The Greatest Schmo on Earth

21 June 2011
Anyone throwing a party to mark the one-year anniversary of the dumping of Kevin Rudd as PM? We're not, but I wondered if anyone else was. The man himself was planning a knees-up, but "postponed" the thing after too many questions were raised. I'm not surprised he wants to celebrate, though - his dastardly plan is coming along nicely.

The government is in a bit of a state at the moment. Their poll numbers are terrible, nothing they propose goes down well, and Julia Gillard is held in almost universal contempt. Rudd is outpolling her 2 to 1 as preferred Labor leader, people viewing the Rudd leadership as the good old days. And why not? This is Rudd's master plan, I suspect; sail along on the popular early days of the Labor government, stand aside when the poll numbers started to fall, then step back in as party saviour when all hope seems lost and lead in triumph to the next election. Rudd knows very well that as little support as he has from his colleagues - especially Labor backbenchers - he is unfathomably popular with the public. It was therefore easy enough to manipulate the party to dump him, then bide his time in foreign affairs, waiting to sail back in when the time is right. It's too soon to tell if that time is now, but Labor must know that if they go to the 2013 election as things stand now, they'll be wiped out for another few terms. When and if Rudd makes his move in light of this will be interesting to see.

Across the benches in the Opposition, it wouldn't surprise me if Malcolm Turnbull is doing something similar, waiting for Tony Abbott to finally commit the one electoral sin that leads to his dumping. It might take a while longer though - after such a rich history of lies, spin, hypocrisy and malfeasance, the public has low expectations of Mr Abbott.

Showing that he cares nothing for the process of representative democracy, let alone for the "taxpayer dollars" he's always harping about, Abbott has called for a plebiscite on the carbon tax, setting himself up as man of the people by letting the people have their say on a carbon tax. Even a talkback radio caller who thinks a chilly winter disproves climate change should be able to work out why this is a bad idea. For a start it will be expensive - probably around the $70 million mark. Also, we elect governments to make decisions for us. If there was a plebiscite (or fresh election) every time the government did something we didn't all agree with; well that's mob rule, not democracy. We'd never get anything done. Should Gillard have gone to the polls with a carbon tax on the agenda, as Howard did with the GST in 1998? Sure. And let's not forget Howard lost the popular vote in that election (but won on seats) - hardly a ringing endorsement of a plan he went ahead with anyway, and which even I'll admit didn't work out so badly in the end. Just possibly the doomsayers are wrong on the carbon tax as well?

For all that, plebiscites, unlike a referendum to change the Constitution, are not legally binding. What happens if there is a result Abbott doesn't like? What's to stop him just ignoring the damn thing? He's in Opposition anyway, as he chooses to forget. There's nothing he can do to change or make any laws. Hope has come, however, from unexpected quarters. After six nonsensical years, Stephen Fielding has suddenly made us think he might be missed, by canning the plebiscite as a political stunt. Abbott's been in favour of a carbon tax before; now he sees some political mileage out of this, and thinking the result of the last election entitles him to some co-Prime Minister status, he'll keep pulling this poor loser crap till Turnbull finally puts us out of our misery. Abbott, you're the greatest schmo on Earth. Accept your defeat and shut the hell up.


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