Minister’s journal: The return of K-Rudd
Monday, 13 Feb 2012
A lot of my constituents have been writing to me re: concerns over interest rates and housing prices. Plan to spend the week kicking around policy ideas with the gang. Really hope leadership speculation is over – is getting in way of governing.
Gillard Press Secretary (GPS) drops in. Just wanted to remind me to watch tonight’s Four Corners retrospective on Rudd’s Prime Ministership. Says Rudd won’t have 26 supporters by tomorrow morning. Laughs.
Laugh with him. In times like these, not laughing can be an act of disloyalty.
Watch Four Corners. Don’t think GPS had seen advance copy of this. He was right. No way Rudd will have only 26 supporters by the morning.
Tuesday, 14 Feb 2012
Gillard floats into office. Compliment her on Four Corners performance. Gillard says she cannot remember the interview. Says she does many interviews as Prime Minister, and cannot recall them all.
Say to Gillard it was the one about the leadership.
Gillard says she has answered the question and we should move on. Gillard asks me if there’s anything else.
Remind Gillard this is actually my office. Gillard leaves, seems slightly dazed.
Last Cabinet Gillard banned note-taking in Cabinet. Kim Carr got caught writing me a note while Bill Shorten was speaking. Gillard made him stand up and read it to the whole cabinet.
Turns out Kim note said:
Has Shorten ever said anything interesting enough to leak?
Called Mark Arbib’s office to organise a meeting about housing policy.
3 Minutes Later
Arbib storms into office.
Demands to know why I’m talking about policy when future of party is at stake? Rudd is moving onto war footing, and government can’t afford any distractions.
Arbib’s mobile rings – he says he really needs to take this. Gives me look. Asks me to leave.
Insist it’s my office.
Arbib say the office belongs to the Labor party, and the Labor party needs it right now. Pushes me out of office.
5 Minutes Later
Rudd sees me in corridor. Explain that Arbib has turfed me out of my office. Rudd pats me on back. Says he knows how I feel. Invites me back to his office.
Rudd lets me sit in his chair and offers me coffee. Asks me if I need a back support pillow or even a massage? He’s been doing a course.
Accept coffee. Refuse pillow and massage. Don’t want to lead Rudd on.
Make plain to Rudd that I don’t want there to be a misunderstanding. I support the Prime Minister.
Says he supports her too, “High five for Julia!” God he’s good.
20 Minutes Later
Leave Rudd’s office having given him my views on the Syrian insurgency, telecommunications in the Solomons, and animal rights in Nepal. Rudd really enjoyed our chat, finds consulting members of party incredibly refreshing. Never knows what we’ll say!
Graham Richardson called to find out where I stood on the leadership. Not canvassing support for anyone in particular, Richo just finds doing the numbers relaxing.
Wednesday, 15 Feb 2012
Arrive at my office. Find Gillard staffers inside. Say they’re “advance recon team”. Remove my computer, landline, and all the pens and paper. Jokingly ask whether they’ll want my mobile too. They take mobile.
Arbib and GPS enter.
Joke with Arbib: is he here to discuss housing policy?
Arbib slaps me. Declares I’ve been warned about this “policy thing”. “Would Roosevelt have wanted to talk about housing policy after Pearl Harbor? Would he have joked as the bombs were dropping??? WOULD HE?!?!”
GPS says I’ve been seen with the enemy. The Government needs to know whose side I’m on: Am I for Gillard or against the Labor Party?
Swear on my mother’s grave I’m a Gillard booster.
Arbib sorry about my mother but glad, has decided to give me chance to prove myself. Needs me to go undercover with Ruddites. Would go himself but they don’t trust him and he doesn’t speak crazy.
GPS insists that I wear a wire for my own safety. Last MP they sent in was Darren Cheeseman and now he’s mental.
Arbib shakes his head. Says it’s so strange how anyone could want to roll a sitting Prime Minister, after what happened last time.
Rudd walks in, wearing apron and chef hat, with three staffers pushing a cart of danishes, sandwiches, and coffee cistern. Asks what I’m ordering. Soy latte, please.
Rudd staffer drops coffee. Rudd goes bright red, starts shaking. Think he’s going to explode! But no. A pause, and he closes his eyes. Hugs himself, and counts to ten in mandarin. Amazing.
Rudd says he hasn’t sworn in 47 days. Knew he had a problem after he had to upgrade his swear jar to a Citibank swear account.
Take deep breath. Tell Rudd I am very concerned about direction party is taking, think we may need to alter course. Ask him what he thinks?
Rudd stops, grins and says he adores being Foreign Minister.
Knock at door. Open, there’s no one there. Envelope on ground, sealed with red wax. Inside: “Be at the Wig & Pen in one hour”. There’s a DFAT stamp in the corner.
Feel like a spy during Cold War, but stakes are much higher.
One Hour Later
Arrive at Wig & Pen. Kim Carr wearing a brown robe. Approaches me in the bar. Tells me not to use his name, that here he is known as Number 1. Welcomes me to the Ruddians.
Twenty odd MPs at meeting. Asks me introduce myself and explain my favourite colour, fruit and Ruddism.
Ruddites are mostly back benchers, all from marginal seats. Remind me of kids I used to play Dungeons and Dragons with, but less impressive.
Carr predicts that Rudd will challenge soon. We all should look forward to the challenge and spread the word amongst the party that Kevin has promised forgiveness to all and declared there shall be no retribution. Except against Arbib, for he is a shit bag.
Arbib swears into my ear piece. Flinch. Claim I have ear infection.
I ask them if they believe the Australian people will accept Rudd back.
Darren Cheeseman MP says it is not a question of faith or belief. The polls are good, especially in Queensland.
After close of meeting, everyone eats Iced VoVos and drinks Twinings, Kevin’s favourite blend.
Thursday, 16 Feb 2012
Arrive at office. Arbib is on couch, GPS is behind my desk with feet up. They thank me for stopping by.
GPS congratulates me on good work. With intelligence like this they can launch assault on Rudd. Have a lot of video footage ready to go.
Ask Arbib if we can now discuss housing policy?
Arbib has bad news. Gillard has stripped housing from my portfolio as punishment for my treachery.
Furious – thought I was infiltrating Ruddites FOR Gillard.
GPS looks at me like I’m a child. Says that of course Gillard does not know, nor did she direct, for me to spy on a senior Minister. Such allegations belong in the Greens and if I want to have any future in the party I’ll never make them again.
Shake head, start tearing up.
Arbib reminds me of modern Labor’s motto: Sometimes the party giveth, sometimes the party taketh away, but the party is always right. Except for Rudd.
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