Just a few days after he launched the new book “Shitstorm” (an account of the first years of Kevin Rudd’s Government and how the faced the numerous crises that arose – especially the global economic crisis), a real “shitstorm” struck the Prime Minister’s office. While only yesterday morning, The Australian was reporting that the rumours of leadership changes at the top of the Labor Party were now in the past, this morning Kevin Rudd is history and his deputy – Julia Gillard – will be sworn in as the 27th Prime Minister of Australia and our first female prime minister.
There was, of course, one reason and one reason only for this sudden (and historic – no Australian prime minister has ever before been dumped by his party DURING HIS FIRST TERM) choice of the governing Labor Party: the ALP MP’s realised that with Kevin at the helm they were very, VERY likely to lose the next election (that in itself would have been a point in history – it has been more than seventy years since Australians have failed to re-elect a government for a second term). In other words, they did this to save their own skins. It looks very bad, and is definitely risky (Bob Hawke replaced Bill Hayden as leader of the ALP just before going into an election back in 1983, but they were in opposition then, not government), but it was a lot more palatible than being returned to opposition after a single term in office.
The choice in the upcoming election is now more clear cut than ever. We have two genuine and accessible “Ozzies” leading the major parties – both in their ways more like Bob Hawke or John Howard than Paul Keating or Alexander Downer – but who are (for once) ideologically clearly defined individuals who truly represent the beliefs and traditions of their parties. I’m looking forward to the election campaign: Bring it on!