First you may wish to read her piece in The Australian on 10 February.
What is the message she sends about Kevin Rudd? Her conclusion spells it out: “With philosophical principles impossible to pin down, his only consistent and coherent belief is in political power. Every Rudd position has been determined by how to get it and, now, how to keep it.” Clearly, she believes that all that counts to Rudd is POWER.
Such strident condemnation warrants some supporting evidence. Here’s what she advances for her readers to ‘be the judge’.
First she contrasts Rudd’s opposition to the introduction of the GST in 1999 and his comment in 2006 that it was Howard’s ‘regressive consumption tax’, with his contemporary acceptance of it as the prime funding for the states. Did she really expect Rudd to repeal the GST legislation on his election in pursuit of consistency? Later in her piece she justifies Howard’s about-face on the GST after his ‘never ever’ rejection, as ‘pragmatism’, which she insists “...was, of course, part of Howard’s political make-up. For example, he rejected a GST only to later embrace it as part of much needed tax reform, despite the political risks.” So it’s OK to take a diametrically different approach so long as it’s ‘pragmatic’. Kevin Rudd, please note.
Next, she mentions that Rudd described global warming as “the great moral issue of our time”, and the signing of Kyoto with the conviction that climate change was “the defining challenge of our generation”. Then she describes ‘the Rudd shuffle’ as his reducing “the great moral issue...to a meaningless carbon emissions reduction target of 5 per cent by 2020.” Ignoring the Opposition’s much weaker stance on climate change, she condemns what she perceives as Rudd’s change of position. She doesn’t see it as ‘pragmatism’ in the face of the global financial crisis and the international response to date. No, ‘pragmatism’ is Howard’s prerogative. Keep your hands off pragmatism Rudd.
Then she quotes Rudd’s statement from Opposition in 2007 that a Labor government would be taking legal proceedings against President Ahmadinejad on a charge of inciting genocide when the Iranian President spoke about wiping Israel off the map, but last December announced it would not pursue legal action. What a shameful retreat. Could it be that such action was not then considered legally or diplomatically possible or appropriate? Should Rudd have doggedly stuck to his original intention in the face of changed circumstances and contemporary advice? Or was Rudd just being ‘pragmatic’.
Her next charge is that Rudd’s intention to take Japan to the International Court of Justice or the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea over whaling has “evaporated into the political ether of office”. Should Rudd have stuck to his guns over this issue? Or was it more fitting for him to take a ‘pragmatic’ approach?
Then she accuses Rudd of getting on board “the responsibility agenda of indigenous politics only after it was politically safe to be on that side of the ideological divide, buffered by black leaders such as Noel Pearson and Warren Mundine.” No evidence to support this confident assertion is offered. Then she contrasts him with John Howard who “staked out his ground on the dangers of victimhood politics and the need for practical reconciliation long ago.” What a joke. Is she serious?
Her next argument is that Rudd “morphed into an economic conservative when it was electorally popular to carve out those credentials”, but now “... amid a global financial crisis, when it is fashionable to attack the free market, Rudd’s stripes have changed”, and now “... he is a social democrat...and has turned into ‘a big-spending Keynesian PM’.” What he was before he morphed into an ‘economic conservative’ is not stated, nor does she think it’s right for him to attack the free market which by all accounts has been criminally manipulated by banks and financiers to their own end to the awful detriment of the entire world economy. Nor does she acknowledge that many, if not all economists think Keynesian priming of the economy is what economies round the world now need. She writes like a free-marketeer and an anti-Keynesian. Does she believe that the financial crisis, no matter how serious it is, does not demand an adaptative response? No, she suggests that “Billions on cash handouts and ‘social’ spending look like Rudd’s down payments on the next election dressed in the slippery language of ‘stimulus’.” Slippery indeed! Has she contemplated the possibility of Rudd being an economic conservative and a social democrat at the same time? What does she understand by the terms? The definition of such terms is so imprecise that like Humpty Dumpty the words can be made to mean whatever you want them to mean. This is not science.
She then castigates Rudd for being hypocritical by not being true to Bonhoeffer’s ideal of not using inflammatory rhetoric that seeks to gain political advantage. Shame Rudd!
She finishes “Again and again, Rudd has conjured up the imagery of crisis to pump prime his political leadership: saving future generations from climate change, rescuing Australia from Howard’s “Brutopia” and now liberating Australia because ‘the great neo-liberal experiment has failed’. His war-footing language serves to undermine the confidence that is sorely needed and by not negotiating with the Opposition he exposes the emptiness of his language, given that a true economic emergency would demand genuine co-operation.” It must be reassuring to her readers that she thinks that ‘crisis’ imagery is over the top.
There she rests her anti-Rudd case. How well would she do arguing it in a court of law? I suspect even junior counsel would soon demolish it.
So why did she write it? For whom did she write it? Maybe her editor; maybe to satisfy her own need to strike out against a party and a PM she despises. But maybe the answer lies in the comments that follow her piece. She has 329 to date.
Here’s a small sample of the anti-Rudd comments:
Nice digging, Janet.
Anyone with half a brain could tell that KR was all style and no substance from the outset. Rudd really does lack substance. Of course, we were all warned prior to the election.
A pusher of a national socialist agenda? Defining KDudd - look up Adolf Hitler.
A lightweight so far, when compared to Mrs Thatcher and John Howard.
He’s a political cyborg. He believes in everything, yet he believes in nothing.
Janet, thank you for documenting the breathtakingly audacious swings in the doctrine of Rudd.
Well written Janet. I expect a torrent of derision from the Ruddites will soon be headed your way.
With every day that passes, the emperor’s nakedness is becoming more and more evident.
Great article Janet. In my opinion your best of recent times. It is time this self serving, visionless Kev Quixote was unmasked for the charlatan he is.
Keep it up Janet, love your work. He is a feeble lightweight masquerading as a leader.
And so on it goes. You may wish to read them yourself. If you do, see if you can detect the impeccable reasoning that accompanies the comments, the withering logic.
Without doing a tedious count of the 329 responses, there seem to be more agreeing with her than disagreeing, but she certainly doesn’t have it all her own way. But the responses quoted may point to at least one reason she wrote this piece, namely to give those who are anti-Rudd a chance to express their venomous feelings about him, which they do with gusto. When one reads them there is a consistent theme – this man is no good, was never any good, will never be any good, the people of Australia were deluded, even deceived when they voted him and his party in. Among many of the comments one can detect anger, great and persisting anger, that the Coalition and Howard were rejected and Labor elected. It may never subside.
The deception of the public seems to be continuing. Rudd enjoys continuing high popularity in the polls with an approval rating of around 60 percent, is preferred PM by 42 percentage points (Newspoll 62/20), and currently the ALP enjoys an average 2PP advantage of 18 percentage points (59/41), which if repeated at an election would ravage the Coalition.
How can so many Australians be so wrong, how can they not see Rudd’s gross and presumably irreparable flaws when Janet Albrechtsen and her supporters can? Curious.