Peta Credlin Turnbull is Kevind Rudd
IT was ten years ago on Friday that Australia’s long era of stable government ended with the defeat of John Howard. Working in the Liberals’ campaign team that election, it was a result we expected but hoped wouldn’t happen.
Even in the final week, there were faint signs a Rudd victory might be narrowly averted, but it was probably hope against hope.
After all, Canberra types had seen him up close for years and knew what the rest of the country would quickly see in time; public life was merely a vanity project for a deeply complex man who didn’t have the temperament or authenticity to be a successful prime minister. But Labor’s slick machine and union dollars helped pull the wool over the collective eyes of the Australian voter and Kevin Rudd was duly elected our nation’s 26th prime minister.
However not even insiders could have foretold how the decade that followed his election would unfold. How he was unseated one June night in an orchestrated coup led by his “loyal” deputy which forever stained her own prime ministership
Or that her knife-edge election outcome a couple of months later would see her reinstalled as PM via a negotiation with two graceless opportunists, Oakeshott and Windsor. And then it all started: a “marriage” ceremony with the Greens replete with wattle in the lapel, a carbon tax, ballooning debt, internal machinations, the leaking, the divisions, Peter Slipper and don’t forget Craig Thomson. It was as tawdry on the inside as it looked to you on the outside.
In September 2013, my side promised the rot would end, that we would be an “adult government”. The people took the Coalition at its word and voted them in with a landslide majority. Only we did it all over again with a man that Canberra types had seen up close for years and knew what the rest of the country would quickly see in time; public life was merely a vanity project for a deeply complex man who didn’t have the temperament or authenticity to be a successful prime minister.
That’s right, Malcolm Turnbull is the Liberal Party’s Kevin Rudd.
I worked for one, and watched the other man closely. They both had troubled childhoods, suffering the absence of a parent that caused, understandably, deep scars. Both are exceptionally bright and progressed quickly through their respective careers but were always intent on public life, not for the vocation itself but for the validation it would bring to their sense of self.
Being prime minister would never be about what they might do in the role, it was always more about the public coronation that would come with the nation’s top job; from birth, it’s been their due.
Both married well and advantageously, to intelligent women who have assisted their rise. Both men have volcanic tempers, an inability to suffer fools, charm when the lights are on, and melancholy when alone. Orators at their best, incoherent policy bubblers at their worst, their love of their own voice is legendary.
There’s not a fact they don’t recite, a name they won’t drop and an answer they won’t give as soon as they’ve finished their question. Their innate insecurities mean they use every meeting to showcase their considerable ability and feel it necessary to prove they’re the smartest guy in the room; often they are, but this never brings people with them and that’s invariably their downfall.
They’re both obsessed with detail but can’t communicate it clearly, and get tied up in knots because they mistake tactics for strategy and forget that the prime minister is just the conductor of a ministerial orchestra, not the player of every instrument. Both are more comfortable in a boardroom with “people like them” than a pub, or a lunchroom with workers they’ll never relate to, with lives they’ll never understand.
Even their attempts to fit in, the bushman’s garb or the “fair suck of the sauce-bottle” only make their difference more acute, and jar with ordinary people who sense they’re being mocked.