Summary: Our current system of governance has selected a PM with less integrity than the PM he replaced. This is a symptom of bigger problems within our system of government.
Gillard noted that she believed gender played a role in the personal attacks she sustained while working as Australia’s PM. Surely a far more potent factor was the derision created by Rudd camp during her time. Gillard faced constant leadership speculation during her term and had numerous damaging and corrosive leaks from her party. By most accounts from political commentators, this can be traced back to Rudd or Rudd’s supporters. After losing support of the caucus during his term in office, Rudd lost his position to Gillard in a leadership spill. He clearly never forgave her and unlike leaders of the past, he was not willing to do the honourable thing for his party and his country and resign from his role. Instead he worked at undermining his party until it faced electoral ruin. His fellow elected representatives have submitted to his ego, knowing that Gillard would not participate in the same unsavoury behaviour that Rudd has.
So we have the result that the less honourable member has won the day. It is not a good outcome. Maybe Rudd will recover enough support to give Abbott a run for his money but either way, the man who has caused the damage has been rewarded for his efforts.
It appears that we need to question how someone, anyone, can cause so much damage from the sidelines. How is it that the media has been so happy to focus time and time again on leadership speculation and other relatively trivial matters while largely ignoring policy debate. Abbott has benefited as well by producing a slogan based campaign that is devoid of policy. Australian media certainly has not held him to account for this doing this.
When policy is discussed, the labor government often trumps the liberal approach according to ‘expert’ opinion. Labor is being caned by a media that refuses to focus on detailed policy. Why this style dominates is open for debate, though it is clear that media outlets are facing financial constraints that are most likely contributing substantially. The end result is a situation that allows manipulation of the public perception of the acting government. This has allowed Rudd to cause havoc for Gillard’s leadership and it has allowed Abbott to wreak havoc on labor’s government.
There are many factors which have led us to the current situation where we no longer discuss public policy in a meaningful way. A weak & biased media, a busy & non-interested public and many other factors. We do need an approach that will help Australia focus on policy. How that can be done is open to debate. I intend to put forward some ideas soon.