The contest between Kim Beazley and Kevin Rudd tomorrow might determine who will be Australia’s next Prime Minister but my guess is that it won’t.
I think the Coalition will retain power federally in 2007 given the advantages of incumbency, the strong economy, the likelihood of a winding back of our tiny Iraq commitment and just the fact of a strong Howard team. Moreover, that there is a fight now helps the Coalition – Labor will have real problems if Beazley narrowly retains his position.
I think that the Coalition team would outperform any Labor team but I have long had much respect for Kim Beazley. I have to admit too that Kevin Rudd, in his chip-monkish way, has more ideas than most Federal politicians. Some see the contest as going Rudd’s way because incumbency, in this situation, is seen as a disadvantage. The Age this morning plugs Rudd on its opening page and in its editorial.
I think Julia Gillard would be an improvement over the slothful Jenny Macklin – I have a parochial interest as Macklin is my local member. Her career has progressed from being an uninspired civil servant to an idea-free hack for the Labor Left. Gillard however impresses.
If Rudd wins the contest the Labor Party will move further to the right which suits me. Losing the election would be a better outcome for Australia if it forces the ALP to take seriously its faction-driven internal problems which derive from its refusal to place the trade union base of the party in its proper, minor role.
We need two social democratic parties competing for votes federally on the basis of who can best manage our mixed economy. Who can best provide a prosperous growing economy while also accounting for the needs of disadvantaged and for the environment? The trade union movement is a dinosaur that should not be exerting a dominant influence on one side of the policy debates that occur.