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article imageOp-Ed: Labor misses the point as Gillard re-elected unopposed

By Paul Wallis     Mar 21, 2013 in Politics
Sydney - In what Labor is calling a conclusive victory, Julia Gillard is still Australia’s Prime Minister. Expected opponent Kevin Rudd said previously he wouldn’t run, and didn’t. Gillard supporters have been “scathing” but missing the storyline.
The Sydney Morning Herald ran a story called “Labor's political dysfunction reaches new heights”:
Labor's political dysfunction had reached levels unprecedented even for a party that has spent much of the last three years tearing itself asunder.
Its dysfunction was so profound it had to scramble on the floor of the House of Representatives to win crossbench support and avoid a no confidence motion - which would have precipitated an early election - all because of a leadership challenge that never happened.
In practice, the entire mess was no great shakes and has left the Australian public less than impressed. Even experienced political reporters seemed surprised at the great non-result.
This was the process as it happened today:
Simon Crean publicly called for a leadership spill.
Gillard refused.
A Caucus vote was hastily arranged to challenge for the leadership.
Kevin Rudd, the expected opponent, was given a total of a couple of hours to decide. It’s very much open to guesswork why anyone would have created a situation like this and expected to succeed at such short notice.
Rudd declined, understandably enough, with a lack of preparation and a total lack of clear support.
Gillard supporters have been abusive of Rudd for not running, claiming he should have put himself up for leadership. That’s not going to do a lot for working relationships.
Crean appears baffled why Rudd didn’t contend, despite the fact that Rudd had made it clear many times on what basis he’d accept leadership.
If Gillard won the battle, Rudd may have won the war.
Rudd’s ethics and political judgement aren’t really in question in the long term. He has very little to gain from taking leadership of a party which has created a minefield for itself. He’ll still be around after the election on September 14. He’s one of the few secure sitting Labor members.
He also won’t have the stigma of being the leader of a party heading for a possibly hideous, annihilating defeat. His popularity is intact, and all he has to do is wait. Many Parliamentary Gillard supporters will disappear in the coming holocaust, and Rudd could have an easy ride to head of the ALP, with most of his opponents out of the picture.
Let’s clarify- This is an unusually ferocious electorate which will be voting in the next election. Labor has been getting on the wrong people’s nerves. Cuts to single mothers’ social security haven’t impressed the Labor heartland, which is pure working class. If Labor loses its seats in Western Sydney alone, it will lose government.
Labor has been making a big mess of itself and various policies have fallen to bits.
The shortfall of 90% in revenues from the highly controversial carbon tax was a true black eye for the government in terms of credibility.
The media reform bills died without even getting to the point of a vote.
The Obeid disaster is still claiming bodies as it spreads, and New South Wales Labor has definitely become even more of a liability in the national sphere even after its own almost total destruction in state elections.
The leadership issue may have been “resolved” for now, but a major train wreck in the election will inevitably put Rudd back in the driver’s seat. Nobody else has the support, and nobody else may be around after September.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
More about Julia gillard, Kevin rudd, Australian labor party, Australian politics, Obeid
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