Tagged with Paul Keating

Leaders ahoy!

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This election campaign has been breaking record for both dullity and awfulitude, but finally in week three we have been blessed with the wisdom of the ages as a swag of superannuated and mostly geriatric ex-leaders have been sounding forth on the big issues, to help us make up our minds about who we dislike the least. It’s a non-stop nostalgia fest for political tragics.

Bob Hawke: characteristically quick out of the blocks, the Silver Bodgie has been doing the rounds since early in the campaign, promoting his miniseries, promoting his wife’s book, creeping us out, sparring with Paul Keating and occasionally campaigning for the ALP. He’s “still got it”, according to the media. although what “it” is or was is mercifully left unexplained – perhaps it’s his lifetime gold travel pass. Bob says the Liberals have a stupid asylum seeker policy and a leader who’s as ‘mad as a cut snake’. Couldn’t agree more.

Kevin Rudd: emerged from his hospital bed yesterday and is ready to rescue the ALP campaign. Julia Gillard says he’s allowed to campaign for the ALP, which is kind, and Kevin’s playing the nice guy card, insisting he has no ill will for Julia. If he keeps that charade up until the election, she will have to make him Foreign Minister, Governor-General and Secretary-General of the UN.

John Howard: he’s back, and it’s gloves off, say the hacks at the Australian, who are unsurprisingly a little bit moist to have the short man back in the limelight. Hilariously, Howard staged his return at a fundraiser for Chinese immigrants. Howard says we should vote for Tony Abbott – shock! In other news, Howard lost his own seat in 2007 and has gone on to not become the vice-president of the ICC.

Malcolm Fraser: he’s back too! On ABC radio this morning he said the coalition is “not ready for government“. Who will he vote for then? The Sex Party? The Greens?

Malcolm Turnbull: has come out in support of gay marriage, and is known to be for carbon trading renewable energy, onshore processing of refugees and, for all I know, legal heroin. He should just join the Greens and be done with it.

Brendan Nelson: Australia’s ambassador to the EU has been pleasantly silent.

Paul Keating: gave a speech about privacy laws the other day. Suggested a snappy new campaign slogan for the ALP: “I would campaign simply to the point that it is not believable that Mr Abbott could facilitate the transition of the Australian economy from where it is to where it needs to be … The constant flip-flop he has made on policy, the lack of an over-arching schematic.” Brilliant!

John Hewson: has been popping up all over the place, presumably because he is an expert on losing the unloseable election, a feat which the ALP seems determined to emulate. On Gruen Nation this week, Hewson insisted that his party allegiance shouldn’t be taken for granted. Another Greens voter?

Gough Whitlam: has been having a nap.


UPDATE, 9 AUGUST: Now Mark Latham has entered the fray, using the campaign to prosecute a few long-held grudges against, well, everybody. And Andrew Peacock has been beating up on disabled people! Will the fun never end?

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The Coalition implosion

From Wikipedia:

Implosion is a process in which objects are destroyed by collapsing in on themselves. The opposite of explosion, implosion concentrates matter and energy. An example of implosion is a submarine being crushed from the outside by the hydrostatic pressure of the surrounding water.

Or a conservative government reeling from a disastrous electoral loss.

The Liberal and National parties are both looking for new leaders after the election, after Vaile resigned and leader-in-waiting Costello refused to accept the job. Costello is pathetic — it makes his taunting of Kim Beazley over “ticker” look all the more insipid. At least Beazley had the courage to step up when his party needed him (in 1996, after Keating was defeated). Now, after coveting the Liberal leadership for years (but never having the balls to challenge) Costello says he doesn’t want it. All tip and no iceberg, indeed.

Next we’ll have a series of former Ministers quitting their seats — Costello, Downer and Ruddock are not going to hang around on the opposition back benches; they’ll take their bat and ball and go home as soon as it’s decent (three months, citing the need to spend more time with family, or illness, or whatever excuse they can cobble to cover their ignominy). Probably one or two others will go with them — we’ll have to wait and see who’s been able to secure a suitably comfortable Board appointment or consultancy over the Christmas holidays. Possibly a few lower-house seats will change hands at by-elections.

So who will lead the two conservative parties? Barnaby Joyce says he’ll accept the leadership of the Nationals, but it would be a break from convention for a Senator to lead a party that holds seats in the Reps. Joyce would be a good leader and would thoroughly reinvent the cow cockies’ party — he’d probably also destroy the Coalition. So they should definitely go with him. But they won’t — Peter McGauran and Warren Truss will share the leader/deputy roles between them, just you wait and see. Yawn…

The Liberals are really scraping the bottom of the (very shallow) barrel with Turnbull, Abbott and Nelson, with Robb and Pyne angling for the second-banana role. Paul Keating offered a very considered analysis of the merits of the various contenders yesterday on The World Today:

ELEANOR HALL: So who should lead the Liberals at this point?

PAUL KEATING: Well I don’t know who should lead the Liberals, but I mean, I know who I wouldn’t be going for. If they take Tony Abbott they’re just going to go back down hill to wherever they’ve been. He’s the one most like Howard ideologically, you know, the last, he’s what I call a young fogey. Howard was the old fogey. He’s the young fogey.

Brendan Nelson – well I liked him more when he had the ring in his ear, actually.

ELEANOR HALL: Malcolm Turnbull?

PAUL KEATING: Oh Malcolm – Malcolm is a bit like, I did that cracker night speech years ago about the big red bunger. You’d go and light it up and you’d stand back for the big explosion. I fancy Malcolm is like the big red bunger. You’re lighting up, there’s a bit of a fizz, but then nothing, nothing.

ELEANOR HALL: What about Julie Bishop then?

PAUL KEATING: Well, I think, I don’t know her but if I was voting this very second I’d probably give it to her because I like women. I always reckon they’re battling in public life, and anyone who can break through, like Julia has, you know.

You look at the girls in the Labor Caucus, I always barrack for them, the whole lot to them – Susan Ryan, Ros Kelly, I got them into the ministry, every one of them.

Obviously I’m hoping for the dream team of Abbott and Pyne — but maybe that’s just my schadenfreude addiction speaking. They’ll probably go for Malcolm Turnbull as leader and, if she declares an interest, Julie Bishop as deputy.

Obviously either Turnbull or Nelson would drag the party back towards the left, back towards that distant place where they lost their soul, while Abbott, Pyne, Bishop and Robb will steadfastly keep them at the right, where they have been repudiated and face years in opposition from coast to coast (not counting the Brisbane City Council, now the most powerful elected Liberals in the country).

Still no final results for the Senate, but the hopes of a Green resurgence are clearly dashed. The Greens will go from four senators to five or maybe six, not enough to hold the balance of power in their own right. The worst news of the election is the loss of Kerry Nettle from the Senate — probably the most talented and brightest Green we had. If the Senate is really going to be hostile, we’ll probably have a double dissolution within three years, which will be good for the Greens.

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