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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Rise and Rise of Kevin Rudd

Nicholson's cartoon from The Australian

I'll still keep the blog going and will strive to keep it interesting.

The polls tell us that Kevin Rudd is one of our most popular politicians ever. How come?

To try and figure out how this enigmatic man ticks, Carmel Egan wrote an article in the Age in on 3rd December 2006 entitled "Twenty things you should know about Kevin Rudd" which I found rather insightful.

1. A Virgo, Kevin was born on 21st September 1957 in Queensland.

2. The youngest of four children, he spent his childhood on a dairy farm at Eumundi on the Sunshine hinterland, behind Noosa Heads.

3. Six weeks after treatment for injuries received in a car accident, Bert, Kevin's father, died of cepticemia infection contracted in hospital. Rudd was 11 years old. His mother Margaret was evicted from the farm and the family, while searching for a home, slept in a car before finding temporary accommodation.

4. School began at Eumundi primary but after his father's death, he spent two years boarding at the Marist Brothers College at Ashgrove, Brisbane. He later went to Nambour High School.

5. Fellow Federal Labour MP Wayne Swan was two years ahead of Rudd at Nambour High School and one of the cool kids and school captain. Rudd graduated as Dux of the school in 1974. They are not friends.

6. A love affair with all things Chinese started when he was 10 when his mother gave him a book on ancient civilizations. After high school Rudd hitch-hiked down the east coast and eventually reached Canberra and enrolled at the Australian National University and studied Chinese language and hisitory. He is fluent in Mandarin and was posted to Beijing as a junior diplomat during his time with the Department of Foreign Affairs and trade in the mid 1980's.

7. Rudd is Catholic, his entrepreneurial wife, Therese Rein is Anglcan. He is chairman of the ALP's Caucus Committee on Faith, Values and Politics.

8. The couple has three children, Jessica, Nicholas, and Marcus.

9. He became Chief of Staff to Queensland's Opposition Leader Wayne Goss in 1988 and helped guide the ALP to government after decades in the wilderness during the Joh Bjelke-Petersen years.

10. He earned his first political nick-name Doctor Death, after cutting back and restructuring the Queensland Public Service when head of Wayne Goss' Office of Cabinet.

11. His first tilt at federal politics failed when he lost a bid for the Brisbane seat of Griffith in the 1996 election that wiped out Paul Keating.

12. Between elections, he ran his own business as a Chinese consultant to Australian businesses.

13. Finally won Griffith with a 2 per cent swing away from the sitting Liberal in 1988. He has increased his majority at every election.

14. Other nick-names include God Botherer, Pixie, the Professor of Foreign Policy, Harry Potter and Heavy Kevvie.

15. Describes himself as "A very determined bastard".

16. Rudd has made plenty of enemies in federal politics. He used his maiden speech to accuse Foreign Minister Alexander Downer of lacking leadership only to find himself cold-shouldered by the minister in the parliamentary corridors and dropped from the diplomatic invitation list.

17. His most bitter enemy was Mark Latham. Their dislike of eachother began in Rudd's first year in Parliament when he defended the Labor Party again criticism by Latham that it lacked policy and was intellectually bereft.

18. There are 37 references to Rudd in The Latham Diaries published after his Labor leadership imploded in 2005. He said Rudd was a snake, a traitor and a "terrible piece of work". Rudd accused Latham of mocking him for weeping over his mother's death prior to the 2004 election.

19. Bespectacled and intellectual, Rudd does not come across as a typical Queenslander but he does wear RM Williams boots, "Always have done" he says.

20. His parliamentary opponents believe they have already identified Rudd's weak spot - a glass jaw.

I believe there are two Kevin Rudds, the smiling, charming face for the camera and the impatient, up-tight man with a foul temper. I think you can judge a man well by how he treats his employees and it seems he has a high turnover of staff, definitely not a good sign, and making a young woman cry for whatever reason, is beyond contempt and speaks volumes about his character. But he has some very good speech writers, or maybe he even wrote this himself when he said on the 26th July 2009:

"So my fellow Australians, politics in the twenty-first century has attained a level of sophistication that could only be dreamed of by Machiavelli.

With very few exceptions, where they should be the best of us, our political leaders, elected or unelected, are in fact the worst of us: they are base and ignorant, insincere, arrogant and conniving, simply liars, cheats and thugs. The political process is both corrupt and corrupting - to attain and maintain a position of power, that is the only goal. And whilst this is the over-riding objective of all political activity, to be able to control, dominate, exploit, to desire this, to perpetuate it, then we the people, remain slaves and fools."

After the disasterous outcome at Copenhagen, he must be feeling quite frustrated but he could still come out a winner. There is a slim chance he could still get a worthwhile agreement together to take to Copenhagen but he's going to have trouble convincing the Australian people they need an extra tax to pay for global warming. If he can do it and his popularity stays with him, he could easily win again next year. He's now at the edge of the abyss, will he fall in?

That's why politics is so interesting, you never know what's going to happen next.