Kevin Rudd overturned decision on Prime Minister’s Literary Award, say judges

June 11 2016 – 11:48AM

Michael Koziol

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Scholar and librarian Colin Steele, a judge of the 2013 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards, has revealed a hitherto unknown captain’s pick over the recipient of one of Australia’s most prestigious book prizes.

In August of that year, historian Ross McMullin took home the $75,000 Prize for Australian history for his collection of World War I stories Farewell, Dear People.

But the expert judges had earlier selected another book – Frank Bongiorno’s The Sex Lives of Australians – which Mr Steele says was knocked back by Mr Rudd without explanation, in favour of McMullin.

Author Frank Bongiorno with his work The Sex Lives of Australians, which may not have been suitable for a prime ...
Author Frank Bongiorno with his work The Sex Lives of Australians, which may not have been suitable for a prime ministerial prize in an election year. Photo: Graham Tidy

Writing in Spectrum today, Mr Steele recounts a phone call he received from an arts ministry official informing him that Bongiorno’s book was not acceptable to the then prime minister.

The former prime minister disputes that claim. His spokeswoman told Fairfax: “Mr Rudd has no such recollection. He has been advised the selection of the winners of the 2013 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards was taken by his predecessor, on advice provided to her.”

But other judges backed up Mr Steele’s account. Historian Susan Magarey, NSW Solicitor-General Michael Sexton and arts administrator Susan Hayes all recalled receiving a phone call from a bureaucrat in early August 2013, after Mr Rudd returned to the leadership, explaining their selection had been overturned by the prime minister.

“I asked ‘which PM?’ She said ‘both of them’,” Professor Magarey told Fairfax Media.

Kevin Rudd on the campaign trail in 2013.
Kevin Rudd on the campaign trail in 2013. Photo: Andrew Meares

A spokesman for Ms Gillard declined to comment on the matter.

The prizes, the most generous in Australian literature, are bestowed annually across six categories including fiction and poetry. Mr Rudd founded the awards in 2008, and the pre-existing history prize (created by prime minister John Howard) was incorporated into the ceremony.

<i>Farewell, Dear People</i> by Ross McMullin
Farewell, Dear People by Ross McMullin 

The prime minister of the day is recognised as the final arbiter of the prize awarded in their name – although they typically act on the recommendation of qualified judges.

Prime ministerial intervention in the awards is not without precedent: Tony Abbott elevated Richard Flanagan to co-winner for the 2014 fiction prize, and Mr Howard altered the result of the history prize in its inaugural year.

The 2013 awards were announced by then arts minister Tony Burke in August, deep into Labor’s shambolic election campaign. That same evening, Mr Rudd was in Darwin spruiking his infamous “special economic zone” for northern Australia.


Source : Brisbane Times

We’ll consider backing Kevin Rudd for top UN spot: Julie Bishop

January 23, 2016 – 11:04PM

Adam Gartrell
National Political Correspondent

Kevin Rudd and Julie Bishop in 2011. Ms Bishop says the government will consider supporting Mr Rudd's bid to become UN Secretary-General if he nominates.

Kevin Rudd and Julie Bishop in 2011. Ms Bishop says the government will consider supporting Mr Rudd’s bid to become UN Secretary-General if he nominates. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

The Turnbull government will consider backing Kevin Rudd to become the next United Nations boss if he officially puts his hand up for the role.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says the former prime minister is yet to apply to become UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s replacement.

“Should Kevin Rudd nominate then of course the Australian government would consider what sort of support he would require,” she said in New York.

While the role is expected to go to an Eastern European candidate when Mr Ban leaves office at the end of the year, Mr Rudd is an outside chance and is understood to have been lobbying hard for the role, despite his public denials.

Former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark, who is the administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, is also in contention.

Mr Rudd and Ms Bishop were once direct parliamentary adversaries, when he was foreign minister and she his shadow, sharing some fiery public exchanges. But behind the scenes they were friendly. Ms Bishop’s support would be considered critical to his chances.

Labor has said it would back Mr Rudd’s bid.

Source : WA Today

Julia Gillard bears ‘no enmity’ towards Kevin Rudd

May 2, 2015 – 12:59AM

Rachel Browne

Social Affairs Reporter

Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard at the opening of an exhibition in March.

Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard at the opening of an exhibition in March. Photo: Jamila Toderas

Former prime minister Julia Gillard revealed she hasn’t quite kissed and made up with Kevin Rudd but would stop and chat to him if they ran into each other in an airport lounge or Labor Party function.

In a sold-out appearance at the Sydney Writers’ Festival, Ms Gillard told the crowd her time as prime minister was dogged by the perception that she “knifed” Mr Rudd to assume leadership in 2010.

“I’m not going to live my life grinding my guts about Kevin.” 

Julia Gillard

“The lady Macbeth thing caught the media’s eye and that was very difficult to shift,” she said.

She said she bore no ill will towards Mr Rudd, who replaced her as leader in 2013, but said they weren’t in touch on a regular basis.

“I’m not going to live my life grinding my guts about Kevin,” she said, “I have no sense of enmity towards him.”

Ms Gillard used her appearance at the first event of the Sydney Writers’ Festival on Friday night to promote her memoir, My Story, which Mr Rudd described last year as a “contribution to Australian fiction”.

Reflecting on the day she lost her leadership to Mr Rudd, she said she was determined not to show emotion because she was worried it would be read as a sign of weakness.

“I didn’t want people to say, ‘See, I told you – she can’t take it,” she said.

A self described moderate drinker, she admitted her final day as leader ended with a raucous party at the Lodge which ended in the early hours of the morning and left her feeling “very much the worse for wear”.

Her former deputy and close ally, Wayne Swan, was one of the last to leave at 2.30am.

Speaking on stage with Mamamia editor-in-chief Jamila Rizvi, her recollection of the famous misogyny speech drew applause and cheers from the audience.

She told the crowd the impact of the speech had not sunk in even after she’d made it and she planned to spend the rest of question time attending to paperwork.

“I turned around to Wayne (Swan) and he said, ‘You can’t give the ‘I accuse’ speech and then do your correspondence’,” she recalled.

Ms Gillard, who now divides her time between the Brookings Institution in Washington DC and the University of Adelaide, politely declined to be drawn on the performance of Labor’s current leadership team.


The Age

Kevin Rudd breaks silence to call for ‘full democratisation’ of ALP and warn of union thuggery

March 10, 2015 – 11:45PM

James Massola

Political correspondent


Former prime minister Kevin Rudd has called for greater democracy within the Labor Party

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd has called for greater democracy within the Labor Party Photo: Andrew Meares


Kevin Rudd has made a dramatic re-entry into domestic political debate, calling for full democratisation of the Labor Party and lashing the “thuggery” of factional bosses who removed him in 2010.

And his call for reform has been backed by two of the most senior MPs in the Labor Left faction, Anthony Albanese and Mark Butler, with both men urging a greater say for the party rank and file at the expense of factional and union bosses.

Mr Butler also confirmed he would stand for the presidency of the Labor Party when nominations for the position open on March 30, a move Mr Albanese – who is a close ally of the shadow environment spokesman – said had his strong support.

The comments from the three men also represent a direct challenge to Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, who gave a landmark speech last April on the need for party reforms including weakening the influence of unions and extending the direct election of candidates but has had little to say on the subject since then.


Mr Rudd has rarely commented on Australian politics since resigning from Federal Parliament after his 2013 election loss and leaving Australia to move to Boston and then to New York.

But as the ALP prepares for national conference in July, Mr Rudd – who in July 2013 put in place reforms that gave party rank and file and caucus a 50:50 vote to choose the Labor leader and changed the rules so a leader could only be dumped if 60 per cent of the caucus supported the move in opposition and 75 per cent in government – said the continued growth of factional power in Labor “must be stopped in its tracks”.

“Further, factional reform of the party is still needed to ensure its full democratisation,” he said.

Mr Rudd lashed the Transport Worker’s Union boss and ALP vice-president Tony Sheldon, who on Tuesday told The Australian Financial Review he wanted to give unions a one-third say in selecting the federal Labor leader, with the other two-thirds evenly split between the caucus and party rank and file.

Such a move would see union influence significantly bolstered, potentially beyond a 50 per cent say, given the influence of and links between union leaders and caucus members.

“These comments are unsurprising, given that Mr Sheldon was one of the core group of factional bosses who brought about the 2010 leadership coup which caused the leadership rot to set in over the subsequent years,” he said.

“My pre-condition for returning to the Labor leadership in 2013 was that the rules be changed to protect future leaders of the parliamentary party from similar acts of factional thuggery.

“Now we see the head of the TWU trying to take a meat axe to that reform.”

It’s understood Mr Rudd favours giving an even greater say to party rank and file over the pre-selection of candidates.

Asked about Mr Sheldon’s suggestion to hand more influence over the ALP to unions, Mr Butler said instead that debate in the party should be about broadening the base and influence of the party.

“We should have a debate about these things, but the frame should be about broadening participation and influence, not one bloc versus another,” he said.

Mr Albanese, who was defeated by Mr Shorten in the contest for the Labor leadership in 2013 despite winning the rank and file vote, said Mr Sheldon’s proposed changes would decrease the value of participating in and joining the ALP.

“Being a trade union member does not mean you are automatically an ALP voter,” he said.

“I support the principle of increasing the direct say the membership has across a range of issues, including party organisation and policy.”


Source : The Canberra Times

Kevin Rudd seeks $1.25 million for Brisbane home

December 1, 2014

Lauren Cross

Queensland Domain editor

Kevin Rudd's home now comes with a $1.25 million price tag.

Kevin Rudd’s home now comes with a $1.25 million price tag. Photo: Tim Altass Real Estate.

Kevin 07, or Kevin 747, is now Kevin 125.

The former Prime Minister has put a price tag on his Brisbane home of more than 20 years, after it failed to sell by tender.

He is now seeking $1.25 million for his five-bedroom, two-bathroom property at Norman Crescent, Norman Park.

It’s a big jump up from the $384,000 Mr Rudd and his wife Therese Rein paid for the house in 1994.

Real Estate agent Tim Altass, who has listed the property, said potential buyers could arrange private viewings.

In Queensland, properties that sell by tender are a bit like a private auction. According to the Office of Fair Trading, agents who sell properties by tender are forbidden from providing a price range or guide.

Instead, buyers are invited to submit an offer, or a tender, with an amount they’re prepared to pay.

Domain Group previously reported the listing, but there were no offers close enough for Mr Rudd and Ms Rein, prompting them to look at plan B – putting a price on their family home.

The amount they’re seeking is actually less than what they sold a nearby block of land for, with the 610-square-metre site at Wendell Street, offering city views, being offloaded for$1,751,000 just a few weeks ago.

Mr Rudd and Ms Rein’s home sits on more than 800 square metres and has an Australian theme, with a tropical garden and pool, and wrap-around verandahs, complete with a kangaroo and emu emblem.

The reason for the couple selling up, according to a tweet by Ms Rein, is so they can spend more time at Noosa where they also own a luxury property.

“Sad to farewell our family home after 20 years as K & I get some more Sunny Coast sand between the toes. 🙂 Hope a new family loves it too,” she tweeted about four weeks ago to her 18,700 followers.

Mr Altass said the home was priced well, and obviously, like all families, Mr Rudd and Ms Rein were hoping to sell before Christmas.

“We’re negotiating with a few parties, so we’re close [to a sale],” he said.


Source : The Brisbane Times

Julia Gillard accuses Kevin Rudd of sabotage, offers regret on Kim Beazley

September 24, 2014 – 7:29AM

Michael Gordon

Political editor, The Age

Julia Gillard has accused Kevin Rudd of sabotage and blackmail, but expressed deep and lingering anguish over her own role in toppling Kim Beazley.

In My Story, the memoir to be launched by Quentin Bryce on Friday, Ms Gillard vigorously defends her decision to turn on Mr Rudd in 2010, but confesses to misgivings about working with Mr Rudd to bring down Mr Beazley four years earlier.

Julia Gillard says that Kevin Rudd asked to be reinstated as foreign affairs minister after his failed leadership challenge in 2012, a request that Gillard describes as "impossible".

Julia Gillard says that Kevin Rudd asked to be reinstated as foreign affairs minister after his failed leadership challenge in 2012, a request that Gillard describes as “impossible”. Photo: Andrew Meares

In an exclusive interview with Fairfax Media, she maintains she still feels “sad and very conflicted” about Mr Beazley’s demise as Labor leader. “It’s a decision I found painful at the time and that pain has grown, not lessened, over time,” she said.

In the memoir, Ms Gillard confesses to multiple errors of judgment during her three years and three days as the country’s first female prime minister, but asserts they were largely a product of circumstances beyond her control.

She also reveals that Mr Rudd asked to be reinstated as foreign minister, just after  his failed challenge to her leadership in 2012.

From Gillard's pen

“It was an impossible request. I knew I could not trust him, that he would continue the campaign of destabilisation and that he would use the status and resources of being a minister to do so. I also knew he would keep leaking from cabinet.”

While Ms Gillard insists she made the right judgment in refusing to acquiesce, she says she made the wrong call in deciding to bring former New South Wales premier Bob Carr, who subsequently supported Mr Rudd’s successful challenge in 2013, to Canberra as foreign minister.

She says Mr Carr found the transition from political retirement hard and the workload “overwhelmed him”. “The other negative was Bob’s struggle with the focused discipline required for Foreign Ministry work.”

While most of the 500-page memoir is devoted to policy battles, the first section concentrates on what Mr Gillard describes as the three factors that shaped her prime ministership: Labor instability, minority government and gender.

Her decision to form the so-called Dream Team with Mr Rudd in 2006 was not easy because of her reluctance to tear down Mr Beazley and her doubts about Mr Rudd’s temperament.

“I did have this genuine fear that Kim wasn’t going to get us there, that it was possible for the Liberal Party to refresh its leadership potentially and become the custodian of the safe-change proposition,” she said in the interview. “I made the best judgments I could in those circumstances, but I think you can tell from the book that it is something that I’ve thought a great deal about since.”

She claims responsibility for creating Mr Rudd’s leadership but says her assessment of the kind of man he was proved to be “dreadfully wrong”. So, too, was her belief that Mr Rudd would feel a sense of relief when she toppled him in 2010. “I was wrong. His dominant emotion was a need for revenge.”

Ms Gillard claims Mr Rudd’s behaviour during the 2010 campaign shattered Labor’s cultural norms that required the suspension of personal enmities, resulting in Labor having to form minority government.

This meant “everybody has got their hand on the pin of the grenade and it becomes impossible to have the kind of discipline system that was necessary to deal with his destabilisation”.

She writes that the first warning of what was to come came after a National Press Club address that was designed to showcase the themes that would define her prime ministership. When the time for questions came, veteran journalist Laurie Oakes alleged that Ms Gillard had agreed to give Mr Rudd time to change before toppling him in 2010, only to renege on the deal.

“Undeniably, I had been guilty of letting the crucial leadership conversation with Kevin meander in a way that fed false hopes but the blunt version conveyed to Laurie Oakes was deliberately skewed to be as damaging to me as possible,” she maintains.

Providing the material to Oakes constituted a “malicious act”, designed to overshadow the speech and “raise doubts about my character, precisely when most Australians were making up their minds about me”.

Ms Gillard asserts that, “as bad as this first act of sabotage was”, it paled into insignificance compared with what followed,10 days into the election campaign, when Oakes reported that Ms Gillard had opposed in cabinet both Labor’s paid parental leave scheme and its pension increases.

In the book, Ms Gillard confirms she questioned the policies in order to impress on Mr Rudd that Labor could not afford more new announcements and suggested a delay of a year for the parental leave scheme.

She says the only rational explanation for the leaks was that Mr Rudd, having been the “ultimate source” of the first story, also created the second story, “either directly or through the agency of a loyal staff member”.

Ms Gillard asserts the sabotage turned to blackmail when she met Mr Rudd in Brisbane for a photo opportunity designed to demonstrate Labor’s wounds had healed.

“His price for the photo had been a guarantee he would be foreign minister if the government was re-elected and I had accepted his demand. I had little choice. I had to stop what I considered to be the acts of treachery on his part.”

Source : The Sydney Morning Herald

Julia Gillard cried when she found out Kevin Rudd viewed her as disloyal, former PM tells Ray Martin

September 23, 2014 – 8:37PM

Matthew Knott

Communications and education correspondent

Julia Gillard says she went out of her way to prop up Kevin Rudd when he was prime minister.

Julia Gillard says she went out of her way to prop up Kevin Rudd when he was prime minister. Photo: Channel Nine

Julia Gillard was so upset at being viewed as disloyal by Kevin Rudd that she broke down in tears on the day she challenged him for the leadership.

Ms Gillard stood behind her decision to challenge Mr Rudd – and her later decision to form a minority government with The Greens – in an interview with Ray Martin on Channel Nine.

On the morning of Ms Gillard’s leadership challenge in June 2010, Fairfax Media published a report saying Mr Rudd had dispatched his chief of staff to test his caucus support, because he did not believe his deputy’s public assurances that she was not interested in the leadership.

Julia Gillard speaks to Ray Martin on Tuesday night.

Julia Gillard speaks to Ray Martin on Tuesday night. Photo: Channel Nine

This upset Ms Gillard, who said she and other senior ministers had worked hard to shield the public from Mr Rudd’s flaws as leader.

“I’d felt like I’d done everything I possibly could to help and support and prop Kevin up and there had already, in the days before, been some signs that you know now I was being viewed with suspicion, and just I cried because I felt it was just so unfair,” she said.

But Ms Gillard admitted she felt “self-recrimination” about a conversation she had with Mr Rudd and NSW Labor elder John Faulkner. While Ms Gillard denies offering Mr Rudd extra time as leader, she says she “fed” his hope by talking to him for too long.

“[I]f anything, the accusations against me in politics and [that] you … still read in the newspapers – you know, the women who wielded the knife – if anything, the reputation I have from that night is one of political brutality.

“Actually in the moment I was hesitant, a conversation went too long, I certainly fed hope. I shouldn’t have done that. I, you know, really do here and more extensively in the book talk about my sense of self-recrimination over that.”

Ms Gillard says she expected Mr Rudd to feel “shock” and “grief” about losing the leadership but did not expect him to retain leadership ambitions.

“I thought it was likely that he would, or at least possible that he would, walk away,” she said.

Ms Gillard said she had “no choice” but to offer Mr Rudd the job of foreign minister after the 2010 election, because he would otherwise have leaked against the government.

As Prime Minister, Ms Gillard said she faced a “cocktail” of internal destabilisation and public criticism – some of which was related to the fact she was an unmarried woman.

Ms Gillard defended her decision to attack then opposition leader Tony Abbott as a misogynist in a famous speech to Parliament.

“I know the dictionary has been moving these definitions on;  the traditional definition is obviously hatred of women,” she said. “I guess I’ve expanded that to conduct that shows a hatred of women enjoying true equal opportunities, trying to confine them  to more traditional roles or lesser roles by word or deed.”

Ms Gillard said her decision to form a minority government with the Greens and independents was not dissimilar to the situation the Abbott  government faces today in the Senate.

“One could say: is Mr Abbott Clive Palmer’s slave today?” she said. “I mean it depends on how people want to argue it and put the politics but it’s certainly true, that on big questions where the major parties have divided, Mr Abbott can’t do anything unless Clive Palmer says yes.”

Source : The Sydney Morning Herald

Julia Gillard: Giving Kevin Rudd hope on night of knifing was a mistake

September 21, 2014

Judith Ireland

National political reporter

Regret: Julia Gillard says she should not have fed Kevin Rudd hope on the night she deposed him as prime minister.

Regret: Julia Gillard says she should not have fed Kevin Rudd hope on the night she deposed him as prime minister. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Julia Gillard says she regrets giving Kevin Rudd “hope” that he had more time in the top job on the night that she deposed him as prime minister.

In an interview to promote her upcoming memoirs, the former prime minister tells Channel Nine that the time she replaced Mr Rudd as prime minister on June 23, 2010, was “very emotional”.

“If anything, the reputation I have from that night is one of political brutality,” she says. “Actually, in the moment I was hesitant, a conversation went too long, I certainly fed [Mr Rudd] hope. I shouldn’t have done that.”

Illustration: Matt Golding.

Illustration: Matt Golding.

Mr Rudd has said that when Ms Gillard went to his office on the fateful night in 2010 to talk to him about his position as prime minister, she first agreed he could have more time to improve the government’s standing in the polls – but then later returned to say that she was challenging him for the leadership.

In the interview with Ray Martin on Tuesday evening, Ms Gillard also says that she expected Mr Rudd to be acutely hurt and distressed after she deposed him.

“I know a lot now about what it feels like to lose the prime ministership, so I expected him to feel very, very battered and bruised,” she says. “Obviously I was wrong about that.”

The former prime minister, whose memoirs are due to be launched this week, also laments her infamous comment during the 2010 election campaign that it was “time for me to make sure that the real Julia is well and truly on display”.

The remark opened Ms Gillard up to ridicule from the Coalition and raised questions about her political strategy.

“I put my hand up for that 100 per cent,” she says. “That’s my fault, you know, sort of dumb, dumb error, rookie error maybe. I mean, I wasn’t a rookie in politics, I was a rookie at being prime minister.”

In the interview, Ms Gillard also talks about her relationship with Tim Mathieson, the hairdresser who was Australia first “first bloke”. She dismisses descriptions of the two as an “odd couple”.

“You look at all of that and you say ‘how much of that is gender working?’ because would we think it was quite so odd if a male prime minister or a male chief executive officer of a big bank or whatever had a wife who worked as a hairdresser?” she says.

Ms Gillard’s memoirs, My Story, are due to be launched by former governor-general Quentin Bryce on September 26. The book details the three years and three days of Ms Gillard’s prime ministership.

Source : The Sydney Morning Herald

Wayne Swan’s new book dishes the dirt on Kevin Rudd

August 16, 2014

James Massola

Political correspondent


Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

Kevin Rudd: became increasingly “jittery”, according to Wayne Swan.

Kevin Rudd was so poll driven as prime minister that he once asked Labor’s national office to conduct research on what his ”one core belief” should be, a new book by Wayne Swan reveals.

Mr Swan has also revealed that Mr Rudd asked him on May 14, 2010 – more than a month before he lost the nation’s top political job on June 24 – ”if you are with me?” as the prime minister became increasingly ”jittery” and his leadership began to ”wobble”.

Wayne Swan poses near his offices in Nundah with a copy of his book, <i>The Good Fight</i>.Wayne Swan poses near his offices in Nundah with a copy of his book, The Good Fight. Photo: Bradley Kanaris

Mr Swan says he and other senior ministers put Mr Rudd on notice for six months that his government was drifting, before the leadership change. Eventually, a story on June 23 by Sydney Morning Herald political editor Peter Hartcher created a ”political earthquake” and the change occurred.

The revelations, contained in an exclusive extract of Mr Swan’s new book The Good Fight published in the Good Weekend, are just two in a series of damning episodes that paint a picture of a poll-driven Mr Rudd with question marks over his management style, character, judgment and leadership abilities.

Much of what Mr Swan says is likely to be disputed by Mr Rudd – the enmity between the pair, who first met and worked together to bring down the 32-year-old National Party government in Queensland in the late 1980s, is legendary. It was Mr Swan, for example, who triggered a carpet bombing of Mr Rudd’s reputation by senior ministers before the 2012 leadership challenge to Julia Gillard when he said the then-foreign minister ”does not hold any Labor values”.

Mr Swan cites examples of what he calls Mr Rudd’s ”unstable personality”, including the latter breaking a pen in a fit of anger in a hotel room, spraying ink everywhere and causing thousands of dollars of damage to the decor.

”Kevin’s treatment of people was extraordinarily vindictive and juvenile, and it was frequently on display,” Mr Swan writes.

”Too often his focus was on having something to announce, and the political upside of any decision … for all Kevin’s reputation as a policy wonk, it’s something that often took a back seat in his decision-making process. Too frequently it came a distant third, behind media and political considerations.” There was a ”culture of fear and blame” in the Rudd office, Mr Swan writes, and the former prime minister was quick to get angry and deliver retribution. ”In most instances, it would not be the senior minister or departmental official who bore the brunt of these outbursts (although this did sometimes happen); rather, a more junior staff member would be the recipient … he burnt through staff like a child flicking matches from a box.”

The pair fell out during the bitter leadership battles of 2003 and 2005, but patched up their differences and worked closely together on the 2007 election campaign.

Source : The Sydney Morning Herald

Labor’s 2013 election loss ‘self-inflicted’, internal review finds

June 20, 2014 – 9:28PM

Heath Aston

Political reporter

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd with adviser Bruce Hawker on the campaign trail during the 2013 federal election.

Chaotic style: Former prime minister Kevin Rudd with adviser Bruce Hawker on the campaign trail during the 2013 federal electionPhoto: Andrew Meares

The chaotic and disjointed style of Kevin Rudd and his close circle during the 2013 election led to ”one of the most disappointing” campaigns in Labor’s long history, an internal review has found.

The 25-page post mortem has identified ”serious difficulties” in lines of communication between Mr Rudd’s travelling party, headed by political adviser and confidant Bruce Hawker, and campaign headquarters in Melbourne, led by campaign director and ALP national secretary George Wright.

The review, conducted by Victorian MP Jane Garrett and former ALP Queensland boss Milton Dick, has urged that in future campaigns the campaign director be given the final say on all messaging and strategy.

They found the Rudd travelling party had a narrow focus on ”low-level campaign decisions at the expense of more significant decisions, which were subsequently left too long to be

”This fundamentally resulted in the reduced effectiveness of the campaign materials, announcements and overall media strategy,” the review states.

Media reports emerged during the middle of the campaign about a breakdown between the members of the team surrounding Mr Rudd and the campaign team which had been weakened by the upheaval in the parliamentary ranks when ministers loyal to former prime minister Julia Gillard quit en masse.

The reviewers highlighted the decision of Mr Rudd to parachute a group of American advisers who had spearheaded the digital campaigning for US President Barack Obama in his storming 2008 election victory.

”In May 2013, the Labor Party held a two-day trial in campaign headquarters with the campaign team. The technology held up, processes predictably needed refining, but there was a large and committed team who were ready to fight despite the well understood odds Labor was up against,” Ms Garrett and Mr Dick wrote.

”A month later the campaign lost about half of that team as a result of the leadership change. The campaign director had to pull together a new team immediately. At the same time the new prime minister’s office had to fill its staffing positions and ministers were finding their feet in new portfolios.

”More than half of campaign headquarters staff turned over weeks before the election.

”It is important to note that the new prime minister’s office sought to make a number of specific changes to the campaign staffing and structure, including late involvement by overseas consultants. This created some significant disruptions, confusion and inefficiencies within the campaign.

”All of these experiences confirm the opinion of the reviewers that final decisions in a campaign must rest with the campaign director.”

They said unit directors within campaign headquarters did not feel confident that decisions they made within their area of responsibility would not be overturned by the travelling party.

The review received 550 submissions from MPs and ALP members, most of which had a ”remarkably similar structure”.

”They began by despairing at the Rudd/Gillard government’s leadership woes,” the review found.

The authors have advised that Labor pursue its primary vote at the expense of any appeasement or partnership with the Greens, identifying an ”extremely unfortunate and very counterproductive trend of minor progressive parties and organisations focusing their criticism, energies and political activity almost entirely on the Labor Party and its policies and approach in order to maximise their own electoral successes”.

”The raison d’etre for the Greens Party over the last decade has been to attack, undermine and/or colonise the Labor Party’s policies with an increasing ferocity, in an attempt to win one or two inner city seats in Melbourne and Sydney,” the review found.

”The effect has been that these policy objectives have themselves been undermined, attacked and turned into political footballs driven by insular and often circular debate that has proved alienating to the mainstream community.”

The review praised ”smaller victories” in the overall ”self-inflicted” defeat of 2013, including come from behind wins in the Parramatta, Greenway, McEwen, Kingsford Smith, Adelaide, Moreton, Blair, Lilley and Fowler.

”Labor’s defeat in 2013 is a tragedy for the party, largely because it was self-inflicted but a greater tragedy because of the harm being caused to Australians under an Abbott government,” it found.

Source : The Sydney Morning Herald