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Published: Online Opinion

Link to article and comments: http://bit.ly/cvtvU5

Whatever other influences helped shape Kevin Rudd, his time as a diplomat clearly had a major influence.

Kevin can talk. I wouldn’t say he mastered use of the English language, rather he mastered the art of talking and saying nothing, which is a basic tool of diplomacy. He learnt the art of gift giving and use of the media to gain maximum impact and as a representative of a middle ranking power, the art of spin.

He mastered the complexities of creating castles in the air with a match box in his pocket. He learnt the dangers of delegation to self promotion and the need to appear busy. He learnt that management by crisis kept criticism at bay. But above all he learnt that appearance and presentation enhanced success. As difficult as it was initially he learnt how to become a member of an elite and he has not forgotten.

It was drummed into him to keep every door open, to never discard an option or close an opening; matters of fact and substance to be avoided unless advantage is sought from rival or opponent.

Conservative and risk averse, the department of foreign affairs impressed upon him the need for distance; objectivity can only be achieved through dispassionate appraisal of a problem or handling of difficult issues.

He threw that advice to the wind when he apologised to the Stolen Generation, but it was only a temporary aberration. He is firmly back on track and as evidence we need look no further than his treatment of asylum seekers.

Rudd’s desire to get some quick (and easy) kudos from his aid program to the Australian people in the form of ceiling insulation has badly backfired, damaging his government, himself and the minister notionally responsible.
The episode demonstrates how lacking in common sense and the practical arts is this government. Why did no one in cabinet ask the basic questions concerning delivery of the program? Rudd wants to be hands on without knowing how to drive.

Rudd talks the talk about Afghanistan, but the war is unwinnable in the American sense of winning wars. Bombing civilians creates more supporters of the Taliban both in Afghanistan and abroad. It creates more opponents of the United States military and foreign policy in exactly the same way that Israel’s invasion of Gaza and the resulting deaths of innocents created more opposition to Israel. It is not difficult to understand, yet it seems to be for Kevin Rudd.

Australia has been issues relating to terrorism for the last four decades. For Rudd to try and beat up the issue at this time is little more than a diversion.

He understands nothing about the conservation and delivery of water and yet has muzzled Penny Wong to the extent that her pronouncements on the subject as the putative minister for water are mean and meaningless.

Water cannot and should not be sold. The licence system is not working; it will not and cannot deliver. Access to potable water is the right of every citizen. It is the responsibility of government to protect that right and to deliver water for the sustenance of life, sustainable agriculture and industry in that order.

Control of water is essential for government if they wish to retain sovereignty. Vested interests have no place in undermining the ability of government to meet the basic needs of people and to determine the best use of water in the national interest.

As important as mining and producing cotton is we have looked in vain for the government to give voice to the needs of people ahead of large vested interests. People are not impressed with the false and forced bon homie of Kevin Rudd.

Things are not OK. Where I live social problems are increasing, not decreasing. No money has been spent on meaningful infrastructure, roads, railways, hospitals and schools for decades. The kowtowing to vested interests, failure to wrest control, plan and implement proper water planning on a national scale has seen communities and agricultural enterprises collapse.

The message is, Rudd spins, he cares about his career in politics, he doesn’t care about people, he doesn’t care about productivity, it is all words.

When all else fails trot out the hoary old terrorism fear campaign. More people die around where I live from poor roads and an inability to access decent medical services than are ever likely to die from an act of terror.

Grow up Kevin, get real and do your job as it should be done and as you are paid to do it on behalf of people. You are without clothes.

My suggestion would be that some of the many resources you deploy to spy on the ethnic communities, you deploy in all communities around Australia. ASIO should have a branch office in every major rural city. Your lack of action in meeting your promises, in addressing the major issues facing this nation and your lack sincerity or your cynicism in being so focused on yourself at our expense is radicalising ordinary men and women.

Published: ABC The Drum Unleashed

Link to article and comments: http://bit.ly/awqz7f

Whatever other influences helped shape Kevin Rudd, his time as a diplomat clearly had a major influence.

Kevin can talk. I wouldn’t say he mastered the use of the English language, rather he mastered the art of talking and saying nothing, which is a basic tool of diplomacy. He learnt the art of gift giving and the use of the media to gain maximum impact and as a representative of a middle ranking power, the art of spin.

He mastered the complexities of creating castles in the air with a match box in his pocket. He learnt the dangers of delegation to self promotion and the need to appear busy. He learnt that management by crisis kept criticism at bay. But above all he learnt that appearance and presentation enhanced success. As difficult as it was initially he learnt how to become a member of the elite and he has not forgotten.

It was drummed into him to keep every door open, to never discard an option or close an opening; matters of fact and substance to be avoided unless advantage is sought from rival or opponent.

Conservative and risk averse, the department of foreign affairs impressed upon him the need for distance; objectivity can only be achieved through dispassionate appraisal of a problem or handling of difficult issues.

He threw that advice to the wind when he apologised to the Stolen Generation, but it was only a temporary aberration. He is firmly back on track and as evidence we need look no further than his treatment of asylum seekers.

Rudd’s desire to get some quick (and easy) kudos from his aid program to the Australian people in the form of ceiling insulation has badly backfired, damaging his government, himself and the minister notionally responsible.

The episode demonstrates how lacking in common sense and the practical arts is this government. Why did no one in cabinet ask the basic questions concerning delivery of the program? Rudd wants to be hands on without knowing how to drive.

Rudd talks the talk on Afghanistan, but the war is unwinnable in the American sense of winning wars. Bombing civilians creates more supporters of the Taliban both in Afghanistan and abroad. It creates more opponents of the United States military and foreign policy in exactly the same way that Israel’s invasion of Gaza and the resulting deaths of innocents created more opposition to Israel. It is not difficult to understand, yet it seems to be for Kevin Rudd.

Australian departments and agencies have been dealing with issues relating to terrorism for the last four decades. For Rudd to try and beat up the issue at this time is little more than a diversion.

He understands nothing about the conservation and delivery of water and yet has muzzled Penny Wong to the extent that her pronouncements on the subject as the putative minister for water are mean and meaningless.

Water cannot and should not be sold. The licence system is not working; it will not and cannot deliver. Access to potable water is the right of every citizen. It is the responsibility of government to protect that right and to deliver water for the sustenance of life, sustainable agriculture and industry in that order.

Control of water is essential for government if they wish to retain sovereignty. Vested interests have no place in undermining the ability of government to meet the basic needs of people and to determine the best use of water in the national interest.

As important as mining and producing cotton is we have looked in vain for the government to give voice to the needs of people ahead of large vested interests. People are not impressed with the false and forced bonhomie of Kevin Rudd.

Things are not OK. Where I live social problems are increasing, not decreasing. No money has been spent on meaningful infrastructure, roads, railways, hospitals and schools for decades. The kowtowing to vested interests, failure to wrest control, plan and implement proper water planning on a national scale has seen communities and agricultural enterprises collapse.

The message is, Rudd spins, he cares about his career in politics, he doesn’t care about people, he doesn’t care about productivity, it is all words.

When all else fails trot out the hoary old terrorism fear campaign. More people will likely die around where I live from poor roads and an inability to access decent medical services than they are from an act of terror.

Grow up Kevin, get real and do your job as it should be done and as you are paid to do it on behalf of people. You are without clothes.

My suggestion would be that some of the many resources you deploy to spy on the ethnic communities, you deploy in all communities around Australia. ASIO should have a branch office in every major rural city. Your lack of action in meeting your promises, in addressing the major issues facing this nation and your lack sincerity or your cynicism in being so focused on yourself at our expense is radicalising ordinary men and women.

Be it on your head.

Published: Online Opinion

Conventional political analysis has Tony Abbott almost beating Julia Gillard at the last election. Much praise and kudos has been bestowed upon him for coming as close as he did to victory. I don’t see it that way. Gillard should have been wiped at the last election based on the lack of delivery by the Rudd government, compounded by spin and denial that had the electorate angry, to say the least.

Abbott should have beaten her hands down and the fact that he did not says much about the man and the party under his leadership.

Somewhat surprisingly Abbott is not liked or respected by people that might otherwise be termed supporters. His public persona makes people uneasy. They can’t roll with him, waiting always for a gaff or foot in mouth moment.

His jerky, fish in a fish-tank response with eyes popping and mouth cavitating has him better placed for French comedy than the faux gravitas of Australian politics. His barely concealed anger and naked, whatever it takes, ambition are not pleasant to behold and are redolent of student politics.

Abbott is devoid of vision and policy, his claim to be Prime Minister rests on his ability to attack Julia Gillard and the Labor Party. He makes no effort to court the swinging voter, to capture the middle ground. He is a bottom feeder, basking in the praise of the prejudiced right. It will not win him an election. It will however, increase the vote of the Independents and Greens.

He has waxed and waned on restricting migration including the notion of banning professing muslims. He questioned the wisdom of allowing Christmas Island detainees to attend the funeral of family members in Sydney and ignorantly believes that keeping refugees in detention will act as a deterrent to other desperate asylum seekers.

He ruthlessly plays the refugee card, which means he neither understands nor seeks to understand what drives an individual to seek asylum and what are the obligations by the state and individuals, such as himself, toward asylum seekers. For a Rhodes Scholar he is poorly read; in all of his opportunistic pronouncements on refugees, there wafts about him the odour of racism and intolerance.

It does not require an overactive imagination to transport those attitudes, should, heaven forbid, he become Prime Minister, onto the most needy and desperate in our community, particularly those that might need help outside the dictates of Roman Catholic dogma.

Within his party he has unleashed and encouraged the maladroit and mendacious Scott Morrison who elicits more jeers than cheers and has done nothing to enhance his party’s prospect of election to office.

Julia Gillard fares no better. It is hard to identify what she believes in and difficult to discern any trace of vision. Her sincerity is not enhanced by her flat uninspiring delivery and her robotic hand and body movements. She appears awkward and ill at ease and manages to make an audience feel the same, if they haven’t fallen asleep from boredom during her opening remarks.

A 9 year old refugee boy is pushed from pillar to post by her feeble Minister for Immigration, Chris Bowen, and she does nothing, says nothing, so much for her forced compassion during the floods. Julia chokes in Parliament and we squirm, Bob Hawke sheds a tear and we shed with him.

Name an issue and its odds on the Gillard government has not come to grips with it; climate change, mining tax, refugees, water, infrastructure, health, education are beyond anything but their spin. No leadership and no guts. They are led by opinion polls and managed by the federal public service.

Gillard made an embarrassing miscalculation on WikiLeaks calling the activities of Julian Assange illegal and through her credulous Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, sought his prosecution. Appointing Rudd as Foreign Minister was not her best call. Rudd’s linguistic skills are not matched with analytical or managerial skills. Visiting Cairo shortly before the recent momentous events he came away none the wiser about popular feeling spilling over into protest. All he succeeded in doing was to upset the equilibrium of the Embassy by throwing his weight around. He hasn’t learnt much.

Rudd oversees a dysfunctional department, not through any fault of the personnel and management of the organisation but rather through the unwillingness of governments over the past decade to hear any analysis other than the one they wanted; politicisation of the public service has done the rest.

At the request of President Obama the US undertook a review of the Middle East last August. It concluded that popular discontent with established governments was high. Did Australia have access to that review? Did it conduct its own review? What questions did Rudd ask on his recent visit to Cairo?

The Department of Defence needs a complete shake-up and restructure, as does the Department of Immigration. ASIO has the nerve to advise that security clearances are required by refugees from the very regimes they are fleeing and the government meekly accepts this advice. ASIO believes it is being very cleaver in holding the line for Immigration – delays in security clearances act as deterrence; too smart by half, delaying these clearances do not act as deterrence.

But as I write the sharks are circling. Bill Shorten is spruiking his leadership credentials around Canberra and no doubt beyond. I guess he would make a fine leader, if it wasn’t all about him. A slicker version of Rudd, but he couldn’t sell me a car.

No doubt, with machinations again embroiling the Labor Party, Arbib is keeping his American interlocutors informed.

Greg Combet is a reluctant starter, in fact a non starter in the quest to replace Gillard. He would need to be dragged, which is no bad thing, but he has the character, the brains and the belief to do the job.

However the Labor Party is unlikely to act until the Liberal Party makes a move. They know that the best thing going for Gillard is Abbott. With Abbott replaced by Turnbull, Gillard does not have a show. With Combet leading the ALP and Turnbull the Coalition the next election i would be a close run thing and difficult to call.

Turnbull has the capacity to capture the middle ground; ambitious and urbane he has had a life beyond politics. He is a good public speaker and is able to get his message across, which neither Abbott nor Gillard can do.

With great relief Wilson Tuckey is gone, nonetheless to ensure election the challenge facing the Liberal Party is to scrap Abbott’s wilder pronouncements, which he casts as policy, and to clear some of the dead wood out of the Party.

Turnbull’s ambition is tempered with imagination and an idea of where he wants the country to go, he shares that with Combet.

Bruce Haigh, Mudgee

Link to article: http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=11663

Published: Canberra Times

Australia is dependent on the Sri Lankan Government for advice on whether a Tamil asylum seeker was a member of the LTTE and therefore in the eyes of the Australian Government likely to constitute a threat to our national security. Advice from the Sri Lankan Government is prompt and usually negative.

The Sri Lankan Government is guilty of murdering suspected members of the LTTE in Colombo and other centres. Towards the end of the recent war despite international appeals the Sri Lankan Government shelled women and children killing anywhere between 10 – 40,000 civilians. The Government of Sri Lanka is corrupt; it has detained the leader of the opposition who fears for his life. It has consistently ignored the rule of law; it censors the media and murders journalists who criticise the government.

Why then does Australia give any weight to assessments provided by this biased and tarnished source?

The LTTE were soldiers on one side in a particularly brutal and nasty civil war, a war in which both sides employed terrorism as a weapon. Former members of the LTTE do not constitute a security threat in Australia, anymore than white Rhodesians who fought against Mugabe or members of the ANC who took up arms against apartheid.

Australian has declared members of the LTTE terrorists under pressure from the Sri Lankan Government. It needs to revise its thinking.

The Australian Government needs to order the Sri Lankan High Commission in Canberra to stop harassing Australian citizens who were formerly members of the Tamil community in Sri Lanka and the AFP needs to revise its thinking and directives with respect to this community and the LTTE.

The head of ASIO, David Irvine, is kidding himself in seeking to convince the Senate Estimates Committee that ASIO has superior and independent sources of information relating to the LTTE. Decisions of this type are by their very nature political.

From the outset the Sri Lankan High Commission claimed there were members of the LTTE on board the Oceanic Viking. Perhaps David Irvine might like to tell the Committee where he does go to get his information on the LTTE.

Published: The Australian

No doubt Cameron Stewart and David Uren have ensured that the door to Rudd’s office remains open to them with their booster, ‘Leadership forged in the financial fire’, The Weekend Australian , 23-24 January.

There is no doubt that Rudd’s stimulus package and hand outs were politically astute, however to argue that they saved Australia from a severe economic downturn is pure conjecture. The article was short on economic analysis to back the claims of Stewart and Uren. Some economists in Australia back the claims made in the article, others do not, whilst others are still analysing the effects of the splurge.

Surprisingly, Australia’s narrow economic base seems to have been an advantage rather than disadvantage allowing the size and focus of the Chinese stimulus package to have both an actual and psychological impact on the Australian economy.

However, what is apparent is that few lessons have been learnt by government and financial institutions in Australia. Reform of all but the tax system is on the back burner and reform of the tax system is now imperative if we are to pay off Rudd’s political investment.