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Few familiar with Rudd are shocked by his exit

By Scott Prasser - posted Monday, 28 June 2010

The sudden fall from grace of Kevin Rudd, his inability through lack of support to even contest the leadership, and the willingness of the Labor Party to dump a leader are unprecedented in Australian politics.

Indeed, Rudd's demise amounts to a dismissal almost as significant as governor-general John Kerr's dismissal of the Whitlam government in 1975, except that this time the execution was carried out by the Labor caucus on one of their own.

Rudd's end and the way it occurred is significant because it shows how fast moving politics has become in Australia, driven by the media and polling.


It is significant that the Labor Party, once tolerant of unsuccessful leaders, is now so quick to sacrifice a prime minister who falters.

Rudd's end is also significant because he came to power on a wave of irrational hysteria from the Australian electorate and criticisms of the Howard government when Rudd and Labor had few real policy alternatives, beliefs and frameworks to offer in its place.

The real surprise for some who knew, experienced and observed Rudd when he worked for the Goss government in Queensland is not that Rudd has gone as suddenly as he came.

No, the surprise is that the increasingly questionable performance of Rudd as a prime minister and his government came as such a surprise to everyone else: the electorate, large sections of academe and other Canberra observers.

I warned about Rudd's “ruthless style” as head of the Office of Cabinet in Queensland under the Goss Labor government in The Australian on January 11, 2007.

Look to how he operated in Queensland and you will understand what he would be like in “Canberraland” as prime minister: that was my message.


The script was there for all of us to see.

The insistence on control, the centralisation of decision-making, the impatience, the demands for more and more activity, the strains on the decision-making processes, the upsetting of ministers, the rush to implement without experience or knowledge or thought about how, were the very problems that weakened the Goss government and led to its unexpected rejection from office.

The script was there, but too few were willing to read what had happened in Queensland and to understand Rudd's real capacities and his limitations.

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First published in The Weekend Australian on June 26-27, 2010.

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About the Author

Dr Scott Prasser has worked on senior policy and research roles in federal and state governments. His recent publications include:Royal Commissions and Public Inquiries in Australia (2021); The Whitlam Era with David Clune (2022) and the edited New directions in royal commission and public inquiries: Do we need them?. His forthcoming publication is The Art of Opposition reviewing oppositions across Australia and internationally. .

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