Modia Minotaur

Trawling the airwaves to spare you the agony!

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Fork In The Road

So, the ALP now has a new leader. Well, you all know the margin, and the particulars; and if not, you can read about it elsewhere. Hasn't it all happened quickly? This time last week, there were only murmurings. Today, and the coup is done and dusted.

Rudd's immediate pitch - that Australia is currently at a `fork in the road' - is an evocative one. It implies urgency; an imperative to think hard about change and to question the status quo. His concentration on a comprehensive revision of Federalism is intriguing - it may also demonstrate the same sort of ability to identify under-the-radar populist issues that his recognition of the importance of appearing on `Sunrise' does. His exchange with Kerry O'Brien is illustrative of this. O'Brien dismissed Federalism as a largely academic issue; however, as Rudd pointed out, concern about Federalism is the key to a multitude of wider populist concerns. As someone who still listens to more talkback radio than is healthy, I can certainly attest to this - it's an issue that bleeds into nearly every area of policymaking, from water to health and beyond (though whether the implicit criticisms such an opinion could be interpreted to imply will put him out of step with the Labor-led states, is another matter). I can also see these concerns being consolidated with public nervousness about the way the current Government are abusing Federalism. In fact, though it's too early to say for sure, it could be that consolidating various smaller issues into broader symbolic attacks will be Rudd's leadership strategy. For example, I heartily agreed with Rudd's assertion that the term `family values' is the most abused of our time. Knitting together the various policy deficiencies of the Howard Government, from IR to childcare and so on, into a generalised `attack on the family', could be a powerful pitch for the next election.

I was quite taken aback by today's poll in the Sydney Morning Herald suggesting that the ALP is emphatically in a winning position, no matter the leader. Perhaps it's ten years of dashed dreams, but I tend to take such polls with a grain of salt, as indeed they should be. It's likey that Rudd and Gillard will now enjoy a honeymoon period in the polls as most new leaders do, while the government have already started the ritual flagellation, the accusations of L-plate leadership and so forth. The question now is whether Howard will call an early election to exploit the latter, or wait out the former.

Well, that's that then, isn't it?

That being the case, attention will now turn to the make-up of the Shadow frontbench. Beyond confirming that Peter Garrett will definitely hold a ministry, Rudd is holding his cards close to his chest, confirming only that Bob Sercombe and Gavan O'Connor will step down, and that some `new faces' would appear in their places. There is speculation that some of Beazley's backers on the frontbench will be punished with demotions - somehow, I doubt this will be the case. Rudd is likely to recognise that the last thing the party needs now is dark murmurings and vendettas. This is too a good chance to put together a quality frontbench ahead of the election than to be too worried about petty paybacks.

And, once that's done ... well, it's practically the election again!

I'm feeling a little shellshocked by all this, aren't you?


At 1:04 pm, Anonymous Guy said...

Hard to believe it has actually happened after so long! And then one weekend, wham-bam and Beazley is gone.

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