Back in 1996, when because of my fathers work (he's a Prof. who specialised in Environment change) we moved to live in Canberra for a year. Living in Canberra you could not escape the politics but at that time there were two leaders, who had two agenda's and two different versions and visions of how to lead Australia into the 21st Centre. These were very different leaders with very different plans - the battle between Keating and Howard was fierce and exciting, but at least both of them were capable. Today as you have gone into the Summer Christmas recess one is left to sit and wonder what went so wrong. Where are the new Bob Hawkes, Dr J Hewson's, Paul Keating and Kevin Rudd's.
Before I continue - I need to preface this to any Australian reading - in the UK the Liberal Democrats the party of which I am an active member and a former councillor and council cabinet member, nearest relative would be the Australian Democrats. The UK Conservatives would be related to the Australian Liberal Party and the ALP would be linked to the UK's New Blair Labour Brand.
Lets start with the Prime Minister Julia Gillard. She was elected Deputy Prime Minister to one of the most sensible forward thinking, internationally respected men Australia has ever seen. Kevin Rudd was a serious man for serious time. "The Kevin 07 campaign" saw the Liberal National Coalition thrown out of office with the Prime Minister (John Howard) losing his own seat. There can be no doubt that Kevin Rudd was a great Labour Leader. Julia pushes Kevin into a u-turn on not to have a carbon tax - despite the fact he won an election on the issue and had already seen off the 2 opposition leader - thrown out by there own party on issues surrounding the environment, that policy, one would have thought that any sensible person would say ride the course - stick to it - its working, but not are Julia. She forced the Prime Minister Rudd into a position which was politically wrong and in principal wrong. Then because of that u-turn the government started to look like it had lost direction and who puts the knife in - that will be are Julia. Because of her the ALP were seen to have lost there way and then she said "Let's kick Kevin out and put me in". In a sign of grand statesmanship Kevin stood aside to prevent there being a split in the ALP and yep she who wielded the knife ended up seizing the crown (probably not the best quote to use as we are not sure where she stands on the issue of the republic - but as a pom I will stay out of that row!!!) - that was when things started to go from bad to worse for the ALP. She calls an unwanted and unneeded election - throws away the ALP majority and ends up doing a scrappy little deal with the independents and greens to keep Tony Abbott the resident nutter out of Lodge. She has changed her position again on the Carbon Tax again, I make that 3 times. She is possible the most annoying politician since world war 2 - "oh no she isn't" I hear you cry in this panto season - and you would be right - have you seen Tony Abbott - talk about nut case, I mean he is the worst political leader since Billy McMahon. He won his leadership on the basis that climate change is a myth. Yes a myth.
One of my earliest memories of when I went to Australia is that my younger brother and sister were held in detention on there first day at school because they didn't have the correct hat to go out and play in the sun - the Primary school they went to - Garran First school was very strict on the issue of sun protection 'No Hat No Play'. A clear sign that Australia back in the mid 1990's had acknowledged the whole in the ozone layer and the effect that had on skin cancer. I have to say the ozy's were way ahead of the UK on this. But it seems that Tony Abbott opposes the idea of the hole in the ozone layer and climate change in general - is this man mad or just a wirdo. His response to the death of an Australian service man been shot with the comment "shit happens" was not the most frightening bit, the frightening bit was how he handle the journalist afterwards - the mouth opened but no words came out - can you imagine any former Political Leader not been able to speak - I mean this guy is the Leader of the official opposition with 71 seats under his coalition belt compared to the ALP who have 72 seats. There is a very good change this guy could be Prime Minister and I mean he can not articulate his policy's. When under pressure he can't speak - he makes Sarah Palin look slightly normal.