She’s a witch. Burn her.
And so Julia Gillard was burned. Not because she turned anyone into a newt. But because Kevin Rudd refused to go away. Like a little bush fly, he was persistent, crawling into every open opportunity.
It proved to be a masterful strategy.
Or, as I have written before, like the Chucky doll in the schlock horror movie Child’s Play, Rudd proved to be her friend to the end.
The ultimate irony is that there is no doubt Gillard will stay true to her word to bow out from politics, giving her nemesis Rudd the gift of clear air that she never received.
And so the natural order is restored. Bloke v bloke.
The day began with rumours that Rudd backers were gathering the requisite petition of 35 signatures. Increased discipline amongst the Rudd camp forced the issue, though no one even sighted a petition. At 4pm, the prime minister appeared on Sky News to announce the spill.
“We cannot have the Government or the Labor Party go to the next election with a person leading the Labor Party and a person floating around as the potential alternate leader.
“In those circumstances I believe anybody who enters the ballot tonight should do it on the following conditions: that if you win, you’re Labor leader; that if you lose, you retire from politics.”
Within the hour, Rudd announced his candidature.
“I believe with all my heart that I should offer the Australian people a viable alternative… it’s time for national economic leadership”.
In the end, the final nail was hammered in by her Workplace Minister, Bill Shorten, the face-full man who organized her elevation to become the first female prime minister in the first place.
The influential former Australian Workers Union boss, Shorten wields seven votes of the 101 votes but is seen as a future leader.
He told a pre-caucus press conference he was fully behind the once-in-a-generation reforms delivered in a hung Parliament under a Gillard Government, such as the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the Gonski school reforms and superannuation changes.
But here’s the rub.
“I believe Tony Abbott and his conservative Coalition represents a once in a generation risk to the advancement of his nation and its peoples.
“I have carefully considered my position I have now come to the view that Labor stands the best chance of defending this term of Government and to continue improving the lives of millions of Australians if Kevin Rudd is our leader.”
It was the polls that fed the Rudd monster – the same polls that slew the beast in the beginning. And to be fair, apparently a fair portion of the Australian voting public could not stomach her.
We know it wasn’t Gillard’s policies. Gonski, NDIS and the National Broadband Network proved so popular that the concepts forced the Coalition to develop two out of three policies to neutralize them.
I believe it was a nebulous combination of distaste at Rudd’s removal in the first place, Gillard’s persona and gender and something as basic as a gut response. We will never know.
It was all a brutal end to a brutal day. The two country independents Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor resigned to bouquets and brickbats. Tony Abbott tried a suspension of standing orders to bring forward the election to August 3. He lost.
Like the witch in the Monty Python sketch, who called “fair cop” when she was convicted on the basis of a duck, Gillard will no doubt accept the mysteries of the ancient political art of divination.
Unlike Kevin Rudd.
MORE ARTICLES BY GABRIELLE CHAN
*Gabrielle Chan is The Hoopla’s political correspondent. She is a journalist and author with more than 25 years experience, having worked most recently as a regular columnist with The Australian. She has previously worked for The Daily Telegraph, the ABC and the South China Morning Post. Gabrielle has written and edited Flickers of History, War On Our Doorstep and FEAST and is a member of the NSW Anzac Advisory Council. She blogs at www.gabriellechan.com and you can follow her on Twitter: @gabriellechan.