Julia Gillard will remain as Australia’s prime minister after winning the resounding backing of her Labor party colleagues in a leadership ballot against Kevin Rudd.
The party room voted 71 to 31 to retain Gillard as leader of the party and therefore the country. It ends a week of vicious bloodletting by Labor parliamentarians, brought to a head with Kevin Rudd’s resignation as foreign minister to mount a challenge.
“This is an absolute massacre,” Michael Glesson, strategist at political lobbying firm Hawker Britton, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Before the vote it was clear that the numbers were hardening against Rudd. He reminded fellow Labor MPs that he was more popular with the public. But, that’s not how you manage leadership in a parliamentary government, dude. He should have known better.
Labor members on all sides upped their calls for unity following the vote. Blah, blah, blah.
Questions over the Labor leadership have dogged the party since Rudd was removed from office in 2010 in an internal party coup. The centre-left Labor party scraped through elections later that year to lead a minority government in a hung parliament. The party’s support has been flat-lining at around 30% of the primary vote for months, though a poll out on Monday did show a slight improvement.
The conservative opposition has again called for an election. They will be ignored. If they had sufficient support they could press a vote for no confidence in parliament. Obviously ain’t about to happen.
This was all happening on a Monday morning in Oz – Sunday evening in the United States. Which happens to be an evening with a certain amount of time parceled out for CNBC Asia and BloombergTV Asia in our household. The network and cable snooze channels are busy, tonight, covering the usual allotment of two or three “news” stories. One will be the Oscars – boring. Another will be the Republican primaries – worse than boring.
Watching business news channels gets us a modicum of realistic news throughout whatever region is being covered – which, on a Sunday night, will be Asia and Oceania.
Even there, Bernie Lo on CNBC was so heartbroken when it was obvious that Gillard would retain her position as PM that he resorted to the questions conservatives have used to whine about parliaments since Cromwell. “Won’t the world worry about Australia having a government that isn’t united?” Conflicts between the rank-and-file and the parliamentary members are common. Bernie knows better.
Cripes. How does the world look at a government like ours – with a stonewall Congress refusing to do any work at all?
Nope. All elections are local is a pretty apt slogan. Folks in Australia will mostly vote in the next national elections for the representatives they believe will do the best job for their locality. A certain portion of that equation will include their feelings about party leadership. But, that ain’t the killer that it can be in the United States where the range of our choices include the resident at 1600 Pensylvania Avenie in DC.
Personally, I’d rather vote for a parliament – one that at least is capable of calling a snap election and allowing us to kick the bums out in 30 days or so.