Now that people have finally accepted that gender is and should be irrelevant in politics (at least in civilised societies like Australia) we can get down to the agenda and actions of Acting PM Gillard's new leadership team.
Sensibly new Acting PM Gillard is distinguishing herself from the unpopular agenda priorities and Rudd's unsuccessful arrogant autocratic style. Gillard's professed consultative style and modest tone signal a quick decisive break from Ruddism. Though still early days since Gillard Coup Date 24th June 2010, just four days ago; Gillard has been lightning quick to announce 'refocusing', 'new directions', 'new focal points', 'new initiatives' and 'shutting down some issues' [Digital Journal]...almost as if it has been planned for some time, perhaps?
What was Labor Right up to and for how long?
De-Rudding seems to be a fast way to work the pollsters to gain quick public relations wins, necessary for any new replacement PM. Rudd's major policy defeats most obviously have been his Mining Super Tax impost, his 'Howard-esk' rejection of asylum seekers and his backdown from his Emissions Trading Scheme. Rudd had many election promises and then he had his 2020 Summit with even more obligations.
The Rudd era is over, so what of all Rudd Labor's election promises?
Where is the electorate at now in its expectations of government?
Gillard has quickly withdrawn the government ads supporting the tax, but has not rejected the tax nor its 40% rate. On the ETS and asylum seekers Gillard remains silent so far.
But good leaders must first get their leadership team in order. Today that happened. Minimal reshuffle, steady as she goes and few changes which reflect internal promotions to senior capable people, sparked by the need to fill Gillard's previous role in the crucial Education portfolio. Simon Crean is a safe choice and if an election is in the air, no need to unsettle the team in the short term pre-election.
Now what about Gillard fulfilling Rudd's electoral promises? These comprise Labor's electoral moral contract and on such basis Labor has an electoral mandate. But if all the electoral promises have gone with Rudd, then Gillard has no electoral mandate.
Gillard's approach of 'coordinated media releases' sounds good for public communication of Government. Headlines need substance otherwise it won't be long before electoral cynicism emerges.
But Gillard's personal credibility is undermined by the fact that she has been Rudd's deputy and part of Rudd's 'gang of four' and so presumed by most to be complicit in Rudd's choice of government priorities, agenda and decision making, and at all times loyal and supportive. Gillard's credibility is also undermined by that fact she back-stabbed the elected leader through the factional influence of the Labor Right, which we know is backed by massive financial donations from unions, developers and big business.
Acting PM Gillard is not an elected representative of the people of Australia outside the safe Labor seat of Lalor in Melbourne's outer south-western suburbs; that is until she calls a general election. These days Lalor, encompassing outer urban centres of Melton, Altona, Werribee and Hoppers Crossing is in the grip of Melbourne's urban sprawl, with any 1970s 'green belt' notion bought out by housing property developers and their ilk.
So on what issues and promises did Rudd Labor win the last election and so comprise unfinished obligations to the Australian electorate? These are what Labor is accountable to the electorate to deliver, but when?
On 27th June, Gillard publicly rejected Rudd's 'Big Australia' quest by maximising population growth. So what has Gillard actually said?
"Australia should not hurtle down the track towards a big population," she told Fairfax. "I don't support the idea of a big Australia with arbitrary targets of, say, a 40 million-strong Australia or a 36 million-strong Australia. We need to stop, take a breath and develop policies for a sustainable Australia. I support a population that our environment, our water, our soil, our roads and freeways, our busses, our trains and our services can sustain."
But Ms Gillard says that does not mean putting a stop to immigration all together. "I don't want business to be held back because they couldn't find the right workers," she said. "That's why skilled migration is so important. But also I don't want areas of Australia with 25 per cent youth unemployment because there are no jobs."
[Gillard shuts door on 'big Australia', ABC 27-6-10.]
Is Gillard playing more politics and having a bet each way - sustainable immigration without denying businesses ready workers? But then what is the Education Revolution all about? Addressing Australia's 25% youth unemployment? Matching workplace skill demand with local vocational education for Australians?
But renaming Tony Burke from Minister for Population to Minister for Sustainable Population is hollow.
Meanwhile how much developer donations are flowing from members and sympathisers of the powerful Urban Taskforce Australia, which consistently lobbies on a national scale for a larger population for Australia. The disingenuous spin touted to government is that a larger population "increases the tax base to fund improvements to infrastructure and welfare services." Can Gillard see through this developer self-centred profit propaganda?
If Gillard is to be credible on curbing Australia's population growth without harming its economy, the tests for the Gillard Government are:
1. End the Baby Bonus
2. End the Subclass 457 – Business (Long Stay) Visa Scheme
3. Restrict all work visas to Employer Nomination Scheme Occupation List (ENSOL), which requires each applicant to be nominated by an Australian employer to fill a position in an occupation that appears in the ENSOL and for the applicant to demonstrate that they have the necessary skills (including conversational English skills).
4. Match vocational training of local Australians to industry demand cycles and focus on the under 25s, and lower-socio-economic groups including Australia's indigenous and rural communities. This would be a real education revolution for Australia.
Bring on a general election!