Friday, March 22, 2013

the crean family tradition

I agree with Gillard on one thing – the only poll that matters will be the one taken on election day. And I will say one thing in Gillard’s favour – the woman has HUGE ovaries.

How much of the ALP leadership crisis rubbish we’ve seen in the news lately is simply a media-creation - “man bites dog” re-packaged as a political sitcom with just enough plotlines to spin out for 13 or so episodes?
How much has been just spakfilla to tide us over til the beginning of the AFL season this coming weekend?

Whether there were leadership rumbles inside caucus or not, the constant speculation about the leadership over the last week or more was damaging to the ALP.


Simon Crean’s father, Frank, was the Whitlam Government’s first treasurer. He was a lacklustre chappy, really. Sure, it would be hard for anyone to look impressive if standing in the same room as Gough, but there was something about old man Crean that always looked crumpled.

In the end, the public perception of Frank Crean was irrelevant. A life-long Labor man, he became treasurer at the worst possible time in Australian history. At least Whitlam replaced him as treasurer before the worst of Labor’s fiscal shenanigans went haywire.

His political career ground rather quickly to a halt, but he never jumped from the Labor ship.

Reading spakfilla headlines for the past week or so, I’ve been struck by the thought that only an idiot would put his/her hand up for the job of Labor Leader any time in the next ten years unless, as a new broom, they could really sweep the party leadership clean and start from scratch.

Anyone who aspired now to leadership of such a [ahem] “rudderless” bunch would be tainted forever by association. Anyone who aspired to leadership of this mob would have to lack either brains, standards, or any real ambition.

So what was Simon up to today?

Raph Epstein played a recording of Simon Crean’s comments about Rudd during the last leadership spill. Crean’s opinion at the time was, effectively, that Rudd had not changed, could not change, and never would change. Rudd’s leadership style was a leopard-spot.

When he demanded a spill today, was Simon Crean naïve enough to think anyone would elect him as deputy leader? That Rudd had a clear majority? I doubt it.

What I suspect really happened is Crean saw his political career spiralling down the S bend and thought “what the heck, I’ll light one last petard for the good of the party. At least it might get the leadership sitcom off the front page for a while.”


Some of the texted comments Raph Epstein read out on the radio included
-          I will vote for Rudd but not for Gillard
-          I would vote for Turnbull but not for Abbott
-          I will vote Greens but give my preferences to the Liberals
-          I’m sick of this: Just how many Prime Minister sized pensions will tax payers be funding for the next 40 years?


So, has all this brouhaha made Australia a laughing stock, as one expert claims?

Whether or not it is amusing to outsiders might depend in part on how they feel about the Westminster System. 
We vote for local representatives, and the majority of those representatives choose the Prime Minister. 
Voters do not directly choose the leader. 
This leads to stability and ensures the Prime Minister always has the confidence of the Parliament.

One could be forgiven for thinking the reality is quite different if recent news headlines are anything to go by, or even if we accept that some people do not vote according to party philosophy but really might prefer Turnbull to Abbott, Gillard to Rudd and so on.

The stability thing works when there is a clear majority. But… maybe not so well if the Government is patched together with a series of treaties and deals as shonky as those that caused World War I.


The end stages of this democratic process are underpinned by party machinery. I was appalled when Hawke was parachuted into the seat of Wills, and when an attempt was made to demote Penny Wong to 2nd place on the SA Senate ticket for 2013.

More frightening was when Julia Gillard announced – rather too autocratically for my liking – that Nova Peris must be given pre-selection for the NT Senate, and that long term Senator Trish Crossin could lump it. Julia Gillard might have a sound vision for Australia if she hopes we will one day have an indigenous female Senator, but a leader leads, not commands.

As for Peris, no one can hand her respect. She has to earn it. If the pre-selection is handed to her, she will have to work twice as hard to be taken seriously. Maybe three times as hard.

There are things to like and dislike about both the Westminster and a Presidential system of electing a leader.

If, as Australians, we are expected to vote primarily for a party philosophy or set of policies, we are stuffed.

Policy statements are too often descriptions of outcomes rather than prescriptions or plans for achieving those outcomes. Policies have been replaced by simplistic promises. Promises are broken.

The how to part of outcomes should, if the Westminster system is to work, be evident from a party’s philosophy. I, for one, haven’t a clue how what I thought was the Labor Party’s philosophy relates in any way to the “how tos” that have been delivered so far.

Let me be honest: I’m very interested in policies and philosophies but on election day my decision will be an emotional one. Who is the [current] party leader least likely to embarrass Australia on the world stage?

Tony who is so negative he can only talk of what is not?
Julie Bishop, who just looks like a Stepford Wife, nodding, laughing or shaking her head on cue?
Joe Hockey, who I suspect could pick a fight in an empty house?

Julia may have ovaries, but she seems increasingly self-referencing, and is unable to sell any positive in a practical way. [She’s no Stepford Wife, but still seems quite clueless.]
Swan? Torn between fiscal sanity and a desire to be re-elected. A fence-sitter.
Rudd? It is always a mistake to go back.

I’ve often said in the past that we deserve the right to directly elect a leader, encouraging someone to come forward who actually has a clear vision and the ability to sell that vision.
Sadly, I’m not sure anything would change. I’m not sure anyone who's interested is up to the challenge.



  1. I must say I hugely enjoyed todays fiasco, Julia ran rings around that moronic twat who aspires to be our next leader, Abbott I mean, not Rudd..quelle horreur! You're spot on with your description of Julie Bishop FC the woman seriously does my head in! To be honest I think we spend too much time worrying about what the rest of the world thinks of our government woes, let's face it most have their own 'situations' to deal with. Again you hit it right on the head as far as the media go, I feel even stronger...they make it up as they go along..nothing happening..can't have that.. They're a bunch of ratbags indeed! Very enjoyable post FC..

    1. Fiasco is a good word. Enjoyable is another good one - I almost think Crean decided to call the media's bluff.

      Bishop? Seems sort of like Pauline Hanson but with a more expensive wardrobe - and less of a mind of her own!

      What does the rest of the world think? Who cares... I have a passport and most of them don't :)

  2. It's interesting to see it from afar and, so far this latest 'incident' (or should I say 'non incident') hasn't made the BBC news. Yet.

    1. Me think colonial man would have to bite very bloody big dog to make bbc news.
      Me think colonial newspapers have reverse small dog complex - feel small and insignificant and must therefore make every windmill bigger than it is.

  3. Admittedly it was a busy day for me, but I barely took a scrap of notice of what happened yesterday and I think Crean may have done the party a favour and intended to do so.

    We used to see Frank Crean and his wife at the local shops and they lived not far from us. He was such a gentleman and somewhat of an anachronism compared to today's leaders.

    I have to admire Gillard for her strength. It seems to not matter what is thrown at her, she deals with it and moves on. That lots has been thrown is perhaps of her making and shows her flaws.

    1. Frank Crean always seemed quiet and lacking in any kind of hunger for power. I think his son has done well but is not hungry enough either. Sort of makes them admirable, in a way.

  4. TOH has a lot to say about the Westminster system in the negative. He reckons the Swiss system is a much fairer and reflects real democracy. After all didn't they invent democracy?? I can't understand why Labor shoot themselves in the foot when they are already teetering on the brink of oblivion. The thought of a Rabbit running the country is horrendous.

    1. Well, I'm with your OH when it comes to the Westminster System [though now I must investigate the Swiss system].

      I doubt Labor are shooting themselves in the foot in any kind of collective or team way - they come across as a bunch of self-serving individuals.

      As for the Rabbit, I shudder. Well, I shudder to think of the lot of them. Definitely Hobson's choice.

  5. Happy Easter to you too FC, hope all is well with you?

    1. Thank you Grace.
      [Some chocolate is really going to help, though :)]