Ruddwatch: Time For Kevin To Hit The Road — And Not Come Back

MORE CRETINOUS TWADDLE from the megalomaniac’s megalomaniac — a failed former Prime Minister with the delusion he should rule the world — has erupted once again, this time in a laughable attempt to send the actual Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, on a guilt trip for refusing to back his unjustifiable aspiration to a perverse bureaucratic Nirvana. It’s time for Kevin Rudd to hit the road — and not come back. Ever.

At the end of another stifling, stultifying week, I’m probably dignifying Kevin Rudd with more attention than he deserves in commenting yet again on his dismally misguided aspiration to rule the world through the bureaucratic behemoth of the United Nations, but here we are.

Regular readers will have ascertained that heavy demands on my time continue at present, and as ever, those obligations central to earning an income must always take precedence over this column; even so, I’m not going anywhere, and in the fullness of time will restore our conversations to the frequency everyone is accustomed to.

There’s a little clear air coming over the weekend, and I will post again, but for now my remarks will be blunt: whenever the temptation exists to think Kevin Rudd has got the message that he should shut up and go away, just like a bad penny he comes back.

I’m not going to bother linking to any of the plethora of articles this column has published over the years dealing with the imbecilic Rudd’s foibles and misdemeanours or, more pertinently, the half-baked idea he harbours that the world is simply crying out for his “leadership;” the tired old story of Rudd is too well known as it is, and on the latter score, only a world even less sane than Rudd himself is rumoured to be would regard him as a suitable candidate to lead anything.

Yet like a blowfly with a bit of dog poo in prospect, Rudd has this week returned to his latest favourite theme — the alleged grievous slight inflicted on him by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for the “crime” of deigning Rudd to be temperamentally unsuited to the position of Secretary-General of the UN — and in an irony lost on few except the lamentable Rudd, his continued outbursts on the subject merely prove that Turnbull’s judgement (in this case at least) was chillingly correct.

Turnbull was not shanghaied into the decision by the “far right” of the Liberal Party; most thinking people can see at forty paces distant how utterly unsuited Rudd is to the UN post, and the scope for him to prove an unmitigated disaster (and an unmitigated embarrassment) in it were he ever successful in securing it. Why would the Australian government sign on to supporting that?

It doesn’t matter that current Foreign minister Julie Bishop lavished praise on Rudd as an “eminently qualified candidate” for the post; everyone makes mistakes.

It doesn’t matter that Turnbull once privately promised support to Rudd, only to later change his mind; after all, the longer one looks at Rudd the less attractive he becomes — a reality exactly mirrored by his relationship with the Australian public between 2007 and 2010, and replayed with record speed between June and September 2013.

It doesn’t matter that the ALP torpedoed former Liberal Party figures for diplomatic postings after 2007; whilst tit-for-tat arguments over such things can certainly be entertaining, the issue of whether to help Rudd strut the world stage preening (and making a fool of) himself is a different issue altogether.

And it isn’t a mitigating factor that his own parliamentary colleagues have variously called him juvenile, vindictive, or a bastard with contempt for the Australian public.

Or, accurately, all kinds of much nastier things.

No, Kevin has spent a great deal of time doing this to himself.

Even before he first won the ALP leadership in late 2006, it was an open secret that Rudd viewed a possible Prime Ministership as a mere stepping stone to his ultimate objective of running the United Nations; and before even that, anyone with a direct eye on the goings-on in Queensland and Rudd’s part in them (as I had, prior to my move south) knew the guy was nothing if not utterly consumed with his own importance.

Once upon a time, Rudd enjoyed the fellowship of a small ALP cabal in Brisbane that feted him and fanned his ego with fulsome public declarations of his competence and brilliance; they’re nowhere to be seen or heard today.

The damage was done, however — if, that is, Rudd needed any encouragement in this vein at all — and it would be a brave soul who attempted to rebut the contention that his entire public life has been spent making it very clear to anyone who listened that nobody was smarter or more important than Kevin Michael Rudd.

Never mind the complete balls-up he made of public service restructuring in Queensland during the tenure of the Goss government; never mind the sheer toxicity it created, to the extent that the huge swing against Labor that seemingly materialised out of thin air at the 1995 state election was overwhelmingly driven by public servants fed up with six years of Rudd’s master-slave regime, and driven by some of the (usually) most loyal Labor diehards to boot.

And never mind the love-hate relationship he has had with the press in all those years; when it suited them, the media built Rudd into a messiah. I had a conversation with a very senior Liberal MP prior to the 2007 election, demanding to know why the party hadn’t made better use of the abundance of material that was available from Rudd’s time under Goss. The media had decided Rudd should beat John Howard, and weren’t interested. The subtext was that it signalled to Rudd that he could get away with whatever he liked.

Those days are gone.

Anyone who has paid even scant attention to Rudd’s shenanigans in recent years knows that for all his bluster, diplomacy is not an attribute that could be regarded as his forte; anyone who hasn’t will quickly get up to speed browsing past articles that can be accessed through the “Kevin Rudd” tag in the cloud to the right of this article.

And it will surprise nobody to realise that we are now at the end destination of the story of Kevin Rudd and his public career, for the UN job was the one he coveted more than any, and for almost exclusively self-inflicted reasons will never have.

From here, any more blather on the subject from Rudd can and should be regarded as sour grapes: an attempt to send Turnbull on a guilt trip for no more substantial reason that in refusing to nominate and support Rudd for the UN post, Turnbull actually discharged the obligations of his office properly.

Certainly, I have just about had enough of Kevin Rudd, and I daresay so have many millions of Australians.

Even so, it isn’t hard to comprehend how Julia Gillard — no favourite of this column — might have been frustrated and even enraged by the puerile behaviour he now thinks will “shame” Turnbull into backing down and giving him exactly what he wants.

Unlike Gillard, however, no subterranean scheme to knife Turnbull is available to Rudd, and even if it were, his residential arrangements in New York would severely compromise his ability to execute it.

It’s time for Kevin Rudd to disappear. Permanently. The only person he remains capable of damaging is himself: but after more than quarter of a century of doing exactly that, it is difficult to imagine Rudd going quietly or, for that matter, with a good grace.

More’s the pity, for if he doesn’t, he will simply prove former ALP Senator Stephen Conroy’s barb about Rudd’s contempt for the Australian public to have been more accurate, and prescient, than anyone could have ever believed, thought, or imagined.


Wannabe Cretin: Turnbull Spares Australia Rudd Embarrassment

THE CABINET BRAWL over Kevin Rudd’s pitch as Secretary-General of the UN was grotesque; but it fades to irrelevance beside the embarrassment this narcissistic megalomaniac might cause if merrily sent on a global “look at me” tour with official sanction. Treacherous, psychotic lunatics are not export goods Australia should cultivate. By instructing Rudd to tell his story walking, Malcolm Turnbull was right: whatever criticism ensues.

If corrupt, disgraced former WA Premier Brian Burke had got it into his head, perhaps on account of his stint as an ambassador to Ireland and the Holy See, to seek the role of Secretary-General of the United Nations, would there be any kind of clamour — from anywhere — for the Australian government to “back the Australian candidate?”

Of course there wouldn’t be, and whilst I note that unlike Burke Kevin Rudd has never been charged with or convicted of official misconduct, in some respects Burke might make the more suitable candidate: and that is a judgement that takes some considerable lowering of comparative standards to be able to arrive at.

A judgement that should have been immediately rendered, however — rather than squibbed by a brawling federal Cabinet and handballed to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for a “captain’s pick” — was belatedly delivered yesterday afternoon, with the announcement that the federal government would not formally endorse (and thus support) Rudd’s maniacal quest to take charge of the United Nations; better late than never.

But the only argument of any logical soundness at all for the Turnbull government to do so (and it’s a very poor one at that) was that he’s “the Australian candidate;” even a cursory glance at his alleged diplomatic achievements, and his malodorous record over decades in personnel “management,” is sufficient to conclusively judge Rudd an advertisement for Australia that should never be aired at all, let alone permitted to grace the widescreen of the global stage.

By contrast — as has been noted in the mainstream press over the past day — had it been a question of an ALP-aligned nominee such as Kim Beazley, the current conservative government would in probability have (rightly) endorsed him without reserve. It’s a very salient point.

There has been an orgy of comment erupting in the mainstream press since the announcement of Turnbull’s decision to let Rudd twist and dangle in the wind — from both the usual anti-Coalition suspects (the ABC, Crikey, Fairfax) as well as those organs of the press that are usually friendlier to the Coalition from the Murdoch stable — that, distilled to its essence, suggests Turnbull has been petty, biased, vindictive, and just plain nasty.

On the face of it, perhaps he has. But a decision of the kind Rudd has attempted to manipulate Turnbull into is not one to be determined on the basis of trivialities, and whether any or all of the puerile insults being flung at Turnbull ring true or not, the decision he has ultimately made is unquestionably correct.

Has Turnbull been “rolled” by conservative MPs within his party room and/or Cabinet? I doubt it. Are those conservatives able to claim a very big triumph in the washout from this, given their near-complete hatred of the man they have just seen nobbled? You bet your life they are.

And stories about the diminished authority Turnbull now possesses — like today’s Editorial in Brisbane’s Courier-Mail, which fatuously asserts the decision to veto Rudd delivered a “brutal blow” to Turnbull’s leadership — will, by virtue of the abjectly pathetic Coalition election campaign and the correspondingly pathetic result it produced, burst forth on every conceivable issue until either a further electoral pronouncement is made on Turnbull in three years’ time or he leaves his post in the interim.

But the simple truth is that Cabinet was asked to consider on its merits a request from Rudd for Commonwealth sanction and resources to pursue the Secretary-Generalship of the United Nations as an official Australian candidate, and in this sense, nobody could argue the outcome ignored considerations of merit.

It couldn’t have ignored Rudd’s idea of international diplomacy, most infamously encapsulated by his outburst against the Chinese some years ago as “rat fuckers.”

It couldn’t have ignored Rudd’s idea of personnel management, which over decades of involvement in Australian governance — openly or behind the scenes — has been manifest in a scorched Earth policy with a trail of broken careers in its wake, from seasoned senior Queensland bureaucrats in the early 1990s to an endless procession of burnt-out staff through his Prime Ministerial office, and right down to his abuse of a junior female RAAF aide that reduced her to tears for no better reason than he objected to the refreshments available on a short VIP flight.

It couldn’t have ignored the volumes of evidence of his methods in dealing with those with he is charged with working most closely; a little trip down memory lane appears below for those interested in such tawdry details.

And it surely couldn’t have ignored the fact that if Rudd were to become Secretary-General of the United Nations, that body — supposedly the peak forum of the international system — would have at its head an individual once thrown out of a venue in New York that provided sexually explicit entertainment, heavily inebriated, for “inappropriate conduct.”

The reality, as difficult as it might be for Rudd and those voices in the press who deign to continue to root for him, is that there is nothing to recommend the former Prime Minister for such a plum posting, and with the imprimatur of the Commonwealth to boot.

Anyone who knows — directly or second-hand — exactly what Rudd is like knows, deeply, how flawed and irretrievably unsuitable he is for the United Nations post; those of us who have variously characterised him as psychotic, psychopathic, narcissistic, cretinous, egomaniacal and/or a pathology case do so not to be petty, or nasty, or any of the insults now being flung at Turnbull, but because it is in fact true.

Just in case there is any doubt on this point, Rudd, chillingly, saw fit yesterday to validate virtually every criticism his detractors have ever levelled at him, releasing private correspondence dating back almost a year between himself and Turnbull that purported to show Turnbull had reneged on a deal to support him.

The Rudd release of private communications is, in itself, an appalling act of poor faith and a breach of trust, which is only worsened by the fact Turnbull himself warned Rudd months ago that neither he, nor Cabinet, would back him for the UN post: a development that surely supersedes any previous assurances, but a detail Rudd conveniently saw fit to omit from his jaundiced fit of pique yesterday afternoon.

If nothing else, Rudd’s actions underline the entrenched treachery and bastardry his old colleagues at the ALP have accused him of for decades.

Some of those past colleagues — most notably, former NSW Premier Kristina Keneally — have had the integrity in recent days to remain honest in their assessments of Rudd, with Keneally’s suggestion her pet dog would make a better candidate probably an insult to the dog only on account of it being likened to Rudd in the first place.

Others, however — led by alleged leadership prospect Tanya Plibersek, who has never hid her contempt for Rudd in the past, but has seen fit to engage in the same petty politicking she accuses Turnbull of, claiming Rudd was an outstanding candidate vetoed by the Coalition to settle a vendetta — ought to be ashamed of themselves.

In the end, Turnbull explained his decision by saying that in his judgement, Rudd was not a suitable candidate “for that particular role,” which is an understatement.

The prospect of this supreme egotist turning up in corridors of power across the world, demanding meetings with officials and government leaders off the cuff, throwing God knows what insults around at Australia’s most powerful international partners in unguarded moments near microphones or listening ears (and throwing all manner of tantrums whenever things don’t go to plan) is a nightmare scenario Turnbull is right to dissociate his government from.

And that’s just where Rudd’s campaign for the position is concerned. Imagine the embarrassment Australia might be subjected to if he succeeded.

If there is merit at all in the prospect of Kevin Rudd as Secretary-General of the United Nations, let the vanquished candidate now reflect that really, what happened yesterday might be the fault of nobody but himself; if he is qualified at all for that post — a point of obvious conjecture — perhaps he might consider that the gleeful and/or oblivious alienation of people he indulged himself with for decades just might have come at a price.

There can be no room for sentiment, and no entertainment of shades of grey in what is a black-and-white proposition.

There are too many question marks over Kevin Rudd as a candidate for a high-profile position of global governance to make the risk of endorsing him worth any benefits (real, perceived or imagined) he might deliver, and specious arguments that he should have been supported simply because he is Australian must be dismissed as the juvenile claptrap they are.

Turnbull would have been criticised over this whichever way he jumped, and just as those peddling mock outrage today are shining a light on how this government will be treated in the immediate term, the opposite call on Turnbull’s part would have been disastrous.

It would almost certainly have elevated Liberal leadership ructions, for a start; but more importantly, it would have left this country exposed to unquantifiable embarrassment at the hands of a volatile and self-consumed psychopath in a context Australia could ill afford any opprobrium or rancour Rudd managed to generate along the way.

It was only half in jest I suggested Brian Burke might be less unsuitable than Rudd; after all, Burke at least was civil, and not just in front of a camera.

A narcissistic lunatic is not the kind of commodity Australia needs to export to the world with a letter of introduction and a blank cheque.

Whatever else people might think of Turnbull, he was dead right on this.



Ruddwatch: World Needs “Kevin 747” At The UN Like The Pox

IT WAS KNOWN almost a decade ago that Kevin Rudd’s real ambition was to be Secretary-General of the United Nations; this column has never hid its disdain for the UN, believing it obsessed with meddling in member states rather than its charter to maintain peace. Even so, the moronic Rudd — with pointless meetings, unruly temper, and gratuitous travel — is not what the world needs. Any official sanction of his bona fides for the post is lunacy.

Today’s article isn’t so much an opinion piece per se, but a trip down memory lane — with a little help from YouTube — for it amazes me just how short some people’s memories can be, and where Kevin Rudd is concerned, the propensity for time to “heal all” and wipe away the recollections of his defects and shortfalls is a dangerous and salutary lesson in just how easily people are prone to forget.

In the overwhelming majority of cases, I have been at pains over the years to note in this column that political figures of opposing political stripes to my own are still, first and foremost, people; that expression of grace is difficult to concede in certain cases, and near the top of any list of those for whom it is impossible to harbour any concession of the kind sits one Kevin Michael Rudd.

Right from the start, there were those who grasped the fundamentally ridiculous nature of his claim to government in Australia; right from the earliest days of Rudd’s tenure as Prime Minister, the rumours of his eventual grandiose ambition to run the United Nations — providing a global platform on which he might parade the pomposity and histrionic bombast Australian voters quickly wearied of once he had been elected — spread like wildfire.

And right from the start Rudd became, aptly, a figure of ridicule.

Those with short memories will have forgotten how he not just alienated but enraged his Labor colleagues; his temper and ego are the stuff of legend in political circles, and his noxious and destructive approach to matters of governance was such that a large portion of the ALP caucus swore that if he ever returned as Prime Minister once he had been dumped that not only would they refuse to serve in his ministry, but that they would leave Parliament altogether — a threat many of them made good on after June 2013, when he orchestrated the overthrow of Julia Gillard to reclaim what he saw as rightly his.

For those who have, indeed, forgotten, here’s an aggregation of the sentiments of the Labor caucus of the day. It isn’t what you would call edifying.

Who could possibly forget the Rudd decree that climate change was “the greatest moral challenge of our time” or the shameful performance he turned in at Copenhagen late in 2009, as he strove to be the international face of some kind of agreement to deal with this menace, only to fail abysmally? Who can forget the stories of his brutality as a “leader,” abusing his ministers, tearing shreds off young service personnel on RAAF flights, and systematically leaking and backgrounding against his colleagues to undermine them?

Those of us with very long memories recall only too well the mess he created in Queensland — as the state’s top public servant under the government of Wayne Goss — before be entered Parliament, as a vicious crusade was embarked upon to fire not just those senior public servants who owed their positions to National Party cronyism of the 1970s and 1980s, but also to target politically unaligned (or, wisely, silent) individuals whose only crime was not to make vociferous expressions of fidelity with the ALP during the “dark” years of National Party oppression that preceded Goss’ regime.

We also remember the complete consequent mess made of the Queensland public service, with that state’s health bureaucracy rendered dysfunctional, and scores of sacked National Party appointees rehired in their old roles on expensive contracts when the penny dropped that the chosen ALP appointments Rudd oversaw simply weren’t up to the jobs they were given, and that unless those with real experience of running Queensland were brought back into the fold, the disaster Rudd’s “management” of the Queensland government created would in fact have become a cataclysm.

The huge swing to the Coalition at the 1995 state election was, apart from a few seats affected by a toll road Goss wanted to build, almost entirely built on a backlash from public servants: and to this day, I can’t think of another instance anywhere in Australia where public servants have voted en masse and as a solid bloc against a Labor government. It was an achievement of sorts, and one in which Rudd’s handiwork was everywhere.

Now, Kevin Rudd — who once famously described himself as “an out-of-work diplomat” — is showing signs of making a serious attempt to replace outgoing UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, whose term in the post expires late this year.

Perhaps mindful of the fact support from the continuing (Coalition) government may or may not be forthcoming, Rudd is said to be working solus to try to secure the post through his own contacts, and no wonder: who could possibly have forgotten the billions of dollars doled out on Rudd’s watch, over a single weekend in 2009, to buy off various countries in support of his government’s campaign to have Australia elevated to a temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council?

Yet disturbingly, there are reports today that Foreign minister Julie Bishop will, in fact, consider providing official backing to any push by Rudd to go to the UN if he formally requests it.

Such support cannot and must not be provided, for the cretin Rudd is something the wider world needs like the pox.

Many, it seems, have forgotten the Rudd brand of diplomacy, brown-nosing to Chinese leaders to their faces and showily refusing audio translation of their speeches to highlight his Chinese language skills, whilst calling them “rat fuckers” behind their backs.

And it beggars belief that the kind of wit and wisdom exhibited toward foreign leaders by Rudd behind the scenes, replete with contempt for his audience and filled with malignant animus, could have ever been overlooked.

We will keep an eye on Rudd as this issue develops: in some respects, it’ll be quite like old times.

But the bottom line is that Kevin Rudd — despite the shortfalls of the United Nations, which are many, and the inappropriate activities it engages in that have nothing to do with preserving military peace whatsoever — is perhaps the most unsuitable candidate on Earth to lead an organisation whose primary purpose is the preservation of order and the maintenance of global peace.

Right now, the world faces increasing instability and growing threats of military conflict: the plunge in relations between Russia and the West to Cold War levels of iciness heads that list, of course, but there are other threats wherever you look. The perennial problem of North Korea and its ongoing development of nuclear weapons capabilities and the accompanying bellicose threat to launch them on the US, South Korea, Japan, and God knows who else. The tinder box that is the Middle East. Russia’s perceived designs on the Baltic states, as well as the ambition to annex other Soviet-era satellites, after its march into the Crimea provoked no consequences of significance. Perpetual tensions between India and Pakistan, or between Israel and all of its neighbours. On and on the list goes. One misstep, at the wrong time and over the wrong issue, could set off a chain reaction.

In this sense, the last thing anyone would characterise as “a resource” to deal with these threats is Kevin Rudd: abusive, egomaniacal and incendiary, Rudd’s penchant for strutting the world stage and lecturing people — to build his own profile, irrespective of whether anything is ever achieved — would simply place another match into the box.

It doesn’t matter that some characterise Ban Ki-moon as ineffective, ineffectual, or lazy; it doesn’t justify putting an insidious and volatile specimen like Rudd in his place when the opportunity to replace him falls due.

Just when you think Rudd has finally gone away, back he comes with a vengeance.

There is obviously a long way to go in this issue, and as it develops, we’ll keep watch, but the final word today goes to another old Liberal Party commercial that dates from just after Tony Abbott replaced Malcolm Turnbull as opposition leader in late 2009.

The Liberals got this right; the reality soon dawned on Rudd’s ALP colleagues; and I think the more time that has passed since then, the more it has dawned on a very large contingent of the same voters who were hoodwinked into electing Rudd in 2007 in the first place.

Let Rudd play his games, and busy himself killing time, by all means: but there is no case for him to become Secretary-General at the UN.

If the government provides Rudd with any kind of endorsement, or support — either openly or behind the scenes — for hit pitch to replace Ban, it will be a very large black mark against the Turnbull government indeed.

Stay tuned.


Really, Abbott vs Turnbull No Better Than Rudd vs Gillard

DESPITE THE RHETORIC about “grown ups being back in charge” and repeated, solemn pledges that the Liberal Party was “not like Labor,” the undignified and unedifying spectacle of leadership wars between Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull now being laid bare in the Fairfax press are every bit as bad as the death pact fought out between Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard. Australia deserves better. Its “leaders” indeed need to grow up.

At the outset, I want to be emphatic about something: the government led for two years by Tony Abbott was not a “conservative” government; it was not (despite the insult, trendy in the circles of the Left at present, being repeatedly thrown at it) a “right-wing” government; and it sure as hell wasn’t a “liberal” government; in fact, when all is said and done, the Abbott government and its legislative program — enacted, attempted and/or abandoned — was a mishmash of contradictory measures that were impossible to pigeonhole.

It raised taxes on middle incomes; it cut spending, yes, but to target its very own supporters in marginal seats, whilst utopian monoliths like the $24bn per year NDIS were left untouched and unfunded; it botched simple measures like a $5 GP co-payment for anyone not on a health care card by setting the price at an irregular level, applying it far beyond what was originally proposed, and advocating a ridiculous research fund be set up with the proceeds that was neither credible nor warranted against a budget haemorrhaging red ink.

It correctly withdrew subsidies to the car industry, but dithered over whether to hand out money to profitable businesses in other areas. It promised modest industrial relations reform based on a Productivity Commission review, but scampered at the first sign of harsh words from Labor and the unions. It promised a tax review that (it turns out) it sat on, despite the plan holding great merit (we’ll come to that).

And when its back was against the wall, courtesy of a hostile Senate and the total inability to respond tactically or strategically to the torrent of abuse and bile rained down upon it by a vapid opposition “led” by an insidious opportunist and by the unions, the ABC, the Fairfax press, Left-leaning, publicly funded QANGOs and the welfare lobby, its only defence was to fall back on stupid slogans and declarations of great achievement when in fact, the Abbott government’s CV was very thin for unequivocal wins.

Yes, there were achievements: the free trade agreements signed by Trade Minister Andrew Robb, the (promised) abolition of Labor’s hated carbon tax, and the cessation of endless boatloads of trafficked asylum seekers top such a list.

But to accuse the Abbott government of anything other than mediocrity is a fallacy, and to declare it unambiguously doctrinaire is simply wrong. In the end, Abbott’s outfit was risk averse, selectively frightened of producing losers, terrified of an opposition bereft of ideas and credibility, and obsessed with the self-preservation of the Prime Minister, a handful of trusty ministerial cohorts, and a small number of loyal backroom spivs whose merit and value to the government were arguably zero.

I start my remarks today thus because if there’s one thing the Liberal Party is not fighting over, it’s ideas; and whilst everyone knows that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull — with his yearning to lurch savagely to the left on social and environmental issues — is hardly what you would call a conservative, the ultimate crime of the Abbott government was its sellout, through ineptitude and incompetence, of the millions of Australians who voted for it looking for a return to conservative governance. That opportunity has been lost, and it will be many years before another presents itself.

Like (I suspect) millions of Australians — including a large contingent of fellow Liberal Party members, to say nothing of huge numbers of disgusted Coalition voters — I have been reading Peter Hartcher’s five-part “story” of the Abbott government, Shirtfronted, in the Fairfax press this week, and it a regrettable truth that as insidious as the so-called revelations Hartcher has been publishing might be, the fact they are true is an indictment on the party and on those who’ve been entrusted with its stewardship at both the parliamentary and executive levels.

It is also a damning reflection on both Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull.

I’m not going to pick apart every salacious detail Hartcher has printed, and — still only three days into a five-page expose — there obviously remains scope for a great deal of additional embarrassing material to find its way into the willing pages of The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald before the week is out.

But for Australians wearied by the war of attrition fought out by Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard during Labor’s two recent terms in office — and whose disgust at the spectacle undoubtedly contributed to the size of the Coalition win over the ALP in September 2013 — what has played out on the conservative side of politics since that time is depressingly familiar.

And it is no stretch to say that Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull are, in the end, no better than Gillard and Rudd.

There has been a significant response to my article at the weekend that suggested Tony Abbott should leave Parliament; Abbott’s defenders and those (like me) who stand staunchly behind the principles and ideals of mainstream conservative governance have expressed shock, dismay and anger that I would suggest such a thing; those blithely camped in the facile Turnbull’s quarter can’t believe that such a pronouncement would emanate from this column.

Yet the mere fact of Hartcher’s aeration of the Liberal Party’s dirty linen simply underlines my reasoning; everyone’s hands are dirty in terms of what has gone on over the Liberal leadership, it seems, and despite the great disillusionment with the party that readers know I worked my way through last year and early this — and in spite of the carefully detailed critiques I was obliged, by objective appraisal, to level at Abbott and his cohorts — the deep commitment to the Liberal Party I have always had, coupled with a factionally independent stance I have maintained since first joining the party in 1990, means loyalty to the party won out in my mind, even if its direction (for now) left everything to be desired.

In penning the article advocating Abbott’s resignation from Parliament, I was guided by a simple conclusion: that if the party is to avoid tearing itself to pieces in full view of the public, someone has to depart.

That someone — given Turnbull, whatever you think of him, his methods in seizing power and/or his trendy, left-leaning social ideas, is now Prime Minister — is Abbott.

And whilst I might not politically support Turnbull, irrespective of the high personal regard I have for him, the fact is that he is leader of the party and thus Prime Minister — and those of us left behind must either close ranks in support of his government, or leave, and that goes especially for Abbott.

I don’t need to restate my historic support for Tony Abbott: readers are well aware of the fact.

But Abbott knows as well as anyone that every syllable he utters — and especially whilst he remains in Parliament — will be received, interpreted, distorted and relayed through the prism of leadership unrest by a hungry press pack desperate for headlines and determined to foment unrest in Liberal ranks.

When those utterances centre on justification, placing a rose-coloured tint on the misadventures of what (for whatever reason) was a poor government, or persisting with the odious and reality-defying defence of figures like former Chief of Staff Peta Credlin, or directly contradicting government policy on (for example) how to respond to the ISIS terrorist problem, they border on wanton attempts at sabotage.

Even if — on ISIS at least — Abbott is right.

(And in case anyone thinks I’m singling Abbott out for a kicking, I should note that after he became leader in 2009 and it was Turnbull who was up to questionable mischief, I sent the latter a private letter excoriating him for what he was doing. Now it’s Abbott’s turn, and given this column exists today where it did not in 2009, my remarks about Abbott are publicly made).

I don’t think anyone has been covered in glory where questions of the Liberal leadership and the party’s performance in office are concerned, and Hartcher’s series this week will strip further remaining gloss from those involved parties who remain in elected office, and quite a few others (read: Credlin) who serve (or served) the party behind the scenes.

Serial deputy leader Julie Bishop, for one, is looking a little less than beyond reproach for the second time since Abbott was dumped this week, with revelations she attended a meeting in February in which she was a “silent partner” to a teleconference participated in by Turnbull that discussed strategy for the latter to reclaim the leadership.

Coming as it does in the wake of claims following Abbott’s dumping that she failed to warn her leader of the imminent challenge, Bishop — a Liberal moderate who, despite the anathema of some of her views to party conservatives, was once workshopped as part of an alternative “third ticket” that might see her replace Abbott herself on a ticket with a deputy drawn from the Right — looks to have been not quite straight with the truth, whatever reality to the contrary might sit behind the perception press coverage of these events has fed.

Like Rudd and Gillard, Abbott had a Treasurer who simply wasn’t up to the job; arguably a better fit than Wayne Swan on merit (a low hurdle to clear, admittedly) Joe Hockey compounded his unsuitability by repeatedly and insistently invoking the spectre of former Treasurer Peter Costello — who, with the possible exception of Paul Keating, was the best Treasurer this country has had in 50 years.

The revelation by Hartcher that Hockey, in fact, had devised a tax reform blueprint in conjunction with Treasury — lifting GST to 15%, limiting its reach only to those items to which it currently applies, streamlining income tax scales to a 0%, 20% and 40% range, whilst cutting company tax to 20% and providing both money to the states for services and suitable compensatory adjustments to pensioners and welfare recipients — only highlights what a disaster the Abbott government was.

Hockey is to be condemned for his failure to prevail, or to even initiate public discussion on this very interesting blueprint; Abbott (and the cabal of advisers around him) are to be condemned for preventing Hockey from doing so. For a government elected with a reform mandate and the electoral imprimatur to fix the budget, this telling anecdote is an indictment.

But in the wider sense, what is being played out in the Fairfax press now merely proves what anyone with an eye on Canberra has long known: and that is, despite whatever might have been said to the contrary, Malcolm Turnbull never abandoned his ambitions to become Prime Minister.

Can anyone credibly suggest that the contest between Abbott and Turnbull — which has now run for more than six years — is any different to Rudd and Gillard?

Whether directly, by proxy, or through operatives taking it upon themselves to act on the combatants’ behalf — presumably to confer plausible deniability on the interests they represented — the undermining, backstabbing, leaking and manipulation that has been going on ever since is comparable to some of the worst revelations about the dreadful Labor duo: only the specifics of the circumstances, and not their general conduct, are different.

Abbott and Turnbull might not be narcissistic megalomaniacs like Kevin Rudd, or nihilistic liars like Gillard. Yet Turnbull’s ego and inflated sense of his own importance is well known. Abbott didn’t need to be a megalomaniac, for he had Credlin. Comparing the four Prime Ministers, on one level — to use the vernacular — might be regarded as a classic case of “same shit, different bucket.”

And for those who believe — however seriously — that the ascension of Turnbull has cured the Coalition’s political ills, some pause for thought would be well advised.

For starters, the Liberals’ new-found poll dominance should have induced Turnbull to call a December election for both Houses of Parliament; the fact he didn’t represents a grave error of strategic judgement.

How much that stands to cost the government is unclear, but the longer it takes to call an election next year, the harder it will grow to achieve the thumping victory that might have been secured now. And if Labor changes leaders, the removal of the toxic, pitiful Shorten will add yet another potentially dangerous dynamic.

One of Turnbull’s chief lieutenants — Special Minister of State Mal Brough — faces growing scrutiny (and attention from the constabulary) over what role he played in destroying the career of LNP turncoat and former Speaker Peter Slipper: Brough may be innocent of wrongdoing, but if events prove otherwise, when the inevitable detonation comes it will damage Turnbull (and the government) enormously.

Despite the reality that — for now — the policy settings of the Abbott era remain in place, this will change in the new year as the government evolves and an election nears; to this end, worrying signs are emerging that Turnbull is inching perilously close to re-indulging the climate change madness that (rightly) spelt the end of his tenure as Liberal leader in 2009.

Irrespective of your views on climate change, the one inescapable truth thrown up over the past decade is that the politics of carbon pricing and climate change are electorally lethal; Shorten is determined to learn that the hard way, with his dual carbon tax proposals, 100% RET and economy-smashing 45-50% emissions reduction targets.

Signs Turnbull still hankers after such lunacy have the potential to destroy his leadership and/or his government, although his refusal to sign a treaty in Paris this week on eliminating the use of fossil fuels, whilst possibly a sop to the Liberal Right, warrants a little more time to be spent observing his behaviour before judgement is cast.

The economy — let’s be blunt — is hardly in rude shape. A recession is a distinct possibility. As ever, should a recession occur, it will largely be the result of external influences over this country. But the political odium and rancour associated with being the first government to preside over one in 25 years will hurt the Coalition should it come to pass, and the only way to offset some of this is to rediscover the Howard-era zeal for economic reform: something this government has been remarkably gun-shy about to date.

Social policies dear to Turnbull’s heart, like gay marriage and the pursuit of republican government, enrage the Liberal Right, which is now forced to back a leader who is explicit in his enthusiastic and unqualified support for both: again, the potential for an explosion within the government is real, and considerable.

And should the proverbial effluent hit the fan, and these and other foreseeable atom bombs explode in Turnbull’s face, what solution would be sought by his opponents on the Liberal Right?

You’d never guess.

But Abbott, by stubbornly allowing Credlin and her hand-picked acolytes the latitude to run the government and to make the utter consequent botch of it they did, is no longer a feasible leadership candidate; the Liberal Right, as we have discussed before, does not currently boast a suitable contender should Turnbull fall under a bus.

And even Scott Morrison, who has featured heavily in Hartcher’s reporting, comes with question marks over his loyalty and conduct ahead of the leadership change. In any event, Morrison isn’t from the Liberal Right at all.

I know many readers (and many Australians) desperately want to vote against the Liberals because of the treatment doled out to Abbott, and I am not entirely unsympathetic; by the same token, however, I’m capable of thinking impartially enough to recognise that Abbott is largely responsible (directly and indirectly) for his own fate, and helping elect a Labor government (which is, ultimately, what voting against the Liberals does, if you do it properly and decline to preference them) is nothing more than cutting off your nose to spite your face if you’re a disgruntled Liberal.

One better option — in the Senate at least, and provided you don’t live in SA or Tasmania where the option doesn’t exist — would be to vote for the National Party’s candidates instead of the Liberals;’ even if it means numbering every square on that stupid metre-long ballot paper, at least the votes would stay in the government, but transfer numbers to the Nationals in a clear rebuke of the Liberals over the leadership change.

But when all is said and done, politics is politics — and in a climate where real debate and the willingness to advocate policies that produce losers (even if they are good for the country) has been subsumed by vacuous populism, adviser-driven aversion to risk and an obsession with media appearances — what has been going on since the fall of the Howard government will continue apace.

In those eight years, Labor and the Liberals have both had three leadership changes; in that time, the Prime Ministership has changed hands four times, but only once (in 2013) at an election.

Yet the Liberal Party, and especially under Abbott, has trenchantly insisted it is different to Labor in this regard: that it is somehow better behaved, more civilised, imbued with superior principles, more mature, and inherently reluctant to wield the knife against its own.

The reality, as Hartcher this week is laying out for all to see, is nothing of the kind.

And frankly, if politicians — including the sanctimonious Turnbull — genuinely want to elevate their public standing and retrieve the deservedly dim view with which the electorate regards them, the sooner they grow up, the better.


“Weak,” Inept, Or Just A Liar, Bill Shorten Is Not A Leader

LABOR “LEADER” Bill Shorten might dismiss it as “propaganda,” but the fact is that an attack ad produced by the Liberal Party and posted on YouTube sums him up to the letter; disloyal, treacherous, dangerously incompetent and downright dishonest, the moronic Shorten is a frightening candidate for the Prime Ministership of Australia: and grotesquely, he makes the imbecile Rudd and the divisive Gillard appear as national heroes by comparison.

I will probably post again late tonight, for the interview with fraudster and pretend cancer sufferer Belle Gibson on the Nine network’s 60 Minutes programme tonight revisits a theme we covered off on some months ago; I have no time for people like Gibson — and readers should be well assured that she and the handful of other con artists already exposed this year for profiteering and/or glorying in false and/or embellished stories of misery are just the tip of the iceberg — and if the interview with Tara Brown tonight is as hard-hitting as Nine insists (despite suggestions it’s a paid powder puff piece) then the exercise will have been more than worth the money they dangled at Gibson to entice her to appear.

I think Belle Gibson should be prosecuted for fraud, and made an example of, and we will return to that theme tonight.

But I has seen the Liberal Party’s new attack advertisement this weekend, and I must say it’s absolutely on the mark; Shorten has had more than 18 months now as the “leader” of the ALP, and the story that is increasingly able to be told as a result of his words and actions is one of a man who should never be elected as Prime Minister of this country.

And as far as I am concerned, he isn’t even fit to sit in federal Parliament.

Is it merely “propaganda,” as Shorten claims? Well, as a paid political production disseminated to influence political behaviour, of course it is to some degree.

But that doesn’t make it any less valid — especially when particularising the abominable track record of a specimen like Shorten.

Shorten told the Fairfax press yesterday that he’s “learnt not to take too seriously Liberal Party propaganda,” and I suppose for a man trying to spread the lie of an $80 billion cut to health and education spending — monies that derive from unlegislated Labor promises that the Liberals explicitly refused to match before the 2013 election — and who refuses to commit the ALP to “restoring” those monies, Bill Shorten knows all about propaganda: he’s busy enough with his own.

And the key critique Shorten offered Fairfax was that the advertisement was evidence the Liberals want to “live in the past:” for a man whose party is gearing up to fight a fourth consecutive federal election with WorkChoices at the centre of its campaign, Shorten would know all about that too.

But where is the new Liberal Party attack advertisement incorrect?

Is it the assertion of weakness? Hardly. Shorten stands for absolutely nothing.

Is it the assertion that he is untrustworthy? Anyone who watched The Killing Season over the past three weeks knows you wouldn’t trust Shorten as far as you could throw him, and much less with the governance of the country and the Prime Ministership: Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard would have the franchise on that.

Is it the assertion he’s got too much baggage from his time in the unions? Well, with what is emerging at the Royal Commission into the trade union movement — Shorten’s powerbase and old stomping ground — it’s not unreasonable to wonder if he might end up being charged with something. No baggage?

To listen to Shorten, of course, it’s an “unfair smear,” and one of the problems with “Bull Shittin'” is that in his world it’s fine to dish out as much dirt on opponents as he and his henchmen can muster, but to have someone hold him, and them, to account? Well, that’s an outrage. But Shorten can’t have his cake and eat it as well.

Is it the assertion he has too much baggage from his “six disastrous years” with Rudd and Gillard? It is sufficient to note that based on the accounts of his own colleagues, Shorten has had to clean an awful lot of blood off his own knife since entering Parliament, and Rudd and Gillard — and others — have the scars between their shoulder blades as testament to his handiwork.

Or perhaps it’s the litany of policy failures that are directly attributable to Shorten — the ongoing commitment to the carbon tax, the sellout to the Greens over asylum seeker policy, and so forth — that fleshes out the case he stands for nothing — or at least, nothing that hasn’t been tried, and has failed, and been comprehensively rejected.

As we’ve noted in this column, Shorten’s only policy (that he now stands on only to hide) is to abolish the private health insurance rebate — and the reason he wants it concealed is that it would cripple the healthcare system in Australia if ever implemented, and cause its collapse. So much for Shorten’s “year of ideas.”

And as for the Liberals’ assertion that Shorten is committed to more taxes, more waste, more debt (and by implication, more spending), the advertisement does no more than accuse Shorten of following in the footsteps of the Whitlam, and Rudd, and Gillard governments, which were also mirrored in the final disastrous term of the Keating years.

What has changed at the ALP on Shorten’s watch? Apparently nothing.

Perhaps Shorten’s real complaint against this piece is that it brutally exposes the fundamental truth — that he is not a leader — and in doing so, this column has led that charge since the day Labor’s “democratised” leadership election process was rigged by unions to ensure their grip on MPs saw Shorten prevail against the wishes of the party’s membership.

Anyone who thinks Shorten is in fact “a leader” should watch the advertisement, and try to explain away its final sequence: busted for lying over his involvement in knifing Gillard — and caught out for treachery and disloyalty for more than the first time — Shorten, with an answer for everything, had an answer for that too: but he still went ahead and stuck the knife into Gillard, just because he could.

Just because it advanced his interests.

And just because, unable to truly lead people, treachery and disloyalty and lies are the only tools Shorten has to work with in his quest to become Prime Minister.

I can only suggest anyone who is repelled by the odious behaviour of Bill Shorten share a link to this article far and wide, for he is not the kind of person Australia can afford to bestow responsibility for its welfare and its future upon.

My call is that the Liberals’ new advertisement hits the target perfectly.

Bill Shorten is a grotesque and insidious specimen. He is not a genuine leader’s sphincter. He is a treacherous thug and a liar who is solely motivated by his own ambitions and his own welfare. And the prospect of him as Prime Minister is a hideous and terrifying prospect.



Lying Shorten Betrayed The Public As Well As His PM

AMID THE FALLOUT from the ABC’s airing of Labor’s filthy laundry — The Killing Season — has emerged a tawdry piece of duplicity by (now) Labor “leader” Bill Shorten that might damage him more than a first glance suggests; outed by a radio host in Melbourne as having lied publicly about his involvement in the overthrow of Julia Gillard, Shorten now presents as the most untrustworthy and dishonest candidate for the Prime Ministership in decades.

It’s an article of faith among the general public — often wrongly and mostly unfairly — that politicians are nothing more than rank liars; that the group of people elected to go off to Canberra (or to Spring Street, Macquarie Street, North Terrace and so forth) morph into the most unethical, dishonest, self-obsessed bunch of corrupt gutter dwellers the country boasts the dubious ability to spawn, and that elected representatives will literally say and/or do anything to anyone in the interests of self-advancement with a total and cavalier disregard for whom they might walk over in the process.

It’s an assessment I fundamentally disagree with: having spent a lot of time over the past 25 years or so in and around politics I know there are many, many good people on all sides of the political divide who find their way into public office, and whilst there are always a few bad apples in any barrel (and yes, politics has its fair share of them) the obfuscation of most MPs is limited to and dictated by quaint concepts such ministerial solidarity and other forms of official confidentiality that are actually contrived in the interests of the public benefit.

Whether people agree with those strictures is a valid matter for debate, for those so inclined.

But public esteem for politics and politicians is not helped by the kind of brazen lying opposition “leader” Bill Shorten was caught engaging in yesterday by 3AW morning anchor Neil Mitchell; the fact Shorten’s transgression related to precisely the kind of behaviour voters seem to find the most distasteful about politics — subterranean machinations and doing hatchet jobs on people, in this case former Prime Minister Julia Gillard — only compounds such perceptions, and reinforces the utter self-obsession of a specimen like Shorten, whose reputation for disloyalty and wielding the knife against his colleagues is already well entrenched and apparently well deserved.

For those who don’t know, Mitchell — who interviewed Shorten two days after the 2013 parliamentary Mid-Winter Ball, during which Shorten told Rudd in a secret side-meeting that he would knife Gillard and bring the support of those MPs’ votes he controlled to the Rudd camp — realised whilst watching the final instalment of The Killing Season on Tuesday night that Shorten had lied to him on air two days later; and yesterday, having “asked questions” of Shorten, Australians were gifted a grubby little insight into the man masquerading as a candidate for the Prime Ministership.

For background, readers may peruse articles from the Murdoch and Fairfax press, along with a separate opinion piece from Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt.

And people should watch the interview Mitchell taped with Shorten on 21 June 2013, during which — despite attempting to squirm his way out of giving iron-clad commitments around his support for Gillard — Shorten nonetheless gave explicit denials of any involvement of leadership machinations when we now know he was in it up to his neck, and in the course of which he had the nerve to berate Mitchell for persisting with trying to get to the bottom of Shorten’s agitation on Rudd’s behalf and his private commitment to stick his knife between Gillard’s shoulder blades.

Is it any wonder Liberal frontbencher Bruce Billson, seated alongside Shorten, could barely keep a knowing smirk off his face.

Shorten, at the time that interview was taped, was already battling unfavourable publicity over the fact he was instrumental in knifing Rudd three years earlier; now, of course, he was reprising his role by doing the same thing to Gillard.

Accusations of loyalty are never going to be something Shorten is burdened by.

But what this episode shows is that Shorten is apparently an individual prepared to literally say and do anything in his pursuit of his own political ambitions: he benefited from promotion after the elevation of Gillard as Prime Minister and, as history shows, he would benefit from promotion under the restored leadership of Kevin Rudd. In the absence of those undeserved promotions it is unlikely Shorten would have had any coherent case to make in seeking the Labor leadership after its thumping election defeat later that year.

When caught out by Mitchell, Shorten’s response was deeply unsatisfactory for a man purporting to present as a Prime Ministerial candidate; his apology was to Mitchell only, not to the audience of several hundred thousand Melburnians who were listening the day he lied on air — to say nothing of the wider Australian public, who were made aware of his denials through other media during the day — and came in the form of a phone call during a news bulletin when Mitchell was on a break. Shorten refused to be interviewed on air or for his apology to be broadcast.

His excuse for lying — that he didn’t want to make “a diabolical situation (ALP leadership speculation) worse” is disingenuous, fatuous, and an utter hypocrisy, for away from the 3AW microphone he had been doing precisely that, undermining his leader behind her back and garnering support for the termination of her tenure.

The idea he had been caught “on the hop” and by implication, unprepared to answer questions on Labor leadership rumblings and his role in them, means he is either an idiot, or totally oblivious to any concept of honesty in his public discourse, or (more realistically) both.

As recently as yesterday morning Shorten was holding the line that his hands were clean when they were not, remarking that it was not his job “to be the curator of the museum of Labor (sic)” in relation to questions around his involvement in matters oxygenated by The Killing Season when in fact, he was a central — even pivotal — player in them.

This column has been scathing of Shorten and utterly dismissive of any alleged merit he offers as a political leader, public figure or (God forbid) as a theoretical Prime Minister: episodes like this one, whilst perhaps innocuous viewed in isolation and from a purely clinical perspective, are becoming more frequent, and as I am fond of observing from time to time, where there is one there are usually others. This seems a truism and a self-fulfilling prophecy where summary analysis of Shorten is concerned.

Evidence that the Labor “leader” is a disloyal, treacherous, scheming, opportunistic and self-promoting charlatan — and now, unequivocally, a liar — is mounting. It is no wonder Shorten’s public approval numbers are collapsing, not that they were anything startling to begin with. As a “leader,” I think it’s fair to say Shorten is a red herring, and a fraud.

Nothing about this sordid little incident paints politics and politicians in a particularly rosy light but, happily, it makes Shorten look worst of all: and the point I most want to make this morning is that aside from betraying Gillard — like Rudd before her — Shorten has actually betrayed the men and women of Australia he expects to vote for him, demonstrating that they, like everyone else he encounters, are entirely instrumental to him.

Very soon, Shorten will front the Royal Commission into the trade union movement to answer and explain allegations that the Australian Workers’ Union — during his tenure as its Victorian and/or national chief — received substantial sums of money on numerous occasions from a raft of companies whilst striking industrial agreements with those businesses that stripped away the same workplace entitlements Labor and the unions (and Shorten) have been so viciously outspoken about the need to protect, most notably wherever any mentions of workplace reform and the Liberal Party are made in the same sentence.

To date, the explanations that have been offered from all interested quarters on these matters have been vague, inconsistent and unconvincing; the only conclusion to draw is that the companies involved were buying industrial peace and freedom from the threat of union-led industrial anarchy, and I can only remark that the monies involved might as well have been handed over in brown paper bags.

Shorten’s appearance at the Royal Commission probably represents his last opportunity to salvage his reputation and convince people he is able to be trusted as a prominent senior figure in affairs of state in Australia.

If the tawdry little episode revealed by Mitchell — which Shorten wilfully attempted to conceal — serves as any kind of indicative reference of what to expect, then good luck with that.


Killing Season Nothing New, But Could Bury Labor Anyway

WITH THE END of the ABC’s excellent three-part window into the machinations that shaped (and destroyed) the ALP during six years in office cones analysis, fallout, and reprisals; whilst there was nothing really new — except fresh venom — in journalist Sarah Ferguson’s brutal expose on Labor, it shows a politically and ethically bankrupt party that is unfit to govern, and whose ongoing key figures bear the blood of their own brethren on their hands.

First things first: there are a lot of people across the country who are talking about The Killing Season this morning, and — depending on their preference — some of this conversation can be tapped into from the Murdoch and Fairfax press by readers.

I suppose it’s ironic that just 24 hours after tearing into the ABC over its reprehensible Monday night episode of #QandA we’re now talking about another of its productions in fairly glowing terms; credit for this in my view can be ascribed to the journalist who drove The Killing Season as a project — Sarah Ferguson, who also deputised for Leigh Sales whilst she was on maternity leave from the 7.30 programme — and in a further delicious irony that should be lost on nobody, Ferguson is actually married to the ABC journalist who fronts the biased and puerile student-politics calibre #QandA each week, Tony Jones.

In terms of the material covered, The Killing Season presents relatively little by way of new substance; perhaps my opinion on this is formed from the perspective of someone whose consumption of news and current affairs media is voracious, incessant and largely “in the moment,” but there was very little in terms of what went on during the six tumultuous years of the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd government that wasn’t well-oxygenated at the time those events occurred.

In truth, this in itself speaks to an awful culture within the ALP of leaks and counter leaks, and an amateurish bent on Machiavellian machination that does not and did not play at all well in front of an incredulous and repulsed voting public.

But that said, Ferguson and her team deserve credit for welding this material together in a punchy, gripping format that simultaneously kept viewers glued to their screens, whilst adding just enough perspective after the event from key players involved to ensure that whatever else you think of the Labor governments of Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard, the fallout will continue to haunt and damage the ALP for as long as a significant contingent of the key people from that time remains in Parliament.

As I said at the outset, the one fresh ingredient The Killing Season had in spades was venom; to this end, the sparring between Rudd and Gillard via the interviews for the programme was predictable, as was its subtext that each in effect called the other a liar, with Rudd presenting as the tragic Shakespearean victim, and Gillard portraying herself as the hard-nosed purveyor of sorely needed common sense, and the salve for the injuries Rudd was purported to have inflicted on his party and the government it formed.

Anyone who has paid even cursory attention to Australian politics over the past decade knows well what Rudd is like: in no particular order, an imbecile, a cretin, a control-obsessed megalomaniac, and a vindictive, revenge-obsessed wrecker whenever any slight or rebuke — real, perceived and/or imagined — is inflicted upon him.

Yet incredibly, my sense is that he emerges from The Killing Season in far more robust shape than does Gillard, who — irrespective of the validity of any of her criticisms of Rudd as a leader, Prime Minister, or Parliamentary colleague — managed to come across as tricky, economical with the truth, and (it has to be said) less than entirely honest.

And for me to say so goes against the grain of what I have always thought, and opined in this column: with little time for either of them, I have always found Gillard more credible on objective assessment than the moronic Rudd. It’s hardly a choice between inspired (or inspiring) options.

Perversely, the fact Rudd manages to emerge from The Killing Season looking less bad than Gillard can probably be racked up as a victory of sorts but — like much to do with the whole tawdry period of Labor in office — it doesn’t really matter a can of beans.

These are simply the perceptions conveyed, mind; I suspect nobody except the combatants directly involved will ever know precisely who did what to whom, or whose account of those activities are more or less authentic than anyone else’s.

But in my view, the most damaging impact of this programme will be felt by those who remain in Parliament on the Labor side who were central to the events that drove The Killing Season, and it deserves to be.

In addition to driving the departure from Parliament of a generation of ALP MPs (and I am not going to pass opinion on most of them) — Crean, Ferguson, Emerson, Combet, Roxon, Smith, and Rudd and Gillard themselves, among others — Labor’s behaviour between 2007 and 2013 implicated and tarnished many of those who remain in its ranks, including some who could (or should) be regarded as its up-and-comers.

The likes of Chris Bowen and (dare I say it) Bill Shorten and others like them wear, to differing degrees, the blood of their colleagues on their hands, and bear varying levels of culpability over the childish, internecine and undignified brawls over the spoils of government in which Labor indulged itself.

To some degree, it doesn’t matter who was in the right and who wasn’t: in the eyes of the voting public, Labor was an unedifying rabble in office. Some of the key players from that period now aspire to form and run a fresh ALP government of their own.

What Labor thinks it stands to gain in this regard from the continued presence of former Treasurer Wayne Swan in Parliament — not least on account of his intention to contest his marginal Brisbane seat yet again at the next election — is anyone’s guess. But like the rest of the key coup conspirators and counter-conspirators, Swan’s already shaky political reputation has copped further significant damage from his portrayal in The Killing Season.

And as far as the Liberal Party is concerned, the one observation I would make — aside from the real prospect that this whole trip down memory lane will help disabuse wavering voters of the temptation to return to Labor — is that the heavy emphasis The Killing Season placed on Tony Abbott addressing crowds wielding placards bearing slogans such as “Ditch the Witch” and “Ju-liar — Bob Brown’s Bitch” is unlikely to adversely affect the Abbott government’s re-election prospects: these events failed to deter voters from electing it two years ago, and will fail to deter them from re-electing it.

In any case, there has never been any suggestion Abbott or the Liberals were at all responsible for producing those signs or devising the slogans they bore — even from the Labor Party — and confronted by Craig Emerson’s almost blubbering protestations over how offensive they were last night, the inevitable response of “toughen up Buttercup” is impossible not to utter.

Emerson — like so many of the Rudd-Gillard insurgents who have left Parliament — is no loss at all to either the ALP’s ranks or to the country generally. But enough of them remain, and the serving of reheated leftovers on the ABC of the government they formed, and indulgently trashed, will renew the electorate’s reservations about Labor’s suitability to govern for the foreseeable future.

In short, the Labor Party as it now stands is a mess; there is good reason to believe, having watched it for almost 12 years in opposition, that it had already sunk to the levels of narcissism The Killing Season highlighted well before it reclaimed government.

Equally, and taking into account its portrayal of the continuing ALP personnel from the Rudd-Gillard years, there is no evidence to support a judgement that the party has learnt a bloody thing. In fact, its present antics under current “leader” Shorten suggest the party is in the worst shape it has ever been in, the presence of illusory minor polling leads notwithstanding.

Ferguson and her team are to be congratulated on a tight, powerful presentation that takes neither sides nor prisoners: and Sarah Ferguson’s growing reputation as one of the best political journalists in Australia — especially at the ABC — deserves to rise that little bit further on the back of this effort.

In fact, with #QandA plagued by entirely justified accusations of bias and simpering sycophancy toward the Left, hers might just be the impartial hand, devoid of fear nor favour, the ABC should consider as a replacement for her husband if he proves intransigent to the idea of his left wing propaganda sessions being overhauled and/or abolished.

Yet the biggest takeout from all of this concerns Shorten: and as I warned after last week’s episode, voters would be rightly advised to heed the notice The Killing Season has provided them in relation to the Labor “leader’s” honesty, authenticity, and trustworthiness (or the distinct lack of all three).

If Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard are and were fatally flawed, fundamentally unsuited to the Prime Ministership, then Bill Shorten is even more so; this series will have done nothing to advance his spurious claims upon that office, showing him up as the treacherous grub and nihilistic opportunist he really is.

And that — with a potential federal election looming — can only be regarded as a very good thing.