Published: Canberra Times
Kevin Rudd, like John Howard before him, has embarked on the path to political self destruction, although he has managed to shorten the time frame.
His Ambassadorial style of leadership deprives him of the capacity to listen to other views and opinions and has become his biggest legacy. He has no friends in his party, no one to use as a sounding board other than sycophantic advisers and dishonest rivals.
Rudd is not a practical man, he has sought to micro manage without the life skills to back his autocratic style. The failure of the insulation program and the schools program are testament to that. Basic questions were not asked as to implementation and accountability and the desire to push money into the economy became badly entangled with spin.
People sent to advise shy away from Rudd’s bullying and shouting, something it must be said he hasn’t yet done in church.
He is driven by an ambition which translates into a strong desire to be re-elected and behind that desire is a fear of defeat, of rejection. So palpable is that fear that it skews his judgement, manifested in an over-reaction to the GFC, which saw billions squandered. Claims that this spending saved the economy are not quantifiable and as such weaken Rudd and Swans argument that it prevented recession.
Fear of criticism, fear of losing the election drove Rudd to impose a 40% resource tax on the mining industry without consultation. Few disagree with a tax, but the size and arrogant implementation have driven most away.
Fear of the criticism that his profligate deficit was a demonstration of poor economic management had him seek a quick solution. The consequences were not foreseen, by him, the sycophants and not articulated by the calculating rivals. The decision has proved a policy disaster and lined the pockets of the Opposition with mining gold. How silly in an election year.
As if his judgement were not already in need of careful management, the sycophants and smugly callous rivals allowed him to score a spectacular own goal by overturning his own advertising guidelines and in the process outraging every fair minded Australian.
Rudd sought power in order to gain respect; in failing that he has tried to engineer it with his obsessive control of process and contrived personality. The harder he tries the more he is undone.
His departure may not be at the hands of the electorate; the chances are he will flop over the line and that will be his undoing. There are a number of people in his party that want his job and most could do it better than Rudd.
The only thing Rudd has going for him is the weakness and stupidity of the Opposition. Who advises Julie Bishop? We kicked out an Israeli diplomat or Mossad agent to preserve our national interest. As the Chief Executive of the Australia Arab Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Robert Newton said last week, trade with Arab countries is worth $13.2 billion and growing. Abuse of Australian passports by Israel has the potential to impede trade by imposing restrictions on Australian passport holders which currently do not exist. Firm action by Australia demonstrates a commitment to protect the integrity of our passports and the ability of Australian traders to maintain their ease of access to Arab states.
The inability of Bishop and Abbott to understand the ramifications of the Israeli action helped underscore what many feel about the Coalition; it is immature, unworldly, unsophisticated and lazy. Couple that with Hockey’s unwillingness or inability to do his homework as shadow Treasurer and the voting public is left with the impression that Abbott has a B grade team trying to play in the A league. Robb is a tryer without talent, Dutton is not a team player and lacks ability and no-one else in the shadow cabinet gives the impression of having mastered their portfolio. Abbott does not present as a prime ministerial material; a showman, a post adolescent attention seeker, but not the leader of a country with great potential and significant problems.
The Opposition have played the man with respect to asylum seekers and Rudd followed. Both sides have trashed human rights without political gain. Rudd lost support as a result and Abbott gained none, in a low game where both were prepared to use the plight of asylum seekers as an election football. In the last few days Rudd has softened his rhetoric in the hope that he can attract back lost support to the Greens. He has learnt nothing. The electorate is sick of listening to him. They trust nothing he says.
Rudd has a couple of months at most in which to learn that action speaks louder than words. If he wants people to listen to him he must reverse his decision on not processing Sri Lankan and Afghan asylum seekers, quickly process claimants on Christmas Island and desist from housing traumatised people in remote locations.
Re-election will not solve Rudd’s problems, it will add to them. Next year is shaping to be a bad year. Europe’s economic woes will impact upon Australia and indeed the rest of the world. Rudd’s inability to institute fundamental economic reform will exacerbate the knock on effect in Australia.
Panic by Rudd and Treasury in the face of the GFC saw billions spent with no underlying benefit to, or strengthening of the economy. As a result of poor political and economic management Australia has no financial reserves to meet a future economic crises, but nor does it have the leadership.
Julia Gillard is not a pragmatist, she is a political opportunist. Creative solutions are not her forte. Good man though he is, Tanner has lost his way, and who wouldn’t working within Rudd’s vacuum. Combet on the other hand is a man of the real world. He has ability and a belief in issues to make a good leader.
Rudd’s fears are causing imbalance and his imbalance is starting to affect us all. We can’t afford him. He is moving out of control. Ministers who had programs of reform have given up. His caution and fear will not allow for change. In giving up they are waiting for him to go.