This morning, the Australian Prime Minister called a leadership ballot for her own position at 4:30 pm the same day. No warning. No time for challengers to prepare. No time for the party to ready itself.
It is difficult to find an international policy angle to all of this, except to say what an international laughing stock this makes Australia.
The only major OECD economy to emerge from the GFC without going into recession; unemployment at 5.4%; economic growth for 21 straight years; a free and happy people; a relatively benign international security environment.
Yet despite the fact that governments around the world would kill for the kind of problems Australia has, our government can’t seem to run itself or even decide who should lead it. It must all be very puzzling to outside observers.
If there’s a silver lining in all of this it is that the process played itself out peacefully, within the rules of our democracy.
There were no troops on the streets, and no demonstrations. Still, this constant leadership instability (which both sides of Australian politics suffer from) must be corrosive to our democracy and our economy.
Australian National University political scientist John Wanna said Labor’s leadership spill today, which Prime Minister Julia Gillard won in the end after no challenger stood up, will make the government look shambolic to voters.
“It makes them look completely dysfunctional,” Professor Wanna said.
It also showed that Kevin Rudd‘s supporters hadn’t done their homework or spent enough time garnering support in the caucus.
“They had no more commitment from anybody to boost Rudd’s position, otherwise he would have challenged,” Prof Wanna said.
The ongoing leadership speculation was hurting Australia’s international image.
“We look the laughing stock to the world,” he said.
“We did extremely well in pulling through the financial crisis without having higher unemployment, and ever since then we’ve torn ourselves down.”
Voters were increasingly bored with news about possible leadership challenges, which may translate to lower poll numbers for the government, he said.
“I think they think this government can’t govern itself,” he said.
“Although they’re doing some policy things, they just look as if they can’t manage their own affairs.”Source: The Interpreter – “Our long national nightmare continues” Source: 9 News – “Australia the world’s laughing stock”
- Julia Gillard survives attempt to replace her as Australian prime minister (guardian.co.uk)
- Rudd refuses Australian party leadership challenge (cnn.com)
- Australian Prime Minister Julian Gillard keeps her job after rival declines to challenge her (vancouversun.com)
- Gillard survives leadership spill as Rudd shuns vote (australiantimes.co.uk)
- Challenge to Australian prime minister evaporates (foxnews.com)
- Julia Gillard survives attempt to replace her as Australian prime minister (oddonion.com)
- Australia’s Julia Gillard remains as ALP leader (nzweek.com)
- Australian PM Julia Gillard Survives Extraordinary Attempt By Members Of Her Own Party To Overthrow Her (businessinsider.com)
- Challenge to Australian Prime Minister Evaporates (world.time.com)
- Challenge to Australian prime minister evaporates (sfgate.com)
- Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd goes world wide on China’s assertiveness (craighill.net)