The sun rises on another stormy day in politics
A beaming Kevin Rudd and a streamlined Joe Hockey revived their celebrated double act this morning with a renewed gig on Seven’s Sunrise.
For the first time in six years the two-some returned to make clunky jokes and self-serving political observations.
Six years ago Mr Hockey, the shadow treasurer, was chastised by some Liberals for promoting Mr Rudd and helping him become Prime Minister. Today Mr Hockey tweeted, “Don’t intend to make him a PM twice.”
But he probably wouldn’t mind using Mr Rudd to unmake the Gillard prime ministership. She is now under more pressure than ever.
Julia Gillard bolted into the 2013 political year with an aggressive bid to win in the court of public opinion, but immediately crashed into the concrete reality of more formal courts and tribunals.
The Government’s aim of funnelling political debate onto its area of strength, policy, and away from chatter about controversial personalities did not survive January.
Today former Labor MP Craig Thomson faces a civil action in the Federal Court related to his term as secretary of the Health Services Union.
On Thursday five police arrested him on the separate matter of 150 fraud charges on which a court hearing will begin next week in Melbourne.
Meanwhile, former NSW Labor figures and associates continue to tell an alarming tale of collusion, preferment and rorts to the Independent Commission Against Corruption.
And of course Peter Slipper, Ms Gillard’s choice as Speaker before he was forced to quit, has to face allegations of misuse of taxpayer-funded travel expenses.
To this court roster might be added police inquiries into the creation of an AWU slush fund 20 years ago.
Individually any of these legal episodes would be a big problem for a government. Collectively they form an unprecedented burden.
The allegations against Mr Thomson, now an independent, concern events before he entered Parliament; the charges against Mr Slipper relate to travel when he was a Liberal; the matters before ICAC do not involve any federal figures or decisions.
Nobody has been found guilty of anything and all have declared their innocence. The Opposition has said it will respect the presumption of innocence. But that will not stop Tony Abbott and senior Liberals treating Mr Thomson, Mr Slipper and the various Obeids as legitimate points of debate.
The Opposition will do this by rebuking Julia Gillard for past support for Mr Thomson and Mr Slipper.
It will be a fascinating contortion of deep respect for the legal process while pre-judging these men in the political arena.
Meanwhile, Kevin Rudd tweeted today, “Well it’s finally happened. Joe Hockey and I are getting the band back together.”
Few doubt they will be playing anti-Gillard ballads although Mr Rudd will have his frequent refrain that Tony Abbott should never become Prime Minister.
It is doubtful the present Prime Minister will be a constant viewer.
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