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Labor's Rudd conundrum

By Arthur Thomas - posted Friday, 3 September 2010

The Labor Party threw its full support behind the rhetoric and promises of Kevin Rudd during his successful election campaign.

It was eager to ride on the popularity of the rhetoric and election promises - in which Kevin Rudd promised everything to all, in a vast array of spending, from an emerging economic powerhouse that would lead the world in environmental innovation, and solve the challenge of climate change.

Rudd's previous experience in China and his command of Mandarin promised a growing bond between resource rich Australia and the world's newest resource consumer and emerging steel giant.


Australian and Chinese media highlighted the strengthening relationship and meetings between Kevin 07 and China's leadership heavyweights.

The only blip on the otherwise rosy horizon was Copenhagen and China's uncompromising stand on emissions and an “unfriendly” outburst from its close “friend”.

A matter of face

Rudd wasn't the only one to lose his way.

Labor's panic about losing popularity and its priority to retain power surfaced spectacularly with the hastily and inept political assassination of Kevin Rudd triggering an unexpected reaction against the Labor Party across the board.

The public execution and humiliation was headline news for the global media. The Prime Minister of Australia had lost his way and also lost the support of his Party necessitating his removal from office.

Once Julia Gillard called the election and the reaction to Rudd's sacking caused a backlash in Queensland, Labor's leadership panicked again, and sought Rudd's personal support for Labor to retain power. Gillard offered a senior ministerial post to Rudd in a Gillard Government post election.


Ineptitude and panic appears to be a fundamental part of Labor's DNA.

Labor has consistently hammered home the fact that Australia is part of the Asia Pacific economic region and that China is Australia's major trading partner. Rudd's experience in China and mastery of the Chinese language made him the obvious choice as Prime Minister to strengthen friendship and forge new alliances, and increase trade with China.

China is a country where face is paramount. Leaders are protected from public criticism or retribution regardless of their failures since it reflects on the leadership responsible for his appointment. "Retirement" due to failing health or a "quiet removal" from office and public life with respect and excuses is the Chinese way under such circumstances.

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About the Author

Arthur Thomas is retired. He has extensive experience in the old Soviet, the new Russia, China, Central Asia and South East Asia.

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