Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Aussie Labour Party Self-Destructs; Conservatives Poised For Big Win In Election
Turnabout is, if you'll pardon an Americanism, a bitch.
Since the intricacies of Oz politics are perhaps difficult to follow, I'll give you the short n' simple version.And why it could matter.
Australia's great PM John Howard (and I still have a standing offer out there dating from 2006 to swap him for the current occupant of our own White House, with maybe some cash thrown in from our end) ended ten years of Liberal rule (the Liberals are the Conservative party in Australia) with a strong, resurgent country, a virtual end to illegal migration and a $A20 billion surplus thanks to the reforms instituted by Howard and his treasurer Peter Costello.
In a 2007 election Howard didn't have his heart really in anyway (he even leveled with his constituents and told them he might not finish out another term) he was defeated by Labour's Mark Rudd, who ran an unusual campaign of touting Howard's programs and pledging no changes to the point that some Oz journalists referred to him as 'Mr. Me Too'.
Being Labour, Rudd of course was unable to keep his word. He promptly embarked on a huge 'stimulus' spending spree that wiped out the surplus and put the country back in debt.He also went after Australia's mining industry with a highly unpopular special tax that would have seen millions flow into federal coffers from Australia's states and meant that the mining companies simply canceled projects and moved jobs overseas.
With an election coming up in 2010 Rudd was deeply unpopular...which is when Julia Gillard, his deputy Prime Minister engineered a coup d'etat, leaking polls that showed Rudd getting beat like a gong by Tony Abbot and the Liberals. She cut him off at the knees(or somewhere down south)engineered a party vote and got him tossed out of the party leadership in favor of herself.
Gillard did manage to get herself elected as Australia's first female PM, but only by a knife edge with the support of a far Left Green Party MP and three independent MPs. It was not a stable marriage, to say the least.
She promptly broke a major campaign promise and instituted a farcical 'carbon tax' that raised priced and the cost of utilities nation wide, went after Australia's slot machines, and wasted billions in funding obscure projects.
Like her predecessor Rudd, she ignored John Howard's 'Pacific Solution' which practically ended illegal migration into Australia, with the result that it skyrocketed.And she allowed a large number of refugees into Australia from very non-Australian cultural backgrounds into the country with little or no oversight, with the sort of results you might expect.
With an election coming up in September, Gillard had become markedly unpopular in OZ, to the point that people were throwing sandwich remains at her.In public.
So Rudd went ahead and sandbagged Julia Gillard in a ballot of MPs for Labor party leadership.
Gillard operated with some real stones, I have to say. She forced Rudd into a do-or-die ballot, on the condition that the loser retire from parliament to end the Labor leadership war.
She lost, by a margin of 57 to 45.
Gillard stuck by her word, saying she would not contest the next election.
In her concession speech, Gillard congratulated Rudd and called on the party to fight to win the September election. She acknowledged that her tenure as prime minister had been difficult, saying: "In the years in which I've served as prime minister, predominantly I've faced a minority government and political division in my own party. It has not been an easy parliament to operate in."
At this point, Tony Abbot and the Liberals are well ahead in the polls, and Abbot is calling for immediate elections instead of waiting until September. If Abbot wins, we could see Australia joining Canada as another resurgent Anglosphere democracy under conservative rule.
I have to admit, I had some liking for Julia Gillard, even though I disagreed with a lot of her politics. It seems like she got caught in a trap of trying to please too many people at one time. She had a decent sense of humor that a lot of politicians lack, ( after she got a sandwich thrown at her, she quipped 'Maybe they thought I looked hungry') and she was no mindless Leftist ideologue. After a great speech she made at the White House about the Australian and American alliance, I dropped her a line on the PM's website (yes, in Australia, they haven't embraced the hypocrisy of having an insulated Ruling Class just yet) just to give her a thumbs up and tell her how much I enjoyed it.
You wouldn't expect a politician to take the time to bother to answer someone who can't vote for them or give them money. Ms. Gillard did, and it was quite a nice reply. Even if she farmed it out to one of her staffers (and I doubt it, because it didn't have that form letter phrasing), it was a nice gesture.
Whatever happens, I hope she's OK.