Over the past few days I’ve built up an impressive head of steam. While I was hoping that my local member Kevin Rudd would win the challenge for ALP Leader on Monday, he didn’t, and I’m okay with that. Julia Gillard is an impressive leader and negotiator, and we’ll see soon enough if the polls are wrong and if she can prevail against Toby Abbott.
No, Ruddy’s relegation to the back benches isn’t the reason I’m so annoyed. I’m just appalled by the behaviour of some of our elected officials. I work for an ASX Top 50 company, and if I was to speak about any of my colleagues the way some Labor parliamentarians spoke about Mr Rudd, I’d not only be fired, I’d probably be sued.
Let’s start with Wayne Swan, Deputy PM and Treasurer. Swannie served as Treasurer in the Rudd Government, and as Queenslanders, you might expect a certain cordiality between the two. Ooooh no. You’d be wrong. Wayne Swan left the country in absolutely no doubt about his hatred of Kevin Rudd. His verbal attack was considered, designed to wound. I know I’m not the only Aussie voter who sat in stunned silence as he continued his attack on his own colleague.
"The Party has given Kevin Rudd all the opportunities in the world and he wasted them with his dysfunctional decision making and his deeply demeaning attitude towards other people including our caucus colleagues. He sought to tear down the 2010 campaign, deliberately risking an Abbott Prime Ministership, and now he undermines the Government at every turn."
This is the kind of attack usually reserved for the opposite side of the aisle in the last desperate days before an election. Swan referred to Kevin’s legacy as a mess for Julia Gillard to clean up, and accused him of holding no genuine Labor values.
Perhaps Mr Swan would like to consider whether his words last week are demeaning to his caucus colleague, Kevin Rudd. Pot, meet Kettle.
There have been enough negatives about Mr Rudd’s performance as PM to lend credence to these accounts, yet is that the point? Colleagues excuse each other for badmouthing their former leader by convincing themselves that it’s necessary. Only by sharing their horror stories with the Australian people, could we understand why Rudd was boned in 2010, and why they don’t support a comeback now. The fact remains that senior elected officials in our government stood up and crucified a colleague on national television.
In what world is that acceptable behaviour?
Attorney General Nicola Roxon joined the Gillard-supporters, live on Sky News.
“…he (Rudd) wanted with four days notice on one occasion that I can recollect, to take over the entire health system. Didn’t have any materials for Cabinet, didn’t have legal advice, thought – I think it was on the Wednesday or Thursday – that we could prepare something that he’d take to Cabinet on Monday to announce on Tuesday. Now this is just a ludicrous way to run a Government. We didn’t do that.”
With all due respect, Ms Roxon needs to HTFU. Many of us have had appalling bosses who make ridiculous, impractical and sometimes impossible demands of us. One of the responsibilities of being a grown-up is learning to manage those people and those situations. Another responsibility of being a grown-up is knowing when to keep things private.
Labor’s version of “managing” was to remove Kevin Rudd from power. They had their reasons. Those reasons may have been valid. None of that excuses the hateful remarks I heard from the Deputy PM last week. (Scroll down for the transcript.)
Today I’ve spent some time looking at the ALP’s website, and the APH website, hoping to find some kind of values statement of Code of Conduct for members. Of course there are standards within the house – just remember the former Speaker Harry Jenkins bellowing ORDER for the eleventeenth time this minute, and then ejecting the offending member for an hour or two in the parliamentary sinbin. Not quite what I meant: I’m wondering if there exists anywhere a document that sets out standards of behaviour for MPs or sitting members of the ALP. I couldn’t find one.
Contrast this to my working life: once upon a time I was accused of badmouthing my boss to a new recruit while I was conducting training. I wasn’t guilty of that…but I was guilty of not shutting down a colleague when she did. My colleague would make multiple trips daily to bitch about the boss in the privacy of the training room. I couldn’t disprove the allegations (made by the new recruit, directly to my senior line manager) so I had no defence. I was *this* close to being fired, and was given a written warning. I was very low on the corporate totem pole, but our company values emphasise respect. I went through weeks of hell. Had I been hire up the corporate ladder, or if I'd been bitching in public - or on media - it would have been a career-limiting experience.
Now think about the playground. Do we teach our children to hold grudges, to deny their friends second chances, to throw a tantie in the supermarket if they can’t have a lolly, or to tell tales on their playmates when they fight over who has the shinier Tonka Toy or prettier Cabbage Patch Doll?
In my estimation, that’s about where the ALP sunk to during last week’s leadership challenge. It wouldn't be acceptable in most corporate environments or schoolyards, but it's okay when it's our elected officials?
In the words of that annoying Yellow Pages ad, Not Happy, Jan!
Where is the respect in the ALP? Where is the maturity?
I saw it last weekend, with Anthony Albanese and Mike Kelly. These two gentlemen conducted themselves with grace and dignity in what was a volatile time. Albo was emotional and sincere; Mr Kelly was discreet and dignified.
There is hope for the ALP after the upheaval of last week, but it’s not where you think. Gillard, Swan, Roxon and friends – make way for Anthony Albanese and Mike Kelly. These gentlemen have the best chance yet of restoring our faith in the ALP.
For the record, the newbie in question only lasted a week, quitting after kicking in a toilet door in a fit of some kind, possibly drug related. She was gone before anyone approached me about the allegations. My colleague – the one who had been badmouthing our boss - was terminated a couple of years later for bullying. The boss was made redundant in a restructure a couple of months later.
This month I celebrate 10 years with the company.