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It's a big news day. As I'm writing this I'm listening to Kevin Rudd speaking after he has been ousted as Australian Prime Minister. Though he's been shaky for while this outcome developed very quickly.
When I first heard that he had been dumped by the factions and the unions I thought it was bad news. I'm no fan of Rudd, but believed that in this situation and so close to an election that some semblance unity had to be preserved. Then I learned more details and I changed my mind.
Julia Gillard is the new Prime Minister. Like many I have a lot of time for her. I think she's smart, honest and straight-forward, though with an unfortunate drawl. She's likeable as a person and impressive as a politician. I said to an England supporter earlier today in relation to the soccer that they'd be shitting themselves playing Germany next; well I think the same goes for the Libs now. I think they thought they had Rudd's measure, rightly or wrongly, but Gillard is very different. For me this move puts Labor clearly in front.
As for Rudd, well he got what he deserved. He's been a well documented disappointment for months. All the way through Gillard has supported him to the hilt. In the end it was his disloyalty to her that precipitated this crisis, and led to his downfall. He only has himself to blame.
He'll be remembered as a leader who promised a lot but failed to deliver on most. His great achievement, for which he gets too little praise, was steering Australia clear of the GFC. We're in good shape economically. Where he failed was on style and courage. He comes across as arrogant, rude and supercilious, the super-nerd who knows better than you. You cop that if he follows through. He had the goods too to make it happen, but ultimately he got scared.
Rudd is out of a job today because he lost his nerve. When he could have pulled the trigger last year for a double dissolution election he failed to act. Since then has back-tracked on promises and beliefs. That has been a fatal mistake. He's courted popularity and lost it. When he should have ploughed ahead with what was right he instead sought to curry favour with public opinion. He should have known better: for all of the mob-like qualities of the public they can spot a fraud a mile off. They'll rather disagree with someone they respect than be kow-towed to by someone of doubtful authenticity.
For all that I hope we don't lose him to politics. Despite his style issues he is a man of great ability, head and shoulders above the average pollie. What he brings to bear is clarity of vision and immense powers of concentration. As a plocy maker without the pressure of leadership I think he can do great things for the country.
Now it's Gillard though. I think she'll be very good, and hard to toss come the next election. She has the common touch that Rudd lacks, and is the more natural leader. I guess this also means she'll be lining up for the Bullies next week.
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- PM ousted, Australia gets first female leader (theglobeandmail.com)
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