Monday, July 22, 2013

An open letter to Kevin Rudd

Dear Mr Rudd,

It was good to see you over the weekend, or at least, good to see you on the TV. I don't attend church much these days, so I was always unlikely to run into you there, but I did catch a bit of footage of you patting your minister on the arm and sharing a joke of some kind as you went into the House of God. And I have to say, you looked ever so relaxed and happy, with your cable-knit over your shoulders like a Hilfiger model. And you had every right to be relaxed - it was a beautiful day, you were amongst friends who were almost certainly telling you what a great job you were doing, and I'm sure that you and Therese had a lovely traditional lamb roast lunch planned for afterward. Aren't clear Australian winter days just the best? How lucky are we to live here? But I'm sure you know that.

I can imagine your other reason for looking so relaxed is the knowledge that pretty soon you won't have to worry about losing the job you've taken back after you lost it the first time. I know how much it hurt to lose your job like that – the wobbling chin was a dead giveaway. So of course you did the only decent thing a visionary such as yourself could do: rather than acknowledge that people couldn't work with a micro-manager as ill-tempered as yourself who liked to speak grandly of our most important challenges without doing anything about them, and thereafter throwing your considerable talents behind the elected leader of your party, you took every possible opportunity to white-ant her. Of course I take your point that it was for the good of the party and the country, although I can't help wondering (forgive me for thinking out loud here) that your nemesis' – sorry, democratically elected leader – might have been better able to focus on policy and earning recognition for the hundreds of pieces of legislation she managed to steer through hostile parliamentary waters, rather than having to fight on several fronts. But that would have hurt even more, I guess, if she'd actually been recognised as an effective PM rather than a dead duck. Not that you could have done much about that as foreign minister. Oh, wait, my mistake – there was quite a bit you could have done as a senior front-bencher with such peerless oratory gifts. But that's all water under the bridge now, I suppose.

Oh yes, you certainly had your eye on the prize, and for that I must give you credit. You established what your goal was, then you stopped at nothing until you achieved it. After all, some things are more important than others, aren't they, and when you see regaining the leadership at the expense of your own party as your most important personal challenge, you go for it. So yay you! We Aussies like a battler. (Not if they're a red-headed female battler with a big bum and a voice like a dentist's drill, obviously, but your kind of battler. You know, the kinds of people who have survived Kokoda and been interrogated by David Koch.)

I've got to give you a gold star for something else, Kevin. You said that you've learned a lot from your time 'out in the cold', and I believe you. After all, you seem to have learned that you can't fight on too many fronts at once, which is why you've introduced party rules to make sure that the next upstart Labor MP with the audacity to suggest that your posturing, bullying and policy capitulation is incompatible with your high office will be slapped down with a copy of the ALP Constitution. In other words, you're leader until you decide you don't want to be any more. Now that you're in. Because the first time it happened hurt just too damn much, and no one should have to go through what you went through, right?

And speaking of pain, I applaud the perfectly reasonable plea you made to the Lower House the day after you phoned for Julia's taxi. You remember the speech, where you suggested that politicians try be more gentle with one another? I had the TV turned down quite low at the time, but I'm certain I heard you say, right at the end, 'Starting … now.'

You know who else implored us to be a little more gentle with one another? Jesus. You know, the guy from the church. He also said something about taking in the weary and the needy and the oppressed and the hungry, if I remember correctly, although it's been a while since I was in church, whereas you were there on the weekend.

Look, I know you're going to claim that you just want people to stop getting in those boats because when they do, they drown. You might have a point, but it's not a terribly good one. Unless it's just me – I mean, I found myself agreeing with Paul Sheehan this morning, so maybe it's me who's lost his marbles. All I know is that a long time ago I used to wear a wrist band with WWJD inscribed on it. (The 'J' is for 'Jesus', by the way.) And I'm very confident that of all the things Jesus might do, announcing a policy like yours would not appear on the list.

You know what else Jesus would do if he were living in Australia right now? Refuse to sing the second verse of our national anthem. I'm sure you know it – it's the verse that talks about people coming across the sea, and how we have boundless plains to share. I reckon Jesus might have a bit of an issue with the disingenuity of that one. What do you think?

Oh, it's very complicated, I know. No one's suggesting it's not, Kevin. Besides, there's the very real possibility that you could effectively use this hardline policy to blunt Abbott's 'stop the boats' mantra, and thereby get yourself another three years as PM. And if you do, then maybe you'll be in a position to review and soften that policy. Except we all know what happens when a Labor PM says they'll do one thing but then does another, or says they won't do something, then goes ahead and does it after the political circumstances change. Like Julia Gillard saying we'd never have a GST under any government she led. Wait, that was someone else – hers was the carbon tax. But you take my point, I'm sure.

Look, please don't get me wrong. I sincerely hope you give Mr Abbott the mother of all canings when election day arrives. I want to see his lip quivering as he realises that it wasn't enough to just be constantly negative without outlining any alternatives. But that doesn't mean I'll ever like you, Kevin. In my opinion such an eventuality would hinge on exactly the same reasons as your win back in '07 – elected not so much for who you are than for who you're not. Heaven help you if Malcolm Turnbull decides to roll his leader.

Anyway, I should leave it there, since it's time for lunch. I think I'll stroll down to the shops and use that  walking time to decide what I'll get. So much choice! Do I want sushi, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, some pasta or a pizza, maybe a gozleme or a pide, perhaps a curry. But most likely that great Aussie dish, the kebab, which is really just a lamb sanga, after all. Can I get you anything while I'm there?


hrhpablo said...

Poor Kevin. He never was loved by the Left. He's getting real popular with the Right however.

I think it's impressive how well he's hit the ground running.

As for the risky boats strategy, I remain unconvinced that asylum seekers who arrive by boat do so because they have no other choice (as to the mode of transport).

It seems reasonable that if they can afford to give people smugglers $30k to hop a boat, they could afford the cost of a plane ticket.

Which leaves adequate ID as the remaining barrier. Destroying ID seems to be an accepted practice designed to stop immediate identification and deportation.

I know there are other points of view here. So why do those who oppose these plans support the choice to arrive by boat and the wilful destruction of ID?

hrhpablo said...
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