Sunday, November 7, 2010

Guess Who Came to Dinner?

In spruiking his new book, Confessions of a Faceless Man, on the coup which replaced Prime Minister Kevin Rudd with Julia Gillard, union heavy and Zionist hottie Paul Howes writes:

"The problems within the [Rudd] government... are now widely known. Ministers were not encouraged to debate ideas and Cabinet became a rubber-stamping committee. Those who did try to talk to the prime minister about the problems facing the government were so brutalised by their experiences that many never tried it again. Some cabinet ministers couldn't get a meeting with Rudd at all. Departmental secretaries were left waiting hours and hours for meetings, only to be told to come back the next day, when the charade would be repeated. I experienced this sort of treatment first hand, so I knew the increasing complaints from within the government were justified... The party became increasingly closed, and those within the wider labour movement who spoke out or disagreed on policy issues were marginalised and shut up. That culture needed to end. And that's at least partly why Julia Gillard became the leader of the parliamentary Labor party, and the Prime Minister. I believe that, as Prime Minister, Gillard is keen to ensure that debate is had and ideas are generated... that supporters of the party should be able to make their voices heard without the fear of appearing disloyal. After all, that's democracy... It seems to me that because the election had to be held so soon after the change of leadership, there was no opportunity to properly explain to the Australian people what exactly had gone wrong with the Rudd government. It's time now to confront the elephant in the room." (The elephant in the room, Paul Howes, The Sunday Telegraph, 7/11/10)

So cabinet ministers couldn't get a look in with Rudd, and parliamentary secretaries were kept dangling. The nerve of the man! Why, even His Highness, Paul Howes, got his knuckles rapped! And that, he says, was the elephant in the room.

But that wasn't the elephant in the room. This was the elephant in the room:

Some folk had no trouble getting to see Rudd. In fact, he not only invited them but wined and dined them as well: "When Kevin Rudd sat down to dinner in the Lodge with six leaders of the Jewish community this month several remarked at the trouble he'd taken: the PM had ordered kosher food, flown from Melbourne, for the event. It was a nice touch, but not enough. Rudd convened the dinner as a reconciliation with Australia's Jewry. He was the first prime minister to invite the Jewish leadership to address a crisis in relations since Malcolm Fraser after the outbreak of the first Lebanon War in 1982. But it was going to take a lot more than a kosher dinner to alay the anxiety, anger and frustration around the Lodge dining table... (What am I, chopped liver? How Rudd dived into schmooze mode, Peter Hartcher, Sydney Morning Herald, 22/6/10) You can read the rest of Hartcher's account in my 22/6/10 post The Best Israel Policy Money Can Buy.

As for those [Laborites] who spoke out or disagreed on policy issues being marginalised and shut up, that wouldn't happen under Prime Minister Howes, now would it?

Well, yes it would. Take the courageous (and sadly the only) Labor dissent from the party line on the Middle East conflict by former Labor MP Julia Irwin. Hypocrite Howes condemned that out of hand as "a dangerous contribution to the foreign policy debate." (No hope of a fond farewell, Paul Howes, The Australian, 16/9/09)

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