So, the election has started in earnest, and we finally know the date: September 7th. Today was Day 1, and the action is all under way for Election 2013.
Hmm: let’s recap for those who haven’t been paying attention. Back in 2007, Kevin Rudd was Opposition Leader, running against the tired old policies of Howard. Rudd promised… well, roughly the same policies as Howard, but he’d be nice to the Aboriginals, the refugees, the environment, and the “working families” who were about to be put on cruel and unusual employment conditions.
Rudd got into power, and appointed his deputy Gillard to oversee the transition away from the cruel & unusual working terms (a.k.a. WorkChoices). He then got stuck into the hypotheticals, called a major ideas conference, and then promptly did… well… I don’t think anything actually concrete came of that conference. I’m not sure even something ephemeral did.
Then the GFC happened, and everything else went out the window.
Rudd jetted around the world, Swan swanned around being very serious, and lots of people got money for nothing so they would spend; they went and spent it ordering stuff from the USA. Rudd had said sorry to the Aborigines for past mistakes, then not revoked the intervention into their living conditions. Rudd revoked the Howard government’s hardline approach to asylum seekers, then found himself under a deluge of boats that looked Very Very Bad OK. Rudd backed out of a plan to implement something for action on the environment (The Greatest Moral Challenge of Our Time, his words) when he found the opposition chose to vote against it (by one vote) when picking Abbott, thereby throwing away something which had effectively been a done deal for the 3 years prior but still awaiting legislation. Rudd then went and picked a fight with some extremely motivated greedy billionaires who happened to want to protect their right to dig up bits of rock & dirt from the back o’ burke and then ship it overseas. They didn’t like that at all.
Gillard, responsible for the few successes (revoking Work Choices, building stuff in schools with piles of cash allocated to prevent builders going under) decided she’d had enough, and chucked him out. She tried to implement a plan to control the boats, shush the billionaires, deliver a suprplus, and ditch any effort to help the environment. The election came while everyone assumed she was in her honeymoon period, except no-one seems to realise anything more than a 2 week honeymoon is too damn long.
Gillard scraped into power by the skin of her teeth, and promptly turned around on everything. The billionaires were appeased, the mining tax neutered. The Greens were appeased, a fix price on carbon that they couldn’t help but call a tax implemented. The boats didn’t stop through harder-line enforcement, so they tried to ship them to Manus, no wait, Malaysia, no wait… well just about anywhere that wasn’t a Pacific island starting with N and ending in auru, because that’s exactly what the opposition wanted.
Gillard failed. It almost got comical towards the end – no matter what message she was trying to get out that particular day, she was maybe a day or two away from the moment blowing up in her face, or something else going slightly awry. I’m not saying there was a conspiracy, it was just plain old fashioned bad luck half the time. The other half, the opposition (and their supporters) had gone tone deaf and would prefer nothing to get done than anything at all.
Don’t get me wrong: she got through a lot of stuff, and people looking back in a few years time will marvel at the fact that despite such low polling and such consistent opposition in a hung parliament where she held a one vote majority at best, so much legislation passed. But Gillard had near permanent foot-in-mouth disease, so the lack of ability to communicate a message meant she had to go, only to be replaced with… Rudd.
Yes, that’s right, the guy they threw out 3 years ago for being uncommunicative and uncooperative was co-opted back to replace a lady who had been coopted to replace him in the first place. He promised to… stop the boats, reduce the tax, deliver a suprlus… stop me if you know where this is going.
And now we have the blandest election contest that I think anyone would be able to recall, between two men from affluent areas of their respective states/cities, arguing roughly the same policy positions minus one or two key areas: do you want your asylum seekers sent to PNG or Nauru? Do you want your schools funded separately? Do these budgie smugglers make my bum look big? and so on and so forth.
Someone wake me up when there’s a real point.