Parliamentary democracy in action ... Aussie style

There’s a reasonable chance that tomorrow Australia will have a new Prime Minister, and it’s first female leader since Federation at the start of last century.

Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard locked in leadership talks

The numbers are stacking up. The only question is whether Julia actually wants the job. If she does then Kevin 24/7 will be gone by 11. Personally when I look on Julia I see the smile of a well fed shark.

It is of course a well worn, standard Labour political play that when the polls and sentiment are running so hard against them that all hope is lost they give the leadership to a woman. Carmen Lawrance in WA, Joan Kirner in Vic, Kristina Keneally in NSW and now, maybe Julia Gillard nationally.

Would be a mighty fall. Australians don’t usually kick out one term governments.

Howard scared Labor witless. But he held on too long. We chucked him out, probably one term too late for everybody’s good. None of Labor’s factional boys could lay a glove on him. So they turned to Kevin Rudd with negligible power base because, well he looked and sounded like Howard, with modern ideas.

Rudd swept to power in an election that even cost Howard his own seat. He rode an immense wave of popular support for doing some of the PC things that Howard couldn’t bring himself to do. Like an apology for the “Stolen Generation”.

But they spent like drunken sailor to get us through the GFC, and got through with a substantial help that Howard’s mob had kept the books balanced. And then the emblematic Carbon Emission trading scheme, described by Rudd as the “greatest moral challenge of our generation”” was postponed until after the next election and the wheels fell off. Spectacularly. From the highest for longest approval rating to an electoral mauling poll in a couple of months. The workaholic micromanagemer of media detail .

Tomorrow is the last possible of the winter parliamentary sitting and hence probably the last day they can make the change before the election needs to be called.

The voters of course have no say in the matter, baring those who have been putting their fleas into the factional warlord’s ears. And if he’s gone tomorrow nobody will turn a hair.

It’s on.

Labor party parliamentary causus meeting called for 9am tomorrow.

He’s toast.

Rudd had approval ratings in the 60’s in March this year, and fish and chip wrapper in June.

I’m amazed. Last I heard he was practically the Tony Blair of Australia, telegenic and engaging, and set to stay for a loooong time as PM.

I’ve given my thoughts in the parallel thread in GD:

I don’t have much to add about the actual politics but between MasterChef and this happening last night, Twitter was absolutely amazing/hilarious. Endless jokes mixed with actual news coming in, retweets left right and centre, anguish over which channel would switch to the press conference - it was a lot of fun. “Julia Gillard” and “Kevin Rudd” were at the top of the worldwide trending topics, making me think maybe Twitter has now finally caught on in Australia like it has in other countries.

Done and dusted.
Rudd doesn’t stand in the ballot.

Australia has a new Prime Minister, it’s first female PM and she will be sworn in by Australia’s first femal Governer General.

Most popular for the longest PM in Australian history bows out during his first term.

Probably only a handful of people thought this was a possibility on Monday.
Watching parliamentary veterans like Senator Faulkner getting news on what was happening in their party from the interviewer was a hoot.

Here’s the ABC story.

That was really weird. And Kevin Rudd will go down in history as never having lost a Federal Election as PM.

There is precedent for that. Bob Hawke likewise never lost a Federal Election, having been ousted in the party room by Paul Keating. On the other side of politics, John Gorton used his casting vote to remove himself from office in favour of Billy McMahon, when the leadership ballot was tied.

Today’s move may well have cost Tony Abbott his chance ever to be PM. Julia Gillard is likely to lead the Labor Party to victory in the next election due to the honeymoon period effect, and I can’t see Tony Abbott surviving another full term as Opposition Leader. But of course in politics, stranger things have happened (like, for example, overthrowing a PM in his first term ;)).

That’s an urban myth about Gorton really. The vote in the party room was tied which meant that the motion was automatically defeated. However he saw it as not a vote of confidence and there was a ballot for a new leader. he never had a casting vote or voted against himself.

As for undefeated, I don’t think Edmund Barton (our first PM) was defeated as PM.

It’s a lot more common than you’d think:

There have been 26 Prime Ministers (27 when Gillard is sworn in)
10 Prime Ministers have been defeated at a general election: Deakin, Fisher, Cook, Bruce, Scullin, Chifley, McMahon, Fraser, Keating, Howard.

So, for example Gough Whitlam never lost an election as PM.

Changes of Prime Minister without an election.
vice-regal intervention: Whitlam
voluntary departure: Barton, Fisher, Page, Forde, McEwen, Menzies
party-room coups: Hughes, Menzies, Gorton, Hawke (and now Rudd)
death: Lyons, Curtin, Holt
defeat in Parliament: Deakin (2), Watson, Reid, Fisher, Fadden

7 Prime Ministers who did not win an election: Watson, Reid, Page, Fadden, Forde, McEwen, McMahon (and now Gillard)

Really?! Thanks for that - ignorance fought.

What I think is funny or ironic is the latest poll showing that a Rudd lead Govt would have won the next election (poll taken before he was rissoled).

Rudd’s problems were that he didn’t have a real power base, and his personal style made him more enemies than friends. So, as soon as his numbers started slipping, the powerbrokers decided to throw him to to the wolves. I never thought I’d see Anthony Albanese and Mark Arbib agree on anything! (They’re from the Left and Right wings of the NSW Branch, respectively.)

Mark Latham had some surprisingly interesting comments (to me anyway) today about the whole deal. Basically he said that if Gillard had said “no”, they would have run with Swan. He then said Gillard has to watch her back.
I don’t think she has a long tenure. (This will probably come back to haunt me).

I wish her better luck than Canada’s only female PM. Kim Campbell (whom I once met 25 years earlier when she was maybe 20 and the main squeeze–later wife–of a mathematician I vaguely knew) was PM for about six months in the mid 90s. She went from a majority in parliament (a minimum of 155 seats, I don’t recall the actual count) to exactly two seats and her party eventually disappeared. Or taken over by a right-wing tea party like gang who have moved a bit towards the center and are now governing. One of the two became a Liberal, moved into provincial politics and is currently Quebec premier.

… and it’s on again.

Labor leadership spill called

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has called a spill of all Labor’s leadership positions for 4:30pm AEDT today, that’s just 2 hours notice…

Julia should survive as it’s highly unlikely IMHO that Rudd will challenge, He’s having too much fun as the party spoiler, but there will be a couple of deck chairs shuffled and then the stricken Titanic will lurch on until September.

Australian politics has really turned into a circus.

It could get worse - in the event of a tied ballot, the winner will be decided by the toss of a coin.

Remember when the Government’s job was to run the country, instead of engaging in dick-measuring squabbles in the playground?

Me neither. :mad: