ALMOST TWO YEARS after Julia Gillard took over the labor party’s leadership from Kevin Rudd and thus became Australia’s first female Prime Minister, the Australian public have once again become swamped with schoolyard drama in light of Rudd’s resignation as Foreign Minister and inevitable challenge of Gillard in Monday’s Labor leadership ballot.
Prior to Gillard’s axing of Rudd in June 2010, the last time there was a leadership change without the public’s consent was December 1991 when Paul Keating took over from Australia’s longest serving Labor PM Bob Hawke, sparking quiet murmurs of Australia’s political system, ultimately leading to the 1999 republican election.
Now that another in-party leadership squabble continues, if Rudd once again takes over as Prime Minister, the public’s view on a republic whereby they can elect their own leader, may grow in strength leading up towards the next election.
Republicanism aside, the labor party in the current system have indeed been cunning in the way they have managed to keep support in their party through their simple changes of face. The 2007 election was an onslaught, brought about through the public’s tiredness in a beaten out Coalition leadership with the desperate demand for change, and Rudd as a bright new face to provide it.
Gillard’s then leadership takeover just months before the 2010 election was another cunning change of face by the labor party, which hid many of the broken promises Rudd had failed in throughout his three year reign as PM. Although many of the public didn’t forget Labors problems, as seen by the mass swing of seats towards the coalition creating the first hung parliament since 1940, there was still enough in the new face of Gillard, to shift anti-Rudd voters, to still vote for the labor party, eventually giving them the balance of power.
Now with the next election being only a little over a year away, and Gillard’s reign in the top job receiving a lot of negative criticism as well as Nielson opinion polls rocketing towards opposition leader Tony Abbott’s favor, a switch back in leadership to Kevin Rudd could very well once again be the saviour for the Labor party.
This change of face has been a cunning tactic by the party, used in the past with the change to Keating to keep Labor in power in the 1991 election. Worse so, the current leadership drama has been played out for all the public to see, questioning whether each leadership squabble has been a kind of conspiracy to keep labor in power as opposed to electing the best leader for the job.
Either way, whether Rudd comes back, or Gillard manages to stay on to the next election, this schoolyard fight has definitely not gone unnoticed in the public’s eyes and whether they have lost faith in the Labor party or not, the question of Australia as a republic will be sure to pop up more frequently in the near future.