Home > Australia, Politics > >Australia’s Labor government – That 70s Show

>Australia’s Labor government – That 70s Show

>Andrew Bolt has been hammering away at the government’s incompetent handling of the effort to prevent a run on the banks, which caused an entirely predictable run on other financial institutions leading to a situation where investors, including many self-funded retirees, are unable to draw down on their funds.

Treasurer Wayne Swan’s sympathetic response?

If you’re having trouble then go and seek a handout from Centrelink.

Can you imagine Costello or even Keating not only giving the bank guarantee in the first place but then poking self-funded retirees in the eye by telling them to seek social security if they’re in trouble?

The leadership group in this government is dangerously uneducated in even the most basic facts about how economies work, even less so than the great disaster of Australian politics, Gough Whitlam’s government.

Bolt then follows up with an analysis of an article in The Australian in which Prime Minister Rudd is made to look like the smart, tough guy in a phone conversation with George W Bush:

Kevin Rudd was entertaining guests in the loungeroom at Kirribilli House in Sydney when an aide told him George W. Bush was on the telephone.

It was 10.40pm on Friday, October 10

(Note that date, by the way. Rudd trips over it.)

What followed was an extraordinary exchange in which Rudd advised the most powerful man in the world that a plan to address the global financial crisis through the G7 group of leading industrialised nations was wrong . . .

It made no sense, he said, to take action on the crisis without engaging China. Rudd argued that the better vehicle for a co-ordinated response to calm the markets and toughen financial regulation was the broader G20 grouping (which includes China) . . .

Two weeks later, Rudd’s view has prevailed . . . Perhaps more so than any of his predecessors, Rudd is bringing a new understanding to world politics . . .

(Good heavens. Did Rudd write that bit of halo-polishing himself? Or was that just reporter Matthew Franklin’s way of saying “thank you”?)

Rudd was then stunned to hear Bush say: “What’s the G20?” . . .

He told Bush he had heard through back channels that the Chinese believed the economic collapse underscored the inherent failures of capitalism and the benefits of a planned economy.

Rudd’s view on China was probably better informed than he let on to the US President. Just four days earlier, the fluent Mandarin speaker had discussed the global turmoil on the telephone with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao . . .

Sources said Bush spent the first third of the conversation attempting to keep Rudd at bay . . . But over time, Rudd appeared to convince Bush he had a reasonable point.

“He was like a bull terrier,” said one source. “He was polite but firm. He was not deferential at all. I could not have imagined John Howard talking to Bush like that.”

And right there is the reason Rudd – or his agent – blabbed. To make Rudd seem a player. A tough guy. The man who forced Bush to invite the G20, including Australia and China, into talks about the financial crisis.

But perhaps more brazen still is Rudd’s attempt in this latest retelling to belittle Bush and steal his credit.

Go back to the date of this conversation, when Rudd claims to have been “stunned” by Bush’s ignorance about the G20, and had to “convince” the fool to use it.

For a start, a search of White House transcripts reveals Bush knew what the G20 was long before Rudd allegedly had to lecture him.

In June 2006, for instance, he gave a press conference in which he explained he had “problems with the G20 position” on global trade.

In July 2006, he said he’d have a “good forum” to discuss trade problems “when the members of the G20 come” to Russia.

And Bush certainly didn’t need a “polite but firm” Rudd in their conversation on October 10 this year to tell him to get the G20 involved in talks on this financial crisis.

You see, Bush and his Treasury Secretary had two days earlier already agreed to do just that, and the G20 was already gathering to convene in Washington that very weekend.

The only source for the article in The Australian is someone involved in the phone call – Rudd, his assistant, Bush or his assistant.

I think we can strike out the US side and it’s wildly unlikely that an assistant would leak a conversation between the PM and President.

Which leaves Rudd himself as the person who breeched the confidentiality of the leaders of the world’s most powerful nation and the world’s most populous nation.

Why didn’t Rudd throw in a few references to Arabic leaders, the odd South American authoritarian and African dictator just to make sure that leaders all over the world understand just how important he is?

When the Whitlam government was elected in 1972 it ended a long period out of office for the Australian Labor Party dating back to Ben Chifley in 1949.

Those years in the wilderness led to the more left wing elements in the party gaining power meaning that when they were eventually returned to office they had an anti-US, pro-market intervention and pro-China/Moscow philiosophical bent.

Within about 6 months that government was leaking like a sieve with information that would embarrass or harm the United States’ efforts to combat communism in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as fight the Cold War globally.

US officials made strenuous efforts to get the leaks plugged but it was beyond Whitlam to rein in his undisciplined ministers.

The consequence was that the Americans significantly reduced the level of intelligence they were sharing with us, harming our own intelligence operations in the region, and it would be many years before we would regain the lost trust.

Like Rudd, Whitlam placed an emphasis on engaging China though his position was one of philosophical alignment rather than Rudd’s more practical understanding of the importance that China now has to Australia.

Australian governments publicly poke the United States in the eye at their peril and it is simply childish to attempt to embarrass any world leader in the way Rudd has let alone the leader of the United States.

We are coming up to the anniversary of Kevin Rudd’s election victory and his list of accomplishments is astonishingly short while the list of countries he has managed to get offside is alarmingly long including major ones like Japan, India and, now, the US.

There are many parallels between Gough Whitlam’s disastrous 1972-75 government and Kevin Rudd’s incompetent lot today.


They’ve spent the bulk of the Howard-Costello generated surplus and are now looking to raid people’s pension funds in order to fund infrastructure projects.

One of John Howard’s goals was to build a ‘resilient economy’, one that could weather any downturns in the global economy, which he largely achieved.

In less than one year this government has undone many years of economic discipline and Treasurer Wayne Swan’s statement that ‘the days of budget surpluses may be’ over should send a chill down the spines of all Australian taxpayers.

(Nothing Follows)


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Categories: Australia, Politics
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