Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The problems facing our little Queenslander Kev

The whole damned Ozblogoshpere is giving their two cents worth to Rudd and Gillard, so here's mine:

Expect the Howardistas to go on full attack mode against the Rudd/Gillard team in the lead-up to Christmas. They will be doing everything they can to make sure that Rudd has no Lathamesque honeymoon with the voters.

Wedge politics will be the name of the game in the coming weeks, the new ALP team will have to be hot on their toes so they don't end up stuck in a corner as a result their leadership swticharoo. I noticed that Rudd's factional enemy, Bill Ludwig weighed in straight after his win trying to paint Rudd as "no friend of the working man". I doubt that Ludwig seriously believes this, he's just trying to force Rudd into maintaining Beazley's hard line on IR. Ludwig's no fool, expect The Oz and the small/big business councils and whoever else you care to name to try to force Rudd into retaining key elements of workchoices. My bet is that they try to paint the ousting of Kim as being the result of the failure of IR to "cut through" as an issue with the public. This is total crap of course. One of the few trends that can be reliably determined from polling data over the last year is that the government has been on the slide since introducing workchoices. The ALP and union campaigns have been effective and one would expect with further rises in interest rates forecast for the coming year that the new IR laws will increasingly worry the electorate. In addition to this, the regions where these laws are going to really hit home are in Howard's "heartland", that is, the outer suburban areas of the major cities. Expect Rudd not to take the bait. He was elected precisely because he has a better chance than Kim of taking back this middle ground vote especially in Queensland (where the ALP must win back the outer-urban regions to take back the lower house).

Oh, did I mention that you should expect to hear the Libs yell from the rooftops that this team is "inexperienced" at leading a country. They will decry comparisons between Rudd's rise and that of Howard's because "Howard had governing experience". Aside from the ridiculousness of this argument, by this reasoning no other party can ever win government off the Libs again (unless the ALP bring back Gareth Evans and Paul Keating for another tilt), Rudd was Wayne Goss's go-to guy in Queensland. He was tasked with reforming the civil service in post-Fitzgerald Queensland. One thing that has become blatantly clear over the last two years is that there has to be major reform within the federal government. DFAT has been found guilty of rubber stamping bribes to Saddam Hussein's regime, Vanstone's immigration department is a farce and there is warfare breaking out between the states and the government over who runs what. A Rudd/Gillard team would be perfect for addressing the desperate need for federal government reform.

There are many other problems that they will face of course. People will accuse Rudd of having no personality, trying to damn him with the same issue that toppled Crean. Gillard will be attacked for being a single woman who is out-of-touch with ordinary Australians. Total tosh of course but you will hear it frequently.

Rudd, Gillard and their ALP have a Herculean task ahead of them in the coming year. The ALP has performed, for the most part, pretty well in the last year or so. Now they have to ramp it up and bring it home.