Thursday, June 24, 2010

Call It What It Is, A Coup

By Darryl Mason

Did it really only take the mere rumour that prime minister Kevin Rudd was considering a super-profits tax, like he was planning for Australia's richest miners, to be imposed on all of Australia's most profitable corporations, for the coup to commence?

It began, as most major news stories do these days, with a Twitter update. ABC News on Twitter announced before the 7pm news that prime minister Kevin Rudd was fighting a coup :

This news was retweeted (republished) minutes later by ABC managing director Mark Scott to around 30,000 followers, including every journalist, business leader, investor, news junkie in Australia who realises Twitter is where news breaks first now :

ABC political reporter Chris Uhlmann pumped the news out to thousands more on Twitter :

It was no longer conservative media and Liberal Party-allied media fantasy. Their dream of a Julia Gillard prime ministership had come true, many months early, and the Rudd government was tearing itself apart.

Minutes later, ABC News Online published this story :

The original brief ABC News Online story, posted shortly after 7pm Wednesday (now swallowed up and changed through updates) :

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's leadership is under siege tonight from some of the Labor Party's most influential factional warlords.

The ABC has learned that powerful party figures have been secretly canvassing numbers for a move to dump the Prime Minister and replace him with his deputy, Julia Gillard.

It appears she has rebuffed the advances, but it is a measure of the disquiet which has been building in the party since Mr Rudd's approval ratings began their precipitous slide in April.

Ministers and party members have been lining up all week to voice their support for Mr Rudd but behind the scenes, party leaders have been contemplating a leadership change.

Although Mr Rudd looks likely to survive the challenge, news of the attempted coup will undoubtedly weaken him.

It is understood that the only thing holding the Prime Minister up is that his deputy refuses to join in a bid to bring him down.

The essential word "coup" appears to be missing from later stories, all other news sites and nearly all late night TV and radio reports.

A few hours after ABC News Online broke the story, prime minister Kevin Rudd faced a press conference to announce a leadership vote Thursday morning at 9am. He seemed mildly stunned, but firm, and railed against the right factions of the Australian Labor Party, all but shouting that he wouldn't let the Labor right wing take over the government; the same right factions who had almost effortlessly plunged the Australian government into utter chaos, with days of stock market uncertainty to follow.

Frontbenchers of the Rudd government were seen sitting in their Parliament House offices, watching news of the coup unfolding around them on the TV, mouthing words that simplify out as "What The Fuck?"

By 11pm, Julia Gillard was a bigger discussion subject on Twitter than even the World Cup, which is fucking remarkable :

Kevin Rudd's name briefly climbed into the Twitter Trending Topics list, but not for long.

Newspaper front pages aren't online yet, to round up for this, however bizarre, truly historic event in Australian politics and Australian democracy. But the pre-midnight graphics of Australian online news sites clearly spelled out the (perhaps only brief) federal government disaster unfolding. None with more fever than the Murdoch media, who have been all but hysterically demanding Julia Gillard replace Kevin Rudd as prime minister for months.

Adelaide Now : au :

The Australian Financial Review :

ABC News :

The Australian :

In fact The Australian was so excited they invented a new word to mark this historic occasion :

The Sydney Morning Herald :

NineMSN :

The Age :

The Herald Sun :

The Daily Telegraph :

How dare Kevin Rudd be "defiant"? Who does he think he is? The democratically elected prime minister of Australia?

The face of our new prime minister, Julia Gillard, as she exited Parliament House last night, after what some media reported as a solid two hours of yelling and raging "discussion" in the prime minister's office :

(screengrab from graphic on The Australian)

If Julia Gillard wins the Labor Party vote to replace Kevin Rudd, she has to call an election. Immediately. As all new leaders of any state or federal government should and must, but rarely, do when they rise to peak power through internal wranglings and not by the vote of the public.

Democracy demands it.