Australian journalist Anne Summers writing about just-deposed (and unjustly-deposed) Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s legacy (original here):
On the day Julia Gillard’s signature policy revolution, the Gonski reforms, became law, her prime ministership was defamed and denigrated, characterised as being littered with errors. Those who tore her down gave her no credit for any of her accomplishments as our country’s leader. Not for the 532 pieces of legislation that, by Wednesday night, had passed both houses of Parliament this sitting. Remember, this was a hung Parliament where every piece of legislation needed to be painstakingly negotiated.
Julia Gillard told me recently (in an interview that will be published this weekend in my digital magazine Anne Summers Reports) that because of the minority Parliament, ”It’s more inclusive on the one hand and that’s not a bad thing, but it can be slower and can distort the process a little bit.”
By far the hardest but the most worthwhile piece of legislation to be passed, Gillard said, was the carbon price, which she is confident will endure.
Yet when Kevin Rudd spoke after his shameful coup on Wednesday night and praised ”Julia” for being ”a remarkable reformer”, he did not mention a single one of her prime ministerial accomplishments. Not the carbon price. Not the NDIS. Not the Murray-Darling agreement. Not the Gonski reforms. And certainly not her historic agreement with the new Chinese leadership that ensures an unprecedented annual leadership dialogue between our two countries, something that Rudd while he was prime minister was unable to bring off. No, Rudd did not mention any of these things.
”In Julia’s case let me say this, if it were not for Julia we would not have the Fair Work Act,” he said. ”If it were not for Julia, we would not have a national scheme which ensures that the literacy and numeracy performance of Australian schools is tested regularly and that interventions occur to lift those students who are doing poorly.”
All things she accomplished while she was deputy prime minister. And, the subtext was, while he – the man mocking her by outfitting himself in a blue tie for the coup – was prime minister.
Expect Julia Gillard’s record of reform to be swiftly excised from the political memory of the Labor Party. It started on Wednesday night and will continue apace.”
In the words of a former high-level Rudd adviser who penned a personal, unpublished account of his time in the Rudd government, the way Rudd operated was ”a powerful warning for future governments … The Rudd government was never and could never have been a functional government because of the man who ran it.” This adviser was in a trusted position; he was intimate with the running and functioning of Rudd’s cabinet and at the centre of much of its day-to-day mayhem.Once deposed, Rudd’s toxic ambition appears to have been either to return to the leadership, or to destroy both the government that had dumped him and the woman who had replaced him. In this pursuit he was abetted by political journalists who became pawns in his comeback play, channelling the Chinese whispers of his spruikers and giving credibility and substance to exaggerated claims about the pretender’s level of support within the parliamentary party for a comeback.
Privately, there had always been deep unease among his colleagues about Rudd — his overpowering personal ambition, his ruthless use of people and power blocs to get the leader’s job, his lack of strong policy focus and his uneven temperament.
The oft-quoted fable that his crash in the opinion polls was the reason for his removal is hotly disputed by those central to Rudd’s fate. Anybody who had an ear to the ground in Canberra at the time knew Rudd was in a bad way; that he’d been unravelling since the disaster of the December 2009 climate change summit in Copenhagen; that his office, his department and the wider bureaucracy were paralysed by a prime minister who could not make the big decisions, but who sweated the minutiae of irrelevant tasks and board appointments; that he was so obsessed with polling numbers and day-to-day politics that months into 2010, with an eye to the election, he was designing ever more extravagant and untenable policies that would provide him with the quick fixes of media limelight he appeared to need.”
POSTSCRIPT 2 (Added 2013-06-30):
And here is Independent MP Robert Oakeshott’s moving Parliamentary tribute to Julia Gillard and her prime ministership. Gillard met with the Independent and Green MPs each week during Parliamentary sittings to discuss and co-ordinate policy, so Oakeshott is speaking from direct personal experience.