Monday, December 04, 2006



The Australian Labor Party has a new leadership, and it's one that has a good shot at knocking the Howard government out of office after more than a decade.

Polls today reveal that the Labor Party has stormed ahead of the Liberal Party as the preferred government. The foul corruption of the AWB scandal and the calvacade of outright lies and distortions that fuelled Australia's involvement in the 'War On Iraq' are clearly taking hold of Australia's conscience.

Kevin Rudd & Julia Gillard are being hyped by Labor's spin machine as "youthful" "energetic" and "fresh". It's a positive change from The Fear surrounding terrorism pushed by the warpig conservatives.

Howard's notoriously negative media machine will hit back hard at Rudd & Gillard claiming they are inexperienced, that the Labor Party is split over the new leadership and that the radical Left has quietly gained control of Opposition.

The problem for Howard & Co is that most Australian voters appear to think that Rudd & Gillard are winners regardless.

It's not been a good year for the Howard Government.

Even though they were cleared, by proxy, of criminal neglect over their failure to notice that the Australian Wheat Board had been packing suitcases full of cash off to Saddam Hussein's regime for years, the stench of corruption has been hard to disperse.

Meanwhile, back in Iraq, events on the ground have grown only more bloody and brutal, with the body count of the civilians the war was meant to liberate growing each and every week since mid-year.

Prime Minister John Howard and his government have been failing to gain ground in more than a year's worth of polls, on the back of the horrific failure to calm down post-war Iraq, incredibly controversial reforms to the working lives of most Australians and Howard's failure to notice, or blind disregard towards, the worst corruption scandal in Australia's history as the AWB kickbacked $280 million to Saddam and his cronies, even though the United Nations, American senators, Australian soldiers and the New York Times knew what was going on.

More than 88 percent of all Australians now believe that Howard & Co lied about whether or not they knew an Australian company was bribing the genocidal Hussein regime, even as Australian troops went into Iraq to remove him from power.

According to new polls, today's elected leader of the Labor Party, Kevin Rudd, and deputy leader, Julia Gillard, have the makings of an election winning team. And by a substantial margin.

Propelling former Midnight Oil frontman, Peter Garrett, to head the Labor Party's environment and anti-global warming portfolio will only add to the opposition party's popularity.

But there is a deeper, more essential groundswell developing which centres around the immediate future of Australia as it finds its place in a world where the power and influence of the United States is crashing and burning, and China and Indonesia are soaring.

It is in China, and South East Asia, that Kevin Rudd has a handful of winning cards.

John Howard is tolerated by Chinese and South East Asian leaders, they don't particularly like him, nor do they respect him, but Australia has what they want - plenty of coal, good universities and, in the future, more uranium mines to fire their nuclear reactors.

But Howard's Foreign Affairs minister, Alexander Downer, is despised across the region, viewed generally as a wuss, an arrogant remnant of the colonial past and a flat-out liar.

Rudd & Gillard, meanwhile, have found their profiles rising steadily in China and SE Asia over the past few years, where they are generally viewed as positives for Australia's future, and do not have the stigma of being seen as closely aligned to the Bush's America as Howard & Co.

This perception will no doubt work to their advantage with Australian voters as well, where anti-Bushism is spreading like wildfire as every week brings new revelations of the lies that led to war and the shocking corruption and death tolls that have since followed.

China, Indonesia and South East Asia in general is waiting for Australia to sweep away the heavy arm of the United States from its shoulder and embrace its place in the world's new power centre.

Kevin Rudd as leader of the Opposition will be able to repair some of the damage done to Australia's image amongst our Asian neighbours by our involvement in the Iraq War, the sickening, brutal spectacle of the Cronulla Riots and the heavy-handed face smacking Australia has been dealing out to East Timor, the Solomon Islands and Fiji ; all countries where China is building new industry, new business and new influence at a rate that we can only gape at, dumbfounded.

However, it remains to be seen exactly what Rudd & Gillard, and Peter Garrett, are planning to do to transform Australia in the years ahead (should they win power). For now the talk of "fresh", "new" and "energetic" will buy some time, but not much.

Australians are growing increasingly nervous about their workplace futures, the effects of global warming, how the 'War On Iraq' will end, the monstrous drought and looming water and food shortages.

Rudd & Gillard have been given a vaulting shot at positive change and transformation, but Australians will only be so patient.

Now they have to deliver.

Meanwhile, ousted Opposition leader Kim Beazley was surprisingly chipper in his goodbye as leader. As sad as he may have been to not lead Labor into the next election, it was hard for him to hide the relief that he did not have to play the shallow, gut-knotting game of Liberal-centric politics for much longer.

In an emotional farewell, Beazley thanked his wife and family and then paused for almost ten seconds as he struggled to hold back sobs. Shortly after the vote that ended his career, Beazley was told his brother had died of a suspected heart attack.

Taking questions, Beazley was asked if he had any regrets after his long career in politics.

Beazley laughed, seemingly dumbstruck by the question.

"Regrets after 25 years in politics? Only about 4322 of them!"

Where that figure comes from, who knows?

For Beazley, retirement is set to be sweet. He can look forward to some choice defence industry board roles, and kicking back in Perth, the new boom city. It's been some hard-mucking years for Beazley (before and after his short break a few years back). He picked up the pieces after the Keating government's hammering at the 1996 election when John Howard was swept to power, and he was back mopping up the mess again after Mark Latham failed to oust Howard at the 2004 elections.

For now, at least as far as the message and comment boards go on Australia's major media websites, there is an overwhelming feeling of excitement and expectation at the Rudd & Gillard leadership of the Opposition, and their chances of winning the 2007 federal election.

More from Tim Dunlop's Blogogracy

Kim Beazley's Black Monday - Loses Leadership And His Brother

Australia's Labor Party Elects New Leader

Liberal Party Name Calling : Gillard & Rudd Are 'Mongoose And The Cobra'