Wednesday 13 Oct 2021 | 22:05 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 13 Oct 2021 | 22:05 | SYDNEY

The Gillard-Rudd show


Sam Roggeveen


27 February 2012 11:47

With the governing Labor Party's leadership tension now resolved, a few observations about how this mess looks from an international perspective:

  • To repeat a point I made after Julia Gillard won the prime ministership in June 2010, bafflement will surely be the overwhelming feeling among foreign observers of this drama. How did a government which, almost alone among OECD countries, can boast that it did not go into recession during the GFC ever get itself into this position?
  • The second point is obvious, maybe even trite, but foreign observers should also be impressed that such a rancorous and divisive battle played itself out entirely peacefully and within the rules set down by our constitution and the conventions of the Westminster system. There are many countries, including one where Australian troops are now committed, where a power struggle of this kind would bring on civil unrest and even war.
  • The most obvious foreign policy implication is that Australia will need a new foreign minister. And if Stephen Smith steps back into the role he vacated for Kevin Rudd, we'll need a new defence minister too.
  • Last week, John Quiggin based his preference for Rudd on the argument that 'Rudd is a serious leader with ideas for Australia's future. Gillard has shown herself to have no ideas worth the name.' When it comes to international policy, this claim may have some merit, inasmuch as the available evidence suggests Rudd has fully internalised the implications of the 'Asian Century' for Australia, whereas Gillard seems a fairly recent convert to the idea, and more broadly a slightly reluctant participant in international politics as a whole.