The former Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, says that the enduring narrative of Australian political history is that Labor builds the house whilst the Coalition tries to tear it down.
Speaking in Brisbane at the launch of Troy Bramston’s new book, The True Believers, Rudd compared what he said were the two traditions of Australian politics.
“We seek to build the nation, they seek to tear it down. We seek to unite the people. They seek often to divide the people. We seek to envisage a positive plan for our future. They seek to pour scorn on the very possibility of any such vision or any such plans. We seek to define our independent place in the world. They seek to ridicule our independent voice in the world. In fact the history of Australian politics is one of us building the house up while they seek to tear the house down. Sometimes by stealth. Sometimes brick by brick. Sometimes with a very giant wrecking ball.”
Rudd also spoke of Labor values over the past century: “They are values of freedom, values of fairness (what we uniquely call in this country a fair go for all), values of prosperity, values of openness, values of inclusion, values of compassion, values of internationalism, a deep value also in matters, always in our lot, in Australian history to imagine our possible futures, a constructive vision for the future of our nation and then prepare the nation for that future rather than simply believe that it will all somehow spontaneously combust from the ether. Nations rarely are built that way.”
Rudd reminded his audience that in 2008 some ministers in his government thought it was “dangerous” to apologise to the stolen generations.
Later, he said that the Gillard government had failed to explain and sell the Gonski education reforms to the electorate. Rudd is reported to have said: “Here’s a little challenge for those wearing the Gonski t-shirt, ask everyone around this table what Gonski means. So the mums and dads of Australia at this stage do not have a whole lot of detailed content.”
Rudd’s criticism of the government’s communications skills and his comments on enduring Labor values come as the government faces a crucial week in Parliament that will involve the passage of Senator Conroy’s media reform legislation and the possibility of a leadership challenge to Julia Gillard.
Kevin Rudd’s speech at the launch of “The True Believers”, by Troy Bramston.
We build the house they tear it down
Thank you very much Suzie and it’s good to be back here at Riverbend. The centre of reading, reflection and Sunday morning conversation for a long, long time now and it’s a good place to be to think about a book like this. Also to Troy Bramston and his family, welcome to the People’s Republic of Queensland. You are all welcome guests here – just make sure your visas are intact. To all of our other friends who are here with us this morning, it’s good to have you here.
When I first opened this book, by the way, I thought it must have been one that had been scribbled in because if you go to the front page, it’s full of my appalling handwriting that is inside the dust jacket. I recall a conversation with Troy when he was beginning this book about whether there were notes left over from when I wrote the apology speech. When I wrote the apology speech, it was in the study in the lodge. In fact where Curtin sat during the war and I put pen to paper the weekend before the apology speech. If you look at the original manuscript, it is full of crossings out, it is full of I think I can phrase that better, it is full of the product of a Queensland primary school education system and why I failed so badly in handwriting but Troy thank you for the work that you have done. [Read more…]