|Political venting has always had the electorate’s interest – it is a bit like celebrity exposure and when the ‘bad’ happens, the electorate can’t get enough of it. The ex Member for Bennelong – Maxine McKew has released her book – “Tales from the Political Trenches” and its released has been perfectly timed.
‘Fairfax Media’ declined the offer to serialise the publication according to a post by Larry Pickering – yet to the contrary, Fairfax reporter Peter Hatcher is filing stories about extracts from the book. ‘The Australian’ has also been publishing extracts and stories from the book content that have seen MP’s scurrying for cover, many putting up the ‘gone fishing’ sign when journo’s have rang for a comment.
The book is an easy read if you believe in the Rudd demise as being something that should never have happened. McKew was and remains a staunch Rudd supporter and believes that Gillard plotted for months to overthrow Rudd.
The book release has given a lifeline to the ALP Leadership debate and the many ALP supporters who see Gillard as the devil incarnate, and someone who hijacked the PM role for her own political agenda. Grahame Richardson came out and said of the books content that – ‘it was all fiction, and that Gillard only knew of the plot the day before Rudd was knifed.’
One has to realise a reality when reading Richardson’s take – by the way he did not hang up the ‘gone fishing’ sign – Richardson’s days as a fearful ALP powerbroker are long gone, and if he has trouble with understanding that he might be ‘out of the loop’ – then his political comments will continue to be ‘words on the breeze’ as they might say … he is a media player these days and his once renown political wisdom and knowledge of all things ALP is now a distant memory. Move over Richo – you made your bed now deal with it … anyone from the ALP trenches who comes to you with a so called ‘scoop’ should remonstrate how low on the totem pole you now reside.
‘The Australian’ journalist’s are all having a crack and penning their own take on the McKew viewpoint – and it makes a good read. This long in the making stand-off is shaping up as a media war – the ‘ABC’ and ‘Fairfax Media’ in the PM’s corner, ‘News Ltd’ in the other …
Whatever the prize is can be anyone’s guess – surely it can’t be as simple as who either side want to lead this Nation … Gillard or Abbott – that would seem a fight that nobody would want to win because the Nation will be the loser.
I confess that the night McKew rolled John Howard was a night I will long remember – it was probable McKew’s biggest night ever and as such the ALP should have treated her with ‘rock star’ status and someone destined for high office. Instead and from the tone of the book – the then Deputy PM Julia Gillard seemed to want to keep McKew at arms length, and from McKew’s perspective as outlined in her book – her insight into Gillard’s motives paint a picture about Gillard that many of us have known for a very long time.
To read some of ‘The Australian’s’ journalist’s slant on the McKew release, some stories published in today’s and yesterday’s paper appear below:
This first story was published yesterday …
Julia Gillard baulked at ETS ‘poison’ in climate showdown with Kevin Rudd
| Author: PATRICIA KARVELAS and EWIN HANNAN | Date: 25th Oct 2012 | Link to On-Line Story. |
JULIA Gillard warned Kevin Rudd in writing that under no circumstances would she support taking an emissions trading scheme, which insiders say she thought had become electoral poison, to the 2010 election.
In Tales from the Political Trenches, former Labor MP Maxine McKew says Ms Gillard met Mr Rudd at Kirribilli House, where the then deputy prime minister cited Nationals senator Barnaby Joyce’s campaign against the ETS, which the prime minister then dumped in April 2010.
“On one occasion, she sent a written message to Rudd that went to the absolutism of her position: she would have nothing to do with an election campaign that re-argued the case for an ETS,” McKew writes in the book to be released next week.
McKew for the first time names one of Ms Gillard’s closest friends and allies, Small Business Minister Brendan O’Connor, as one of the key spruikers of research designed to undermine Mr Rudd. Former attorney-general and Rudd backer Robert McClelland says he was shown the research by Mr O’Connor the week before the coup was launched to roll Mr Rudd on June 23, 2010.
“It was research that showed a perception word identification graph as to how Julia was seen by voters. The words were in capitals. She was seen in concepts such as ‘trustworthy’ and ‘visionary’ . . . By contrast, Kevin was portrayed as ‘not of the people’,” Mr McClelland says.
Last night Mr O’Connor denied the claim. “If Maxine had asked me if Robert’s assertion was true, I would have said no because it’s not,” he said.
Labor elder John Faulkner tells McKew that polling was being used to undermine Mr Rudd before the coup in an act of “sheer bastardry”. “For a party official to use party research to undermine a serving Labor prime minister – or any party leader for that matter – is quite improper and should never, never be tolerated,” Senator Faulkner says.
“Unfortunately, this is just what happened in 2010. I am aware of caucus colleagues who were shown or handed research. I consider this was just sheer bastardry.”
McKew recalls a conversation with Ms Gillard after their appointments as education minister and parliamentary secretary for early childhood education and childcare after the 2007 election.
“There was only time for a functional chat about immediate tasks before she ended with a lighthearted crack about the fact that two childless women were now the policy guardians of Australia’s children,” McKew writes. “Not something that had even crossed my mind, but perhaps Gillard was still thinking about Liberal senator Bill Heffernan’s tasteless remark about her being ‘deliberately barren’.”
McKew alleges that Ms Gillard and her supporters manufactured a leadership crisis to become prime minister. “Equally, I do not believe that Gillard can be seen as a passive player. She was impatient for the prime ministership and allowed others to create a sense of crisis around Rudd’s leadership,” she writes.
“She then cut down a prime minister in his first term and tried to pretend it was in the national interest to do so. Since then, she has been the architect of her own misfortune. The struggles she has had since the disastrous election campaign . . . can be traced back to the early months of 2010.”
Ms Gillard has always argued her decision to challenge Mr Rudd was made only on the day after it was reported his chief-of-staff, Alister Jordan, was sounding out MPs on the leadership, showing he did not trust her.
McKew – who won Bennelong from John Howard in 2007 but lost the northern Sydney seat in 2010 – says while Labor’s “working families” slogan was suitable for the 2007 campaign it “should never have carried into government”.
“We bored the country witless with the repetition,” she says.
She says Mr Rudd was “culpable as well” in his demise. “Where he needed to charm, he scolded. Instead of cultivating loyalists among backbenchers, too often he ignored them. He is a leader who makes few allowances for people who don’t share his own obsessions or can’t work to his timetable.”
Ms Gillard wanted the ETS “junked and from the beginning of 2010 never let up in putting forward this point”. Gillard told ministers that “she thought the government should drop the whole idea of an ETS because it had become electoral poison”.
She names Left ministers Kim Carr and Senator Faulkner as disagreeing with Ms Gillard and advocating that the case for an ETS should be argued out in a double-dissolution election.
McKew writes that Ms Gillard met Mr Rudd at Kirribilli House in early January 2010.
“Gillard had a blunt message for her Prime Minister,” she writes. “She told Rudd that under no circumstances would she support the case for an election based on the need for action on climate change.
McKew ‘credible’ on rolling of Rudd
| Author: Lanai Vasek | Date: 26th Oct 2012 | Link to On-Line Story. |
MAXINE McKew’s book about the 2010 leadership coup against Kevin Rudd should be believed because she is a well respected figure with a “certain credibility”, Tony Abbott says.
The Opposition Leader today said claims in Ms McKew’s soon to be released book ‘Tales from the Political Trenches’ that Ms Gillard had been planning to oust Mr Rudd for months before her eventual challenge showed the Prime Minister was untrustworthy.
“Maxine McKew obviously feels dudded by Julia Gillard, Kevin Rudd obviously feels dudded by Julia Gillard and I think the Australian people are entitled to feel dudded by this Prime Minister,” Mr Abbott told the Nine Network.
“I think what Maxine McKew is saying is that you just can’t trust this Prime Minister.
“I think Maxine McKew does have a certain credibility. I mean this isn’t Tony Abbott saying you can’t trust Julia Gillard, this is a staunch Labor person saying you can’t trust this Prime Minister.”
In excerpts from Ms McKew’s book, obtained by The Australian, the former MP says both frontbencher Anthony Albanese and Mr Rudd’s chief of staff Alister Jordan came to the conclusion the night before the leadership changed that “Rudd was the victim of an ambush that had been months in the planning”.
Mr Albanese warned Mr Rudd prior to the challenge that he should “watch his back”, Ms McKew writes.
Ms McKew was elected in John Howard’s former northern Sydney seat of Bennelong in 2007, but lost at the 2010 election.
Former Labor powerbroker Graham Richardson said it was “simply not true” that Ms Gillard had been planning a leadership coup in the months before Kevin Rudd’s departure.
“She decided to challenge about one day before it was announced,” Mr Richardson told Sky News.
“That’s why I don’t accept what is in this book.
“The fundamental allegation that she was part of a conspiracy is simply not true.”
Mr Richardson said it was unlikely that another leadership challenge to Ms Gillard would be mounted by Mr Rudd this year, despite Ms McKew’s explosive book being released ahead of the “killing zone” of the last parliamentary sitting week of the year.
“If there is going to be a leadership change would be in the new year,” he said.
“I can’t see anything happening this year.”
Rudd ‘sold a pup’ on Swan’s RSPT delivery
| Author: Ewin Hannan | Date: 26th Oct 2012 | Link to On-Line Story. |
WAYNE Swan failed to deliver on key conditions laid down by Kevin Rudd for implementing the mining tax, resulting in the former prime minister concluding that he had been “sold a pup”.
In Tales from the Political Trenches, former Labor MP Maxine McKew details the Treasurer’s “flawed execution” of the resource super-profits tax, describing Mr Rudd as “more sinned against than sinner”.
According to Ms McKew, Mr Rudd had been explicit with Mr Swan in November 2009 when he was first briefed about Ken Henry’s tax reform recommendations.
“Rudd, still juggling election options and with major outstanding policy work to be resolved around both the ETS and health reform, didn’t want a contentious debate on yet another front,” she writes in the book to be released next week.
“He laid down some key conditions for his Treasurer. Rudd told Swan he needed to secure the support of at least one of the major industry players and that he needed to have the states on side.”
Ms McKew writes that Mr Rudd “trusted his Treasurer” but was stunned when West Australian Premier Colin Barnett told him at a COAG meeting in April 2010 that the tax was a dead duck.
Having assumed the states were on board, a “frustrated” Mr Rudd asked his department head, Terry Moran, to fly to Perth and meet with Mr Barnett but attempts at a compromise failed.
“Come budget week, it was clear there was tension between Rudd and his Treasurer,” Ms McKew writes.
“Swan had not delivered and Rudd had come to believe that he had been sold a pup. Rudd certainly had a right to expect that, when it came to changing the taxation arrangements of an industry that actually stirs more patriotism than resentment, his Treasurer was up to the job — that he would be across the complexity and take the time to build confidence in the sector around the government’s objectives.”
Ms McKew accuses Mr Swan of failing to adequately harness the combined expertise of Craig Emerson, Resources Minister Martin Ferguson and Gary Gray.
She says Dr Emerson, who she notes wrote an entire doctoral thesis on the taxation of petroleum resources “constantly tried to buy into discussions but was blocked”.
Throughout April 2010, Ms McKew writes, Mr Ferguson kept operating on the basis there would be a long period of consultation with the miners and a full cabinet expenditure review committee process.
“But he was in for a shock. Three days before the 2 May announcement, Ferguson received his first full Treasury briefing, and for him, it raised more questions than answers.
“Ferguson pressed Treasury officials on the question of state royalties, but he was told that, ‘everything would be sorted out later’ — and besides, the proposal was already with the printers.”
Ms McKew says that Mr Gray, despite being familiar with the key industry players and sensitive to the politics of the west, was also “kept at arm’s length”.
Ms McKew writes that Mr Rudd stopped believing the reassurances he was getting from Mr Swan and knowing he had a potential catastrophe on his hands, called in Mr Ferguson and told him to sort things out with the miners.
Mr Ferguson remained confident that he could reach a deal with one of the major companies, or a second-tier player like Fortescue, but then Mr Rudd received a call from BHP Billiton chief Marius Kloppers to “say all bets were off”.
“Kloppers explained that BHP Billiton’s chairman, Jac Nasser, wanted negotiations with the government to cease,” Ms McKew writes.
“No explanation was offered, but it was the clearest possible signal to Rudd that Australia’s most prestigious company had its eyes fixed firmly on the emerging leadership tensions.
“On 23 June, Swan, having never offered any explanation for the flawed execution of the RSPT, told Rudd that he was ‘voting for change’.
The next day, 24 June, and within hours of Gillard taking over as prime minister, BHP Billiton announced that it would immediately suspend the company’s anti-government advertising campaign and begin ‘to properly engage on all aspects of the tax’.
It remains an open question to this day how this ‘truce’ was brokered so quickly and so decisively.”
Anthony Albanese warned Kevin Rudd to ‘watch his back’
| Author: Patricia Karvelas | Date: 26th Oct 2012 | Link to On-Line Story. |
LABOR frontbencher Anthony Albanese warned Kevin Rudd to “watch his back” in May 2010, after realising six months earlier that Julia Gillard was going for the leadership when she intervened in a NSW preselection brawl.
In Tales from the Political Trenches, former Labor MP Maxine McKew says both Mr Albanese and Mr Rudd’s chief of staff Alister Jordan came to the conclusion the night before the leadership changed that “Rudd was the victim of an ambush that had been months in the planning”.
“Albanese had also warned Rudd back in May, when the budget was being presented, to watch his back,” McKew writes. “Albo’s antennae had been twitching for months, ever since he’d watched Gillard’s cross-border intervention in the NSW preselections the previous November.”
Referring to a call from Mr Jordan and Mr Albanese the night before the June caucus meeting at which the leadership changed, McKew writes: “Both sounded despondent after a night of phoning on behalf of Rudd. From what they said, it seemed clear that the fix was in.”
She writes that Mr Albanese told Ms Gillard, “Look, you’re already seen as the heir apparent, you don’t need your henchmen around here” after she intervened to keep her friend Laurie Ferguson in parliament and oust another sitting member.
McKew also reveals that the Prime Minister prepared a paper for the “gang of four”, the Strategic Priorities and Budget Committee, and this recommended that the government not advocate an emissions trading scheme in the “absence of bipartisan support”.
And in a stinging criticism of Ms Gillard’s time as leader, McKew, who lost her northern Sydney seat of Bennelong at the 2010 election, accuses the Prime Minister of using a “dog whistle” to appeal to voters concerned about immigration in the seat of Lindsay in the city’s west.
McKew says that, in trying to overturn Mr Rudd’s call for a big Australia, “Gillard’s strategy seemed clear enough. She was substituting policy for a dog-whistle slogan. ‘Where will we all fit?’ It came across as a personal insult.
“We are now at a point where Labor’s attitudes to immigration and the confusion and lack of perspective we’ve developed about unauthorised boat arrivals are costing us in multiple ways.”
In her book, McKew interviews Paul Keating and asks him if Labor could have “regained the moral high ground and altered the national conversation” on refugees. The former Labor prime minister replies, “It’s the job of leaders to protect the country from its prejudice” in a veiled criticism of Ms Gillard.
“And the great mistake that Labor made was to effectively join with the Tories in making the phony distinctions between the civic community and the human community,” Mr Keating says.
McKew accuses Ms Gillard of playing “divide and rule” on refugees and says Labor’s rhetoric shows the “Howard years are still with us”.
She writes that cabinet minister Robert McClelland also believes Ms Gillard had planned all along to take over from Mr Rudd in the second term, but with momentum moving away from the government “she decided it was time to hit the accelerator”.
Mr McClelland is damning about Ms Gillard’s leadership, claiming that under her “people have stopped listening”.
McKew quotes Mr Rudd saying that he had made clear to Ms Gillard that he was prepared to hand the leadership to her.
“I also said to her in my office in early 2010 that I had no intention of breaking the record book for being the longest-serving Labor prime minister and that my ambition was to have a seamless transition to her,” Mr Rudd says.
“But the core point was this: at no stage did either Julia or Wayne say to me that, unless I undertook change x, y or z, there would be a challenge to my leadership, let alone that they would be party to such a challenge.”
McKew conveys the tensions she had with Ms Gillard, bluntly claiming that “behind the scenes, I never shook the feeling that Gillard saw me as an irritant”.
Referring to a phone call she received from an insider, she writes: “He reminded me of Gillard’s lack of generosity towards me; more than that, her pattern of condescension and the way her office had locked me out of some important policy development.
“Gillard may have had the words ‘social inclusion’ in her title but the concept never seemed to extend to me.
“The photos of the country’s first female prime minister standing beside Governor-General Quentin Bryce . . . suggested a new era of girl power and a fresh beginning. But it was a deceptive image.”
She writes that Ms Gillard’s comment of “game on” to Tony Abbott in her first question time as Prime Minister was a “shallow quip” more suited to the soccer field.
“It was the scene-setter for the crass 2010 election campaign that became the ‘contest of fears’.”
On union influence, she attacks Australian Workers Union boss Paul Howes and implies a conspiracy by his use of language similar to Ms Gillard to justify toppling Mr Rudd.
Wayne Swan MRRT assurance set miners off
| Author: Dennis Shanahan, Political editor | Date: 26th Oct 2012 | Link to On-Line Story. |
THE ferocious miners’ campaign that led to Kevin Rudd’s removal as prime minister was a direct result of an assurance Wayne Swan gave Rio Tinto that the resource super-profits tax had not been settled — four days before he announced a final version of it.
At a Canberra meeting in late April 2010 – six weeks before Julia Gillard replaced Mr Rudd and Mr Swan became Deputy Prime Minister – the Treasurer told Rio Tinto managing director David Peever the proceeds from the new tax would not be included in the May budget.
“After this meeting Rio and BHP believed the new tax hadn’t been finalised,” one mining executive said yesterday.
The Australian can reveal that Mr Peever’s acceptance of an assurance at that meeting that there would be further consultation was why the mining industry believed later that it had been betrayed and misled.
The miners’ revolt over the RSPT, which was unveiled in detail on May 2 and included in the budget on May 10, finished Mr Rudd’s leadership.
For months before, the mining industry had been complaining about a lack of consultation as the Treasurer developed a tax that been recommended in the Henry tax review.
Resources Minister Martin Ferguson reassured the miners there would be room for negotiations before the tax was finalised. The miners also believed Mr Swan’s assurance that the revenue would not be “booked” into the 2010 budget and that this meant the rate of the tax – 40 per cent – had not been settled.
In Tales from the Political Trenches, former Labor MP Maxine McKew describes the Treasurer’s “flawed execution” of the RSPT and says Mr Rudd was “more sinned against than sinner”. The staunch Rudd supporter, who lost her seat of Bennelong in 2010 after defeating John Howard in 2007, says the biggest miners, BHP Billiton, Xstrata and Rio Tinto, “all felt blindsided by an uncompromising Treasurer”.
The former parliamentary secretary said the miners “felt they’d been completely dudded” and their $17 million advertising campaign was a “dramatic backdrop to Rudd’s removal as prime minister”.
A spokesman for the Treasurer said last night: “(Mr Swan) has dealt with these erroneous claims before and doesn’t intend to repeat himself over and over again.”
Last year, Mr Swan denied misleading the companies and his colleagues over the RSPT, saying any contrary recollections must be based on “a misunderstanding of our intentions”.
The Treasurer told The Australian: “This was a bruising debate and it comes as no surprise to see all kinds of claims and counter-claims being made about it with the benefit of hindsight.”
A senior cabinet source also told The Australian last year that the agreement before the RSPT was announced was that “there wouldn’t be any numbers or forward estimates in the tax plan”.
Yesterday, The Australian was told notes from the April 2010 meeting showed that Mr Peever asked Mr Swan if the revenue would be included in the tax plan and budget in May and the Treasurer responded that it wouldn’t be and “the details still have to be worked out”.
Mr Peever then believed, and told other mining executives, that there was time for more negotiation on the tax formula.
Rio Tinto declined to comment yesterday.
Mr Swan yesterday defended the design of the minerals resource rent tax, which he and the Prime Minister negotiated with the big three miners after Mr Rudd’s removal.
The Australian revealed yesterday that BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Xstrata, responsible for more than 90 per cent of the tax, had paid no tax when the first instalment fell due on Monday.
Mr Swan said: “The design of a resource rent tax is such that it delivers the revenue when profits are high and in the case of commodities where prices are high and of course when they go down, it doesn’t necessarily deliver the same amount of money.”
And to cap off the day’s round of stories on this subject, and as published in the Brisbane edition of the ‘National Times’ – a Fairfax Media publication, the following story was published – please use the link to visit the website and hear the video report on Gillard’s role in the Rudd plot …
Gillard ‘in plot before Rudd coup’
| Author: Peter Hartcher | Date: 26th Oct 2012 | Link to On-Line Story. |
JULIA Gillard was involved in the “conspiracy” to topple Kevin Rudd as prime minister days before the coup, according to new claims that contradict her own account.
In a new book, former Labor MP Maxine McKew calls Ms Gillard a “disloyal deputy” who was directly undermining her leader in the days before she challenged him. Ms Gillard has always maintained she was loyal to the then prime minister until the day she challenged him.
But Ms McKew writes that the then deputy prime minister showed internal Labor research critical of Mr Rudd to a senior member of the caucus in the days before the challenge. This Labor member believes that his encounter with Ms Gillard was part of a “conspiracy against Rudd”, Ms McKew says.
The Labor member is not named in the book. Ms McKew told The Age she had interviewed the MP several times but she had promised to protect his identity. Asked whether she found him credible, she replied “absolutely”.
This senior government MP “has a very precise recollection”, she writes in the book, Tales from the Political Trenches, to be published on Monday.
“This individual was in the deputy prime minister’s office in the days prior to the coup,” she says.
“Gillard produced the UMR documents, by now two weeks old” – a reference to internal Labor Party research on the electoral standing of Mr Rudd and Ms Gillard – “and went through the detail and emphasised Rudd’s deficits.”
This suggests that Ms Gillard was undermining her prime minister, using the same internal research that was used by the so-called “faceless men” to marshal caucus support for a challenge, before the day she confronted Mr Rudd.
Yet Ms Gillard has always insisted that “I made up my mind on the day”. She told a press conference in Canberra on February 12: “I made my decision to ask Kevin Rudd for a leadership ballot on the day that I spoke to him and asked him for that leadership ballot.
“When people had sought to raise the matter with me earlier I had declined to have the conversation with them, and no amount of speculation here or media interest will change that simple fact that I made up my mind on the day that I asked Kevin Rudd for a ballot.”
When asked by the ABC’s Four Corners in February whether she had seen the internal research being used to undermine Mr Rudd, Ms Gillard said she had no “specific recall”.
The program disclosed that two weeks before the coup Ms Gillard’s staff had drafted an acceptance speech for her for the occasion of winning the prime ministership.
Asked about this, Ms Gillard said that staff commonly prepared for contingencies but that there were two key points: “Number one, I didn’t direct anybody to write a speech for me, and, number two, I made up my mind on the day.”
Ms McKew finds this incredible. “Come again?” she writes. “Gillard exercises top-down control over her office. Her forensic attention to detail sets her apart and her careful planning of every career move is legendary.
“I remembered some of my own experiences working to her office. A speech I’d prepared for a Sydney Institute presentation in 2009 was vetted and parsed by three separate Gillard staffers before I was ‘allowed’ to deliver it. Nothing happened without Gillard’s say-so.”
Ms McKew writes that the then Labor secretary, Karl Bitar, had to take responsibility for commissioning the internal research used against Mr Rudd. Mr Bitar is now a lobbyist for James Packer’s Crown Casino.
She reports interviewing Labor senator and party elder John Faulkner on the subject. Senator Faulkner said: “For a party official to use party research to undermine a serving Labor prime minister … is quite improper and should never, never be tolerated … I am aware of caucus colleagues who were shown or handed research. I consider this was just sheer bastardry.”
Meanwhile, cabinet minister Brendan O’Connor said yesterday a claim in Ms McKew’s book that he was one of the people who distributed to caucus members research favourable to Ms Gillard before her overthrow of Mr Rudd was untrue.
Ms McKew was an ABC journalist before winning the seat of Bennelong for Labor at the 2007 election, defeating John Howard. She lost the seat at the 2010 election.
Tales from the Political Trenches is published by Melbourne University Press. Extracts will appear in Good Weekend tomorrow.
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