Seems to me the Hawke/Keating period left them behind in favour of a more inclusive and expansive narrative that worked reasonably well.

        That unfortunately leaked away through the 90s and by the end of the Howard era was but a distant memory. What’s left is a rather small minded and bitter political atmosphere.

        I’d be interested in what you see as these “ephemeral notions that can’t be expressed without sounding ridiculous”.

        • Michael says:

          I agree with you about the Hawke/Keating era. The kind of “ephemeral notions” I had in mind were the kind of ideas expressed by the minor parties – and they do sound ridiculous when spoken directly, but they exist in the electorate. Successful appeals from the major parties have to employ dog whistling to tap into them – “we decide who comes to this country” that sort of thing, “working families” was another one. I’m sure a social researcher could articulate this a lot better than me.

  29. rog says:

    Rudd has the unique ability to talk over the heads of the collected pundits and experts and connect directly with the voter. That is his greatest and maybe his only asset.

    In 2010 Rudd failed to achieve his own goals (climate change and minerals tax) and the polls plummeted making the also rans more attractive.

    In 2013 he is back connecting with voters just like before but it will take only one slip to break the spell.

  30. nottrampis says:

    no Fyodor you simply have problems with basic maths.

    The comfortable win was seen at the time by people as varied as Mumble and possum.

    By the way this is in!!!

    • Fyodor says:

      What basic maths, Homerkles?

      The opinions of Mumble and Possum do not count as “facts”, by any stretch of imagination except, obviously, yours.

  31. Ingolf says:

    Right, thanks Michael. We could perhaps call that sort of thing the politics of pettiness, which can’t be served straight up.

    • Michael says:

      Well it might be petty, or at least some of it is. We are mostly talking about appeals to swinging voters (a group that seems to be getting larger). Maybe it’s unfair to say they aren’t attracted to complex and well-reasoned appeals for good policy, but I would wager they respond to less high-minded appeals.

      There are underlying currents that aren’t petty and are difficult to articulate, they are in fact intractable problems that are glossed over for that very reason – the only people offering solutions are from the scary fringes, and luckily for everyone they aren’t making advances in popularity. They same can’t be said of other countries at the moment.

      • Ingolf says:

        Sorry Michael. It was meant as a humorous aside; unfortunately, that sort of thing often gets lost over the net . . . .

        Back in serious mode, would you mind giving an example or two of the sorts of intractable problems you have in mind?

  32. nottrampis says:

    not comments old son the FACTS of the polls involved.That is their bread and butter so to speak.
    don’t worry about it.

    you would merely get a headache!

    Never let facts get in the way of your opinion

    • Fyodor says:

      Poll numbers for the ALP plummeted under Rudd in the lead up to his deposition. That’s why he was turfed.

      What other poll “FACTS” are you wittering about?

  33. Michael says:

    Well there are many, climate change and other ecological resource constraints.
    Urban sprawl, Melbourne and Sydney are both facing serious transport issues with no easy or cheap solutions. The provision of services to a population expecting ever increasing levels of sophistication. Privatisation has been a decades long project to deal with this pressure but it is far from universally popular.
    The aging population, and other demographic changes – not in the same category, but at least some people spend a lot of time fretting over it.
    Increasing exposure to risk amongst the general population and associated increases in household debt.
    Compare the amount of media time devoted to all those issues with the time spent on boats arriving with refugees. Admittedly the carbon tax was in the media for a while, although for entirely the wrong reasons.

    • Ingolf says:

      Much appreciated and agreed.

      What prompted me to ask was you saying “the only people offering solutions are from the scary fringes”. That made me wonder if I was entirely missing something, as in unknown unknowns . . . .

      • Michael says:

        Sorry my use of the term “scary fringes” wasn’t very useful. On the fringes there are both genuinely scary as in loony and there are others who are seriously grappling with ideas and different solutions, but Australian’s seem to be quite weary of voting for anyone outside the major parties in any significant way. Does the preferential voting system minimise this or is there really nothing on offer? This preferences of the two parties may not be a good thing, but I wonder if it will always be so given the mudding of the old left/right dichotomy.

        • Ingolf says:

          It’s probably a bit of both, I imagine.

          New Zealand’s mixed-member proportional (MMP) system is an interesting alternative. It’s worked reasonably well since it was introduced in 1996 and was reaffirmed by a second referendum in 2011. Under MMP, as you probably know, the allocation of seats is strictly proportional to the percentage of votes, providing parties either win at least one electorate seat or get 5% of the vote.

          For my money, it would be a good thing to have it here too but it doesn’t seem to be on anybody’s agenda.

  34. nottrampis says:

    they didn’t Fyodor you duffer as Mumble shows in his article in Around the traps.

  35. nottrampis says:


    There was an article I told you about this and where to find it.

    Mark the ballott has figures going back that far !

    Do some work yourself for a change

  36. Fyodor says:


    There was an article I told you about this and where to find it.

    Mark the ballott has figures going back that far !

    Do some work yourself for a change

    Aye, and there’s the rub: you’ve done no work whatsoever.

    The sum total of your contribution amounts to, “Some bloke said something that agrees with me, but I’m not going to quote what he said or link to what he said, because that might run the risk of Fyodor proving me wrong like he always does and I’d rather avoid that public embarassment again.”

    Produce the link, lazybones.

  37. nottrampis says:

    not quite old son.
    I told you a good blog where you can find out that the ALP was cruising towards and easy win but you are simply too silly or too lazy to do any work.

    Why let facts get in the road of your absurd assumption.

    you never change!

  38. Fyodor says:

    I told you a good blog where you can find out that the ALP was cruising towards and easy win but you are simply too silly or too lazy to do any work.

    Why let facts get in the road of your absurd assumption.

    you never change!

    What facts? Citing a blog with no quotation, no link, tells us nothing.

    Produce the ACTUAL COMMENT with an ACTUAL LINK then you might be getting somewhere. As it is all that you’ve produced is your opinion of someone else’s opinion. That doesn’t and cannot count as “FACT”.

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