Well the Australian Labor party is at it again, bitching and fighting. Julia Gillard, the current Prime Minister and Labor leader, has called a snap leadership election for Monday. Her intention is to draw out Kevin Rudd, her predecessor as both PM and party leader, and to kill off the in-fighting and what she perceives to be the undermining from Rudd she has suffered ever since he was ousted as leader in 2010.
It ain’t going to be pretty in any case.
But it’s nothing new. Perhaps the greatest battle for power in recent decades among labor heavy-hitters was that between Bob Hawke and Paul Keating in the early 1990s. It had connotation of the Blair-Browne dust-up, in that Keating was of the opinion that a pact had been agreed that Hawke would step down after two terms and allow him to take over as premier. But when Hawke thought otherwise, things hotted up royally. (See the chapter “God’s Country” in TWB for more!).
Whatever happens next week, in a country where “bastard” is considered a perfectly acceptable parlimentary word, it’s bound to quite produce some choice mud-slinging and unforgettable put downs.
Keating was particularly renowned for him high regard for political opponents. In fact the opposition once circulated a list of over fifty terms he had used to describe them inparliament. They included ‘harlots, sleazebags, piece of criminal garbage, scumbag, pigs, perfumed gigolos and stunned mullets’. He chided one member by saying that ‘like a dog, he returns to his own vomit’ and equated being chastised by another opponent as ‘like being flogged with warm lettuce’.
So I, for one, will be following event closely next week. It’ll make for great entertainment – so watch this space!
***Update 05 March***
Well it’s all over for now. Rudd should have known the game was up the day before the votes when he saw what happened in Darwin. There when Harry the Psychic Crocodile, the successful picker of three Darwin Cup winners, was presented with posters of Gillard and Rudd, each festooned with chunks of meat, he sunk his teeth firmly into Julia Gillard. From then it was a sure thing for Gillard who won by 71-30 wons.
But, as I predicted, it got rough – nasty even. According to Labor frontbencher Kate Ellis, Kevin Rudd denounced the prime minister as a ”childless, atheist, ex-communist”. Even by Australian parlimentary standards this was considered low. Doesn’t look like Rudd will be on too many Christmas card lists among his Labor colleagues this year.