Campaign countdown: Can Bob Hawke save Rudd?
Can Bob Hawke save Kevin Rudd? Can the man who was so popular and led so much reform in Australia in the eighties help Kevin Rudd sell his mining tax today?
You couldn’t think of two more different Prime Ministers than Bob Hawke and Kevin Rudd, despite the fact both have enjoyed astronomical levels of popularity in the past. But it is perhaps the way that Hawke and Rudd managed the introduction of big reforms that seems to have really set the two apart.
So can Rudd learn from Hawke? Well Hawke’s former resources minister has told The Australian he has to , while The Age reports that Hawke could already be playing some role in negotiations with the miners.
Former Hawke Government resources minister Peter Walsh has told The Australian that Kevin Rudd should have taken a leaf out of his and Paul Keating’s books when they introduced the petroleum resources rent tax in 1984.
Walsh claims that Rudd’s consultation with miners this time round has been pretty woeful, and has gone as far as naming Rudd as the chief “obstacle” to better relations between the two parties.
Meanwhile The Age reports that the more Labor friendly Western Australian mining magnate Twiggy Forrest, has approached Bob Hawke to play a hand in negotiations between miners and Rudd.
Forrest has gone as far to say that Hawke “would love to get involved” in the process.
Surely the involvement of a former Labor leader who was Prime Minister nearly 20 years ago would be too much of an embarrassment for a man of Rudd’s pride? The electorate would then also ask the legitimate question as to why it’s now up to Bob Hawke to sell Kevin Rudd’s tax policy?
Still, pride can go by the wayside when you’re faced with the shameful prospect of joining the elite club of one-term Australian governments, and it’s not that rare for former politicians to get involved in big policy debates.
For his part Rudd was attempting to deal directly with miners himself yesterday, meeting with BHP Billiton boss Marius Kloppers. Yet, like a lover scorned, it seemed that BHP didn’t have much time for Mr Rudd, with the SMH reporting that BHP’s views on the tax are “unchanged”.
But The Australian’s Paul Kelly points out today that while brand Rudd as we know it might be dead, the Prime Minister is not yet doomed.
“Brand Rudd is damaged but it is absurd to think Rudd is finished. He has, however, entered dangerous terrain and there is a touch of desperation about Labor falling on Abbott’s persona and rekindling Work Choices as its saviour.”
Rudd is in Perth today hoping to have more talks with miners and will need every bit of that Bob Hawke fairy dust as he enters hostile territory.
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