Thursday, June 23, 2011


This week marks 12 months since Julia Gillard replaced Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister.

To mark the occasion, the 'Herald Sun' in Melbourne had a flash application on their website, which enabled people to rate Julia's performance from A to D in 17 categories, covering aspects of her leadership and performance. A virtual report card of sorts. I went through the exercise, distributing mainly C's, with a few A's and D's thrown in. The results, showing my score and compared with the average of the 'Hun's' readership are shown below:

You may not be shocked to see that they don't rate her very highly. I mean, 'D' in every category!

Now I know this is an exercise conducted by a Newscorp publication and so, as such, should be treated with caution. And the sort of person likely to have done it - 'The biggest crock of shit in the universe' declared 'Megan' of the PM, in an attached article - also needs to be taken into consideration. I mean, for anyone living in Melbourne it would be easy enough to imagine Andrew Bolt sitting in his office, hitting 'D-D-D-D-D-D-D' as he filled in the scorecard twenty thousand times and so skewing the whole exercise to match his own warped view of the universe.

But nevertheless, you can still derive a point from it (and other recent, related, media coverage): Julia Gillard is sinking fast.

In another story on the same day, The Hun had her predecessor and potential successor, Kevin Rudd, pulling a 60% approval rating in a poll they conducted in 12 marginal seats across the country. And easily leading Tony Abbott in a two party preferred contest in those same seats. Julia's comparative performance? Too depressing too consider... unless you are 'Megan' or Andrew Bolt.

The only thing now appearing to stand between Heavy Kevvy and a second coming to the leadership, then, is the extreme loathing that nearly all of his Labor colleagues feel towards him. If any polling were done of the ALP caucus, the likely result would be that they'd rather follow 'The Simpsons' lead:

and install anyone... anything... as leader before they'd consider going back to him again.

Julia, meanwhile, soldiers laboriously on, with everything she touches seemingly turning into a combination nightmare/fist fight. On top of the neverending battle over the Carbon Tax and the NBN and developing stalemate over live cattle exports, she now finds herself under attack from promising to cut taxes and raise family benefits. Normally about as close to a rock solid popular vote winner in this lazy ass country as you can get.

The ALP has indicated that, as part of the Carbon Tax package, they would be offering fairly generous tax cuts and a raise in benefits to offset expected cost increases. Nothing very concrete has been put out in public about what these benefits would entail but a few details are slowly starting to leak out.

Which undoubtedly was what prompted Tony 'Action Man' Abbott to get on the front foot by stating this week that the Liberals would be offering their own generous tax cut package at the next election as well. It probably doesn't need to be said that the Opposition leader also promised that his package would be bigger, more generous and would not be attached to any revenue raising efforts, particularly none that would help save the environment at the same time. And so was much, much better. Save money and do nothing to help the environment? That's gold out in the suburbs!

He said all this, of course, without naming any specific details of his plan, nor indicating how he would pay for it. It is indicative of the current debate, and Julia's troubles, that Abbott's plan was praised while hers was lambasted.

Until she is able to turn the debate back to Abbott, and highlight both the short sightedness and lack of detail in any of his proposals, her troubles look likely to continue. And Kevvy's annoying smirk will only get larger.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Ivan the Terrible and Chairman Mao

The headline on the front page of Saturdays 'Age' was awkward, but made it's point:

'MADAM 31%'

Revealing both that;

a) Prime Minister Julia Gillard's personal approval rating has sunk to a disastrous level and

b) Newspaper copy writers still haven't quite gotten the hang of how to deal with a woman in the top job. I mean, 'Madam 31%'? Come on fellas!

The same report also had Labor's primary vote as 27% and catalogued some of the problems that have beset the Government and lead to such a disastrous, historically low, polling position (they couldn't have printed a comprehensive list of these problems, so extensive are they, and still have left room for any other news).

A short summary of these; Labor's muddled handling of both the asylum seeker and climate change issues, a growing perception that the Government stands for nothing and Gillard's own increasingly ragged performance as leader.

Looked at in conjunction; horrendously low poll numbers and serious problems in both policy and personality terms, the Federal Government appears to be f*cked at this time. While it may be two years or therebaouts to the next election - a long time in other words - the numbers appear to be so bad and Labor's plight so grim that nothing short of a nuclear attack by Indonesia, allowing the Government to sieze unlimited 'emergency powers,' would seem capable of saving it from electoral oblivion.

Things are so bad, in fact, that certain 'unnamed sources' within the Federal ALP appear to be thinking about reactivitating the Ruddbot. Which must have come as news to those others in the Federal ALP who did this to him last year:

'Didn't we kill him? We killed him! WE MELTED HIM DOWN!'

Hell, I guess even Arnie showed up again in 'Terminator 3.'

And, in one sense, I guess you can understand why people would start looking at other, non-Gillard options. I mean, Rudd was cashiered in the first place for leading Labor into a 'disastrous' position in the polls: primary vote of around 35% and dead even, or thereabouts, on the two party preferred. A position, in other words, that today would present a remarkable recovery, assuming Gillard were able to lead her party back to that position.

But, looked at in a different sense, going back to the Ruddbot makes no sense at all and would be, in fact, completely fucking barmy. I mean this is the guy who turned the comfortable electoral victory and buffer in 2007 into the mind bending policy/personality crisis that Labor are suffering from at the moment in the first place.

All of the major policy problems that are afflicting Labor at the moment; a convoluted approach to refugees, increasingly desperate policy on carbon pricing and accusations of waste and inefficiency in Government spending, all started on Rudd's watch. His predecessor has simply lacked the ability to come up with credible alternatives and reverse course.

And this is to say nothing of Rudd's personality and management stylings, which were somewhere between Ivan the Terrible and Chairman Mao on a bad brain day. To say that he was unloved by his cabinet colleagues (as well as wait staff around the country) is to put it mildly.

All of which leaves the ALP in the shit house federally, stuck between a current leader who appears to alienate the electorate more every time she opens her mouth, and a previous leader who most of them can't stand to be in the same room with. And all the time, those poll numbers steadily getting worse.

Which makes things interesting for Tony 'Action Man' Abbott, who would certainly win an election if held now but who appears to be resigned to being stuck in a holding pattern for the next two years. And two years is a long time for someone like The Action Man to hold himself together.... and a very long time for Abbott's colleagues to fret that he won't be able to.

For the only thing appearing to stand between the Liberal Party and a return to Government, apart from the passage of time, is that their leader will have some sort of fatal meltdown. You know the sort of thing; suddenly give that famous death stare of his to a little kid who accidentally bumps into him in a shopping centre, or suddenly declaring on Radio National that all unwed mothers should be placed in some sort of work camp system.

Unlikely perhaps, but not totally beyond the realms of possibility (based on previous form). And it is this one factor alone that the Labor Party faithful (all 14 of them)
will be clinging to during this dark time. That Abbott may blow up and thusly resurrect their fortunes.

The Opposition Leader, oddly, then finds himself in much the same position as Kevin Rudd was after that famous victory in 2007. And viewed in much the same way by his opponents. Despite the current poll numbers, they have fingers crossed his well known character flaws may yet do for him in the end.