At 12.10pm last Friday Julia Gillard strode into the Blue Room in Parliament House with Bob Carr in tow and knocked everyone’s socks off. In the hubbub one of the journos even called Carr “Senator-elect Carr”.
Then at 2pm on the same day NSW Labor emailed its members saying this:
Due to the resignation of Senator Mark Arbib, a vacancy has arisen in the Australian Senate. Under Rule N.4, the NSW Labor Party Officers have called for nominations for this position to be determined by a ballot of the NSW ALP Administrative Committee, according to the following timetable:
Nominations open: 1pm, Friday 2 March 2012
Nominations close: 5pm, Monday 5 March 2012
Nomination fee: $750
The rest of Gillard’s Cabinet movers were sworn in this morning without Carr, who is waiting for this ALP process to pan out and then a joint sitting of the NSW Parliament before being sworn in as both a Senator and the Foreign Minister. It’s all a bit weird.
Bob Carr, along with Steve Bracks and John Faulkner, authored an extensive review into the Labor Party last year, which had many, many recommendations including: “Community engagement with primaries, introducing primaries for preselections in nonheld and open seats so that Labor’s supporters have a say in their local representatives.”
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It’s not often in Australian politics when a Prime Minister can go beyond Parliament, and select the best possible candidate in Australia for a Ministerial position.
Not so in the United States, where the President selects his Cabinet Secretaries not on the premise whether they are in Congress or Senate, but whether they are the best possible candidate for high office.
Prime Minister Gillard selected one of Australia’s best candidates to the Ministry, not the best candidate in Parliament (at the time of the appointment). Let me clear, Australia is the beneficiary by having Bob Carr installed as Minister for Foreign Affairs.
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With the ALP’s leadership tussle over for now, it’s time for the Federal Government to get back to the much needed policy work on competition, small business and consumer law issues.
These issues are fundamental to the ALP’s re-election hopes as the sky-rocketing cost of living will make struggling Aussie families think twice at election time.
Those Aussie families are sick and tired of the gimmicks or, even worse, the lack of policy direction from federal Labor. Take, for example, small business concerns about the growing market and contractual power of larger businesses. And what about the concerns increasingly expressed by farmers about their dealings with food processors and the major supermarket chains?
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Welcome to The Punch team’s live blog of the Labor leadership showdown. All times are in AEDT. Refresh your browser for updates.
Head over to news.com.au for a blow-by-blow of the ballot, and check out The Punch’s Labor leadership coverage to date, then stick around here for all the blood, guts, glory and nerdy political chatter.
1.30pm: We’re signing off this blog. Will see you in our Question Time Live coverage from 2pm. Happy non-spill day…
1.13pm: Gillard is now being very nice about Kevin Rudd, saying his legacy as PM deserves to be honoured. If she’d done this a little while ago this whole debacle may not have become so nasty. Perhaps in the ugliness of the past few days Gillard realised the public doesn’t hate Kevin Rudd as much as she does. TMaguire
1.11pm: In a delightful piece of understatement Julia Gillard says “Australians have had a gut-full of seeing us focus on ourselves” and promises “that this political drama is over.”
12.59pm: Gillard has called a press conference for 1.10pm.
12.57pm: So Kevin Rudd has pledged to remain the Member for Griffith, both for now and after the next election. Anyone fearing he would quit his seat and blow-up the Government would be relieved, but as long as he’s sitting there on the back bench, he’ll be a thorn in the side of the Prime Minister. TMaguire
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The night Kevin Rudd dramatically resigned in Washington, Tony Abbott dined in Brisbane where he was asked how he could manage to eat with a grin that big. The Opposition Leader’s response was to stretch the grin even wider.
The past five days of the Labor leadership head-clash have seen the theft of some of Tony Abbott’s best anti-Govenment lines and the gifting of a few more he never thought he would be able to use. Many could get a trot during Question Time today when uncomfortable Labor MPs gather in a group for the first time since the morning leadership ballot.
Kevin Rudd has testified that the public had no confidence in Prime Minister Julia Gillard and that an injection of trust was needed for the Government to survive. Mr Abbott’s taunts of “faceless men’’ pulling invisible strings have been confirmed by Mr Rudd. Thank you Kevin.
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Most of you political junkies might skip over this piece because it doesn’t involve a hard-edged analysis of who-hates-who in the ALP or speculation about where numbers will fall at 10am this morning. The reason I’m not writing that is because for me, it’s not the main game.
Despite the myths about the influence of unions on the Labor caucus, what really motivates me and my colleagues is representing Australia’s workers and improving their lives, regardless of who runs the government.
In the end the decision will be made by 103 elected Labor members of Parliament. I don’t envy their position. The level of internal anger, now spilling into the public arena, has made it harder for Labor to win the next election. The jibe “if you can’t govern yourselves, how can you govern the county?” is one of the hardest for any political party to shake. The 90 per cent of the population that is too busy to pay more than casual attention to politics sees the unholy mess the ALP is in and turns away.
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Early last year, a former Rudd Government insider sat down to write about the experience. The resulting document - he called it “a reflection in all seriousness once the period of madness was over” - has never been published.
But in the current climate, where the way Kevin Rudd operated as prime minister has become the central issue in Labor’s bitter leadership contest, it makes fascinating reading.
The author, who operated in a key role and observed much of the discussion and decision making, says he would not bother to set down his recollections “except that they are such a powerful warning for future governments”.
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Revenge or reward? News broke this morning of the Prime Minister’s Cabinet reshuffle. Out with (some) of the old, and in with (some) of the new. It’s alleged that ministers who have expressed their support for Kevin Rudd, will fare the worst. Loyal supporters can expect a promotion. Small Business Minister Nick Sherry has already stepped down. Follow all of the action as it unfolds at News.com.au.
The Kevin Rudd hoo-doo will be linked to every appointment made by Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Each new minister, and the relocated ones, will be weighed on the Gillard-Rudd scales.
The ministerial overhaul is aimed at filling a vacancy and reinforcing the Government’s campaign to make jobs and economic stability the central theme for 2012.
Small Business Minister Nick Sherry provided the vacancy and few would question that the Government needs a sharper focus for the coming year.
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In the absence of a genuine contest in Canberra, serious political junkies are wondering what sort of team could give the Rudd Government a run for their money.
Today, we give readers a chance to put their own Cabinet in the House, with the launch of the Punch’s Federal Cabinet Fantasy League.
It’s simple. Assemble a Cabinet from Ministers who have taken the oath over the past 40 years, ensure your team comes under the $2 million super cap and get ready to Rumble the Ruddster.
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