TIME TO LEAVE THE HOUSE: Rudd and Brumby should quit politics right now

kevjohn Former Labor leaders Kevin Rudd and John Brumby are making a mistake if they plan to see out their full parliamentary term.

While in both cases, the margin in federal and state Parliament is wafer thin, it seems very unlikely Labor would lose either seat, meaning there’d be no change to the dynamic in either lower house.

John Brumby has had a good innings and in our view was a top-notch Premier and state Treasurer. So responsible an economic manager was he that he refused to commit to spending promises that weren’t properly costed and deliverable without blowing the state’s AAA credit rating. His opponent wasn’t nearly that careful – apparently even promising Victorian teachers would become the highest paid in the nation – and will no doubt end up with more broken promises and broken hearts than Julian Assange left behind bedded and betrayed once-admiring Wikileaks female undergraduate groupies who thought they were the only one.

But JB’s statement to caucus colleagues that he plans to stick around for the full four-year term is a mistake for him personally. So too is it a mistake if rumoured efforts on his part to influence the preselection of his successor in his safe seat of Broadmeadows are correct. Conspiracy theories abound about this including plots relating to celebrity candidates, defeated MPs, local warlords, golden parachute-seeking state secretaries and so on. It’s a “leadership seat” some say (because two previous Labor leaders occupied it). Brumby is a legendary mind-f*cker and political game-player. He loves it, insiders say, even just to watch nervous-nellies jumping around in fear and awe. And while that’s fine, we worry that it’s not really of much use for a man who – like Kennett before him – deserved a better election result than he got and now deserves a peaceful, prosperous retirement. Caucus observers tell VEXNEWS he didn’t exactly seemed thrilled to be there the other day and the imminent one-day session of Parliament on December 21st  will hardly be the happiest occasion for him.

Whatever happens with his succession in Broady, fans of JB think he should be moving on and looking forward not worrying about his political legacy but worrying about the first day of the rest of his life. We have been tough in our criticism of Brumby’s crew in the past but the truth is they left the state stronger, safer and more prosperous than it was when they started and that’s certainly more than the previous Labor regime did. And they managed a strong record – as Kennett did – without all the disruption and carnage (and fast-ride thrills it must be said) the Libs sometimes laid on under the crazy-brave Jeff Kennett.

And those dumping the criticism of election disappointment on the campaign and campaign strategists or even on Brumby personally are only half-right. All the data supports the conclusion that voters felt it “was time for a change” after 11 years in government and that was clearly the single biggest factor in unseating Brumby. If just two seats and a few hundred votes went the other way, the interpretation of exactly the same phenomena would be radically different from what currently prevails in political know-all circles.

His opponent promised the world. And any salesman knows it’s easy to sell anything if you exaggerate the benefits of what you’re selling as long as you don’t care about the backlash after the deal turns sour. And that’s the Liberal challenge now, to manage down expectations, draw on the goodwill and tolerance of the community and hope they get away with it. Many Liberals we know are not optimistic about this.

In Canberra, Rudd remains a distraction and a nuisance. This week, we were reminded powerfully of his best and worst, courtesy of the Wikileaks leaked US diplomatic “cables”.

His private views on the world are essentially the same as ours. Rudd is a patriot. His encouragement of the US to prepare for the worst with China was bold, brave and wise. The Chinese people are a great force for good in the world; their unelected regime is a menace, a threat to its neighbours and something the world’s democracies need to manage carefully.

But as sound as you can hope for in modern politics, Rudd’s also a neurotic bully who while standing for good things appears not to be a good man.

He knows China well. So well we doubt there could be a better person in the West to inform us how to deal with them.

But his inability to play nicely with others alienated and presumably still alienates those who should be Australia’s and Rudd’s closest friends and allies.

The subtext of those Wikileaks leaked cables from US diplomats about Rudd is that he’s a complete bastard, even if he appears to be a mostly US-sympathetic bastard.

It’s far from the ideal situation for Australia’s Foreign Minister to be in. He’s the friend you’re scared to have.

And many in Canberra wonder why he persists. His former staff think they know the answer: he actively plans to be leader and PM again.

A bizarre and weird notion, we’ll admit, but they are adamant that’s exactly what the deluded undiplomatic diplomat has in mind. Even though during his PMship he treated caucus members in the most abusive way they’d copped since the psychotic Doc Evatt split the party, he has resumed his charm offensive on some caucus members, recently hosting a drinks in his office for some and generally making nice with that small section of the caucus he hasn’t pegged as traitors or plotters against him. He still gives the silent treatment to many of his most senior caucus colleagues, we are reliably told.

It’s all rather agonising and demeaning though. He’s about as welcome in the federal caucus as a fart in a sleeping bag. Everyone wishes it wasn’t there but they are desperately afraid of the consequences of releasing the foul scent.

Realistically though, would his seat fall in a by-election? Probably not, even in this messy political environment. We suspect the government could enter into an arrangement with independent MP Bob Katter to protect supply during the by-election period and possibly afterwards too. Katter likes Rudd apparently and would probably be open to assisting him to depart with dignity. In terms of holding the seat of Griffith (which Rudd won from the Liberals initially), Labor could make the argument that a vote for the Liberals is a vote for yet another federal election. With that argument, they could win in a landslide, no matter how much damage Anna Bligh has done to Labor’s reputation in Queensland.

Would Rudd do a Latham, write a nasty tell-some book that squared-up with all his enemies and then follow the PM around with a Nine Network camera crew and a Xanax-carrying producer in tow? Probably not, he’s a wealthy man with plenty of internationalist enthusiasms he could pursue to keep him very busy. And while he’s clearly a vengeful chap, he might not be so keen on being seen to be so at his local Anglican place of worship. If Latham worships anything other than himself, it probably has horns, so he hasn’t felt the same conflict.

Politics is addictive. The stakes are high. It is important. Some can’t get enough of it, a fact proven by the very existence of this increasingly popular online publication.

But it’s time Rudd and Brumby moved on. Both have made a substantial contribution to public life and it would best for them and best for the country they so devotedly served that we focus on that and not a painfully slow, tricky and self-indulgent departure.

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51 Comments

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51 responses to “TIME TO LEAVE THE HOUSE: Rudd and Brumby should quit politics right now

  1. Anonymous

    Rudd sure is a dud. But to lose Government of Australia because of 1 guys? come on, that’s just stupid.

  2. Yetanotheranonymous

    Usually find your stuff interesting but today’s re Rudd is plain silly. You’re claiming that he’s “alienated and presumably still alienates those who should be Australia’s and Rudd’s closest friends and allies”?(US?) 1. That some Dubbya Embassy official didn’t like the idea of expanding the ASEAN/APEC group (something which is gradually coming to fruition anyway)& criticised the way Rudd pursued it is hardly something of great import. 2. Have you seen Clinton’s recent speeches and statements – the latest dated today from the State Dept.? You’re way off track on this one.

  3. Madam Lash

    Carr controls the stacks in Brumby’s seat so it will be his call no doubt…

  4. Jeremy C Browne

    Gillard may campaign on not having another election. But the Libs would be telling the electorate ad nauseum that she promised NO carbon tax and believes that voters should pay a lot more in energy prices. The Libs would clearly also tell voters that a vote for Gillard is a vote for continued chaos.

  5. Sandy Wilton

    Andy. great piece. They should both go and the sooner the better

  6. Someone needed with wide backing and guts

    Broadmeadows is a problem seat were education and law and order policies fail the most.

    Poor choices by Carr have made this area a sad joke. Scullin looks healthy bey comparison.

    Brumby faction insecurities also came into to play. Not sure Hulls would have been dragged so deeply into this factional vortex – these presures and insecurities lead Brumby to rely too heavily on SL greeks to guide multicultural policy.

    This not only inflamed the right on right violence but lead to an alienation of Hindus in the east and south east.

    Somehow with Bracks at the helm feeling of exclusion were less.

    But with Brumby it was very hard for non-christians to get through.

    Endless functions never went beyond the pomp of the Premier’s office.

    Some one with a huge education, skills and jobs agenda and a wide appeal needs to take on Broadmeadows.

  7. treehugger

    Yes Brumby should go before the public finds out that he taxed Melbourne water at 72% of its income and did not leave it with enough cash to repay its loans.
    He may have left VIC with a good rating but what about the ordinary victorians who are suffering with increases in Power, water, Gas and the Whitehorse Council’s huge rate increases whilst they have $72 million (SEVENTY TWO MILLION DOLLARS) in the Bank.
    Brumby with State Treasury have hidden the debt in its private public partnerships and statutory Bodies. Why did the Port Of Melbourne pay a dividend to the State Govt in excess of its profit?

  8. Greame MacDougall

    “Griffith [which Rudd won from the Liberals intially]….” Really. I’m the only living Liberal to have held Griffith [Or as Julia likes to call it, ‘Griffiths’] I seem to recall I defeated Rudd in 1996 with a 7.37 % swing against the ALP in 2pp terms. He did then win it against me in ’98, with the massive leg up that only the GST could provide. He was then promising to repeal the GST lol. I guess this is a bit like winning it from the Liberals in the first place…. if you don’t mention the surrendering it bit, before that.

  9. Grean machine

    That’s what they said about Robert Hawke. Brumby should hang in there until the new year. If Kev want to go then he should wait until July next year then he could do all a favour by going at a time the government can then call a double dissolution and provide the Australian people to get vote out the Greens. I would think within 6-7 months the people of Australia will soon reject their flirtation with the social experiment and would be calling for a fresh election to put an end to the uncertainty caused by the Greens

  10. Get real

    Head office is shambles no byelection til feb. As for rudd. Too close to risk.

  11. namenamename

    Krudd a patriot? I don’t think so. Oz politics is (or was) just a stepping stone to the UN trough for his snout.

  12. jacko@persimmon

    Patriots alive, rumour as fact….2013 Federal Election Vic Liberal Party Senate Team….1. Helen of Troy Kroger, the greenslayer…2. Scott the brainiac Ryan…3. Tony the Preso IN waiting Snell.. 4 Mitch Fifield…whose support of giving preferences to the Greensssssssssssssss has him in a welter smelter of trouble with the rank and file. Snakes alive baby.

    greens

  13. bimbos revenge

    Dear Treehugger, has your small brain forgotten that gas and electricity were privatised. So somehow gas and electricity prices going up are Brumby’s fault. Ypu’ve been reading too many anal reports mate

  14. JB

    Christ Kev I hope hope Ollie is not behind us.

  15. Boy from Babylon

    The wildlife b-b-qued in 2009 because of poor forest managment might disagree that Brumby was a top guy.

  16. Anon

    What about the Olympia Ward Bi-election?

  17. Anonymous

    Indeed Anon. Anthony Carbines wants to climb the political ladder by getting elected to Parliament, let him pay for the by-election he has caused in his council seat.
    LET HIM PAY !!!

  18. Not surprised by the revelations in the leaked cables regarding low US opinion of Rudd. Not surprised at all!

  19. Kevvie

    I want to leave but no one at the UN has offered me the job that I want.

  20. Right Said Fred

    Give it 2 years and then bring Eddie McGuire in to take over the seat of Broady and leadership for a tilt at 2014

  21. Futureproof

    Krudd did’t even have the guts to run for party leadership. By rolling over and not challenging, it just shows that he is a coward. Krudd, if your were at Gallipoli, you would have been KIA….by your own men. Twerp.

  22. Anonymous

    The new Member for Ivanhoe should pay the $$$ he is forcing ratepayers to fork out in a by-election in Olympia Ward.

  23. It WILL happen

    Ruddster will be leader again. You just watch. He is caressing the right people in caucus and is making inroads in the media. Has heaps of friends on the world stage. When the the time is right, he has the staff to go into leadership campaign mode. Throw in Gillard continue to be a train wreck and the party will have no one else to turn to other than the experienced, highly regarded Foreign Affairs Minister and vindicated Rudd. On top of that, he’s only 53. Didn’t anyone see him on the 7pm project tonight? He’s back and has the determination to take the job that he’s always wanted his whole life. The man wants it more than Gillard wants it and now knows where he went wrong the first time so he most likely won’t make the same mistakes twice.

  24. Be A Man C arbines - Pay what you owe!!!!

    Well A nthony C arbines!?!?! Will you pay the expected $100,000 you have caused the ratepayers in causing a by-election to feather your own political career?????

  25. Sotherby

    @It WILL happen: I sadly agree, have always had the feeling Rudd will attempt to go for it again, i just don’t think the caucus will want to risk any other unknowns as experienced as they are and might think this could win back some leverage with QLD voters. although i also think the caucus will react to fear and not sense.

  26. I’d back ‘Aussie’ Joe Bugner to make a more successful comeback than Kevin Rudd – after all, Joe’s only 60 and knows how to control his temper. 🙂

  27. Sotherby

    Thanks for ‘filling me up’ back there Alan.

  28. namenamename

    To Kev’s ego, nothing is impossible! They’re likely to be in opposition after the next fed elections so it don’t really matter who gets to wear the ‘prefect’ badge.

  29. Age of Reason

    Very good piece O Evil One. I entirely concur.

  30. Kylie French

    Brumby lost 2 elections and cost many labor hopefuls a political career. His predecessor Kennan cost Labor votes galore with his behaviour in the tramway dispute. So Broadmeadows needs a realist as an MP.

  31. anon

    Kylie French you don’t have any need for contraceptives with your looks and personality.

  32. Boofa Leigh

    Hey I can never say good-bye too. I am always popping up in places where there is a bimbo willing and able. And now I have the Wench just around the corner. Ah bring on those hot steamy nights down at the beach again…

  33. Pot Stirrer

    My work mate a.k.a (amumsed confused) predicted this yesterday

  34. Lucy Diamond

    Of course the Krodent is staying on because he intends to be leader again! Krodent expects that the Labor party will be crawling on its knees for him to save it when the polls start showing a landside to Abbott and Co.

    Krodent’s crafty undermining of Julia is identical to that of Howard gnaw, gnaw, gnawing away in 1985 until Peacock fell.

    Just look at Krodent taking civil liberty stance on Assange directly against the PM.

  35. Jennnnnnnnnnnnnnnn

    No anti Liberal comments allowed please we only want anti Labor comments thank you.

  36. Jennnnnnnnnnnnnnnn

    Everybody will agree with me on this one that Tony Abbott is the best option for this country, we did’nt really want fast braodband in the first place and all the young ones would agree with me on this one. And i know for sure every single young voter out there has a deep very very strong place in their hearts for Tony Abbott, come the next election a massive majority of young voters will be voting for Tony Abbott for sure how could they not.

  37. Cardinal Pell

    Young Tony and myself have often enjoyed each other’s company in my Pulpit.

  38. Jennnnnnnnnnnnnnnn

    Every single young person thinks Tony Abbott is shit hot, how could they not. Tony Abbott will kick but come the next fed election you just wait and see.

  39. Jennnnnnnnnnnnnnnn

    To ANONYMOUS at least you only make bad comments about labor pollies. Thank God i will never see a bad letter from you calling any Liberal pollies duds your to intelligent for that well said.

  40. Jennnnnnnnnnnnnnnn

    Everybody agrees with me on this one is that Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd have nothing on Tony Abbott. Big deal Kevin Rudd got us out of recession we don’t really appreciate it anyway and why should we. All of us voters say to Rudd thanks for nothing, we would rather it had been the Libs that had got us out of recession at least we would appreciated it better.

  41. true colors

    Abbott just got by last time with the lie he would not bring back workchoices.

    let’s see him maintain that lie.

  42. Brumby now going, just announced and comes 2 days after this article pointed to such a concept. Intuitive.

  43. Jennnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn

    Come next federal election most Australians would have well and truly woken up by then and you will see the Liberals win by a massive landslide victory.

  44. Anonymous

    Jen,

    You need to be heavily truncated. Stop leaning on the ‘n’ key and get psychatric advice about your Liberal party fixation. Your posts are exceedingly boring and repetitive.

    You are a tiresome dunderhead!

  45. Hey Jen, go and f*ck yourself

    If I met ‘Jennnnnnnnnn’ at a dating dinner, and noone was looking, I would happily strangle her and kick her under the sofa.

    ‘Jen’ is a timewasting boofhead.

  46. Anon

    I bet ya Jennnnnnn one and only Jenny Matic?

  47. Jennnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn

    Anonymous
    You’re just a boring meathead.

  48. Futureproof

    How’s those chocolate slouch hats going Mary-Ann Martinek?

  49. Clones

    Watch for another colorless clone in Broadmeadows….labor stuffed. Big time.

  50. 40,000 slouch hat chocolates, to respond to Futureproof (14Dec10), were donated in the 2006 to the VicFood Bank for the drought affected farmers. We also do our best to raise awareness of the current pension indexing difficulties experiences by many retired ex service men and women who are the only australians on a superpension scheme that is not indexed in line with the rest of our community.

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