Recycling the killing season

You must remember this…

Watch this space

Posted on June 23, 2010 by Neil


One of these people will be Prime Minister of Australia tomorrow

As time goes by…

What we have lost: 2

28 NOV 2007

I would be the first to admit that Phillip Adams is hardly objective in his piece I quoted here yesterday, even if I agree with the general thrust of his remarks.

Ross Gittins has a somewhat more sober assessment in today’s Sydney Morning Herald: A vote for honesty and decency.

Wouldn’t it be great if the defeat of the Howard Government and the election of fresh-faced Kevin Rudd proved to be a turning point, a swing back to moderation in public policy and decency in public life? I am not at all sure it will – politicians tend to ape the ethical standards of their competitors – but it sure would be nice.
The lawyer and academic Greg Craven says the Australian people are radical about only one thing: that their politicians must be moderate. The radical policy in this campaign – at least in its initial form – was Work Choices. By favouring individual contracts it shifted the balance of bargaining power heavily in favour of employers at the expense of less-skilled workers, who were able to lose penalty payments and conditions without reasonable compensation.

The belated restoration of a fairness test did much to correct this injustice, but it came too late. As Liberal insiders are admitting, Work Choices was the greatest single reason for John Howard’s defeat. Inexplicably, it harmed the very working-class battlers whose support had kept him in power for so long.

Work Choices was extreme in another respect: by permitting the removal of penalty rates for overtime and work on weekends and public holidays, it advanced the seven-day working week and the demise of the weekend. Nothing could have been more calculated to damage family life and make social relations more difficult. How this would leave us better off was never explained.

I do not believe the motivation for Work Choices was to promote employment and advance economic efficiency. Rather it was to strike the final blow against the hated unions.

Howard sought to delegitimise the union movement from his first moment in office, removing unionists from government boards and declining to consult the unions about legislation that affected them. Contrast that with Rudd’s concern in just his first few days to establish good relations with business

On the face of it, the voters’ decision to install Labor federally as well as in every state and territory across the land hardly represents a vote for moderation and balance. We are now a one-party state. Not to worry. I think what we are seeing is just the first stage in an inevitable changing of the guard. Many voters are attracted to the idea of the each-way bet: governments of opposing colours at federal and state levels. Labor gained its stranglehold over state and territory governments while Howard’s Liberals were entrenching themselves federally. Labor’s ascension to power federally makes it only a matter of time before state Labor governments start falling – which will be no bad thing.

I believe standards of honesty and decency fell under Howard. They were hardly very high under his Labor predecessors, but they declined further under a man who, to all outward appearance, radiated respectability. He was a tricky man, leaving you with a certain impression but then later protesting that you had failed to read his lawyerly words carefully enough.

How many times were we misled? There were the non-core promises, the children overboard, the Tampa (which, for all Howard’s ministers knew, may have been carrying terrorists), the weapons of mass destruction and the probably illegal invasion of Iraq, the AWB scandal (which no minister had any knowledge of) and the promise to keep interest rates at record lows.

Howard was never told and so was never responsible. The buck always stopped elsewhere. As to decency, we had the brutal treatment of asylum seekers, the trampling of the legal rights of David Hicks and others, the shameful treatment of Dr Mohamed Haneef.

The Howard Government ruled by fear and behind-the-scenes bullying of bureaucrats, journalists, business economists and business people. It raised the abuse of incumbency to new heights, especially taxpayer-funded market research and political advertising.

In all these things, it had two standard defences: first, you may care but the electorate does not and, second, our Labor predecessors did it, too.

I would like to believe this election shows that, in the end, the electorate does care about declining standards of public morality…

I agree 100%!

Play it again! Play “As Time Goes By”….

And tonight ABC begins The Killing Season: The different universes of former Labor leaders Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard.

Julia Gillard claims Kevin Rudd once tried to physically intimidate and bully her after an Opposition tactics meeting in 2007.

Mr Rudd says Ms Gillard is a liar.

It is just one of many moments where the memories of the two protagonists in the Rudd-Gillard years jar when recounted in the ABC’s much-anticipated documentary, The Killing Season, which goes to air [on] Tuesday.

The first episode shows starkly that the two have constructed their own memory worlds and move in different universes.

The value of this series is that, for the first time, the world views are presented together and in the words of the players.

Viewers can decide whether one, the other, or neither is closest to the truth….


Some are wishing they would both just STFU! I can understand that. I did rather like Labor MHR Ed Husic’s comment:

When asked whether or not his former colleagues should have spoken out on The Killing Season, western Sydney MP Ed Husic went to great lengths to make the Get Over It case.

“I often wonder if I should go back in time and watch those old Neighbours episodes and think: could Jason Donovan not had the mullet?” he mused on Wednesday.

“Could Kylie not [have] sung Locomotion as her first song?

“But I can’t do anything about it can I?”

Even so I will actually watch the series with some interest. My belief at the moment is that, weighing all the pros and cons, out of Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott the nearest approach to a truly reasonable human being is actually Julia Gillard!  We’ll see if I still think that afterwards.

See also ‘They lied’: into the Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard interviews on The Killing Season. Presenter Sarah Ferguson:

Q. Will this series have a political effect – on the party or on the voters?

A. I haven’t had time to think about that. People have very fixed ideas about who the heroes and villains were – either the lot of them or one versus the other. We had to approach every event with an open mind, and that’s what I want the audience to do. They can sit down with their popcorn and their prejudices, but when they’ve finished with the popcorn, their prejudices should be put aside too. If I’ve done my job.

Next day

Yes, well worth seeing. Jim Belshaw has an excellent post on it.

One of the messages that I drew from the documentary, and one that stands greatly to Mr Rudd’s credit, lies in his early identification of the global problem. Here I think that ex-Treasury Secretary provides a generous and, I think, objective view of Mr Rudd’s contribution. Mr Rudd identified the global significance of the sub-prime problem early, certainly earlier than Treasury, and put in place considerable worst-case planning. From memory, the word gaming  was used to describe the process. As a consequence, Australia was in a position to respond and to respond quickly as the crisis unfolded.


One thought on “Recycling the killing season

  1. First episode of Killing Fields is the good one for Rudd; the one where we will be considering whether he sabotaged the ALP’s re-election chances in 2010 by leaking (directly or indirectly) to Laurie Oakes after he had been dumped may not look so good; the bits about how the ALP couldn’t reach a deal with the Greens and lost its nerve on climate change, and the bit about the backdown on the mining tax may be more mixed for all involved.

    Godwin Grech is of course the Brazilian butterfly eco-criminal of the story so far. How horrible to be reminded of him! Watching Abetz ask him questions and they way he answered you have to wonder how anyone could have taken his answers seriously because they were so totally weird. Arguably he cost Turnbull the leadership and gave us Abbott and the climate denying-they-are-denialist coalition. I really bear him a grudge, personally. I know he is said to have been unwell at the time but that explains his folly rather than his political motivation which his later public utterances suggest is unrepentant.

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