Three Gillard years zipped by a selfie


By Sarah Capper

19 Juy 2013

In the three short weeks since Kevin Rudd wrested the ALP leadership and title of Prime Minister from Julia Gillard, we’ve all been catapulted (some kicking and screaming) into a parallel universe. That of Kevin’s.

National Party Senator Barnaby Joyce recently speculated what it was like to get inside Kevin’s head, suggesting to Sky News it could be “a scary place to go”.

What we do know is that there’s a three year period between 2010 and 2013 that Kevin Rudd, like Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s take on the South Australian town of Whyalla following the introduction of the price on carbon, has “wiped off the map”.

In his first address following the leadership ballot, Rudd paid tribute to his immediate predecessor’s legacy – but not for the first female Prime Minister’s holding together of a minority government in introducing a raft of big policy ticket items – like the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the Gonski reforms, and the policy which didn’t wipe Whyalla off the map (but one which will forever cement Craig Emerson in the embarrassingly amusing political footage stakes).

No, the best Kevin Rudd could cough up to acknowledge Julia Gillard’s political legacy was her implementation of the Fair Work Act, and in the education policies she introduced – not, ahem, as Prime Minister, but as Rudd’s Deputy leader.

Last week at the National Press Club, journalists were ‘treated’ to the spectacle of Kevin Rudd’s ‘quaint’ ability to debate himself.

Opposition leader Tony Abbott had been invited to debate the economy, but refused to show up after labelling it a “stunt” – said the man who dons a hardhat and a fluro vest for a photo opportunity a few times a week). Never mind, as the ABC’s Annabel Crabb reported,  “it turned out fine … because the PM – a practised self-interrogator – simply debated himself for an hour or so, and showed some bar charts.”

Crabb also noted Rudd’s black hole memory in terms of the period between mid 2010 and mid 2013:

“He gave a potted history of his past speeches and remarks on economic policy, from the moment he was “elected prime minister” in 2007 all the way through the global financial crisis until 2010. Of the period between 2010 and 2013, he did not speak.”

If the last three weeks are anything to go by, expect to hear a lot more of Kevin Rudd 2.0’s ‘selective’ memory recollection. And boldly so.

Indeed he used his first parliamentary speech as Prime Minister to call for MPs to be a ”little kinder and gentler with each other” – in other words, to presumably be the exact opposite to how Kevin himself has behaved for the now-missing years of mid 2010-2013.

And last week took the furious-frickin-irony cake, with his press conference announcement arguing for changes to how the ALP leadership position is decided.

Rudd, hand on his heart, was able to present an argument that the sort of sustained treachery he himself has engaged in over the last three years (yep, you guessed which three years), should never happen again. You see, it seems Kevin Rudd wants to be Prime Minister FOREVER.

The proposal would give rank and file ALP members a 50% say in the leadership position. The changes would also see any leader who wins government guaranteed a full-term in office – unless 75% of caucus (a figure that has never been achieved) could force a spill based on the leader bringing the party into “disrepute”. “Disrepute” is a very strong, serious allegation – one that it would be hard to imagine three quarters of caucus agreeing on.

In other words, if the changes are agreed to, it would almost guarantee that any future elected leader of the ALP who wins government could not be replaced until they lose government.

As Peter Van Onselen wrote (in one of the few critical pieces on the proposal) in the Australian newspaper:

“It would also reduce the chances of succession planning in government. It could even create a scenario whereby a leader continued to serve as PM without the support of a majority of their colleagues: a staggeringly dysfunctional way to run a government. In short, the reform proposal touted by Kevin Rudd and meekly adopted by his cabinet colleagues earlier this week would create a virtual elected dictatorship whenever Labor was in office.”

What was that line about absolute power and absolute power corrupting absolutely?!

While more democratic power to everyday members of the ALP should be encouraged, and that of party reform in general, the proposal is hard to swallow given the person who has introduced it – the same person who has spent the last three years hellbent on destabilizing his own party to take back the leadership. And democratic reform is vastly different from what sounds creepily similar to the creation of an autocracy.

It’s also worth reflecting on history. Such a proposal in retrospect would mean the Keating Government may never have existed. It would also potentially mean the same for the Gillard Government – that our 112 year federal political history would still be entirely dominated by a succession male leaders.

During his announcement, Kevin Rudd said, “the mechanisms outlined in the proposal will prevent anyone from just wandering in, one day or one night, and saying “OK sunshine it’s over.””

Yes sunshine, the “new paradigm” of Kevin Rudd Rebooted has also seen a cringe-inducing resurgence in the hokey-dokey speak many of us thought we’d thankfully seen the last of in 2010 – thrown out with a good shake of the sauce bottle.

As Corrine Grant notes, Rudd’s latest “youf-speak” is using the term “selfie” in relation to a mobile phone picture. Last Sunday’sepisode of Insiders showed a cringe-worthy collection of Rudd-about-town embracing anyone and everyone with a mobile phone and exclaiming, “take a selfie!!”, “selfie, selfie!”. Someone. Please. Make. It. Stop. Or in Rudd-speak, please ask him kindly to “zip it”.

As women and men who relished the chance of having Australia’s first female prime minister, the last few weeks have been hard to digest. It’s not been assisted by articles like that of Labor ‘statesman’, ahem, Graham Richardson telling readers “Get over it, Girls” (and whenever Graham Richardson expresses an opinion on women, just check out this picture in the Monthly in response. One. Thousand. Words.).

The question lurking in the minds of many women and men since last month’s leadership change remains – and for many it represents the most wicked of choices – can people unite behind rewarding a man who indulged in three years of egomania-fuelled treachery, or instead opt to elect a staunchly conservative man, not as “invisible” as carbon dioxide, but possibly as dangerous?


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  1. Karen Robinson says

    Perhaps we could wish on both Abbott and Rudd the same kind of minority government Gillard had to work with. That might separate the chaff from the…chaff.

  2. J.Fraser says

    The choice is :

    Put all dislikes etc etc of Rudd in your backpocket and get on with getting Labor reelected.



    I will take the former …. time after time.

    • If Mr. Rabbit was rolled by Turnbull, KRudd would have two chances – Buckleys and none. You saw it here first. Rudd is a poor excuse for a human being, as are those in the Labor caucus. They have no honour. Everything Julia Gillard introduced will be renamed by Rudd, so he can take credit. He’s already said that the NDIS (he has already renamed) was a concept he introduced in the 20/20 summit organised by him. Me, me, me.

      • That’s why Rudd has to win. Because then, after the election, Abbott would resign as Liberal leader, Turnbull will take over and tell the party their hard-right ways are over, all the nasty people would be removed from the shadow front-bench, and we will see a new moderate, resurgent Liberal party who will win that next election.

  3. Gillard’s legacy will not be lost. Yes,we women can stand behind Rudd at this time with a clear conscience, Have to do so, because not to do so, would endanger all that Gillard has achieved. Yes, he might block her out, but time will fix that. Had someone, who is not politically minded, or a friend of Gillard say, you know, all that Rudd is doing, is putting in place what Gillard laid the ground work for. People are not silly. This person was disgusted that Rudd was taking the credit,

    Rudd was deposed for good reason. Nothing has changed in that regard, He will once again bring himself undone. As I said, time heals all. Time is good at revealing the truth as well.

  4. As you sow so shall you reap. Gillard cut down a man elected to be PM. She undermined him using polls when it suited her and hiding those that did not all the while pretending to be onside. He at least allowed her to gett the top job unopposed and when defeated on the first challenge refused to stand a second time. He did challenge a second time only when it became obvious she was not going to step down even though it was clear she was leading the party to disaster.

    Her ego was such that when faced with defeat in the party room she did not have the decency to spare the party the indignity of an open split. Now that is treachery, trachery writ large.

    • Do you really think Julia alone cut him down? If you do you are fooling yourself. The caucus has become a traitorous bunch. Mark Latham was spot on in his observation.

  5. Great article, especially the reference to Graham Richardson. His ego is as big as Rudd’s and he’s suffering from relevance deprivation

  6. JB Murphy says

    Didn’t Gillard do the same thing to Rudd at a 2011 ALP conference? It appears that this author thinks that misdeeds only count if they’re committed by people with external reproductive organs.

  7. Sandra Hey says

    I am of the view that Australians in due course will come to appreciate just what a safe pair of hands Julia Gillard and her recent cabinet colleagues along with Tony Windsor and Rob Oakshott had to offer Australia. It must be remembered that the negative rules in most aspects of life. Tony Abbott is a master at the negative rule, so in spite of it all, the 43rd Parliament will go down in history as being one of the most successful Parliaments in decades.

  8. Have you not considered at all, the fact that Julia Gillard was an excellent #2 in Kevin Rudd’s cabinet, her action in replacing him was of the highest in treachery, and after the Australian electorate had voted him in with a resounding majority, could be seen as totally unnecessary. Much of the criticism of Julia Gillard stems from the fact that she acted in a most unloyal way and nothing to do with the fact that she was a woman. I hope in the future there will be many women in Prime Minister roles as they are capable of bringing a uniquely feminine touch to the office which is often much needed.

  9. clarittee says

    There is nothing to whatever it takes but shallow money seeking. It’s infuriating that he is introduced as a “labor” person, when he is so damaging deliberately to it .

  10. It is so infuriating to read a bunch of lies. The fact of the matter is, Gillard’s policies were 80% Rudd’s, whom she stole from and never gave him any credit. NDIS, Gonski, NDN etc. And I quote: ” I quote: ”
    The case for a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) was built through a series of reports after the concept was discussed at the **Rudd government’s ‘Australia 2020 Summit’ in April 2008″ And “Following the 2020 summit, the ****Rudd government*** established the Disability Investment Group (DIG)” So how come GILLARD never acknowledged the RUDD govt instituted the NDIS that she hijacked and falsely claimed credit for?

    Gonksi was also a report commissioned by KEVIN RUDD in April 2010 (when he was still Prime Minister) – yet ANOTHER example of this manipulative woman claiming credit for a policy that she hadn’t instigated.

    As we all know, NBN was initiated, created and set in motion under Rudd.

    NBN started April 9, 2009. Under KRudd. Also note KRudd ratified Kyoto, when talking about ETS (also his idea JG against). Check out Maxine McKew here: And I quote: “In early January 2009, Julia Gillard met Kevin Rudd at Kirribilli House. They sat out on the verandah, with its glorious views of Sydney Harbour, and where the ambience can usually be relied on to promote easy talk and resolution. Not on this occasion. Gillard had a blunt message for her prime minister. [b]She told Rudd that under no circumstances would she support the case for an election based on the need for action on climate change[/b]. Gillard never relented, and throughout the early months of 2010 continued to pressure Rudd to [b]abandon the ETS[/b]. She was backed by Treasurer Wayne Swan. On one occasion, she sent a written message to Rudd that went to the absolutism of her position: she would have nothing to do with an election campaign that re-argued the case for an ETS.”

    Rudd wanted an ETS. Gillard absolutely did [b]not[/b]. As soon as she knifed him, she did a turn-around and supported an ETS. Like everything else, this conniving manipulative woman is now claiming credit for RUDD’s policy, soemthing she argued AGAINST.

    Why can’t you people see through this scheming, conniving treacherous manipulative woman? She plotted for MONTHS to destabilise our Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd from M.M “Gillard’s backers, however, have been masterful in the way they have cemented a particular narrative about Rudd’s deficiencies as a leader. For a long time, the media reflected this with story after story denigrating Rudd as the worst kind of martinet, someone who had contempt for proper process, and a leader who ignored his ministers. But in the time since the June 2010 coup, a different and more complex story has emerged, one told by ministers and caucus members who feel they were manipulated into a rush of judgment against Rudd. They now see Rudd as the victim of an ambush carried out by a group of political mercenaries. The cost has been catastrophic.
    One veteran Labor MP describes it this way: ” [/b]This was a very professional hit against Rudd. Don’t let anyone tell you any different.[/b] This challenge was over before anyone had any time to think about it. It played itself out behind closed doors. Kevin was locked up for five hours. I’ve been through seven of these bloody things and we were all locked out. They herded everyone in a way that has come back to bite them, and the party. And there was absolutely no justification for it. We were not a bad government. The same people claiming we had lost our way were integral to the direction of the government.” the destabilisation – the regular “The [i]anti-Rudd[/i] l[b]eaks[/b] had gone on for months: carefully placed stories about the PM’s erratic behaviour, his cussedness, profane language, lack of punctuality and log-jams in his office. There was truth in some of this, but the context was never provided. And – “I do not believe Gillard can be seen as a passive player. [b]She was impatient for the prime ministership and allowed others to [i]create a sense of crisis around Rudd’s leadership[/i]. She then cut down a prime minister in his first term and [i]pretended it was in the national interest[/i] to do so.[/b] The voting public saw it for what it was: a brutal grab for power. And they’ve never forgotten it.

    Thus, a carefully orchestrated campaign to destabilise Kevin Rudd began, by Gillard supporters, months before, and she has the hide to complain about destabilisation? That master saboteur, Gillard wrote the book treachery, she was the expert. Not content with leaking against him to turn caucus against him and to make her PM, she now STEALS CREDIT for Kevin Rudd’s policies, and she never gave him credit or any acknowledgement whatsoever for creating and instigating the policies she falsely and disgustingly claims as hers. When are you people who are so completely blindsided by her carefully crafted manipulations and brainwashed by her see her for the real ruthless scheming malicious treacherous manipulator she truly is? For goodness sake, wake up!

    • Have you considered that Rudd may have or may not have suggested the NDIS at the 20/20 summit? It came from that, but there is no evidence that it was his idea. The same applies to the NBN. And if he did introduce anything, his main problem was his lack of following through.

      • Um, you omit the fact he didn’t have the *chance* to follow through, remember?

      • I remember he concentrated on the minutia and ignored the large issues, that’s one of the reasons his caucus wanted him gone. Time will tell, but I think he is a narcissist and a control freak.

      • Also, as the proof shows, these projects were initiated by HIS government. Whether they were *specifically* his idea/s or not is not the point. They sure as hell weren’t Gillard’s, thats for sure.

      • Well I absolutely disagree

  11. Actually a scheme like the NDIS has been mooted since the days of Whitlam.

  12. John, Rudd;s caucus mowed him down. He lost the confidence of a big majority. Sorry that is how it always works. Caucus gives, caucus takes away.

  13. Lola. it has never been over policies. It has always been over Rudd’s lack of ability to implement them. Gillard carried on with what Rudd began, before she moved on to her own policies.

    Your ravings does not do justice to either.

    Gillard has delivered good governance for a full term, of a minority government.

    Many have their fingers crossed, that Rudd is able to deliver this time.