Kevin Rudd’s resignation as Foreign Minister is consistent with every other scene in this Rudd-inspired soap opera. The man who wrecked Labor’s 2010 election campaign with his vengeful leaks to Laurie Oakes and subsequently worked overtime to undermine Julia Gillard’s leadership, nonetheless managed to resign on the grounds of disloyalty. Not his disloyalty, we were told, but the Prime Minister’s. Fair shake of the sauce bottle, Kevin, you’ve got more front than Mark Foys.
A second, classic piece of Ruddism was also on display on Wednesday. At his press conference in Washington, the outgoing minister gave no clue to his future actions, telling people to wait until he gets home. This maximises the media’s focus on Rudd. He wants people to wait for him to consult ‘family and colleagues’ and then be spellbound by his announcements at some future, Brisbane-based press conference. This is the same type of self-centred delaying tactic he used in his unsuccessful bids for the Labor leadership in late 2003 and early 2005. As ever, it’s all about Kevin.
Twenty months ago Rudd lost the prime ministership, not because he was unpopular with the Australian people, but because the Labor Caucus could no longer tolerate his egomania. Thankfully, his parliamentary colleagues know there is no new Rudd, just the same old crazy Kevin — a point they have made emphatically in recent days.
At last, a public image of Rudd I recognise as authentic. The widely-publicised YouTube video has given the electorate a slice of the real Rudd — a spoiled, tantrum-throwing child. It’s truth serum for the fake imagery of a ‘Happy Little Vegemite’.
During Rudd’s prime ministership his publicist, Peter Hartcher from the Sydney Morning Herald, described his style as that of ‘Captain Reasonable’, a cool and methodical political leader. In fact, he is much closer to the ‘psychopath’ label used by the long-serving Labor Member for Bendigo, Steve Gibbons. As ever with Heavvie Kevvie, those who know him best like him least. And those who say they like him have never actually met him.
As a case study in political naivety, I assumed the Whitlam government’s dealings with Tirath Khemlani were unbeatable. Now Gillard the Gullible has launched a serious challenge. In explaining why she agreed to be interviewed for the Four Corners program on Rudd, the Prime Minister said:
I was approached for an interview on what was described as ‘the government’s progress since 2007’.
Gillard must be the first senior politician to take Four Corners at its word. The show is notorious for its dishonest and deceitful behaviour. When it comes to media ethics, it makes the News of the World look like Humphrey B. Bear. A request to talk about ‘the government’s progress’ is actually code for ‘raking over Labor’s leadership woes’. Given Gillard’s naivety, the Four Corners folk missed a lucrative opportunity. While they were in the Prime Minister’s office preparing for the interview, they could have also sold her the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Julia had only to call me to be saved from her Four Corners folly. In early 1997 the show interviewed me for a program on the ALP and then filmed a citizenship ceremony in my electorate in south-west Sydney. The footage of the migrants receiving their citizenship certificates (none of whom belonged to the Labor party) was subsequently broadcast as evidence of ethnic branch-stacking in the Victorian party — an outrageous libel. My protests on behalf of my constituents were airily dismissed. Dishonesty of this kind was a regular part of Four Corners’ work at the ABC.
Gillard’s interview gave the Rudd program legitimacy it would otherwise have lacked. It was a measure of her gullibility that the heaviest hitter Four Corners could find was Con Sciacca, a junior Labor MP from the 1990s. Con is the political equivalent of amoeba, inert at the bottom of the food chain. He was simply a mouthpiece for the AWU sub-faction, pushed forward by Bill Ludwig and Bill Shorten to say the things they wanted said. They couldn’t be seen attacking Rudd in public, so they used
Con the Fruiterer instead.
In the forthcoming Labor leadership contest, the man to watch is Anthony Albanese. He has a sixth sense for backing the losing candidate. In 2003 he lobbied Caucus members to vote for Kim Beazley in his unsuccessful putsch against Simon Crean. Later that year he backed Beazley against me — another defeat. In 2006 Albo again supported the big West Australian, this time when he lost the leadership to Rudd. In 2010, demonstrating his diversity, Albanese was Rudd’s numbers man when he was rolled by Gillard. This is a searing string of defeats, a political Black Caviar in reverse.
Surely the main leadership candidates are now offering Albanese special incentives to influence his Caucus vote. They want him to support anyone but themselves. He’s the numbers man who never has the numbers. Albanese’s backing is like being smooched in the Garden of Gethsemane. It’s the kiss of death.