IT gives me no pleasure at all to have called the election result a few weeks ago.As the Federal election progressed, it became a foregone conclusion; and Kevin Rudd – with the help of Clive Palmer – did save the furniture; all Labor’s best people retained their seats.
However, in Canberra we have to gird our loins for an economic bloodbath. Not only will 12,000 public service jobs disappear, but Prime Minister Tony Abbott has promised to transfer at least one department holus-bolus out of the city, probably to the NSW Central Coast.
And since the Senate will prevent him from abolishing the emissions trading scheme and enacting his ridiculous Direct Action program; his party will delay his unfair paid parental leave scheme; and Labor seems already to have “stopped the boats”; his anti-Canberra policies will be the signature tune of his first 100 days.
The only saving grace for Canberrans is that tumbling house prices will allow some young people to buy their first home and as the Australian economy deteriorates low-interest rates will cushion their mortgage repayments.
On the Labor side, I expect Kevin Rudd to announce his retirement from the Parliament after a decent interval and for the party, at last, to put its internal brawling behind it.
In fact, the biggest plus for Labor would be the election of the outgoing Deputy Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, to the Opposition leadership.
While he is not particularly well known in the broader community, anyone who watches Parliament regularly knows him to be one of the best performers at the Despatch Box, a highly competent manager of government business and a doughty fighter for the underdog.
He is from the NSW left so unencumbered by association with the corrupt thugs of the right. This makes him the perfect bloke to push through the reforms Rudd initiated there. He’s a Sydneysider and that’s where Labor needs to remake its brand, particularly in the western suburbs – Albo is just the man for it. And he is popular with his caucus colleagues. Indeed, he was the one trusted bridge between the warring factions of Rudd and Gillard.
But more important than all that, he is a thoroughly nice bloke and in no time at all this will shine through to the wider electorate. Indeed, I believe he has the capacity to become a modern day Ben Chifley.
The difficult choice will be deputy. I think Tanya Plibersek or Chris Bowen would be excellent, but they are both from NSW. There will be a big push for Bill Shorten from Victoria, but he has leadership ambitions himself and that could be destabilising.
Kevin Rudd’s departure will come as a huge relief to the caucus. He was always a divisive figure and they will give him a heartfelt send-off. However this month he will turn 56 and that’s far too young to retire. Indeed, it’s not in his nature. I expect him to find a number of academic positions and, provided his health holds out, to accept prestigious tasks from his friends at the UN headquarters.
But his like will not be seen again… or so his party fervently hopes.