New Facts Revealed on 2010 Ousting of Australian PM
Interviews with senior Labor Party figures, both past and present, published in the new book Triumph and Demise by the Australian newspaper’s leading political journalist Paul Kelly, cast a further revealing light on the circumstances surrounding the June 23-24, 2010 coup that ousted Labor leader Kevin Rudd as prime minister and installed Julia Gillard.
Kelly does not delve into the driving forces of the coup, in particular the role played by the United States as the Obama administration set in place the anti-China “#pivot” to Asia. However, what he does present demolishes the fiction that Rudd’s removal was about poor public opinion poll ratings or his dysfunctional management style.
Kelly concludes: “The argument of the anti-Rudd faction chiefs that Rudd was in an irrecoverable position is unpersuasive. Former Prime Minister John Howard and his deputy, Peter Costello, said later they believed Rudd would have won any 2010 election against Tony Abbott.”
Polls, however, did play an important part in creating the conditions for carrying out the coup. But they were not those conducted by established polling organisations and published in the daily newspapers. These were “internal” polls conducted by the right-wing leadership of the New South Wales branch of the Labor Party, which had a leading role in the coup. They purportedly showed a 7 percent swing against Labor in four marginal seats and that the party was heading for a major electoral defeat.
In December 2010, leaked US diplomatic cables provided by #WikiLeaks showed that the main plotters in the anti-Rudd coup within the Labor Party and the trade unions, including Mark Arbib, David Feeney and the then Australian Workers Union chief Paul Howes, provided the US embassy with regular updates on internal government discussions and were characterised as “protected sources.”
While domestic factors such as the mining companies’ heavily-funded campaign against the proposed resource rent tax undoubtedly helped create an air of “crisis” around the government, the coup was the outcome of geo-political shifts emanating from Washington.
In 2010, the Obama administration was setting in place the foundations for its anti-China pivot to Asia. As events over the past four years have made clear, Australia and Japan are the two major anchor points for US preparations for military activities against China. However, before they could go ahead, political changes had to be carried out.