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February 03rd 2013 print

Peter Smith

Devious, dishonest and, worst of all, incompetent

Australia has seen bad leaders in the past, but never the likes of Julia Gillard. From race riots to government by lie and smear, is there no limit to the depths she is determined to plumb?


An election called for September 14; over eight months away. It is not enough that Ms Gillard has already distinguished herself as the most mendacious and inept prime minister in Australia’s history, leading easily the worst government in Australia’s history, she has to draw attention to the longevity of the whole affair by orchestrating the longest election campaign on record.


You would think her best chance would be to adopt a low profile and try to sneak back in quickly, with the shortest election campaign on record, in the hope that mindful adults wouldn’t notice before it was all over. Not a bit of it. Like all incompetents she has not the least conception of her own inadequacies.

For fun I looked up the longest notice period in history. Unaccountably and indelicately I was directed by Bing, among other things, to the longest fart in history which some singularly informed fellow vouchsafed was 2 minutes and 42 seconds. At first taken aback, I began to understand how apropos it was. This indeed has been a long expulsion of foul air.

No substantive achievement of any kind, which is why the tired old ‘we got through the GFC relatively unscathed’ is regularly trotted out. (That was Hu Jintao and company, Glenn Stevens, and Messrs Howard and Costello, stupid!) Instead we have had job-destroying taxes; wall-to-wall deficits; unfunded pie-in-the-sky promises; our borders left open to anyone with a rickety boat; litanies of lies, deceptions and shemozzles; caterwauling harpies courtesy of juvenile politics brought from the UK and, worst of all, the elevation of the cringe-worthies Messrs Thompson, Slipper, Windsor, and Oakeshott to positions where their views and parliamentary votes matter. When has so much been placed in the hands of so few unconscionable nonentities?

What a legacy! And she wants to inflict more pain on us for the great cause of Julia.

Obviously Abbott will trounce her in the polls provided she is still PM at the time. But then again Obama made it with his past nefarious associations and was re-elected despite an abysmal record. So Gillard probably thinks ‘Why not me?’ This is a new age, one in which callow youths, swathes of mendicants, and vast numbers of people extraordinarily susceptible, or so it seems, to bribery and cant can elect and re-elect complete turkeys.

I suppose we can find similar examples of this in history; the 1930s in Europe, for example, but I don’t know that examples could be found in Australia. It is, I think, new for us and I include Gough Whitlam. In fact, although it is a temptation, it is a gross and unwarranted insult to Whitlam, a man of stature, erudition and charisma, to compare him with Gillard.

Why did she set the election date so far ahead? Presumably it wasn’t to stymie Kevin Rudd. He could still challenge and bring the election date forward as a matter of force majeure. It wasn’t to forestall by-elections in Thompson’s or Slipper’s seats. The court cases will be strung out and could easily be strung out further. It surely wasn’t a clever ploy to flummox Abbott. After all, it’s hard to keep anyone flummoxed for eight months.

There are two possibilities that come to mind. One is that having a date will bring focus to the efforts of the Labor Party and their fellow travellers to register as many know-nothing eighteen-year-old voters as they possibly can. Perhaps, but the answer is probably that there is no explanation; at least none based on the precepts of history and convention.

Australian voters and the parliamentary Labor Party have managed to elevate to the prime ministership someone who is ill-fitted to being prime minister and therefore has not the least idea how to go about it. As a result, what she does surprises and confuses everyone including, I suspect, her own ministers and back benchers now grimly hanging on for the ride, always wondering what she might do next.

Whatever it is, depending on the circumstances and what is convenient, she might or might not lie about it. She will, however, keep smiling because accountability has now become old fashioned and there will be no price to pay. It is “completely untrue” that Bob Carr has been approached about taking on foreign affairs. Oh dear, did I say that? What does it matter in this brave new world of mine? The truth is exactly what I define it to be.

Peter Smith, a frequent Quadrant Online contributor, is the author of Bad Economics

Peter Smith, a frequent Quadrant Online contributor, is the author of Bad Economics