Julia’s Dog Of A 50th Birthday

Niceties first: our “dear” leader Gillard turns 50 today; bully for her, and many happy returns, PM. But a present from the so-called first bloke — a “cavoodle” puppy — is entirely inappropriate and a bloody outrage to boot, all things considered.

I think about it all the time, that birthday ten years after the one I’m staring down the barrel of next August. 50! What a milestone! But let’s be generous; this post tonight is part-political only, and part comment.

And so I would like to wish Prime Minister Gillard a very happy 50th birthday; I have always been insistent that politicians be recognised as people first and politicians second, and in that spirit I trust that Julia has had a really nice day.

And I hope one of her presents was a voucher to a shrink so her “first bloke” could get his head read.

What the hell was Tim Mathieson thinking?

It’s all very nice to buy someone a pet as a present — until they realise it’s for life.

I have a two-year-old daughter and we have two cats, but recently I took her to Southland and she was craning her neck to see puppies in a cage at the pet shop, saying “Doggie! Doggie!” and pointing and giggling, all excited.

We weren’t actually at the pet shop, but on the travelator going up a level and the pet shop — unfortunately — was in her line of sight.

It’s bad enough with a little kid foreshadowing trouble on that count, let alone a 50-year-old.

Yet the pet shop story is a nice segue to part of my point.

It’s emerged this afternoon on 3AW’s Drive program — featuring Tom Elliott filling in for Derryn Hinch — that the puppy was sourced from a puppy farm.

Not a reputable, independent breeder, but a puppy farm.

And the problem with puppy farms is this: some are very ethical, very clean, scrupulous in their treatment of their animals, their breeding practices and the attention paid to things like veterinary health, pedigrees, and so forth.

Others aren’t.

And irrespective of which of the two categories into which the particular puppy farm in question falls, Mathieson — politically — has done Julia Gillard no favours.

The issue of puppy farms — much like battery hens — is one increasingly under the spotlight, with calls to outlaw them altogether growing louder.

And so, Mathieson’s gift potentially dumps Gillard into a political storm around animal cruelty, the ethics of factory-farming pets, and puts her on a collision course with respected bodies such as the RSPCA.

The other part of my point comes to what on Earth the Prime Minister is going to do with a dog at all.

It’s true US Presidents like to keep dogs; these are however usually (but not always) for show, and mostly have more of a relationship with Presidential aides than they do with Presidents themselves.

(That fact, at the minimum, ought to have sounded a warning note to Mathieson).

It’s also true that former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd tried to make his cat — Jasper — a Prime Ministerial feature; indeed, Jasper the cat was mercilessly put about by Rudd for years before he ever led the ALP. Before Rudd led it, that is…

But Jasper had already been a family pet of the Rudds; very different to this.

I know that other Prime Ministerial families have kept pets; my problem on this occasion is partly the puppy farm aspect, and partly the present PM’s lifestyle.

In a comment bound to enrage owners of “cavoodles” who may be reading and for which I make no apology, Mathieson didn’t even buy a real dog: he went for one of these trendy inter-bred designer things that frankly shouldn’t even exist.

What about a Labrador, or a German Shepherd, or (my favourite) a Bernese Mountain Dog? All real breeds, all unswervingly loyal, all very well-natured if raised correctly, and all available from extremely reputable purebred breeders across the country.

But the real cruelty — if we accept that this puppy has been sourced from a farm that is good to its animals — lies in the life it can expect.

Elliott on 3AW today was right: Gillard will never be home.

Her life involves extensive trips overseas and extensive domestic travel; and in the absence of those considerations, it involves long, irregular and unpredictable hours in Canberra.

It also involves periods when she must of course be in Melbourne to hold surgeries for her local constituents in Lalor.

How is the poor dog to ever develop a routine?

Or to even bond with its mistress?

I wish the Prime Minister the very best for her birthday; on this one occasion, it’s not her politics that’s in question, but the judgement of her partner.

And I really don’t like the idea of puppies from puppy farms: I hope all such animals find happy lives in loving homes, but there are too many questions around that “industry” for me to give it any overall sanction whatsoever.

I’ve been accused of a lot of things over the years: conservative troglodyte, dry as biscuits, too old-school, old-style Tory. Oh, and arrogant, belligerent, and the labels the Left throws at people on my side because they think they should — Fascist, that type of thing.

You name it and I’ve heard it: and half the time at least, I’ll wear it as a badge of honour on account of an impervious hide and an utter confidence in my convictions.    🙂

But when it comes to our friends on four legs, they too need to be treated with dignity and respect; THAT is why I am outraged that such a prominent individual as Tim Mathieson should buy a farmed puppy as a gift for the Prime Minister; and THAT is why I am outraged that this dog will probably end up being a consolation pet gifted to some staffer at The Lodge charged with its immediate needs of upkeep.

Unless, of course, Gillard already knows she’s moving back to Melbourne soon…

Happy birthday, Prime Minister.

What do you think?

Quarterly Newspoll Figures: Labor’s Stuffed In Queensland

I’m sorry to put it so indelicately, but it’s as clear as the O’Farrell case in NSW earlier this year, or the Kennett case in Victoria in 1992, or even the Fraser case federally in 1975: The ALP is about to come a cropper, to use the vernacular. Big time.

This time it’s in Queensland, where Labor has been in office for five terms since forming minority government in 1998; the electoral drubbing is coming, and it’s at least two terms overdue.

Who could forget — the day the 2006 state election was called — National leader Lawrence Springborg and Liberal leader Bruce Flegg, fronting a press conference, their campaign derailed on the spot on day one by a simple question: who would be Premier of Queensland if the Liberals won more seats than the Nationals?

It should have been easily enough deflected: Springborg was Coalition leader heading into the election and barring surprises, would be Premier if the conservatives won.

“Barring surprises” would have been wriggle room enough for the mandatory to occur: if the Liberals won more seats, Flegg would have had to be Premier.

And if questioned about “what surprises,” it would — should — have been easy enough to dismiss the question in terms of the vagaries of the ballot box.

I’m not going to discuss the merits of Bruce Flegg as any sort of leadership contender. Suffice to say, however, Labor was gifted a term in office.

And in 2009 the electoral correction, at least, occurred: the swing back to the Coalition at least left the numbers in Parliament a little more balanced. But Springborg was on his third attempt to become Premier, and teamed with a well-liked but completely ineffectual Liberal leader in Mark McArdle, the duo didn’t stand a chance.

So here we are…another state election looming, and a new quarterly Newspoll from The Australian to dissect.

Newspoll is showing primary vote figures of 50% for the LNP in Queensland (-1% since April/May); 27% for Labor (-4%), 8% for the Greens (+1%), and 15% (+4%) for “Others.”

In two-party terms this equates to 61% for the LNP (+1%) and 39% for the ALP (-1%).

This poll doesn’t exactly mirror the Galaxy poll we looked at in Queensland a month ago — but it doesn’t exactly contradict it, either.

Galaxy found Queenslanders voting 63-37 after preferences; Newspoll finds 61-39, The gap between the two could simply be the margin of survey error, and so broadly, the two validate each other’s findings.

Campbell Newman continues to be a popular putative leader for the LNP, with 51% of respondents approving of his performance and 27% disapproving. This remains, in round terms, a two-to-one margin of approval over disapproval.

Anna Bligh, by contrast, registers 38% approval and 52% disapproval: figures back slipping quite close to those she was registering prior to the flood crisis in January, which provided her with a temporary fillip in her polling.

Tellingly, Newman leads Bligh on the “preferred Premier” measure by 48% to 34%; this is the second-largest lead on this measure, in any poll, by an opposition leader in Queensland since Labor took office in 1998.

Second only to the 49-35 figure Newman recorded in Newspoll in the previous survey: three months ago.

I’m certain that barring a major scandal (and Labor is trying desperately to find one, albeit with a total lack of success to this point), Campbell Newman will be Premier of Queensland before Easter — and will win in a landslide.

Brisbane alone will likely deliver him enough seats: the LNP currently holds just five of the 28 truly metropolitan Brisbane electorates (Aspley, Clayfield, Indooroopilly, Moggill, and Cleveland). Even if the polls overstate the LNP vote, expect that party to win a swag of new seats in Brisbane including Ashgrove, Mount Coot-tha, Mount Ommaney, Mansfield, Springwood and Chatsworth).

And much has been made of Bob Katter’s Australia Party, or whatever it is calling itself this week.

I like Bob Katter, but a) he hasn’t been a member of state Parliament in Queensland for 20 years; b) his appeal is limited in electoral terms; c) he isn’t likely to resonate with voters in south-east Queensland; and d) he certainly isn’t going to be the electoral sensation that “flash in the pan” and right-wing wacko Pauline Hanson was in 1998.

I’d count three seats — perhaps five — as a chance for Katter’s crowd; no more.

And even then, the ructions in Aidan McLindon’s Queensland Party — or at least, what’s left of it — should neatly split the protest vote at the coming election and ensure that most of the protest candidates fail to get elected.

Which brings us back to a two-horse race: Labor and the LNP.

It’s fairly obvious that the ALP is not going to be re-elected in Queensland; the only question is how much it stands to lose by.

I was no supporter of the Liberal/National merger and in many ways remain opposed to it; a decent Liberal leader who gave the finger to the Nationals over seat allocations was all that was required — and the “decent Liberal leader” is now the likely next Premier.

I will concede the LNP has operated much more professionally, and in a more disciplined fashion, than the pre-existing Coalition did.

And so, to use the colloquial expression, Labor is stuffed in Queensland; I’d expect them to record a result of 1977 proportions (not the 1974 bloodbath, just something approaching it).

35 seats as a net gain to the LNP, in other words.

And like so many other Labor administrations around Australia these past few years — be they there, going or gone — will anyone miss the state ALP government in Queensland, 1998-2012?

I doubt it.

What do you think?


Essential Research: Coalition 56, ALP 44

The Essential Research poll I alluded to this morning is out, showing the Coalition maintaining an unchanged lead after preferences over the government, 56-44. At least I think it does: its primary vote figures this time add up to 101% again.

This seems to be becoming a trend with Essential — for whatever reason, their numbers either aren’t rounded off and/or contain errors. Maybe I’m nitpicking, but clearly, it is not possible to (legally/legitimately) have 101% of the electorate cast a vote. Essential seems to do just that, regularly.

Essential records unchanged primary votes of 46% for the Liberals, 3% for the Nationals, and 32% for the ALP. It also finds the Green vote up two points at 12%, the “Don’t Knows” down a point at 8%…and again, a spare percentage point from somewhere else.

Enough said.

Even so, this poll doesn’t show anything other than a clear continuation of what is becoming a settled trend: no change from an exceedingly poor position for the government. Again (like Groundhog Day), were these figures to be replicated at an election, the Coalition would win by miles.

And speaking of elections — in light of the renewal of rumblings emanating from the Labor camp — it’s a bit of a surprise that there is no approve/disapprove questions on Abbott and Gillard, or a “preferred PM” question, with this poll.

Curiously enough, however, it does contain a question on Tony Abbott’s leadership of the Liberal Party.

There were two statements put to Essential’s respondents: “Tony Abbott is performing the role of Opposition leader well and is keeping the Government accountable” was agreed to by 38% of those surveyed; “Tony Abbott is just opposing everything and is obstructing the work of the Government” was agreed to by 45%. 17% of Essential’s respondents didn’t know.

These questions were also asked by Essential in both March and early June 2011 (before I really got The Red And The Blue up and running fully) but as these findings show an effective progressive deterioration in approval for Abbott, I’m a bit sceptical.

Especially as there is no corresponding question for Gillard, such as “Julia Gillard is an opportunistic liar who [won] the 2010 election on a false premise” versus “Julia Gillard is a responsible, trustworthy PM with vision and policies for the future.” I’d love to see how that might score!

Yes, perhaps the example is silly. But at the very least, if you’re going to ask loaded questions about one leader, you should as a matter of course do so for both leaders in the one poll.

And especially when Gillard’s leadership of the ALP is increasingly in question, whereas Abbott’s tenure as Liberal leader is not.

Overall, I don’t think there’s too much to read into Essential’s figures — other than to say they hold no comfort for Julia Gillard and the ALP.

And to hope their figures next week add up to 100%…

ALP Leadership: The Timeline Tightens

There are many adages, axioms and truisms about politics; that it is “the art of the possible;” “all about people;” “about the numbers;” and so forth. Another of its golden rules is the scouts’ motto: “be prepared.”

In that sense, it is perhaps unsurprising that an article appeared in today’s online edition of The Advertiser, the Murdoch daily in Adelaide, Adelaide Now…, reporting that Opposition leader Tony Abbott has put the coalition on a “war footing” for a snap election in December.

Such a poll, the reasoning goes, would follow a successful leadership coup against Julia Gillard by Kevin Rudd, when Parliament resumes in a couple of weeks, followed by a swift election announcement to capitalise on any fresh honeymoon effect.

The storyline goes something like this: Rudd convinces his colleagues that the leadership of Gillard is terminal; that only he, Kevin, can lead Labor to salvation; and that with an eye on the policy mess the ALP finds itself in — and the approaching deadline Andrew Wilkie has imposed on the government to effect poker machine reform — a quick clearing of the decks would precede an election being called.

Readers will know that I am extremely sceptical that Rudd will ever return to the Prime Ministership. At the very least, he shouldn’t if the ALP is serious about moving on in any meaningful sense from the chaos of the Rudd-Gillard years.

And should he return, given the sheer depth and power of the bile, resentment and hatred many of his colleagues harbour toward him, he’d want to be quick about marching off to the polls. There is no guarantee someone infuriated by his return wouldn’t resign from Parliament out of spite.

But for argument’s sake, let’s assume the scenario described above indeed comes to pass.

At enormous continuing cost to his credibility, Rudd could be expected to delay or abandon the carbon tax; whilst such a move would mollify some parts of the electorate who are outraged that Gillard introduced the measure against a promise, it would whip the pro-carbon tax groups into a fury — to pick up where they left off when Rudd abandoned carbon pricing measures in the first place.

The promise to Wilkie would likely be abandoned — removing a headache for the Labor Party that is intensifying; indeed, the nation’s biggest sporting codes have in recent days leapt aboard the bandwagon which began its journey under the stewardship of a large number of services clubs in Labor electorates that would be decimated under Wilkie’s proposed reforms.

And presumably, some sort of emollient sop would be effected on asylum seekers: perhaps the largest and most resonant problem the government faces.

Let’s take it as a given that a reinstalled Rudd gets that far without a disgruntled backbencher somewhere pulling the pin on him, and that he announces an election for early December.

What would his chances be like?

I’d suggest any benefit he might garner in his home state of Queensland would be negated by the fact its state Labor government is far more on the nose now than it was last year; seemingly headed to a shattering defeat, the Bligh government would be an albatross around the Rudd government’s neck.

Similarly, the state Liberal government has consolidated its electoral standing in WA; voters in the NT remain ready with brickbats for Labor at their forthcoming territory election; the newish Liberal governments in NSW and Victoria seem to be as popular (if not more so) as they were when elected, and the Labor government in SA is every bit the dead weight around federal Labor’s neck as its counterpart in Queensland.

Where Tasmania sits in all this is anyone’s guess.

The fillip Gillard received in SA and Victoria last year on account of her supposed “hometown hero” status will evaporate, irrespective of who leads Labor at the next election; the Coalition could reasonably be expected to pick up at least half a dozen seats across these two states alone.

Voters will consider the history of Labor in government since 2007, and it’s a powerful argument for change. Abbott and the Coalition have a rich seam of political effluent to mine here, and make no mistake, any election advertising from the Liberals and Nationals will be hard-hitting and extremely effective.

Even led by Rudd, I think people are fed up with this government. We all know that voters, supposedly, distinguish between state and federal issues.

Yet this federal Labor government, popular at record levels after its election, was also meant to hold the Coalition out of office in most states for years as the effect of its federal popularity rubbed off on its state counterparts.

We all know that has proven far from the truth; the process began when Rudd was Prime Minister with the fall of Allan Carpenter’s ALP regime in WA in 2008.

And what can Rudd offer voters that he didn’t — or couldn’t — prior to his demise last year?

Whilst he retained adequate support to win an election when knifed (and I do think he would have won — just — had he led the government into last year’s election), the trend for both he and the ALP was already a solid march downwards.

That process has continued in his absence; there’s a school of thought that it would have done so even had Rudd remained leader.

What would be so different now?

And on the other side of the ledger, it has to be remembered that Tony Abbott and his leadership of the Liberal Party had much to do with breaking the ALP’s opinion poll dominance, and in at least reducing Rudd’s political standing from stratospheric popularity to the level of a mere mortal.

Abbott has been down this track before: be assured, should Rudd return, he’ll be ready.

It’s clear that time is running out for Gillard; the very fact stories and rumours are beginning to surface at all detailing possible timelines, or how many votes short Rudd (or another challenger) might or might not be of overthrowing her, shouldn’t be misinterpreted. The bell is tolling, and it tolls for Gillard.

The question is “when.”

I think we’re in for a couple of very interesting weeks, but I’d like to restate a couple of points I have consistently made in the past:

  • The ALP would be best served by a leadership transfer to Stephen Smith or to Simon Crean;
  • It would be best served subsequently by attempting to see out its full three-year term in government; and
  • Some way ought be found to get rid of Kevin Rudd altogether, even at the risk of a by-election in his seat of Griffith.

Nonetheless, we’ll see what we’ll see.

A final point: the Adelaide Now… article quotes an unnamed Liberal MP, confirming that the party’s MPs had been told to “get ready” but said it was “wishful thinking”.

Well, quite.

But in politics, it pays to be prepared…you never know what might happen…

If this really is the beginning of the endgame for Gillard, things will happen fairly quickly from here.

To that end, at least one new opinion poll is expected later today, and we’ll see what light that may shed on the current state of play.

The National Party Of Australia: Times Of Renewal?

A small sub-plot in what’s going on in federal politics at the moment involves the National Party; for decades now an entity in decline, an opportunity presents for this once-proud party to grasp a generational opportunity for renewal.

Three of its traditional federal seats — Kennedy, Lyne and New England — are all held by Independents; with the anti-Labor mood sweeping the country (and the anti-Independent mood sweeping along with that), the Nationals stand a good chance of bolstering their historically low level of representation in the House of Representatives.

It has been long-known that the leader of the Nationals in the Senate, Barnaby Joyce, seeks to transfer to a lower house seat at the next election.

Joyce had preferred the sprawling Queensland seat of Maranoa, held by former Howard government minister Bruce Scott; Scott has refused to retire, however, and so Barnaby has been forced to look further afield…

…as far as the NSW electorate of New England, currently held by Independent Tony Windsor. New England is where Joyce grew up and still has family; he and the electorate are a perfect fit.

With the added bonus, of course, that Scott can stay in Maranoa (which will always be a safe conservative electorate) and Barnaby can add a seat to the Nationals’ pile in the lower house.

The Fairfax press today has published a story claiming NSW deputy Premier (and state Nationals leader) Andrew Stoner is likely to contest the NSW electorate of Lyne, currently held by another National-turned-Independent, Rob Oakeshott.

Fairfax’ story is presented through the paradigm of Stoner going to Canberra to place a bar on the eventual ambition of Barnaby Joyce to assume the federal leadership of the National Party.

The candidature of both Joyce and Stoner, in the respectively-listed seats, carry obvious benefits to the Nationals: both are highly likely to knock off the Independent incumbents, and reclaim seats for the National Party that should probably have never been at risk of falling in the first place.

Yet there is also an opportunity for the Nationals here on a wider basis.

Both Stoner and Joyce are relatively young but considerably accomplished men; both now possess some years’ parliamentary experience, and each is formidable in terms of what he can offer his Party — or to an employer away from the public sector.

The point here is that for the first time in a very long time, there’s “competition for spots” in the National Party; and the fact that it may potentially be fought by two young-ish and relatively talented blokes will likely send a signal back into the heartland of the party.

It’s very possible that out of a storm cloud, a silver lining emerges.

The storm cloud for the Nationals isn’t the Gillard government (although Labor in the past 20 years has begun to poach traditional National seats).

Rather, it is the historical decline of their party; whether through seat losses to the Liberals, population change that has delivered seats like Richmond and Page in NSW to Labor; or even the fact Independents like Oakeshott and Windsor can take seats off them at all.

The federal election which is at most 23 months away is likely to see a huge influx of new conservative members in the subsequent Parliament.

I just wonder whether, headed by Joyce and Stoner, the time is ripe for the Nationals to reinvigorate themselves, attract new supporters, and look to restore their falling levels of representation over the past couple of decades.

I’m posting more on my thoughts alone tonight, rather than on any predictions.

What do people think?

She’s Rattled. She’s Panicking. She’s Hysterical. She’s GILLARD

Julia Gillard is rattled; after her disastrous handling of the carbon tax and her “solution” to the Resources Super Profits Tax, now her “solution” to unauthorised boatloads of smuggled people is about to blow up in her face.

Make no mistake: if Gillard’s attempt to resolve the asylum seeker issue fails, it’s effectively the end of her Prime Ministership.

And if that happens, it becomes a question of “when” and not “if.”

The planets have lined up against the Prime Minister.

She came to her office claiming that “a good government had lost its way,” and promising to fix things.

To fix specifically the mining tax; the carbon tax; and the asylum seeker/unauthorised boat arrival issue.

The whole carbon tax debacle is of itself enough to cost Labor government, courtesy of Gillard’s handling of it.

And the mining tax is simmering along, generating hostility beyond the bounds of any mine — a slap in the face of orthodox economics, and a kick in the balls to the one industry holding this country out of recession.

Those issues alone are enough to fuel a colossal electoral defeat for the ALP; but this government — and this Prime Minister — have a very special death wish.

They have to keep going…in policy directions the majority passionately detests.

Australian people, like it or not, do not want thousands of boatloads of commercially trafficked asylum seekers turning up here every year.

There’s nothing racist or bigoted about it: the country can’t afford them, and people resent queue-jumpers who will do anything to get into the country at any — ANY — cost.

Arriving as they do from third-world countries with no screening or checks, there are particular community concerns in terms of public health, community safety and the common good that must be properly evaluated before these people are allowed to stay here.

Julia Gillard is in a bind now. Having watched as her predecessor Rudd relaxed entry controls to the point more boats than ever before began arriving, and having subsequently knifed Rudd, she faces a massive and potentially existential dilemma.

The ALP under Rudd abandoned the Howard government’s “Pacific Solution” because publicly, it claimed it was inhumane, but privately because it saw it as emblematic of the Howard years and resented the fact that it worked.

When the boats predictably resumed their flow — in far greater numbers than anything Howard ever had to face — Rudd did nothing and Gillard, having rolled him out of office, promised to fix the issue.

Her first “fix” was the “East Timor Solution” for a “Regional Processing Centre” in Dili; something that died a reasonably sudden death when it became public knowledge that not only did the East Timorese not have formal knowledge of the proposal, but that they were disinclined to accept it.

That in turn led to the “Malaysia Solution” in which — to paraphrase — Australia would send 800 of our illegal arrivals to Malaysia in exchange for 4000 of their “processed” refugees.

Even before the High Court ruled this scheme unlawful, the pitfalls were obvious: one, Malaysia is not a signatory to the UN convention on refugees; and two, a one-for-five swap with such a country can only invite the question, “who would they send?”

Malaysia would send the people they really, really didn’t want, and under Gillard’s proposal, we would be obliged to accept them.

Irrespective of their status in terms of disease, criminal history, or anything else.

Thank goodness for the High Court, I say.

And so we are now in the situation where another political slugfest is in play, but this one is different.

Gillard is polling worse in the polls than any other Prime Minister has since commercial opinion polling in this country commenced.

She knows that Kevin Rudd is looking over her shoulder; she also knows there are several other potential candidates for her job and unaware of just who the potential assassin, or assassins, might be.

She’s singularly wrecked her carbon tax through lies and public deceit and a sell-out to the Greens; the issue of a mining tax is, quite literally, a quagmire.

And now that the focus has turned squarely to boat people and illegal immigrants — perhaps because of that issue, but more likely as a result of a cocktail of all the issues and history we are talking about — Gillard now has a hunted, haunted look in her eyes.

Since the High Court voted down her “Malaysia Solution” Gillard has attempted, in a bungling, amateurish way, to wedge Tony Abbott and the Coalition on the issue of asylum seekers.

In the knowledge that no non-government member of the House of Representatives will vote for her supposed enabling legislation to circumvent the High Court ruling and make the “Malaysia Solution” possible, Gillard has clumsily attempted to pin the blame for her own colossal failure on Tony Abbott.

“If Mr Abbott ends the ability of government to process offshore then he must also take the responsibility for the consequences that that lack of resolve will send to people-smugglers,” she told reporters in Canberra. “If they see no resolve then that means we will see more boats and Mr Abbott will have to take the responsibility.”

There’s a few problems with this (and I acknowledge The Australian for the quote).

1. Tony Abbott, the Liberal and National Parties, and the Coalition generally, are not responsible for government policy — Gillard is and the ALP is.

2. It has been Coalition policy since 2001 to process unauthorised arrivals offshore on Nauru and Manus Island, and that position remains Coalition policy.

3. Abbott is right — it is not the role of the opposition to implement or blithely wave through government policy.

4. Abbott and his Liberal and National colleagues aren’t in government — Gillard is. As such it is her responsibility to enact policy, and the Coalition is blameless if those policies are a failure (if implemented) or are voted down in Parliament and never see the light of day.

and…5. Abbott has offered Gillard a way out on this issue — a straight return to the Howard government’s “Pacific Solution,” which worked, with the quid pro quo that in campaign terms he would regard the issue as neutralised.

Gillard and Labor refused the offer point-blank.

But Gillard and Labor can never accept a return to the “Pacific Solution.”

They spent too many years in opposition railing desperately against it, demonising it and castigating it.

And one suspects they are deluded enough to think it helped them win in 2007 (it didn’t — WorkChoices and the general “It’s Time” factor did that).

The “Pacific Solution” generally, and Nauru specifically, are anathema to Labor politicians around the country; to revisit that policy would be tantamount to an admission of defeat, and a colossal humiliation to the ALP and to everything it claims to stand for today.

My own thoughts — as has been the case since the initial policy was enacted in 2001 — are that Howard got it right and that the “Pacific Solution” should have been, and should be, a permanent policy of the Australian government irrespective of who holds office in the Parliament.

I’m not a bleeding heart, but I’m not a prick either.

But to watch Gillard on this issue — even after everything else that has happened in the past few months — is to watch a woman who is keenly aware that her world is falling down around her, and that there isn’t a thing she can do to stop it happening.

Hell, even her sworn enemies won’t bail her out. And when you even need to ask for support from those types of quarters, it’s clear you’re absolutely desperate.

If Julia Gillard and Labor really want to “put offshore processing beyond any doubt,” they should never have abolished the “Pacific Solution;” if they are serious about putting offshore processing beyond any doubt, they have an open invitation from Abbott to reinstate that highly effective policy.

Nothing that happens in terms of government policy is the fault of anyone other than Julia Gillard, her party, and her associates in the Greens and on the cross-benches.

Abbott and the Liberals have their integrity intact: they have held one position on this issue for ten years, and they’re not about to budge on it.

And it the ALP can’t control the policy outcomes from its own government, perhaps they ought to resign.

But they can’t do that: new PM Abbott would instantly advise an election, at which Labor would be blasted to smithereens.

In the past few days, as the political debate has swung back onto boat arrivals and asylum seekers, we’ve seen the Prime Minister panic, bluster, and make hysterical pronouncements that, whilst aimed at anyone and everyone outside her comfortable little circle, reflect solely and squarely on herself and on her government.

I think she/they are finished — and she at least knows it.

It’s time to put them out of their misery, and give the country the election for which it is so desperately crying out.

What do people think?

The Second Coming Of Kevin? Who’d Want Him?

As Julia Gillard slides further into the abyss of unelectability, and as her government assumes ever-greater levels of electoral toxicity, the mutterers are again muttering; and again, it’s Kevin Rudd’s name those burblings are putting around.

Heartwarming, isn’t it? Just ten days after we last discussed the subject of Kevin Rudd and his ambitions to resume the ALP leadership and thus the Prime Ministership, the subject pops up yet again.

Reports today that Kevin Rudd has been on the telephone, working the numbers, is hardly surprising news, or news at all: he’s done his level best to undermine, frustrate, embarrass and/or thwart Julia Gillard — covertly, of course — ever since he was dumped in a brutal leadership coup last June.

What is surprising are the reports in the Murdoch press that he is eleven votes — and maybe as few as five votes — short of having the numbers to roll Gillard in a counter-coup to reclaim the Labor leadership.

As I said on 11 September:

“…he was rolled…because his colleagues thought he was an absolute, total, and complete arsehole…and because — dictatorial control freak that he is — he treated his colleagues like the scum of humanity.”

Make no mistake: Rudd treated his colleagues — the very men and women who had entrusted him with the leadership of their party in the first place — like the absolute filth of the Earth.

It’s very difficult to believe — if not inconceivable — that these same people would wave Rudd back into the prime role for two years until an election and another three afterwards if by some miracle Labor were to win.

Rudd’s leadership of the ALP lasted three and a half years; it’s hard to see his colleagues signing on for another five. And even harder to see them recruit him as a set-up to shaft him again after a theoretical election win: the Gillard experiment must surely and spectacularly have demonstrated the risks Labor faces in a midnight coup.

It faces the same risks in a midnight coup now in favour of Rudd, too.

The heady days of the soaring rhetoric, empty slogans and ridiculous expectations of the days of “Kevin ’07” are gone.

It’s true Rudd could expect to benefit — in the short-term — from a honeymoon effect built on a sympathy vote as the avenged victim, certainly in Queensland.

But the wheels have turned since he was dumped, in more ways than one.

“Kevin ’07” became “Kevin 24/7” on account of his penchant for working his colleagues and staff into the ground; that gave way to “Kevin 747” when it became clear that Rudd saw a major element of his role to involve international travel at public expense.

These travel habits have continued in his role as Foreign minister; to the extent that stories across the mainstream press today (coincidentally, I’m sure) report that in the past year Kevin 747 has racked up $1,000,000 in expenses on 14 separate overseas trips.

Remembering Rudd likes to lecture his foreign hosts, making a fool of both himself and of this country in the process, that’s a lot of public money to spend on self-indulgence.

And people are beginning to notice how much Rudd’s international antics are costing them.

The point has to be made, too, that Rudd was losing popularity quickly before he was ditched, and his government losing support in tandem.

The scope for a massive advertising blitz based on Rudd’s previous incarnation as Prime Minister — played squarely to his weaknesses and mistakes — is a potent weapon in the Coalition arsenal.

After all, it’s really only been five minutes in the big scheme of things since he was dumped.

Looking at the government as an entity, the wheel has turned too; people have had an additional 15 months to evaluate LABOR since Rudd was rolled — and indisputably detest what they have seen.

It’s true that the continuing government has operated under a different leader. But virtually all of the mainline policies it has opted to run with under Gillard — for better or for worse — are a continuation of the Rudd agenda in similar form.

Would Rudd ditch his carbon tax…(sorry, make that ETS)…again? It’s just an example but it would be a course of action utterly bereft of credibility.

Rudd would own the Labor agenda as it still stands, and with his hands suitably dirtied would end up just as trapped by it as Gillard is.

The irony is that where Gillard now stands in public opinion is precisely where Rudd was headed before Gillard ambushed him. To resume the Prime Ministership would to be to assume the rancour and odium that is the end consequence of his own agenda.

And to discard everything and start again would leave him open to an electoral killing at the hands of Tony Abbott.

Either way, Rudd’s screwed before he starts. Or restarts as the case may be.

There’s the Communists Greens and the Independents to consider.

The Greens will stick to Labor like glue, and anyone who thinks otherwise — especially in the present climate, faced with the prospect of a landslide win by the Coalition in any election any time soon — is a fool.

The Independents will do likewise, bleating and sabre-rattling notwithstanding. Andrew Wilkie might cause problems, but given he too would stand to lose his seat in any early election (exquisitely enough, to Labor) he also would probably end up toeing the line.

And then there’s the rest of the world — the real world, that is, not the jet-set world of a globetrotting bureaucrat talking to or lecturing at other bureaucrats.

Far from ideological and/or trendy ideas and social policies like carbon taxes, mining taxes and gay marriage, people the world over are realising that the so-called GFC many countries (including ours) borrowed and spent their way out of was actually the colossal global recession that is now bearing down.

The massive problem was deferred as a headcold, but is returning as a full-blown bout of influenza with likely complications.

And that blunt reality is scaring people: look at the lack of economic activity in this country at the moment once the minerals and energy sector is excluded.

For all the talk of being an “economic conservative” prior to the 2007 election, Rudd promptly embarked on a stoutly Keynesian agenda with the consequence that Australia is now $200 billion in debt — an “achievement” largely accomplished on his own watch.

If Kevin is coming, and I doubt it, who really wants him back?

Who wants him at all?

And if he is Prime Minister again, and when he reverts to type and people remember all the reasons they had begun to gravitate toward voting against him, how long will it take for the honeymoon to be over — again?

I’d wager that it wouldn’t even take long enough to make it through a snap election campaign.

Finally, tonight — and for a bit of a smile — the last word goes to an advertising agency.

Have a look at the link here…and remember that the large amount of money to produce this, and the even larger amount of money to broadcast it, would never have been spent if the premise behind it hadn’t been bang on the money.