Juliar and her chums wanted Kev gone, so they bad-mouthed him in public. That was nice, wasn’t it? Kev resigned and challenged Juliar for the leadership; he lost, retiring to the backbench. Kev agreed not to resign his seat – a by-election could have caused the minority government to fall – but secretly demanded that Senator Arbib be hounded out of politics. Arbib was one of the guys behind Kev being removed as PM eighteen months ago, and was the guy that WikiLeaks revealed to have been leaking cabinet information to the Americans. One of the so-called faceless men who really run the Labor Party government. He suddenly developed a desire to spend more time with his family, the pollies’ equivalent to gardening leave. Or was it Kev’s demand? We thought so, but read on.
A little aside is needed here before our story continues. When a Senator resigns his seat, the party organisation to which he belongs, in the State he hails from, gets to appoint a replacement. No election, although the approval of the State government is required – usually a mere formality.
Now, Juliar needed a new Foreign Minister, for that had been Kev’s job, and one that he did very well. He knew all the right people around the world from his time as PM, and he was well accepted by most of them. Add his skill at speaking Mandarin and his undoubted popularity with the Australian electorate, and you have an exemplary representative for the nation.
Juliar, for once, came up with an excellent idea. She picked up the phone and spoke with Bob Carr. Bob was Premier of NSW for many years, everyone knows him and thinks he’s a pretty good bloke; he’s highly educated, with a History degree. He did some good things for NSW and had the good sense to retire from his position before the things he did badly came out of the woodwork to bite him on the bum. He’s acquired the status of a statesman, rather than remain just a polly. Bob was interested, and the whole deal would be made possible by the NSW Labor party, and the NSW (Liberal) government agreeing that he should be the replacement for Arbib. Perhaps that’s why Arbib was ousted?
But the faceless men weren’t happy, and Defence Minister Stephen Smith, who had been Foreign Minister under Rudd, wanted his old job back. Add Simon Crean’s objections (an old failed ex-leader of the Labor party who should have been put out to grass years ago were it not for the fact that he knows where the bodies are buried), and the deal was off. Juliar was put firmly in her place. Next day she spoke in the house and in public to accuse the newspapers of making the whole thing up, denying she’d spoken with Bob, and so on and so forth. “Completely untrue”, she said. Bob issued a similar statement.
Come the next morning, a press conference was called to announce Juliar’s reshuffled Cabinet. Mirabile dictu, who should be with her but Bob Carr, the new Foreign Minister. Somehow, Juliar had defeated the hidden movers and shakers, put Smith and Crean back in their boxes, and had her way. Wow! The first sign of a backbone.
The tale doesn’t end here, however, for one of her other moves was to dismiss Robert McClelland from Cabinet in payback for his sin of supporting Keven in the spill. McClelland was livid, muttering darkly about abandoning politics for ever (thereby causing a by-election and threatening the government’s majority). But later that afternoon he re-emerged to announce that he would be returning meekly to the back-bench and that he’d never even considered resigning his seat. No-one has yet worked out what he has been offered as a sweetener, or if he had possibly been threatened. We’ll probably never find out.
This is how the Australian Labor party runs our government. Is it any wonder that they and Juliar are the most despised government and PM ever in Australian political history, and that come the next election in eighteen months time, they will be voted out in a landslide? If they can last that long.