Video killed the Ruddio star
It’s instructive to go back to the Kevin07 campaign advertisements, not least because the man himself seemed so confident and so damned chirpy.
The ads underline the fact it wasn’t long ago that many voters were prepared to place their trust in the abilities of the Labor Party.
Nielsen polling released Monday found Kevin Rudd was preferred leader of the Labor Party, 55 per cent to incumbent Julia Gillard’s 38 per cent. It was more a comment on Ms Gillard than a sign the mob wanted Kevin back, but the comparison was stark.
Even as Foreign Minister - even though he seems rarely in the country - Rudd retains the ability to connect that he mobilised so devastatingly against John Howard in 2007.
“In the end, the buck will stop with me,” he says in one ad on health policy.
In the end, the buck-passing did end with him and Kevin Rudd was punted by his party when the polls started to look ugly.
Labor was the first major party to use YouTube to reach younger voters, which means there is a digital archive of 2007 campaign commercials unlike for any other election.
Kevin Rudd is easily identifiable, even though he no longer resembles the trim, beaming, elfin campaigner who warned of “forks in the road”. He’s a little portlier, and looks wearier and certainly less chirpy. But it’s him alright.
What’s unrecognisable are his election promises. Almost all have come through the past three and a half years severely mangled.
Take health: that promise of $2 billion for for hospital emergency services became a plan to take over the national hospital system if necessary, later modified to make the Commonwealth the dominant funder of the system with a re-direction of state GST money.
Under Julia Gillard, the GST plan was dumped and the national scheme, yet to be finalised, became more a funding exercise rather than a profound reform.
In another ad, Rudd says he’s been called an economic conservative, and “When it comes to public finance, it’s a badge I wear with pride’‘. He is seen chatting amiably about fiscal stuff with Wayne Swan, a scene unlikely to be repeated today.
Remnants of those promises remain, such as the Education Revolution, but the big effort on infrastructure and a national water agreement seem frayed, and the 10-point plan to deal with climate change lies somewhere on the side of the road between here and late 2007.
What was delivered was the pledge to remove Work Choices and replace it with laws which he said wouldn’t (everybody get ready for the backwards thumb toss) “throw the fair go out the back door”.
The irony clangs loudest in the pitch to take the load off working families, particularly the high cost of petrol, housing, groceries, and child care.
Just this weekend there were reports that the Gillard government would reduce the child care rebate for many families in the May 10 Budget.
Meanwhile, housing continues to be expensive, as do groceries and petrol.
Rudd spoke often about two states during his election bid - his Queensland homeland, and Western Australia.
He’s still a hero in much of Queensland but the West is no fan of him nor of his successor Julia Gillard.
In fact, the West is now the most dangerous place to be a federal Labor MP, and was the hotspot which saw a $22 million campaign against the government by mining companies.
It’s not just in retrospect that the Rudd campaign commercials look a touch cheesy and contrived. It was only his delivery and enthusiasm which carried them off.
They were hugely important in introducing a relatively obscure MP to the national audience, and the interest in Rudd and his displays of competence compounded the doubts about the Howard government.
Well, to many, but not all, as The Chaser pointed out at the time.
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