Hartcher on Rudd and Gillard

RuddGillard-240My attention was drawn to a series of articles under the heading The Meltdown by Peter Hartcher by Mark and then this post by John Quiggin. I thought them well worth a read, but found the links from Quiggin’s post less than straightforward to access. My purpose here is to facilitate such access rather than put a point of view. So here goes:

Actually if you click on the last on you get the links to the previous four.

This comes towards the end of Part 5:

Before the 2010 coup against Rudd, Anthony Albanese had presciently warned colleagues: “If you do this, you will destroy two Labor prime ministers.”

Penny Wong adds this postscript: “They were two extraordinary politicians. The great sadness of this time was that they were both in the same generation with the same ambition. Together they should have been invincible.”

Together they were essentially invincible, but Hartcher details quite convincingly how things fell apart after Rudd came back from the schmozzle of the 2009 Copenhagen climate talks, apparently a changed man. A strategy meeting was held and it was agreed that they would press forward with the CPRS and take it to a double dissolution election ASAP after Australia Day. Instead Rudd went off and wrote a children’s book and came back in a mood of paralysis and avoidance, which persisted.

At this point I should say that I’ve recently read Jacqueline Kent’s Take Your Best Shot: the prime ministership of Julia Gillard and Bruce Hawker’s The Rudd Rebellion: the campaign to save Labor. I’ve read Kerry-Anne Walsh’s The Stalking of Julia Gillard: how the media and Team Rudd brought down the Prime Minister, Nicholas Stuart’s Rudd’s Way: November 2007-June 2010 and parts of Barrie Cassidy’s The Party Thieves: the real story of the 2010 election. Now I’ve started on Mungo MacCallum’s The Mad Marathon: the story of the 2013 election and have lined up Maxine McKew’s Tales from the Political Trenches. That will be it for me.

My interim position is to agree with Albanese. I’m not so sure about Wong. Perhaps both Gillard and Rudd would have done well if the other had completely vacated the scene. Perhaps they both lacked a dimension the other could supply. I’ve had some experience with deputy-boss situations in public administration, and indeed where the deputy is promoted over the erstwhile boss. I do think Gillard was more active in canvassing the possibility of taking over from Rudd than she and some of her supporters would have us believe. I don’t think that anything she did was unethical or incompatible with being a loyal deputy who also had a mind for what was ultimately in the best interests of the party and the country.

Something similar may be said of Rudd when by mid 2011 the polls were running Nielson 39/61 and Newspoll 41/59 in 2PP terms against Labor.

Yet Gillard never had a clear go after attaining the PMship. After the 2010 election having Rudd as a cabinet member was basically intolerable, but with a hung parliament there was no other choice.

When Rudd finally took over Gillard stepped aside and maintained a silence in a way that was entirely laudable, and appreciated. However just 74 days was never enough. Bruce Hawker says he was involved in numerous election campaigns from 1998 to 2008 at state and territory level with a 100% success rate. He says 12 months is what you need to win a campaign.

Especially disappointing was a policy unit set up for the campaign. They seemed to come up with nothing, so the campaign theme of “A new way” looked rather stupid. The campaign effectively dumped it in favour of “Building the future” which didn’t fare much better, lacking substance except that Rudd wasn’t Tony Abbott. In the end Abbott not being Rudd won out.

Given our recent record on Rudd-Gillard threads I put this one forward with some trepidation. I’m more interested in sharing links than I am in arguing the merits of one or the other, assigning blame or arguing over what might have or should have been.

So please be gentle with each other and respectful. If you can’t, then ignore what’s bothering you. I don’t want to go to the trouble of making this a fully moderated thread.

On links The Piping Shrike has a piece on the Rudd resignation.

Kerryn Goldsworthy has done a review of five books published between April and July of this year all of which have Gillard as the central figure.

I used an image of Gillard and Rudd from happier times at the head of this post. Here’s another one I had on file:

Rudd-Gillard-VD-408x264

77 thoughts on “Hartcher on Rudd and Gillard”

  1. Sorry but apart from continuing to remind us of the revealed sexism at the heart of Australian society, the endless rehashing of Rudd vs Gillard does little to ensure that this is the only term of an Abbott led government.
    Can we please focus on Abbott + team and their complete unpreparedness to govern? The debacle with Indonesia is just gobsmacking; the failure to understand the consequences of 6 years of tightening efficiency gains upon the PS by Labor; the difficulty Hockey seems to have understanding Treasury briefs; the systematic absense of the necessary maturity required to govern which demands a focus upon reasoned outcomes not political point scoring.
    For the Aust fourth estate to ignore the herd of Abbott elephants squeezed into the telephone booth of our polis is not altogether surprising. For we the people to do so is risking an Abbott government winning in 2116.

  2. I’m with Bernice@1: can we stop re-re-re-hashing the antics of former parliamentarians? Just because a few goldfish has rushed books into print on the issue doesn’t mean that we have to mindlessly follow them. There are more important things to think about.

  3. At this point I should say that I’ve recently read Jacqueline Kent’s Take Your Best Shot: the prime ministership of Julia Gillard and Bruce Hawker’s The Rudd Rebellion: the campaign to save Labor. I’ve read Kerry-Anne Walsh’s The Stalking of Julia Gillard: how the media and Team Rudd brought down the Prime Minister, Nicholas Stuart’s Rudd’s Way: November 2007-June 2010 and parts of Barrie Cassidy’s The Party Thieves: the real story of the 2010 election. Now I’ve started on Mungo MacCallum’s The Mad Marathon: the story of the 2013 election and have lined up Maxine McKew’s Tales from the Political Trenches. That will be it for me.

    Brian, your framed certificate as an official Political Tragic is in the mail!

  4. A boxed set of The Collected Parliamentary Speeches of Nicola Roxon will be in your Xmas stocking. Along with the Bruce Hawker Political Campaigning Playbook and John McTernan’s Memoirs at no extra cost.

  5. I’m also with Bernice at #1. I fully understand the sociological and psychological fascination with rehashing what exactly did and didn’t go on with Rudd vs Gillard, but it legitimises the Tory talking-point of their governments as dysfunctional when neither were any worse than the preceding Howard government and IMO actually demonstrably more effective in many ways, and are certainly likely to prove, in the fullness of time, to be far more effective than the Abbott government.

  6. Meanwhile in the present Parliament Tony Abbott continues to prove he is an incompetent fool and totally unfit to be Prime Minister.

    [sorry PB just discovered you in the spam filter ~ Mod]

  7. BTW Brian, I don’t mean that as a criticism of you for posting this! Just that the continuing media fascination in general I don’t see as productive [eta: right now]. I’ll be genuinely interested to see the 10 years on and 20 years on retrospectives after everybody involved is well and truly retired.

  8. I’d like to engage with the post though … I don’t agree with Wong’s point that they were both amazing politicians. I think Rudd was a gutless narcissist, and the way he fluffed the ETS – using it as a political wedge and then dropping it when it got tough to push – was terrible. We could have had a double dissolution on climate change back in 2010 and smashed the opposition to that issue permanently. Instead we have … this …

    I remember I was in London in 2009 and my conservative Aussie mates would deride Rudd as a narcissist and a fool, and say he didn’t have any policy substance, his ETS was an ineffectual gift to polluters, he was just using it for grandstanding and didn’t want to do anything serious, etc. I disagreed with them then. I was wrong. Every step of the way Rudd was interested only in what made him look good and what suited his preening self-image.

    I also think that any analysis of what Rudd should or shouldn’t have done needs to take into account his deliberate and practised public destruction of Gillard. There’s no point in rehashing it here and I know Brian doesn’t think it happened, but assessing Rudd only on his (imo very poor) policy merits and his single election victory is unfair on Gillard, given that Rudd’s period of plain sailing was under a very fair breeze indeed, and Gillard had to navigate some very stormy waters.

  9. Casey, thanks, fixed now. My spelling was quite good until I started having to type, which is a continuing nightmare for me.

    Just in general, people have a narrative about this whole thing that has points of sharp difference which are quite important in assessing what happened. I like to work at it until I am learning nothing new. Each account has added something new and settled some of the contentious points, some provisionally, but there has been clarification.

    I’m looking forward to McKew’s account for several reasons. One is that she worked as a parliamentary secretary for Gillard on an early childhood program whereby kindy and childcare were going to be brought together by opening centres attached to schools. I know that McKew worked her butt off to get the policy right. Then suddenly the rug was pulled to save money.

    I regarded the policy work being done as one of those that really make a difference to a lot of kids’ life chances. McKew was talking to some people I know who really know their stuff in the area.

    Something went badly wrong in her communication and relationship with her boss at the time and no-one seems to know the story.

    Of course if people prefer to run around with stuff in their heads that’s just plain wrong about an important period in our public life, that’s up to them, but personally I’m not quite done with it yet.

    But I don’t want to obsess excessively about it. What we do now and next is more important.

    My motivation in posting here was just in facilitating access for those who appreciate it, which I didn’t find straightforward from Quiggin’s link.

  10. I’ve only read the first 3 parts so far, but found some bits quite interesting. A lot had not yet come out about happened in 2010 until recently because the ALP was still in government and MPs who had formerly supported Rudd supported Gillard now. With some of those very close to events supporting Rudd becoming PM again and now out of parliament they feel free to talk more about from their point of view the detail of what went on. And some of that contradicts what we have been told previously.

    With both of them out of parliament now for the Gillard/Rudd camps I think this mostly just a battle over historical legacies and everything from the various books, articles, inteviews and events needs to be looked at with that in mind.

    but assessing Rudd only on his (imo very poor) policy merits and his single election victory is unfair on Gillard, given that Rudd’s period of plain sailing was under a very fair breeze indeed, and Gillard had to navigate some very stormy waters.

    How much of a fair breeze did Rudd ever get? He had to start dealing with the GFC from very early on in his term and the reduced government revenue had a huge effect on what he could do.

  11. When I first read about this on John Quiggin, I was furious, because of the general air brushing that was going on in his post, plus various diehard sexists there taking the opportunity to re-run their versions of Gillard as an evil witch, etc.

    Now I just think what the hell. I’ve read most of Hartcher’s articles, and it’s pretty clear what’s going on. Hartcher – who was actually a player, running the ‘isn’t Gillard hopeless, the ALP must get Rudd back ‘ line, as I recall – is now busily rewriting history, eliding all the gender and sexism issues, and recasting the story as a mainstream patriarchal narrative of two flawed individuals, locked in a struggle for power, that ends up destroying them and those around them, and in which he – Hartcher – appears as the intrepid, but always objective, journalist, bringing us the real story. LOL.

    I could get angry and write 50 posts about why this is wrong, or I could think of more constructive ways to disrupt the dominant patriarchal paradigm, I suppose.

  12. For me the most important lesson is in the first part, as it essentially states that the final cross factional alliance of the 2010/13 govt is the one that will run the party for a long time to come (notice how the two contenders for the leadership vacancy were from that alliance? Hello, Greg Combet, where did you go, and why is it important that you left?)

    I don’t expect Gillard loyalists to be up for understanding this point I have to make, but I detected a subtext to Hartcher’s work about how a major part of her partyroom defeat came from her misreading the NSW Right’s generation-long strategies; while Rudd’s party leadership reform fit in nicely with that outlook (and his decision to quit the top job after failing to keep the election result close would also appear to have complimented their objectives.)

    Also, from this and other pieces, I get the impression Gillard relying too much on the public support of union leaders Howes & DeBruyn & Big Bill Ludwig was a major factor in not only her demise, but that it’s also broken some kind of oldschool agreement in Rightwing circles about party secretaries having precedence over union bosses RE access to the parliamentary ALP leadership. This is potentially big in its implications. Sorry if people want the relationship she had with those AWU/SDA jokers to be withewashed out of history, but there it is.

    If you supported Julia and are a Labor voter, this is worth engaging, without, say, recourse to the demonisation of Sam Dastyari—people, he’s 30, he will outlast your attempts to return to the bosom of old Left v. Right bunfight certainties. And don’t even attempt to bring up books about `stalking’ to this guy…

  13. Fran @ 17
    That particular story of those particular individuals may be over, but as Nickws’ post suggests (intentionally or not), the general story isn’t.

    The ALP has a conservative male leader, whom a lot of people don’t like much (and who was chosen by caucus not the party). It has a deputy leader who is probably more popular, but is also female and from the left.

    I don’t think Grounghog Day is the world’s greatest film, but it does have a nice simple message – you can’t expect things to get better if you keep doing the same thing – and I think the ALP caucus should watch it.

    And definitely the issues of sexism in politics aren’t over.

    On a brighter note, I went to a local forum last night hosted by the Greens, which was about building progressive alliances. Baby steps, but it was ok.

  14. I am with Bernice too.

    I cannot read another word about Rudd and Gillard.

    Of the two I prefer Gillard. I think she may be one of those ‘grown ups’ Abbott thinks he is.

    Abbott is the main game now.

    Surely the Hartchers of this world would be more gainfully employed concentrating on the here and now and what the future holds for us. The whole Rudd-Gillard rivalry is like a long running soap opera with cued boos and hisses from the stalls.

    Let us move on to Indonesian shadow puppetry. More complex and intriguing and far more important for the nation.

    TA has been unbelievably insensitive to date. I hope some very sophisticated minds are crafting that letter to SBY.

    The Prime Minister’s media cheer squad are complicit in this downturn in our relations with our soon-to-be very powerful neighbour. They roared with approval when Abbott and Morrison performed their raucous duet: Stop the Boats. They kept on and on despite soft-spoken protests from our neighbour. Tony and Scott simply shouted louder.

    The Indonesians were already resentful that the sanctity of their sovereignty had been disregarded by Liberal Party strategists, both before and after the election, when the spying revelations burst from the blue.

    Surely a country should be able to have enough confidence in a leader to be able to handle diplomatic mishaps.

    Who is advising Tony Abbott? He makes things worse every time he utters. He is probably improving his personal standing among some voters too.

    We should wake up to ourselves. In a decade or so Indonesia is tipped to become one of the world’s economic and political powerhouses.

  15. I cannot read another word about Rudd and Gillard.

    No one will make you read it 🙂

    With a bunch of MPs retiring I think we’re still going to see a few more books/articles come out. Doesn’t Gillard have a book contract? And I’ll be surprised if Rudd doesn’t end up writing one as well. Does anyone really think they should both just shut up about that period of time and go away? Who here is going to refuse to read their books on that basis?

  16. Chris – indeed.

    I am aware of The Books too. I will probably read Julia Gillard’s.

    My point was that the obsession with Rudd and Gillard is not counterbalanced by media commentary on matters in the here and now apart from the usual cheer leading.

    I would like to read more about:

    1. The importance of Indonesia to Australia in the near future.
    2. The refusal by this government to be open and accountable and what it means for our democracy.
    3. The poss sale of Channel 10 to Rupert Murdoch. Fox style journalism coming our way?
    4. Poss sale of SBS and the future of the ABC.
    5. The Slipper matter.

    So many, many things I would prefer the media examined than raking over the coals on Rudd and Gillard.

    That is a personal bias btw.

    I am always surprised that people find leadership battles so interesting. I expect nothing else. I’ll bet Turnbull is having some thoughts as he watches Abbott flailing about.

    That said, I want Abbott to make a graceful exit and restore the relationship with Indonesia. It is very important for this country.

  17. Nope. Current preoccupations are inscribed on our accounts of the past.

    For as long as there exist passionately held positions that go beyond the available evidence, then the debate isn’t about the past but rather about the present and the future.

    And gender politics are some of the most contested elements of our polity. The struggle between the Rudd and Gillard forces provides a consistent mirror that reflects back our preoccupations.

    Discuss.

  18. Katz – I take your point.

    I probably share your views about gender politics.

    That said I am more interested in other matters, some of which I have scribbled off and I am nowvery keen to learn more about Australia’s role in the coming power shift to Asia.

    I am irritated and unsatisfied by all the usual name-calling, finger-pointing, rah rah Abbott stuff in relation to the stoush with Indonesia. Just change the cast and it is a re-run of Brave Tony Stoutheart battling the Evil Witch Gillard and Simpleton Rudd.

    It is so boring I could yell.

    I am hopeful that strained relations will be repaired and that this govt will learn something.

    I would be unsurprised if business in Australia and Indonesia did not force a rapprochement.

    I remain appalled though at Tony Abbott’s parochialism. I hope he will be propelled into adulthood.

    He needs to lead us competently towards a world in which Indonesia will be a much richer and more powerful neighbour.

    Meanwhile I am not going to waste time re-reading stuff about Rudd and
    Gillard. I will wait for the book. Her’s not his. I might even learn Indonesian. I believe it is easier than most languages.

  19. Business in Indonesia are not going to force a rapprochement on this – that is wishful thinking of the sort that has got us where we are.

  20. What Mindy said. Also, I was peripherally involved with the Jabiluka Action Group in Melbourne a while ago. The people there viewed leadership dynamics as bulldust. A bunch of adults, broadly on the same page shouldn’t need to have a leader. This view of things was new to me but it worked better than I expected. Maybe all the leader talk about the labour party is a way of avoiding personal responsibility. Who cares about the people desperate to be “Leaders”. If you want something done, do something about it yourself. Having said that, I have joined the Greens, which does have a ‘leader’. Oh well. Maybe they shouldn’t.
    JAG members thought the reaction of journalists who asked after leaders was hilarious. Many journos flatly could not believe that any group could exist without a leader. Says a lot about them I suppose.
    I hasten to add the JAG group had uni students, PHDs, and others. not just a bunch of dole bludgers.

  21. Please take discussion on Indonesia to the Indonesian spying thread.

    What Katz said @ 23.

    Recently someone said that Rudd will be thanked by history for his handling of the GFC, (in relation to this he was largely responsible for reviving the G20; Obama wanted a more restricted gathering) and for initiating party reform.

    Who owns and runs the party is very much inscribed on recent history. Rudd’s reforms, even the initial ones, are not bedded down until the Party conference approves them. You’d have to expect a rearguard action from the unions. I’d have been more confident about the outcome with Albo rather than Shorten.

    Journalists are said to write the first draft of history. Best they do it before the trail goes cold. Hartcher has done more than the usual investigative work. For example, he has added to our knowledge about what happened with the leaks, whereas Jacqueline Kent, for example, in an otherwise excellent book, simply says that most in Caucus believe Rudd did it, or was involved, which we already knew.

    But then Hartcher seems to completely underestimate the significance of the leaks, especially the ‘old Julia’ treatment by the MSM. To pick up one of Val’s points, Hartcher certainly airbrushes out the feminine perspective, or, more likely, simply fails to perceive it. My impression is that he needs some consciousness raising, or ideological re-programming.

    I may come back to the point about him being an active player, as it exemplifies an important point about the relationship between politics and the media, IMO.

  22. Brian – I think there are so many interesting things to say about the treatment of Australia’s first PM which go beyond the effect of leaks and the rest of it.

    What does it say about our society that a large slab of the population were susceptible to being convinced that Julia Gillard was incapable, corrupt, a cold-blooded shrew, a harpy, witch, bitch?

    I look forward to reading Julia Gillard’s account to see if she can cast any insights. Meanwhile I will bone up on the whore/saint portrayal of womanhood throughout history. I may start with poor old Eve.

  23. Just on our historical orientation generally, certainly we need to look at our future in the region, but remembering that regions are less important than they were and European culture/civilisation covering nearly half a billion people in its central formation is not done yet.

    I believe that we need to recast our place in nature, recast our relationship with each other, and reshape our utopistic yearnings away from one where using and having more stuff is central.

    Certainly we can learn from Asia, as much or more from its past than from its present and future. However we certainly need to understand who we are, and how we have come to be who we are. A fair bit of that is as a phallocarnocentric European outpost in this wide brown land. Our understanding of how the Great Chain of Being plays out in the modern world contains many subthemes, including race, ageism, class, speciesism(?) and the gender divide.

    Certainly we act in the present, which physically is the only thing that exists, unfolding in successive nanoseconds. Yet psychologically the present is a subjective and somewhat arbitrary fusion of ideas, images, concepts, feelings, hopes and desires emanating from memories of past and possibilities for the future.

    I like to keep working over the past until I’m comfortable with it and own it. There’s a word I dislike – it’s ‘closure’. The past needs to be continually reshaped if we are to retain our bearings in the present.

    End of rant.

  24. Not a rant Brian. Interesting.

    I know you have shooed me off to the macramé knotted thread you have dangled for Indonesian comments but I am disobedient.

    Never fear this is my last thought on the matter.

    I hope my wishful thinking that Money will Talk loudly enough to force a solution to this disagreement with Indonesia, comes to pass and that a healthier more sophisticated relationship emerges.

    I hope this difficult time awakens people to the Prime Minister’s considerable limitations.

    I hope we start to wake up to the fact that a New World order is heaving into being and that Indonesia is V. Important.

    I hope. I hope. Tell me I am not dreamin’.

  25. Sceptic @ 29, cross-posted, but yes indeed. I’ve been meaning to start on a series of posts that start with before the beginning of the Indo-European language, roughly around the time of the domestication of the horse about 4800 BCE on the steppes north of the Black Sea That’s where our culture began, with a single sky-god and a hierarchical social structure with powerful chiefs as patrons.

    There’s an interesting book by David W Anthony The Horse, the Wheel and Language: how the Bronze-Age riders from the Eurasian steppes shaped the modern world.

    I have in mind a series of posts beginning with Anthony, but not quite ending with Joanna Bourke’s What it Means to be Human. She begins with a actual letter to The Times in 1872 under the heading “Are Women Animals?” The anonymous Earnest Englishwoman seeks the same rights for women which were accorded to animals, the possession of which would be to the betterment of women. Bourke gives the whole edifice a thorough shake.

    But I wasn’t going to end there. My eye was caught by an article by Axel Honneth linked by Jungney wherein he talked about the development of the hard-edged individualism in early childhood when autonomy becomes the central issue in personality development at about age two. I was minded of discussion on the thread of a post by Cristy which indicated that in more traditional Asian communally oriented societies the “terrible twos” don’t exist. Nor do they, I subsequently found from Jarred Diamond, in most traditional hunter-gatherer societies. Hierarchies, patriarchy, individualism all come, it seems, with the accumulation of possessions. Anthony, indeed, states that matriarchal societies yield to patriarchal ones with the introduction of herding.

    The more I blog here the further away I seem to get from what I’d really like to write.

  26. Brian – I encourage thee.

    I would so interested in reading such accounts.

    The older I get the more I realize I have a head full of information searching for context.

    We search for answers in all the obvious places. I always know that my key has fallen down the side of the chair. Same old. Same old. Cause and effect. Cause and effect. Rat-a-tat-tat. Everything neatly topped and tailed.

    Go Brian!

  27. Brian I would be interested to read your posts too. I wish that I had time to do the reading you are doing. It is really impressive.

  28. Brian:

    [generalisation about Asian societies snipped. If you want to say something like that you need to provide evidence ~ Mod]

    The most notable thing about Jared Diamond (IMO) is that he has made some bizarre claims about Australia in his books and then refused to debate them when he toured Australia. I find a better source of information if I were you, Brian.

  29. “generalisation about Asian societies snipped. If you want to say something like that you need to provide evidence”

    The are countless studies on calorific intake, nutrition and life expectancy in primitive agricultural, horticultural and otherwise pre-post-industrial societies, of which more traditional Asian communally oriented societies are obviously a subset.

    I would’ve thought this was obvious to anyone with a n elementary stock of common knowledge. For those who lack same, Human Societies: An Introduction to Macrosociology (my old macro textbook) might be a useful reference.

    By way of interest, my own wife and her eleven brothers and sisters all have the short stature, weakened teeth etc that are artefacts of such a diet.

    Should this be insufficient, I am more than happy to provide further information.

  30. Further to the above, if Asia includes South Asia, it is worth remembering that malnutrition is much worse in the poorer (and more traditional) parts of India and Bangladesh than in sub-Saharan Africa even though median income is higher in the former. See Unicef on this for example.

    Once again, I had always thought this was common knowledge. It was certainly clear to even as a teenager with a third rate rural tech school education.

  31. The more I blog here the further away I seem to get from what I’d really like to write.

    I would suggest starting your own stand alone blog but you seem voluntarily trapped at LP.
    Your loyalty is strangling you Brian.
    If LP can’t survive without you it’s time to let it go.
    How many years have you left to fully express yourself ?
    I’m sure Mark, as your son, would agree.
    Best wishes,
    jumpy.

  32. Katz @ 23
    Nothing much to discuss at present, think you’ve said it all for the present.
    I was feeling both angry and depressed after reading Hartcher, Quiggin’s blog, commenters on Quiggin’s blog etc, but this discussion has been so much better. I very much like a lot of what Brian said @28 and 30 too. Heartening.

  33. Brian @ 30
    I really dislike the term closure too – so glib- and don’t generally like exhortations to move on ( though I guess I know where Fran was coming from this time). Margaret Atwood, as ever, says it best, speaking through the character of a historian:

    “Where to start is the problem, because nothing begins when it begins and nothing’s over when it’s over, and everything needs a preface: a preface, a postscript, a chart of simultaneous events.”

    ― Margaret Atwood, The Robber Bride

  34. Golly @ 36

    Where are the “countless studies” you allude to? I’m doing a PhD in public health, and I’m not familiar with them.

  35. @ 28

    Who owns and runs the party is very much inscribed on recent history. Rudd’s reforms, even the initial ones, are not bedded down until the Party conference approves them. You’d have to expect a rearguard action from the unions. I’d have been more confident about the outcome with Albo rather than Shorten.

    Brian, I think that one particular reform has already been settled for good, and the next set of reforms are going to start resembling what Milliband in Britain is facing with his party.

    I hate to use 3rd way nonsense language of ‘beyond Left and Right’, but there’s something coming that will make folks from all wings angry, at least if they’re not prepared. Yet Shorten should always have the edge in numbers.

    Val

    The ALP has a conservative male leader, whom a lot of people don’t like much (and who was chosen by caucus not the party). It has a deputy leader who is probably more popular, but is also female and from the left… I went to a local forum last night hosted by the Greens, which was about building progressive alliances.

    Sorry, but I reckon these opinions reflect a major part of why Gillard’s failure is different than Rudd’s, and why I’m tempted to think we’re looking at a party that is positioning itself as post-Rudd and never-was-Gillard.

    It doesn’t matter if she never generated hate among her colleagues like KRudd did, now that both are gone & all the colleagues are planning for 2016 & 2019, the argument is now on an abstract plain, and it’s tilted to the legacy he left behind. I think that’s why he pulled the plug instead of sitting through til the next election. To preserve that legacy gap.

    She made a mistake in putting together an alliance predicated on the base support of MPs such as the now invisible Swan, fairweather friends like Shorten and Butler, the union bruvvers, and outsider Leftwingers who rush to support the Greens when they want to show their hands as pro-Labor-reform…

    I now accept it’s wrong to ignore the importance of the sexist attacks, and how that degraded her with too much of the public, but they don’t explain her core offence to the party structure.

  36. Val: “I’m doing a PhD in public health, and I’m not familiar with them.”

    Google is your friend. Type in search words like nutrition health pre-industrial and books like this pop up. Since more than one link seems to put one in moderation I’ll leave it to you to peruse the various journal abstracts etc that also come up in search results.

  37. golly, the bits from Diamond I am planning to use are accounts mostly of the observations and studies done be others, plus some of his own from PNG. Ntohing to do with nutrition, which is off-topic on this thread.

    Nickws @ 42, that’s interesting. I’ve heard it said that Gillard should have cut herself loose from those who put her there and then been more active in party reform. Her performance at the 2012 party conference even drew quite harsh criticism from Kerry-Anne Walsh, and that’s saying something.

  38. Sceptic, I read surprisingly little. Mark by my count reads 25 times as much because he’s four times as fast (that is probably literally true) and spends six times as much time at it. Some of the best I get from him, but also find some stuff myself.

    jumpy @ 38, thanks for the thought. Mark has just emerged from horrendous teaching/marking and until today had two busted computers. We’ve been thinking and talking and will do some more before making any decisions.

  39. Val, on Hartcher as a player, K-A Walsh says he was, he denies it. She’s either right or wrong; he’s either lying, deluded or telling the truth.

    I’m inclined to think he was a tool rather than an active player with an agenda, or supporting Rudd’s agenda. I also think Rudd was far less active than many suppose.

    As to the MSM though, it’s like they say about quantum physics. There, if you observe a particle you change it.

    Similarly if you write and report about politics it feeds back into the political process. Some do it with intent.

    Bruce Hawker observed that Newscorp’s frontal assault during the campaign produced the lowest swings in the states where it was most virulent. Nevertheless he thinks it had a huge effect. For one thing it was a major distraction for the Rudd campaign and distorted their effort as they felt they had to counter some elements of it.

    Moreover, it allowed Abbott to be more positive than otherwise would have been the case.

    Hawker also cites instances of anti-Rudd leaking from Campaign HQ, would you believe, but it was relatively inconsequential. He also cites instances where stuff was written that the writers knew was untrue.

    Incidentally, on the make-up artist furore, he reckons all Rudd did was smile once, say nothing and was thinking about the oncoming debate as she smeared muck on his face. OK, he probably forgot to thank her. Basically a beat-up, but it crowded out substantive comment on the debate.

  40. Brian @ 46
    I don’t know Kevin Rudd, but I imagine he is the sort of person who is so focused on tasks that he doesn’t always extend common courtesy to people, and possibly this is particularly so with those he sees as menials. Anyway the wrongs and rights of Kevin Rudd have never been my main focus – they are part of the normal narratives of mainstream patriarchal politics ( such as people like Hartcher are accustomed to writing about).

    The ways in which women have been excluded from positions of power are not just ‘ natural’ – there are processes going on that achieve this. So if some men interviewed by Hartcher ascribe ‘secret’, devious motives to Julia Gillard, you have to ask whether this fits a narrative of women in general being devious and thus unsuited for power.

    People who benefit from situations of power do tend to interpret events in ways which are favourable to the maintenance of that power – I’m sure everyone on LP understands that. So when you have a number of men interpreting events about a woman in a certain way, you have to ask (using the gender lens) does that interpretation tend to support patriarchy or male dominance (and/or deny that women are oppressed or discriminated against)?

    Nickws @ 42
    I think you may have missed the point of what I said. The conservative male leader/ left wing more popular female deputy in the ALP is exactly the same as Rudd/Gillard in 2007. Sometime the ALP caucus has to accept that imposing conservative values and traditional male dominance on the party isn’t the way forward. It’s often said that the membership is more progressive than caucus, as if that was the problem! The problem is that caucus seems to position themselves where they think the ‘public’ or the ‘swinging voters’ will accept, rather than standing for something.

    Can’t respond to rest of what of what you’ve said because I don’t understand it, although I think I disagree with it. (Also btw I know that Tanya Plibersek didn’t want the leadership position at this time, but I bet there were other potential female candidates who should have been considered).

  41. Brian @ 46
    I do want to “move on” from this at the moment – at least to do some of my thesis – but I just had a flash.

    To put what I was trying to say above more succinctly and I hope more clearly, I think you’ve got a ‘false balance’ problem.

    Trying to weigh Hartcher and his ilk ‘objectively’ against feminist writers, is like trying the media trying to be ‘objective’ by giving equal time to climate change deniers as to climate change scientists.

  42. It is absolutely impossible for an armchair observer to come to any definitive conclusions about the whole Rudd/Gillard affair no matter how many books or articles one reads. To have any chance of distilling the truth from the thicket of competing claims, one would have cross examine all the key players in a court-like setting. This isn’t going to happen. Rather than bash the evidence into a shape that fits our our ideological preconceptions, wouldn’t it be wiser to simply accept that we don’t know what happened and almost certainly never will?

  43. Golly @ 50
    I don’t think you were part of the earlier argument so just to explain once more, I am not talking about “distilling the truth from the thicket of competing claims” – that is the ‘false balance’ issue I discussed above.

    I am saying that sexism played a part in this, which should be totally unacceptable, and that journalists like Hartcher, who ignore the role of sexism, are complicit in it, and therefore unreliable.

    If you want to look to the future, let’s focus on how to get rid of sexism in politics and the media.

  44. Val @51:

    I am saying that sexism played a part in this, which should be totally unacceptable, and that journalists like Hartcher, who ignore the role of sexism, are complicit in it, and therefore unreliable..

    We all overstate those things that are central to our ideology while understating or ignoring those things that are peripheral. Hartcher is no more (or less) guilty of this than the feminists you wish to place on a pedestal.

    I won’t be bullied by those who want to marginalise and delegitimise Hartcher into rendering him an invisible Other.

  45. Golly @ 52
    Your argument appears to be that it’s ok for Hartcher to ignore the effects of sexism because it’s not “central to his ideology”.

    Which is like saying that it’s ok for white people to ignore the effects of racism because it’s not central to their ideology, etc – and as such, is not an argument worth engaging with any further.

  46. Wrong.

    Individual cases do not necessarily reflect broader trends; that is why we have quaint customs like presumptive innocence and trial by jury. [Threadjack and personal comment deleted. Feel free to discuss the case on Saturday Salon but leave the generalisations out of it please ~ Mod]

  47. They were both brought down by their own parties. Sexism had little to do with it. If they thought Gillard could have won government or done better than Ruddthey would have stuck with her.

  48. Golly @ 54
    I just want to engage with your comment about “presumption of innocence” because I think it’s quite a common misunderstanding.

    Presumption of innocence applies when an individual is facing prosecution by the state for a crime. You can’t apply the concept directly to equal opportunity or anti-discrimination law because those laws were established in order to redress a situation in which women (or other relevant groups) were not being given equal opportunity.

    This doesn’t mean that any specific individual can be presumed guilty of discrimination, but it does mean that the existing social order was presumed to be discriminatory.

    Of course if you wish to argue that it wasn’t, or it isn’t now, you can do so, but I think given that even COAG accepts that there is still a problem, that argument wouldn’t have much force:

    http://www.coagreformcouncil.gov.au/sites/default/files/files/Tracking%20equity%20Comparing%20outcomes%20for%20women%20and%20girls%20across%20Australia%2C%20Key%20findings.pdf

  49. Smithy we have thrashed this out endlessly before. Read just about any Overflow thread to find the Rudd/Gillard/sexism debate. If you want to start it again, take it to the Overflow thread.

  50. @ 47

    I think you may have missed the point of what I said. The conservative male leader/ left wing more popular female deputy in the ALP is exactly the same as Rudd/Gillard in 2007. Sometime the ALP caucus has to accept that imposing conservative values and traditional male dominance on the party isn’t the way forward. It’s often said that the membership is more progressive than caucus, as if that was the problem!
    Can’t respond to rest of what of what you’ve said because I don’t understand it, although I think I disagree with it.

    Val, if you go ahead and become a genuine activist in that non-Labor party whose meetings you started attending, then more power to you.

    Hopefully the young’uns will stear you away from getting too pointlessly attached towards those non-Green Party reform processes over in the ALP.

    Also, if i may talk to you so, please be careful not to start promoting Labor’s Plibersek (who actually is pretty good) as superior to the sadly male Bandt when he becomes Green Party leader, though. May not go down to well with the progressive brethren…

  51. Val @ 48:

    To put what I was trying to say above more succinctly and I hope more clearly, I think you’ve got a ‘false balance’ problem.

    Pullease, Val, I now feel like a butterfly stuck to a pin board with a nice label under it! This butterfly wants to fly!

    I’m not recommending Hartcher for an overall interpretation as to what went on. While he has to be read with care, he has done more research than most on the nuts and bolts of specifics. To take the example of whether Rudd leaked during the 2010 election he identifies the specific arguments and deals with them. For example, it is said there were only four people in the room, Rudd, Swan, Tanner and Gillard, when the question of increasing the aged pension was discussed. I thought it was a cabinet discussion and am not prepared to concede it wasn’t only on Hartcher’s say so (and Swan’s), but assuming for the sake of the argument that it was the ‘gang of four’ Hartcher points out that such meetings had up to 30 other people in the room. That seems on the high side, but it is quite believable that support staff would be present, and quite unbelievable that no staff would be present except on rare occasions.

    As a result of this and the rest of his detailed discussion, I’d say we don’t know for sure, and uncertainty will probably remain, but the statement the ‘Rudd did not leak’ is more likely than not true. Here I refer you to the second table in Roger Jones’ post about how probability is expressed in IPCC documents. The probability is IMHO >50% but <66%.

    The climate denialist analogy isn't helpful. Denialist scientists can discuss, for example, whether there are changes in the frequency and intensity of tropical cyclones provided they stick to the facts and logical reasoning based on the facts.

  52. To take another example, Hartcher has one of the clearest and most comprehensive accounts I’ve seen on how the CPRS came to be deferred. It pretty much puts to bed the notion we got from Rudd that ‘Julia (and Wayne) made me do it’. As a result of the sequence Hartcher lays out it is clear that Rudd must take full responsibility.

    That’s >99%.

  53. Nickws and Brian
    As far as I can work out, neither of you understands what I’ve been saying, so mindful of my own advice about Groundhog Day, I’m going to leave it at that.

    If you should want to talk about the role of gender in Australian politics one day, I happen to know a lot about that subject, both from academic research and from personal experience. I am happy to discuss the issue with anyone who is genuinely interested.

    And Nickws you are wrong in your assumptions about my involvement in politics, so maybe you’d like to think about why you made those assumptions and why you wanted to patronise me?

  54. Brian @ 60 and 61
    I think I have been a bit unfair lumping you in with Nickws so I will just try one more time – I’m sorry you felt like a butterfly being pinned down, I was just trying to explain something by analogy. The ‘false balance’ term is often used when media think they have to give equal weight to the views of climate change deniers with climate scientists – I’m trying to posit Hartcher as a ‘sexism denier’.

    If that doesn’t work, I’ve thought of another way of explaining it: it’s as if you are trying to talk in two competing discourses at once. The discourse of feminism says gender matters in politics. The liberal individualist discourse that Hartcher operates in (which is actually patriarchal, but I won’t go in to explaining why right now) assumes that gender can be ignored. When you try to weigh them against each other in the way you have been doing, you set up a whole lot of logical inconsistencies. You need to take a position: does gender matter in politics or not?

    If you said, as I hope you would, that gender does matter, then you could still use Hartcher as a reference, but you would use him a different way. You wouldn’t set him up as an equal authority with the feminist writers, which is what you seem to be doing. In doing that, it implies you are paying lip service to feminism.

    [personal comment redacted ~ Mod.]

  55. If I may, can I just clarify that I wasn’t saying (or certainly wasn’t trying to say) anything that was in any way meant to be personally rude or offensive in the comment that was redacted? I’m worried that people may think I was, because the comment was redacted, but I was just trying to express doubt about whether I had said what I was trying to say in a way that was ok and wouldn’t offend anyone.

  56. Val, in the examples I mentioned it wouldn’t matter if the actors were male, female or transsexual. In other cases it would matter. A liberal individualist discourse is probably OK if you are trying to establish whether Rudd lied when he said he had nothing to do with leaks.

    Kerry-Anne Walsh’s approach is that of asserting he leaked because he had a vengeful heart and placed his own ambitions ahead of the party. The evidence for this is “Well it’s obvious, that’s his personality” or similar.

    But the K-A W is probably not a feminist writer, just a writer often quoted by feminists.

    Feminist writers vary in their quality. Patriarchy involves more binaries than male-female IMHO.

    Feminists disagree. Few of any ilk get it right all the time. Jane Caro said Abbott is not a misogynist. It’s a complex world.

    Of the ones I’ve read, I’d rate Jacqueline Kent the best, but I wouldn’t term her a feminist writer. She based her work on interviews with Gillard, whose views, motives and comments she conveys sensitively. I’m enjoying Mungo MacCallum and his sardonic style, which is distinctively Mungo and probably seen as male. He does, however, appear to be sensitive to feminist issues.

  57. I’m trying to posit Hartcher as a ‘sexism denier’.

    Hartcher is perfectly aware that sexism exists. A quick squiz around the Web immediately reveals that Hartcher is being demonised and vilified precisely because he belongs to the wrong gender and has formed an opinion that doesn’t accord with the dominant feminist paradigm. That’s sexism.

  58. golly, I don’t think that’s what Val means. Hartcher would have to be awfully thick not to realise that sexism exists. The assumption would be, I think, that he doesn’t understand feminist issues.

    I still don’t like the ‘climate denier’ analogy, because they wilfully and positively assert that humans are not causing climate change. They don’t ignore it.

  59. Brian whether the female writers mentioned are technically feminist or not (and there is a whole world of analysis there) they understand the egregiousness of the way Julia Gillard was treated, while Hartcher doesn’t acknowledge it (btw I have been doing a lot of reading on denial for an article I’m trying to write, and I think it is the appropriate word in this case).

    Again I have thought of an analogy: if opponents of Barak Obama demonstrated with a sign saying “ditch the n-gg-r” and his chief political opponent was photographed in front of that sign, I am sure there would be an outcry. That’s the same kind of thing that happened to Julia Gillard (I would say that example is probably ‘objectively’ worse, but it’s the same kind of thing) but is ignored by too many male writers.

    You can’t deal with what happened to Gillard without acknowledging sexism. To now write about it, as people like Hartcher and John Quiggin appear to be doing, by weighing Rudd and Gillard up against each other on their ‘merits’, is a form of denial.

    This doesn’t just affect Gillard, it affects all women. The denial, or refusal to acknowledge, that women face sexism is an offence to all women. Again one of the most egregious examples is Tony Abbott’s front bench. The idea that things like just happen on the basis of ‘merit’ is outrageous. It is due to sexism. The under-representation of women in parliament and senior executive positions is due to sexism. Sexism pervades our society. You can’t pick and choose which aspects of it are affected by sexism.

    Anyway I am happy to leave this for now, because as ever there are other things I should be doing, but I hope to return to the subject with a clear and detailed analysis on my blog one day.

  60. The rises and falls of Rudd and Gillard were determined by their ability to command a majority in the Federal Parliamentary Caucus.

    Ascription of the strength of any factor in bringing about change in leadership is idle until its strength is measured in the thinking, calculations and actions of members of the Caucus.

    It is true that these individuals were subject to a range of influences in forming their thoughts and in guiding their actions. But the very fact that diverse persons behaved in diverse ways suggests that none of these influences were irresistible. In other words, individuals were free to assess the relative potency of different spurs to action.

    Take sexism for example. Clearly a small number of Caucus members gave great weigh to sexist presumptions. Equally clearly, a number of Caucus members eschewed sexist calculations. And, by extension, numbers of the caucus harboured fluctuating levels of sexism in their thinking, calculations and actions.

    Equally, Caucus attitudes to Rudd’s qualities as a leader can be ranged across a similar continuum. Rudd was a hero to most Caucus members in 2007, a pariah to most in 2010-2013, and a desperate last hope of averting disaster in 2013.

    One interesting feature of this epoch of ALP history is that Gillard continues to deny that she was preparing for a challenge in 2010. Kim Carr’s testimony seems persuasive on this point. Gillard did prepare a challenge. This is standard operational procedure in Australian political parties. Yet, for whatever reason, Gillard denies behaving like most other leadership aspirants. Why?

  61. Katz,
    Because she doesn’t want to bear the personal responsibility for her treachery that eventually caused the ultimate destruction of a Labor Government that in the normal course of things would have lasted at least three terms and resulted instead in an Abbott-led Conservative Government? The worst of all possible outcomes, I would imagine.
    It would be a very heavy burden for a stalwart Laborite to bear.

  62. Take sexism for example. Clearly a small number of Caucus members gave great weigh to sexist presumptions. Equally clearly, a number of Caucus members eschewed sexist calculations. And, by extension, numbers of the caucus harboured fluctuating levels of sexism in their thinking, calculations and actions.
    Equally, Caucus attitudes to Rudd’s qualities as a leader can be ranged across a similar continuum. Rudd was a hero to most Caucus members in 2007, a pariah to most in 2010-2013, and a desperate last hope of averting disaster in 2013.

    Yes, but while Rudd was subject to fluctuations in perception for various reasons, he didn’t have the sexism lead in his saddlebags.

  63. I won’t be bullied by those who want to marginalise and delegitimise Hartcher into rendering him an invisible Other.

    Oh, you’re adorable. :-/

  64. I agree Helen.

    Gillard’s “it’s not nothing. It’s not everything. It’s something” formulation is correct, in my opinion.

    I think that Gillard’s unwillingness to acknowledge her own plotting is a reflection of how women internalise sexist tropes into their own behaviour. But I am by no means the first person to recognise that tendency. Ann Summers and Germaine Greer beat my by 40 years.

  65. Val, this long excerpt is from Hartcher’s Part 4:

    Tony Abbott was shaping to use Question Time to attack Gillard for defending him [Peter Slipper]. Sean Kelly was one of two Gillard staff sent to brief her for Question Time:

    “She was incredibly riled up that Abbott was trying to turn sexism to his advantage after everything he’d done to her,” beginning with his decision to address an anti-carbon tax rally while standing beneath placards proclaiming “Ditch the Witch” and “Juliar: Bob Brown’s bitch.”

    “She was genuinely angry,” recalls Kelly. “We were urging caution. We said, ‘If he comes at you once over Slipper, dead-bat it so it’s not the only story out of Question Time. But if he comes back a second time, go for it.’

    “I went and got the four best of Abbott’s quotes”, meaning, of course, the worst examples of sexism. “She had only those four quotes and nothing else. Instead of a question, Abbott opened up with a suspension of standing orders”, allowing a full debate on the subject.

    Gillard stood and the speech flowed. It was spontaneous: “I will not be lectured on misogyny by this man.”

    Penny Wong, a member of the Gillard leadership group, reflects: “I was astonished and distressed at the level of visceral hatred for her as a woman. I think the misogyny speech was genuine. She was a woman who’d had enough.”

    Sean Kelly says that it’s one of moments he’s proudest of: “Morale in the government at that time was pretty low; this was a high point. The first female prime minister was doing something only a female prime minister could have done. She gave voice to something a lot of women felt but couldn’t say. It’s impossible to overstate how happy the office was the next day.”

    It’s not a feminist analysis, as was Judith Brett’s (thanks for the link), but it contains information I’ve seen nowhere else. The speech was based on four Abbott quotes, but apart from that it was impromptu.

    I’ve always thought it must have been, and an incredible piece of oratory. I thank Hartcher for his contribution.

    Yet Hartcher makes the mistake made by most journalists, that Gillard was defending Slipper. She wasn’t; that was quite explicit in her speech. Her speech and the other three by Labor speakers make clear that they were defending due process. You don’t sack the Speaker in an urgency motion before question time without said Speaker having an opportunity for defence.

    Hartcher does make this point:

    The misogyny speech also set Abbott back, rattled.

    That point is only made elsewhere by Jacqueline Kent as far as I’ve seen. From memory, Kent says Abbott was personally crushed. But again from memory, Kent goes on to point out that the speech was perhaps a political error. Since then Abbott has surrounded himself with women, slobbered over them at any chance, and left the muck throwing to Julie Bishop. (That’s my account, not necessarily Kent’s.)

    What I’m saying, Val, is that you can get some value out of Hartcher in spite of his ideological shortcomings. He has attended to the nuts and bolts better than most and has obviously done some investigation. That’s all.

  66. Thanks Brian. You are posting at a level of detail and analysis that I can’t really respond to at a comparable level at present (I’m doing this article on climate change denial that I’ve really got to finish) so happy to let you have the last word here, for the time being anyway!

    I just hope you are not losing too much sleep 🙂 Sorry to be slightly off topic but I did read the recent discussion over statins and I’m sure that you are doing all the right things for your health, but I just did wonder if you are having regular moderate to vigorous exercise most days a week (eg brisk walking for at least half an hour)? Apart from the general health benefits which are well known, I think ( and I don’t know of any particular evidence for this apart from my experience) that it helps with sleep. Anyway this is off topic so I’ll leave it for now too!

  67. Ha – just looked it up and there is quite a lot of evidence around exercise and sleep, including a systematic review that found regular moderate exercise improved sleep quality in middle aged and older adults, but didn’t find significant difference re duration, efficiency, interruptions or daytime functioning

    I think it works for me. But if I feel I just have to say anything on this matter , I will go to overflow thread 🙂

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