AS THE DEBATE rages over whether Kevin Rudd should pull the pin on his electorate and the Parliament and vacate his seat of Griffith, an insidious subtext has emerged: suggestions Rudd may be willing to quit in exchange for a seat being found for his daughter, Jessica. The idea merits only contempt.
It’s one thing for politicians — especially those at the apex of political life — to publicly enlist spouses and offspring in a show of family and “ordinariness.”
It is, however, quite another matter for those same politicians to seek to build dynasties on no better pretext than their own inflated sense of importance.
And when it comes to Kevin Rudd, his sense of self-importance is inflated beyond the possibilities of measurement.
Predictably enough, since managing to hold his electorate at last month’s election, the clamour for Rudd to depart politics in the interests of the ALP has been matched only by the insistence from other quarters on the beaten PM’s right to choose his own time to retire from Parliament, perhaps even serving out a full three-year term.
Those taking the view that he should go, and go now — despite the probability a by-election in Griffith would hand the LNP in Queensland an additional seat — speak of Rudd’s past history in undermining ALP leaders stretching back to the days of Kim Beazley more than a decade ago.
Others, leaping to defend Rudd’s right to sit on the backbench as he has said he will, point to the scale of Labor’s election loss and the Armageddon scenario they claim Rudd averted by leading the ALP to the election in place of Julia Gillard: in other words, he’s earned his right to decide.
Whichever side of the story you agree with — and if I was in the ALP I’d want Rudd out of my party ASAP, no ifs and no buts, such a lethal political commodity he has become — it would be a tremendous stretch to suggest Rudd has in any sense been a “great” leader, and certainly not one whose various legacies are at all worthy of emulation or perpetuation.
There is a rumour circulating in political circles to the effect that Kevin Rudd has indicated that he would be prepared to resign from Parliament if ALP officials find a seat for his daughter, Jessica.
Rudd has already had his sons work for him during his second stint as Prime Minister — one in his office, the other on his re-election campaign — and the rather unkind story goes that this was largely due to the fact very few people were prepared to work with him.
The prospect of Jessica Rudd in Parliament, however, is one to be avoided at all costs.
She has already enjoyed a disproportionate degree of public exposure, in no small measure due to the position and profile of her father.
Well to the left of the Labor side of politics, Jessica Rudd has been an outspoken voice on minorities and their “rights” — just the kind of thing that contributed significantly to a defeat that was devastating enough for the ALP irrespective of any ameliorating effect her father may have had.
Indeed, on his first outing as Prime Minister, Rudd made much of his “modern” Australian family featuring a future Chinese son-in-law (now Jessica’s husband), Albert Tse.
It was — among other things — shameless promotion aimed at the leadership of China, who Rudd memorably went on to castigate as “ratfuckers.”
And as delightful and charming as Jessica Rudd is reputed to be in person, many of her public political utterances give every impression of a young lady driven by the shrill motives of malice and spite.
In short, she’s got a chip on her shoulder.
An ALP source — quoted yesterday in a number of Murdoch publications — said that while Kevin was certainly lobbying for his daughter, he wasn’t about to leave.
It seems curious that the obvious “solution” to Rudd’s apparent quandary — his daughter replacing him as the ALP candidate in Griffith — isn’t being mentioned, publicly at least.
But then again, any Labor candidate standing in a by-election in Griffith any time soon is likely to be slaughtered. Daddy Rudd couldn’t possibly be seen to preside over that.
And according to the Daily Telegraph in Sydney, Rudd apparently told a colleague at the first Labor caucus meeting after the election that “as long as those c***s continue to call for me to go, I’m not going anywhere.”
I think Australians have had enough of Kevin Rudd, his wife and her multi-million dollar businesses, the parade of his children through political life in an attempt to entrench their presence there, and the egomaniacal, cretinous idea of himself that he projects.
Anyone who doubts it should do the rounds of the final pre-election opinion polls: far more unpopular in the end than he was popular, Rudd’s personal numbers evolved into the antithesis of the image he sought to cultivate “in exile” as “the People’s Prime Minister.”
If the asking price to blast Rudd — who is now a has-been in any case, and political poison — out of Parliament is to install his daughter in his stead, then Kevvie should be allowed to sit on the backbench and plot and scheme and destabilise to his heart’s content.
Australia needs a political Rudd dynasty like it needs a hole in the head.
And as long as Rudd stays precisely where he is, he may have the happy consequence of helping engineer the re-election of the Abbott government in 2016 — even if, admittedly, for all the wrong reasons.