Friday, 30 April 2010

Reviewing Rudd

There have been so many backflips by the Australian Labor government lately that I can't tell whether I'm watching politics or Cirque du Soleil.

Prior to Kevin Rudd's election in late 2007 the talking heads in the media were singing his praises as an economic conservative and having the right policies on climate change, labour laws, education and immigration etc. Now that the media is questioning the ETS abandonment, Andrew Bolt is quite rightly
calling them out on it.

So who was wise enough to write the following on
22 October 2007:
I have likened his (Rudd's) understanding of economics to that other disastrous Labor leader of the past, Gough Whitlam, and nothing I have seen subsequent to making that judgement has changed my mind.
And this on
7 November 2007:
The Australian's Paul Kelly is hardly someone that could be called alarmist. His balanced, thoughtful commentary on the ABC's Insiders is the highlight of the program.

In this opinion piece he describes how Kevin Rudd intends to increase his power as Prime Minister should Labor be elected on November 24. This should come as no surprise. Rudd is fundamentally a policy wonk meaning he must have processes that involve him. He has no idea about what makes the economy tick or what drives the average citizen so he intends to have more of a micro-management role in Australia's affairs than any government since the disastrous Whitlam.
That's right, it was your erstwhile correspondent who saw through Kevin Rudd prior to his election in a way that the mainstream media couldn't - or wouldn't.

In less than 6 months in government Rudd's much vaunted FuelWatch program was thrown under the bus in what was to pretty much define this government's modus operandi and on
30 May 2008 I wrote:
There are two types of control freak: in-control and under-control.

An in-control freak has to be involved in every decision being made. An under-control freak has to be sure that his management team is on top of things and executing policy effectively.

Australia's prime minister, Kevin Rudd, is an in-control freak and the latest example is the mess that he has created with the government's FuelWatch policy.

...Which leads me to articulate for the first time my view of the man. As I've posted previously, leadership changes people. Sometimes they surprise people, step up to the mark and become real leaders in the way that Howard did. Sometimes they crash and burn, as Mark Latham did, though that was much more predictable. Therefore, it's always wise to let some time pass before making a judgement.

Six months into his term I think I've seen enough to have a clear view of Kevin Rudd.

Leadership: As a leader, Rudd is more Custer than Patton; more Whitlam than Hawke or Keating. He is a manager, not a leader. Australia is in a terrific position economically, small inflation worries notwithstanding, and so it's possible that a competent manager can be successful. The job of prime minister at the moment and for the next few years can be done effectively in management mode so Rudd's lack of leadership ability may not work against him - as long as things don't go pear-shaped in the world economy and we don't otherwise face a major crisis.

Competence: Here's a big statement that I think people will come to reflect on the wisdom of in years to come - Kevin Rudd is profoundly incompetent to be prime minister. Profoundly. In fact, I'd go so far to say that when his time has come and gone Rudd will be seen as one of our worst ever PMs. He has Gough Whitlam's understanding of economics and Paul Keating's understanding of the ordinary bloke. I think he will be seen to have squandered a huge opportunity to move Australia forward at a time when international competitiveness is growing ever tougher.

Vision: It is now clear that Rudd has no vision for Australia. His policy of symbolism and populism over outcomes and substance is proof. From the economic disaster of ratifying Kyoto to the Stolen Generations' Apology to a plethora of inquiries into all sorts of issues and to FuelWatch itself Rudd has been focused more on his personal popularity than achieving positive outcomes for Australians. Can you imagine this man taking the tough, unpopular decisions on illegal immigration, workplace relations and even the Iraq war as Howard? Even his most ardent supporters must wonder what he stands for.

Personality: Rudd has no charm and no charisma, traits that are important to hold a leadership team together, especially when times get tough. It can be quite justifiably said that Howard lacked charm and charisma. He turned out to be one of this country's best ever leaders so why can't Rudd follow suit? The fact is that Howard slept the sleep of a leader. Rudd sleeps the sleep of a manager.
Not bad, eh, given it's a nearly two year old assessment. The world economy did indeed go pear shaped and Rudd's incompetence was on immediate display with huge, do nothing spending plans rolled out in too short a time and with minimal effect, other than adding to the national debt and, unfortunately, leading to the deaths of a number of home insulation installers.

July 2008 I was joined by a few others who were starting to doubt Rudd's abilities:
Australia's go it alone attitude to addressing the non-issue of climate change is a prime example of how far out of touch with community attitudes Rudd is, let alone reality. It seems that he prefers to pander to European and United Nations institutions than do what is right for Australia.

In Kevin Rudd we do not have that strength of leadership. Unfortunately, he does not understand how limited his ability is and that will be to the detriment of all of us.
January 2009 I passed the baton as Australia's most incompetent prime minister from Gough Whitlam to Kevin Rudd:
I tell you who is sleeping more soundly tonight and that's former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam.


Well, Whitlam's government was a shambles that wrought chaos upon Australia's economy that took many years to overcome.

Whitlam himself has long been viewed as the worst PM we've ever had and for good reason.

But with the current Labor PM Kevin Rudd's 8,000+ word socialist screed published in the leftist The Monthly this week Whitlam can let out as big a sigh of relief as his 92 year old body will allow now that the mantle of Australia's worst ever PM has been lifted from him by Rudd's unbelievable incompetence.
And, just for a change, on
4 February 2009 I continued:
I wonder how long it will be before your average Australian voter wakes up to the fact that Kevin Rudd is the new Gough Whitlam?

Of course, there are millions of voters who either weren't born yet or politically aware during Whiltam's reign of chaos and who still think that Rudd is doing a good job by throwing tens of billions of dollars at the economy in order to stimulate it and get past the Global Financial Crisis.
..and on I banged until the end of the year.

With an election looming, which the government is an overwhelming favourite to win, it's worth looking back to see what this government's achievements are.

Are there any?

In fact, in many ways we've gone backwards.

Certainly, our fiscal position has been weakened by Rudd's insane spending spree.

Our foreign relations have been damaged by Rudd's remarkable incompetence in an area touted as his greatest strength.

He signed Kyoto, amid much fanfare by the symbolism-as-policy left, and has now punted the associated economy killing emissions trading scheme down the road to at least 2013. In the meantime, power stations can't raise capital due to the uncertainty over policy. Nice work, Kev.

Again, what have we got to show for having elected Kevin Rudd?

And how much better off would we have been under a Coalition government?


(Nothing Follows)

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