In a recent speech delivered at ANU, Paul Kelly, Editor-at-Large of The Australian, presented a devastating account of what he sees as the failure of the Rudd-Gillard years.
Talking about his new book, Triumph and Demise, Kelly argued against the replacement of Rudd with Gillard. “The 23rd of June, 2010, crippled both Rudd and Gillard”, he says. “The cabinet majority wanted Rudd. Emerson, Faulkner and Swan all changed [their minds] on the night.”
However, Kelly does not blame disloyalty for Labour’s leadership woes. He blames the leaders. “Rudd lost his party’s confidence. Gillard lacked legitimacy.” The result: both distrust Shorten.
He suggests Rudd should have called an early election in 2010 per the wishes of Faulkner and Carr. Instead, Rudd allowed Abbott’s negative campaigning to grow in popularity.
He also criticises Rudd’s framing of the climate change debate. “He wanted to break the Liberal Party up. It worked against Nelson and Turnbull.” But not against Abbott.
“The negative is the winner of our time.”
To avoid this, he argues, “they should have held a joint summit”. By Rudd asking to be judged principally on his performance in climate policy he was setting himself up for failure.
Describing Abbott’s climb to the leadership, he also points to climate policy. “If you abandon carbon pricing I won’t challenge”, read Abbott’s ultimatum to Hockey and Turnbull. They stood firm and the Party went with Abbott.
He concludes, that Abbott will also have trouble governing and that Shorten might not even get the chance.
Labor must go back to Hawke and Keating, he says, and, “Rudd-Gillard were no Hawke-Keating”.