An Open Letter to Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd

GillardRuddDear Julia and Kevin,

Sorry to address you both informally by your first names, but I’m assuming I’d start off on the wrong foot if I wrote this letter to the Prime Minister and Kevin. And the relationship between you is what I’m writing about. It’s time to get over the sensitivities and to unite for a good cause. Julia and Kevin, I’m calling on you to build a bridge and get over it.

So let’s recap how we got to this awkward place. Kevin, I want you to know that I used to be one of your biggest fans. I wore the Kevin07 T-Shirt proudly as you defeated John Howard in the 2007 election. Yes, it was a brilliant win and a time of great anticipation and optimism. I’ve always thought your policy ideas were fantastic, and you do seem to be a smart and personable man. Being the Prime Minister of Australia, especially throughout 2007 – 2010, was not an easy job. You worked your guts out. Your response to the GFC was top notch. You never got enough credit for that. Your ETS policy and Mining Tax policy were also fantastic ideas. I’m sure, you, like I, will always wonder what might have been if the Greens hadn’t looked a gift horse in the mouth and rejected the ETS policy. I’m sure your mate Malcolm Turnbull wonders the same thing. But it wasn’t just your failures to pass policy that were the problem. It was also you Kevin. Your leadership style left a lot to be desired. You see Kevin, being a leader isn’t just about proposing things and taking the praise. Being a leader is about working with other people to get things done. And that’s where you fell down. Your team didn’t support you anymore because you were a crap boss. And you can’t run the country if you’re a crap boss. It broke our hearts to see you cry when you were forced to step down from the leadership of the Labor Party. And it’s not surprising you were so upset. No one likes being fired. But your behavior since then has also left a lot to be desired. Particularly your behavior towards Julia, who, it would seem, you are blaming for your downfall. Is that really fair Kevin? Is it Julia’s fault you lost the support of your team? I don’t think so.

But maybe you should look on the bright side. You should feel pleased that your horrible experience of losing the support of your party has now paved the way for other people to go through a similarly awful experience, without the subsequent abuse and ridicule that was reserved for you and Julia, the Labor Party and anyone who supports the Labor Party. You see, you’re a trailblazer now Kevin. You’ve made the leadership spills experienced by Ted Baillieu and Terry Mills into regular run-of-the-mill, not even front-page-worthy news. I know it’s taken the mainstream media a long time to get used to the idea that a party decides who their leader is, and some of them are still obsessing about you and Julia a bit too much (don’t worry, I’ve written to Michelle Grattan about that), but I don’t think you’re helping this situation Kevin. I don’t think your supporters are either. The mainstream media will keep reporting ‘Labor leadership tensions’ while there is even a tiny whiff of this in the air, however insignificant, because this suits their narrative of Labor ‘chaos’ and ‘desperation’. The only way to wipe this narrative out is to kill their story. If they can’t write about Labor leadership tensions, there is a minuscule chance that they might find some space in their tiny minds to scrutinise Abbott. And even if this is far too optimistic an idea, maybe they’ll look at Labor government policy instead of just crucifying personalities. Isn’t this at least worth a try?

The thing is, Kevin, I know deep down you want to do what’s best for Australia. I know you have a very keen interest in promoting progressive reform, and that this interest is far more important than your hurt ego. In your heart of hearts, you know in order to do what’s best for a progressive Australia you need unequivocally to support the Labor Party at the upcoming Federal Election. You must promise to stop leaking, and tell your supporters in the Labor caucus to follow your example. You have to understand Kevin, the only way you are going to positively influence the country’s future is by sucking up your disappointment about not being Prime Minister anymore, and supporting Julia in her campaign to beat Tony Abbott.

Julia, it’s not just Kevin who needs to suck it up. I can see you’ve been doing your best to run this country with a lot of obstacles, Kevin being one of them. I have been very proud of your policy successes and your personal resilience in the face of challenging conditions. But it’s time you realised that your message just isn’t getting through. Sometimes it seems that the electorate and the mainstream media are by default either supporting Kevin’s reinstatement as Prime Minister, or campaigning for Abbott’s election as Prime Minister. This has to change. You have a fantastic story to tell. You just need to stop being so afraid of telling it. I know this is not going to be easy for you to hear, but you could actually learn something from Kevin about how to go about political campaigning. The Labor Party needs an inspirational message. When you speak passionately, you are inspirational. When you told Tony Abbott that you would not be lectured by him about sexism and misogyny, I was moved to tears. I, like so many Labor supporters, would love to see this passion more often. We want to help you defeat Tony Abbott, but first you need to help yourself.

You need to find a way to make up with Kevin. For your own sake as well as his. We know how great you are when you come across relaxed and in control. With Kevin constantly undermining you, it’s no wonder you sometimes appear slightly on edge. It’s time to try something different. Pretending that Kevin isn’t white-anting you isn’t helping. The leadership vote of 2012 was a good idea, but unfortunately it had the unintended effect of fuelling the media’s campaign to force another vote, rather than putting it to bed. So as unpalatable as this might seem, it’s time to be the bigger person and help Kevin. Not for Kevin’s sake, but for the sake of the country. If Kevin wants a ministerial position, give it to him. And then hold a joint press conference and smile, laugh and say every corny thing the mainstream media will love to put on their front page. For crying out loud, give each other a hug! You know they’ll love that!

You both need to agree to get the band back together and then tell the public that you are working as a team to win the election. Admittedly, it is a very sad state of affairs that this country seems to care more about who is in the top job than what the person in the top job is achieving. I’m sick of Labor supporters fighting amongst ourselves about whether we like Julia or Kevin better. It’s like children fighting over a red smarty or a yellow smarty. It’s ridiculous! I know that you know that the Labor Party is more important than the leader. I know that Julia replacing Kevin as Prime Minister is not as big a deal as the mainstream media would like to make it. I know that ultimately the government’s policy successes are the work of the whole Labor Party, as well as often the Greens and the Independents. But after two years and a continuous ground hog day of reporting on this issue, I implore you both to give my advice some consideration. If you don’t, I fear the successes of the Labor government will never be the focus of the electorate’s attention. I fear that the progressive reforms implemented over the last five years will be repealed and destroyed. And I fear that neither of you will ever get the chance to make a difference to this country ever again, and will instead be faced with the worst prospect of all: Tony Abbott as Prime Minister. Please do not abandon us to this fate. We’re counting on both of you.


  1. Now this is just so powerful Victoria. I hope that both are able to read this article. Someone please, somehow forward the article on to all of the ALP caucus as well.

  2. Nice work, Victoria! Plainspeak. J & K Please note. Please act. Time for Hubris is well and truly over. PM – I don’t know if I could forgive what you have had to endure. But it’s too important for you not to forgive and not to form a stategic partnership. The alternative is too horrible to imagine.

  3. To be fair, the Greens rejected the ETS because they felt that it was worse than useless, and actually harmful. They thought they could do much better, and guess what? They were right! The Clean Energy Future legislation is an excellent start, and actually aligns with what Abbott was advocating before he became leader of the Noalition.

    As to the mining super-profits tax, as soon as she became leader, Gillard did a cosy little deal with the mining industry which neutered the tax completely. No wonder the miners called off the dogs – they couldn’t have been happier. Two years later, Labor are looking pretty silly for “guaranteeing” a surplus that won’t eventuate; not as silly as the Noalition mind you, but it was a pretty dumb mistake.

    I hope that Labor does get its shit together, so to speak, but I’m not too hopeful, after seeing how the Feds did their very best to ensure Bligh lost the Qld election by constantly distracting attention from the positive achievements of her government. OK, we can’t sheet home all the blame to the Feds, but they WEREN’T BLOODY HELPING! Ahem. I feel better now 🙂

  4. Victoria, I absolutely agree with your sentiments. I refuse to join a political party, preferring to retain the ability to vote according to my best interpretation of policies on offer at election time. (at least that is my utopian vision!) However, I would urge rank & file Labor Party members to put aside personal feelings & write to Mr Rudd & Ms Gillard to put aside their personal differences & unite to present a united Labor government for the September election. This would be difficult given the massive egos of each of them but surely the national interest of stable government is more important than the hurt feelings of individuals.

    If nothing else, the image (& hopefully sincere substance) of a united press conference would stick deep in the craw of the News Limited commentairiat of Kelly, Shannahan, Kenny, Albrechtsen, Ergas & Richardson & make them choke on their cornflakes. I can see now their outraged pomposity & frantic fluffing of skirts as they try to find a way to ensure that such a united stance is made out to be bad governance & a disaster for the country. (Incidentally I laugh at the way that Kenny & Albrechtsen in particular weasel on about them not being “Journalists” in the employ of News Ltd but “Commentators” somehow paid by News Ltd but not subject to editorial direction or the normal restrictions of jorunalistic ethics) I am sure the average reader would not understand or care about the semantic differences of this pathetic argument.

    I too voted for Mr Rudd in 2007, mostly I admit on the basis that I had lost faith in Mr Howard after his disgraceful involvement of our country in the unjustified Iraq war & his general loss of a vision of what constituted good governance. I held high hopes of Mr Rudd after corresponding with him on various issues & receiving intelligent & thought provoking replies. Like many others I was then progressively dismayed at his inability to govern within a proper Westminster Cabinet system, rather to govern via frantic unchecked activity with no vision past the next days media headlines. I know that somewhere inside him is a better person than that & I wish he would overcome his churlish disappointment & rejoin the Cabinet team.

    Having said all this, I remain disappointed that Ms Gillard has expended so much energy on attacking Tony Abbott instead of ensuring that her vision for the country has been been at the forefront our national conversation.

    I find some Liberal policies quite attractive in terms of our national interests & some that are quite opposed to our national interests. I would prefer to see a debate on those policies rather than the focus on Mr Abbott. I personally find him quite repugnant & I fear for our country under his leadership. I also believe that Australians are smart enough to see for themselves that Mr Abbott is not suited to the leadership of our country based on his personal & political failures & that given clear air to conduct a policy debate, voters will understand that his leadership shortcomings will negate many of the good policies espoused by the Liberal Party.

    • But the only thing you are basing your claim on that he didn’t run a proper cabinet is the word of those who deposed him. Many have since debunked the lies.

      And Gillard is running cabinet like a dictatorship.

  5. Its on again. Yes the Leadership challenge. Why is the biggest question. If it is over the time line on accepting the proposal media by not giving enough debate. Then that is stupid. If it is over the propose Media Governing Laws consultation. Then who has been asleep on this subject. Oh the freedom of speech does not give a right to the media to tell little white lies contained in whatever the media release that would convince the Australian to believe those lies as on everyone’s lips. How come the media can tell lies and if I the average person prints some untruths about another person then we end up in court on the bases of slander and defamation. Ha not fair. The other is the media journalists are not licenced under oath in the same way as doctors or the legal profession when they can hid behind client confidentiality becomes a fast take when those journalists are not licenced at all. I can become a journalist without any sort of credibility of having obtained a licence what so ever in Australia.

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