Rudd: We Build The House, They Tear It Down

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.

RuddSpeaking 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

BramstonThank 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…]

Abbott: Indigenous Issues Will Be At The Heart Of A Coalition Government In Word And Deed

Tony Abbott says engagement with Aboriginal people will be one of the hallmarks of an incoming Coalition government.

Speaking to The Sydney Institute tonight, Abbott said a non-Labor government would be “complacent, even neglectful” if it failed to address “the most intractable difficulty our country has ever faced”.


In the speech and in a media release, Abbott committed himself to:

  • Putting forward for consultation, within 12 months of taking office, a draft amendment to the Constitution recognising Aboriginal people and establish a bi-partisan process to assess its chances of success.
  • Personally spending a week living and working within a remote Aboriginal community each year.
  • Funding four GenerationOne trial sites to train 1,000 indigenous people for guaranteed jobs.
  • Working with State and Territory governments to encourage teachers into longer-term postings at remote schools.
  • Working with State and Territory governments to ensure that all larger indigenous communities have a permanent police presence.
  • Taking the handling of indigenous affairs into the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

In his speech, Abbott said: “Aboriginal policy is less about setting goals than making a journey; less about doing things for indigenous people than all of us finally accepting that there is so much we can learn from each other. Should the Coalition win the election, Aboriginal people will be at the heart of a new government, in word and in deed.”

  • Listen to Abbott’s speech (28m)

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Text of Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s speech to The Sydney Institute.

Indigenous affairs are, quite rightly, a larger part of our nation’s business than ever before. The apology, for instance, was a milestone in our parliamentary history. “Closing the gap” statements may not quite command the attention of a budget but have become an important part of the parliamentary year. Indigenous affairs have become the focus of almost everyone occasionally and of a small minority constantly but, as yet, have rarely been a consistent priority for government.

This will change should the Coalition win the election. Along with scrapping the carbon tax and the mining tax, stopping the boats and getting the budget back into the black; along with boosting our competitiveness by cutting red tape and slimming the bureaucracy; along with building the infrastructure that a first world economy in the 21st century needs, fostering community controlled public schools and hospitals and turning a passive welfare system into a more active one; and along with giving our foreign policy a Jakarta rather than a Geneva focus, I want a new engagement with Aboriginal people to be one of the hallmarks of an incoming Coalition government – and this will start from day one. [Read more…]

“We Have A Pope”: Argentinian Cardinal Bergoglio Will Be Pope Francis I

6.25am AEST – Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio has been elected Pope by the College of Cardinals. He will take the name Pope Francis I.

Bergoglio is 76 years old. He reportedly came second in the ballot to elect Pope Benedict XVI in 2005.


Bergoglio has been the Archbishop of Buenos Aires.

He is the first Jesuit to be Pope and the first non-European pope since the eighth century.

5.10am AEST – The conclave of Catholic cardinals has elected a new Pope. White smoke has billowed from the chimney at the Vatican.


An announcement of the identity of the Pope is expected soon.

Bells are tolling in Rome and people are rushing to St. Peter’s Square.

Adam Giles New Chief Minister In Northern Territory; Absent Terry Mills Felled In Leadership Coup

Adam Giles is to become the first indigenous leader of an Australian government after a Country-Liberal Party coup in the Northern Territory felled Chief Minister Terry Mills whilst he was overseas.

The new Deputy Chief Minister will be Dave Tollner.

Mills became Chief Minister just six months ago after defeating the ten-year-old Labor government led by Paul Henderson. His government experienced a swing against it in last month’s by-election in Henderson’s seat.


The leadership change came whilst Terry Mills was on his way to Japan. It is reported that Treasurer John Elferink was also absent. Details of the leadership change are still emerging.

The turmoil in the Country-Liberal Party government comes on the heels of last week’s upheaval when Giles launched a leadership challenge in the aftermath of the sacking of Tollner as Health Minister.

It is reported that today’s events occurred after the “bush coalition” of Alison Anderson, Bess Price, Francis Xavier and Larissa Lee shifted their support to Giles.

There are 16 members of the Country-Liberal Party in the Legislative Assembly. It is reported that Mills was rolled by a vote of 11-5.

Giles made a brief appearance this evening to speak to the media. He made a short statement but did not take questions. He confirmed that he and Tollner would be the new leaders of the government and that the new Cabinet will be sworn in tomorrow afternoon.

Mills is the second conservative leader to be removed in a week. Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu was replaced last Wednesday. Both were first-term leaders of newly-elected governments. Mills was elected on August 25 last year.

The Giles coup is the third time a first-term leader has been removed by their party since 2010. The first was Kevin Rudd.

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Colin Barnett Wins Easy Re-Election To Second Term In Western Australia

The first-term Liberal-Nationals government led by Premier Colin Barnett has been comfortably re-elected with an increased majority in today’s Western Australian state election.

The ALP appears to have lost 6 seats to the Liberals: Forrestfield, Morley, Balcatta, Joondalup, Belmong, and Perth. Pilbara has gone to the Nationals leader Brendon Grylls. The Liberals have retained all of their seats. The Labor-held seats of Albany, Collie-Preston and Kimberley are not yet decided.


The Liberal Party appears likely to have 32 seats, the Nationals 8 and the ALP 19. Four seats remain in doubt so this may change.

The Liberal Party’s primary vote has increased 8.8% to 47.1%. The Nationals are up 1% to 5.9%. The ALP primary vote fell 2.4% to 33.4%, not quite as bad as the 32% predicted in yesterday’s Newspoll.

The Greens vote is down 3.6% to 8.3%. They appear set to lose all their seats in the upper house.

Measured by the two-party-preferred vote, it is a significant defeat for the ALP. The coalition parties have approximately 57.5% of the two-party vote to the ALP’s 42.5%. There has been a swing of 6.3% against the ALP.


  • Listen to ALP Opposition Leader Mark McGowan concede defeat (15m)

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