PRIME MINISTER Kevin Rudd appeared today on Andrew Bolt’s Sunday talk programme, The Bolt Report; it may be surprising that Bolt was fairly easy on Rudd, but what will surprise nobody is the fact the Prime Minister steadfastly refused to meaningfully answer any question of substance Bolt put to him.
I have to say I was disappointed by this effort; the Bolt/Rudd interview has been given a lot of hype on News Limited websites in the past few days, even to the point of being described as “confrontational at times.”
Based on the version broadcast, it was nothing of the sort.
It goes without saying that this pre-taped interview needed to be edited to fit the available airtime allocated to it on Bolt’s show, and I accept that.
But even so, there are things to be taken from Rudd’s performance.
The unruly mess (and significant loss of life) emanating from Labor’s various regimes on asylum seekers since 2008 was the result of Labor honouring a 2007 election commitment to abolish the Howard government’s Pacific Solution.
This is the facile defence Rudd used to deflect any responsibility on the ALP’s part.
He is sticking, obliquely, to his contention that Coalition policy on asylum seekers and “turning back the boats” could start a war with Indonesia.
On climate change, Rudd refuses to give any specific answer to any question mandating a response to scientific propositions Bolt put to him, or — significantly — to explain his own position on climate change when he disagreed outright with the material Bolt presented.
The Global Financial Crisis is repeatedly trotted out to hide behind whenever Bolt attempts to pin Rudd down on the ALP’s shocking record on debts.
Readers can access the full 19-minute interview here.
I really didn’t think I would find myself saying this, but Rudd clearly bested Bolt today.
Perhaps Bolt was trying too hard to keep the tone of the discussion light, or perhaps it was simply the case that there was too much ground to be covered in a relatively short time.
Either way, I expected Bolt to rip Rudd to shreds, and I suspect so too did most viewers.
But it provides a very stark illustration of the type of election campaign we seem destined to endure from the ALP; lots of open and empty statements and generalisations, no detail, no admissions of error, and absolutely no accountability whatsoever.
And that’s the point.
Rudd, however much he seeks to run from it, is not only responsible for the entire six-year record of Labor in government, but must be held accountable for it.
Many of the problems caused by this government, that are now clear, originated on Rudd’s watch as Prime Minister the first time.
And rolled by Gillard he may have been, the simple truth is that Rudd voted for every decision taken and every measure implemented by Gillard — good, bad or shocking — during her Prime Ministership.
The fact the ALP is still in office at all, given the finely balanced parliamentary numbers, is sufficient to puncture any denials on Rudd’s part, direct or implied, of his explicit support for Gillard, her government, and the decisions it undertook.
Even if stories of subterranean white-anting activities, undertaken concurrently, are right.
I wasn’t looking for Bolt to tear Rudd to shreds just for the look of it; such a notion is grotesque, and doesn’t serve any purpose in terms of meaningful journalistic scrutiny.
That said, however, I expected better.
Labor generally and Rudd specifically have an awful lot to answer for, and if this is the best effort a ferociously anti-ALP identity can mount, then the coming election campaign may very well be the updated version of “Kevin ’07” most of us on the conservative side expect.