Posts Tagged ‘Kevin Rudd’

Abe wins and Rudd loses while Kerry lobbies for Obama’s war

September 8, 2013

It is a misty Autumn morning this Sunday and the last week has had its mix of stories. But a few small encouraging events are over-shadowed by the darkness of Obama’s determination to go to war. Abe won for Tokyo while Rudd lost for Abbott and Kerry lobbies the world for money and support for Obama’s war.

Shinzo Abe made a personal commitment to the IOC that the Fukushima radiation leaks were and would be under control. Tokyo was awarded the 2020 summer Olympic Games yesterday in Buenos Aires beating Istanbul by 60 votes to 36. Madrid had crept up to be perceived as a front runner with their low key, “low cost” games but the mood was not for “restraint”. Delegates were getting tired of financial crises. Moreover they were tired of doping scandals and these could not be ruled out in Madrid or Istanbul. And once Madrid lost to Istanbul in a run-off for second place, the Madrid support – especially from Europe and the Americas – was not ready to let the Games go to an Islamist country for the first time ever. Of Madrid’s initial 26 votes in the first round, only 10 went to Istanbul in the final voting. And that left Tokyo which is a good thing

In Australia, the bookies and the national polls turned out to be pretty well right. Kevin Rudd lost and Tony Abbott won as a consequence. But the Labour loss could have been much worse.  A clear majority in the Lower House for the Coalition but not in the Senate where they only secured the avoidance of a Red/Green majority. The Carbon Tax is toast but it will take a bit of horse trading in the Senate to finally bury it.  The peculiar nature of preference votes means that the Senate composition will not be firm for a few days and there will be some new Senators which could lead to some unusual alliances. The Greens will actually have an extra Senator but thier alliance with Labour may not be as clear-cut. The overbearing self-righteousness of Australian bureaucracy may begin to be curbed. Tony Abbott has already asked his bureaucrats to prepare to stop the Carbon Tax and to stop the asylum boats. The Carbon Tax may well go in 2014 and that is a good thing.

And in the meantime President Obama pursues his war with no objectives. He flew back to the US to shore up domestic support for his war on Syria. He is scheduled to make his weekly address on Tuesday and to have six interviews with leading news anchors broadcast on Monday. Remarkably it is the hawks and neo-cons in the US who are the strongest supporters of his war.. A “coalition of mutual contempt” according to the Atlantic.  John Kerry is travelling around Europe lobbying the European countries. His list of countries supporting the US is “now into double figures”. Even self-appointed policemen have to be paid and Kerry is also meeting with the Arab League in Paris today and its members have offered to pay for the entire cost of Obama’s war! A strike on Syria by the US seems inevitable and that is a bad thing.

Labour has given up and starts looking for Rudd’s successor

September 6, 2013

In theory I suppose the election is still there to be lost by Abbott and the Coalition.

I am biased. If I were in Australia – which I am not – I would probably prefer Abbott on policies but as an interested observer I find that my preference for Abbott is based – not so much on policies – but almost entirely on the the level of “squirm” that Rudd engenders in me. Trust is not something that politicians generally deserve but I perceive Rudd as being particularly insincere.

The betting money and the bookies are now expecting a rout.  It is no longer possible to place a bet on the outcome but Abbot may still not get his own majority in the Senate.

Sportsbet has decided the Coalition is likely to win at least 20 seats, increasing its position from 72 to at least 92 seats, giving it a hefty majority of at least 34 seats in the 150-seat House of Representatives.

It has low odds of $1.85 for the Coalition to win 91 to 100 seats. The odds drift out to $2.35 for the Coalition to pick up 100 or more seats. They drift further out to $2.75 for a more constrained 81 to 90 Coalition seats. Sportsbet thus sees a landslide as much more likely than a tight election.

When you look at Sportsbet’s odds on a seat-by-seat basis, it looks even more grim for Labor, with 30 seats in danger.

But it’s not all good news for the Coalition. Sportsbet has essentially closed its books on the overall Senate election outcome. The Coalition is at long odds, $13, to win a majority in the Senate.

The politics of gridlock may thus drag on, with the Coalition declaring a mandate and the Greens and others declaring they have a mandate as a house of review.

Rudd, by party rules, has to vacate the leadership if he loses. And I suppose that it is only natural and to be expected that Labour politicians looking beyond this weekend are now beginning to position themselves for a new leader. I don’t suppose that there is a scenario which could bring Julia Gillard back. The speculation has begun though the contenders would first have to be returned in their own constituencies:

BOB Hawke has tipped Bill Shorten as the front-runner should Labor need to find a new leader.

With the Coalition looking likely to form government after tomorrow’s election, attention is turning to who may succeed Kevin Rudd as Labor leader if the ALP is defeated.

Mr Hawke said Treasurer Chris Bowen is talented but first needs to retain his seat, and Health Minister Tanya Plibersek is unlikely to be in the running.

“But she could be a candidate for the deputy. I think Tanya is a very impressive representative.”

The former prime minister was unsure if Immigration Minister Tony Burke would step forward.

“On all the indications … you would think that Bill (Shorten) has got the front running.”

Mr Rudd has vowed to stay on as the member for Griffith if Labor loses, but he would be forced by party rules to vacate the leadership and may be unlikely to renominate.

All relatively unknown names for me.

I still am of the opinion that Australia could be a major force for the region and a leader – by example – of how things can be made to work. From Japan to India. But that does require that Australia to be less of a blind “follower” of the US and to get rid of of the many trappings of the “nanny state” that have been indulged in. And that in turn requires that the leaders of the two main parties be capable of being taken seriously.

Interesting times.

Guardian’s “catastrophe” correspondent supports Rudd: Could be the final straw

September 5, 2013

If anything convinces me even more than the bookies that Rudd will lose the election this weekend, it is that George Monbiot of the Guardian has developed the catastrophe scenario for Australia if Abbot wins. He has the uncanny knack of picking dead – and useless – causes.

For those who have not been exposed to George Monbiot, he is the Guardian’s “catastrophe” correspondent. He can manage to find a looming disaster in every human development. His articles tend to lurch from one catastrophe scenario to the next. That his “catastrophes” never happen and keep disappearing into the future never discourages him. He can always find a new catastrophe. And now he has picked on Tony Abbott! He does write for The Guardian and support for Abbott would not be possible but the demonisation of Abbott – like carbon dioxide – is a Monbiot speciality.

Fighting global warming is his reason for living. He detests – and denies – the hiatus in global warming since it might prove that there is no impending catastrophe. He denies that changes to climate may be due to natural variability. He doesn’t like fracking or the Farmers Union. In fact he doesn’t like fossil fuels of any kind. Coal – he thinks – has been disastrous for Australia. Tourists and sheep in the Lake District should be banned. Exotic trees should be banned and only “native” trees should be planted. He has a fantasy that woolly mammoths could be brought back to life. Neonictinoids are like DDT. The shooting of one of the Boston bombers was an “execution”. Oil companies and tobacco companies are to be shunned. He really does believe in “peak oil” and “peak gas”. Earning money and creating wealth is fundamentally wrong. Faith in the markets is misplaced and only governments can save our living planet. Having resources is a curse. Exploiting such resources is to court eternal damnation. He is a firm adherent of the precautionary principle.

In short he knows best what is best for others.

And he does not like Tony Abbott – probably to Abbot’s great advantage. His headlines can be worth looking at but to read through his articles requires a strong stomach. It’s not just that he does not like humanity; he does not like people doing well. Coal and its exploitation – he believes – has degraded and brutalised Australia.

The Guardian: 

If Abbott is elected, Australia’s natural wonders will gradually be rubbed away

Tony Abbott’s climate policies are about removing the social and environmental protections enjoyed by all Australians to allow the filthy rich to become richer – and filthier.

…. Why? The answer’s in the name. Coalition policies begin with coal: getting it out of the ground, moving it through the ports, stripping away the regulations that prevent mining companies from wrecking the natural beauty of Australia – and from trashing the benign climate on which we all depend. The mining boom in the world’s biggest coal exporter has funded a new, harsher politics. 

… Like the tar sands in Canada, coal has changed the character of the nation, brutalising and degrading public life. It has funded a vicious campaign of mud-slinging against those who argue for the careful use of resources, for peace and quiet and beauty and the health of the living planet. Australia, like Nigeria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, suffers from a resource curse. …

Read the whole article (if you really must).

Rudd trailing Abbott in the final stretch and the bookies start paying out

September 2, 2013

My perception is not so much of Abbott taking or stretching his lead but rather of Rudd trailing and falling further behind. Like an over-the-hill runner attempting a come-back, who cannot quite keep up and who falls increasingly further behind as they enter the home stretch.

There is less than a week to go and they have had 3 debates. Neither scored a knockout but neither  fell down either. The personal popularity that was Rudd’s calling card is just a shadow of what it used to be. His beaming smile now has a hint of being sinister. If this election is in any sense a referendum on the carbon tax, Rudd is on the wrong side – even if it is Julia Gillard who takes most of that hit. The nexus between corrupt union leaders and Labour politicians lives a life of its own and a mere election will not put a stop to that. But all the recent headlines don’t particularly help Rudd.

In the critical state of Queensland, Rudd is going the wrong way.

Poll results.

The ALP is going the wrong way in Queensland. – The Age

I can’t help thinking that part of the ALP’s problem is that Rudd (and Gillard before him) had an over-inflated perception of their own importance on the world stage. Part of that was no doubt due to the elevated position Howard had in US eyes with his support of the Iraq War. Being a little more realistic can be to Abbott’s advantage


TONY Abbott says Australia should stop boasting on the world stage and bring some “humility” back to foreign policy.

In a direct swipe at Kevin Rudd, the Coalition leader suggested the Government should stop “overstating” its influence and be realistic about what authority it could command internationally.

The Prime Minister yesterday continued to use to the Syria crisis to attack Mr Abbott’s apparent lack of depth on global affairs.

But in a stinging rebuke to the man once dubbed Kevin 747 for his extensive world travel as PM, Mr Abbott said Australia could be more effective as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council if it stopped exaggerating its power.

“Australia should do what it can to build a better world but we shouldn’t exaggerate our own influence,” he said following a Press Club address in Canberra to make the case for a Coalition government.

As always, following the money is usually very revealing. If the bookies had just stopped taking bets on Abbott it would have been pretty telling. But when a bookie starts paying out even before the polls have opened – let alone before the result is announced – it can only mean that one contender is overwhelmingly dominant or that the result has been fixed. Either way the result is a done thing, and one bookmaking company has started paying out bets on Abbott a full week before the election.

Reuters: Thu Aug 29, 2013

An Australian bookmaker on Thursday began paying out bets on a conservative opposition victory, declaring the country’s September 7 election race already over for Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s struggling Labor government.

With nine days to go, online bookmaker Sportsbet said it had begun paying A$1.5 million ($1.34 million) in bets received on a victory for opposition leader Tony Abbott’s centre-right coalition, because the outcome was already clear.

“As far as Sportsbet’s betting markets are concerned, the Abbotts can start packing up their belongings ahead of their imminent move to Kirribilli House,” Sportsbet spokesman Haydn Lane said, referring to the prime minister’s residence in Sydney.

The race it seems is over.

O Fontana! Is Rudd losing his election on rudeness?

August 24, 2013

Two weeks to go to the Australian election and maybe the campaign is now beginning to show some signs of life. But things are not looking very good for Kevin Rudd.

The campaign has been fairly lacklustre so far but some small events may be having an unexpectedly large impact on the electorate. Whereas Abbott’s slip-ups almost seem to be expected and are discounted, Rudd’s small missteps are instead tapping into perceptions of his long history on the political stage. A Rude Rudd meme is growing. Voters don’t usually choose their candidates just for being polite but it is possible that they may refuse to vote for someone considered rude.

Lily Fontana’s short-lived outburst on Facebook about Kevin Rudd’s relative rudeness before last weeks TV debate has brought all his many previous episodes of rudeness back to the forefront. Strangely Abbott’s “shut up” about Rudd is seen as being somewhat justified. His “suppository” instead of “repository” generated a few smutty jokes but does not seem to have caused much negative impact. Perhaps because expectations of Abott are sufficiently low. Perceptions relative to expectations give reality. Another make-up artist, Abigail Johnston, also described a similar episode with Rudd. She too took down (or was forced to take down) her Facebook post. Make up artist Abigael Johnston backed up her friend Ms Fontana, saying Mr Rudd had previously been rude to her. “I second this Lily. I have had a very similar experience!” Ms Johnston said. Posting on Facebook Ms Johnston said: “Must run in the family as Mr Howard and Mr Costello were gentlemen with a capital G. Mr Abbott is following in their footsteps. The other, I could not even face book how he treated the crew. Just abhorrent!” When contacted this morning Ms Johnston said the incident she referred to had occurred before Mr Rudd was Prime Minister.

The electorate is beginning to remember that Rudd’s smile is just a little too smarmy and that he may not be such a nice bloke after all. His past reputation for bullying and rudeness is suddenly of great interest.

The Australian: A RETIRED air vice-marshal has accused Kevin Rudd of “bully standover tactics” and a make-up artist has declared he was rude as she prepared him for the people’s forum debate, reviving questions about the Prime Minister’s character that emerged in his first stint in the role. ….. The revelations blunted Labor’s attacks on Tony Abbott’s character, after the Opposition Leader snapped during the forum debate, asking of Rudd “does this guy ever shut up?” ….. echoed claims that Mr Rudd had been rude to air force staff during his first term as prime minister. In the lead up to his failed February 2012 leadership challenge against Julia Gillard, an expletive-laden video was leaked of him losing his cool as he prepared a Chinese-language video.

Herald Sun: In 2009 he famously had to apologise to an RAAF air hostess after it was revealed he reduced her to tears when the meal he requested was unavailable on a flight from Port Moresby to Canberra. .. In the same year it was reported Mr Rudd threw a “wobbly” when Diggers were unable to locate a hairdryer for a photo opportunity in Afghanistan. .. Again in 2009 Mr Rudd reportedly launched an expletive-ridden tirade at Labor’s factional bosses, including three female MPs. ….. In 2010 following the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit Mr Rudd told journalists: “Those Chinese f-ers, they are trying to ratf- us”. … Then in 2012 an expletive-ridden video was released. In the video, uploaded to YouTube under the heading “Kevin Rudd is a happy little vegemite” the PM slams the table and swears repeatedly in outtakes. “You can tell these d-heads in the embassy to just give me simple sentences. I’ve said this before,” Mr Rudd says. “Tell that bloody interpreter. This f-ing language just complicates it so much, you know. How can anyone do this.”

Furthermore his “despatch” of Julia Gillard has confirmed a perception of  his deviousness. What was once seen as “political skill” has flipped over to being seen as “underhanded” and Machiavellian. Of course the Australian Labour Party’s internal workings could be used as a script for The Borgias. (While Jeremy Irons is known to donate generously to Labour in the UK, I have not heard that he has shown much interest in the Australian election).

And now the latest polls show not only the Coalition increasing its lead but also that Rudd may have difficulty in defending his own seat:

The AgeKevin Rudd faces a fight to avoid becoming the third prime minister in the nation’s history to lose his own seat. A second poll in a week has shown Mr Rudd narrowly trailing his Liberal National Party opponent, Bill Glasson, in Griffith, prompting the Prime Minister to declare he was campaigning as hard as he could.

Long-serving prime minister John Howard lost his Sydney seat of Bennelong to Labor’s Maxine McKew as part of the Ruddslide in 2007, the first time an Australian PM had lost his own electorate since Stanley Bruce in 1929.

BloombergAustralia’s opposition Liberal-National coalition widened its lead over the Labor government in an opinion poll, signaling leader Tony Abbott may replace Kevin Rudd as prime minister after the Sept. 7 election. Support for the coalition rose to 53 percent on a two-party preferred basis this week from 52 percent two weeks earlier, while those voters backing the ruling Labor party fell one point to 47 percent, according to a Herald-Nielsen poll published in the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper today. Support for Rudd as preferred prime minister fell to 48 percent from 50 percent while 45 percent of those surveyed backed Abbott, up from 42 percent.

My forecast from far, far away (13,600km on a great circle route to Perth) would be for an Abbott win with about a 10 seat margin. It seems unlikely now that any “big” issue (economy, carbon tax, immigration …) is going to get further traction or to be decisive. But two weeks is a long time in politics. It is certainly long enough for either to snatch defeat.

Australian election: The battle of the zeros

August 22, 2013

The campaign is half over and two and a half weeks remain.

Maybe it is very exciting to those close the campaign. But to an observer on the other side of the world, it has all been rather dull and disappointing so far.  Gillard versus Abbott would surely have generated more heat and energised the voters a little more. Kevin Rudd’s ubiquitous  smiling – after his “treachery” in deposing Gillard – now seems more sinister than avuncular. If Kevin Rudd smiles at you – it is time to watch your back! Rudd had a little honeymoon in the polls but seems to have lost all his initial gains and is now at about the same level as Gillard was. If the present poll numbers hold till the election, the Coalition will win by 10 – 20 seats.

Rudd and Abbott have had two TV debates so far. The first was apparently a tie but Rudd is said to have won the second one on points. But the campaign – at least from this distance – has been lacking in any real energy. No major scandals revealed. No scintillating wit. No “cut and thrust” of great repartee. No fire. No brimstone.

Even after yesterday’s debate – which was a little difficult to watch in its entirety – only two real issues – of substance – came up.

1. Kevin Rudd was very unpleasant to the lady doing his make-up before the debate,

Bridal make-up artist and hair stylist Lily Fontana worked on both Mr Rudd and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott ahead of the televised debate at the Broncos Leagues Club on Wednesday.

Caused a stir: Lily Fontana put this post on Facebook.
Caused a stir: Lily Fontana put this post on Facebook. Photo: Screen grab via SMH

Ms Fontana took to Facebook afterwards to compare her interactions with the two leaders.

2. Tony Abbott told Rudd to “shut up”  though there is some talk that this was not a mistake by Abbott but was actually deliberate strategy. Such deviousness would have been consistent with Rudd’s methods but – I think – is beyond Abbott. Video of Abbott’s shut up moment is here.

Of course the Liberals are trying to make capital out of Rudd’s rudeness  to the make-up lady and Labour are trying to make capital of Abbott’s rudeness to Rudd.

(And why is it that Socialist leaders are always rudest to others of the “working classes”?)

Simple arithmetic tells us that there should be no difference between a few empty words and many empty words.

(zero substance x few words) = 0 = (zero substance x many words) 

But watching last night’s debate (or at least some parts of it), I realised that there was a significant difference.  Even with zero substance there can be a substantial difference in the level of irritation engendered in the audience. Many empty words produce a great “ZERO” while a few empty words only give us a little “zero”.

And in the battle of the ZEROs Kevin Rudd won hands down. Rudd spoke 5320 “empty” words while Abbott could only manage 3910 “empty” words and Rudd can therefore be declared the bigger zero (so far)!

Australian betting points to Labour losing by 22 seats

August 15, 2013

The Australian election campaign is still fairly low-key. The most exciting event in the last few days was Abbott’s remark praising a fellow candidate that she had “sex appeal”. He should have known better than to say something so politically incorrect. Kevin Rudd is trying to make political capital out of that but his denial that “sex appeal” exists seems a little contrived. The difference between the genders will not change by legislation.

The polls have not been very exciting either.  But I suppose that money talks and following the money may be a better predictor of the Australian general election results than just simply asking people how they intend to vote. The Financial Review carries a forecast of the election results based on betting on the elections. The money is on Kevin Rudd and Labour losing by a substantial margin. Of course it could be biased in that betting odds generated by gamblers may not be representative of the electorate,  but presumably the algorithms converting betting odds to election results try and take that into account.

From the Financial Review:

Election results forecast based on betting data from 11th August

Labor won’t have to stay up late on the evening of September 7 for the bad news of the electoral result, according to a new analysis of betting market odds.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s party will lose the election by 22 seats, collecting 63 seats to the oppositions’s 85, according to analysis done for The Australian Financial Review by statisticians Kaighin McColl and Leng Lee.

The analysis is based on betting data from 11 August.

The number of seats Labor is expected to win dropped from 65 to 63 in the five days between August 6 and August 11.

Mr McColl notes that the ALP has now slid backwards twice since the analysis began.

“It is still early days, but the ALP has consistently been a long way behind according to the electorate-level betting data. What they’ve had going for them is momentum. That momentum appears to be slowing or reversing,” he said.

The analysis, which takes betting market data and subjects it to an algorithmic process known as Monte Carlo simulation in order to determine odds, predicts just two seats will be won by non-major parties. ….

Australian election show makes a quiet start

August 12, 2013

Elections in a number of countries have fantastic entertainment value.The campaigns, the scandals, the gaffes, the TV pundits, the “fringe” idiots and personal animosities all can contribute to the fun.  Of course a certain amount of distance and having a real interest in the country while not being overly affected by the result does increase the potential. In my case having friends in the country on both sides of the political divide adds to the “fun index”. The US Presidential Elections of course lead in the entertainment ratings. Even though they go on for much too long they usually manage to keep the flow of scandals and blunders coming and the inanity level high enough to maintain the “fun level”.

Generally it requires a strong divide between two major parties to inject some excitement for voyeurs like myself. Single party states don’t provide any level of uncertainty and have too high a level of election violence to have much entertainment value. Proportional Representation – as in most of Europe  – tends to reduce the excitement level but even in the Scandinavian countries does not manage to kill all the fun. Generally in much of Europe the inanity and “fun” comes from the idiot fringe parties – usually on the far right but also from a few remnants of hard Marxists and Maoists.

Following the US Presidential I would put the UK General Election next for fun and games. The political and media circus that accompanies the multiple waves of voting in the Indian General Election are always good entertainment. Then – in my estimation and reflecting my interests – come the Australian, German, French and Japanese Elections.

The first week of the Australian Election campaign called by Kevin Rudd is over. It has been relatively quiet and there has been no heat – yet – and no real fireworks. But I still have hope. Murdoch made his views known – as if there was anybody who did not know what they were. I suspect – but I am not sure – that the days of Murdoch being King-maker (as he was for Tony Blair) have long gone. His stuff is now all pay-walled and the cyberworld has passed him by.

Most of the fun in the first week of this election has actually come from a candidate – Stephanie Banister – representing one of the idiot right fringe parties. She got her knickers properly into a twist and confused the Koran with haram, haram with halal, halal with kosher, Islam with a country and Jews with the worship of Jesus. She quit the next day. Quite amusing but peripheral, short-lived and of little consequence.

Keven Rudd – having disposed ruthlessly of Julia Gillard – flexed his new-found muscles and sacked two of his own candidates. There was a faint whiff of an old gender scandal surrounding one of them and the other was accused of accusing others as being too Catholic and racist. ( A case of against.against= for?). Nobody except some union members, seemed to care very much.

Rudd sees himself as a Shakespearean hero in the assassination of Julia Gillard – “for Gillard is an honourable man” (and “man” here is intentional).  He aroused some feelings of  machismo among his supporters and his party “bounced” in the polls. But that bounce has now withered away and Abbott’s coalition is back in the lead. No real trends are visible yet. Last night there was a pretty tame TV debate. Rudd and Abbott shook hands and came out mewling.  Not much “roar” or “cut and thrust”. Rudd was very cautious and apparently “cheated” and had to make use of “crib-sheets” during the debate. As the SMH put it “More mock and bore than shock and awe, Sunday’s debate was a crushingly dull affair where risk avoidance was the chief aim of both sides.” Tony Abbot got his tongue in a twist and instead of “repository of all wisdom” used the phrase “suppository of all wisdom”! I suppose a suppository – for some – could also be a repository.

As entertainment goes it was not a compelling start. Moscow and Usain Bolt took clear precedence yesterday. But there is still time for the fun and games to get up to speed.

%d bloggers like this: