Why Kevin Deserves A Chance: Sunday Telegraph Election Editorial

This is the election editorial from the Sydney Sunday Telegraph.

The Sunday Telegraph is a News Limited publication.

Editorial from the Sunday Telegraph.

Why Kevin Deserves A Chance

This time next week, Kevin Rudd could be Prime Minister of Australia. Will Australia have made the right choice?

Mr Rudd has displayed in his 12 months as opposition leader an ability to lead, even though he has stumbled occasionally along the way.

At times he performed poorly, such as when he was put under pressure by the Anzac fake dawn affair.

But on the whole, he has dusted himself off and stayed true to his message.

Mr Rudd, whose life-long ambition is to be Prime Minister, has committed himself to improving life for middle Australia.

Australians like him and accept, despite his burning ambition, that he has their interests at heart.

The Sunday Telegraph believes he now stands on the precipice of the Prime Ministership because of the Coalition’s WorkChoices legislation.

Prime Minister John Howard’s badly promoted industrial-relations policy is loathed by the very people who have kept Mr Howard in power for 11 years: the so-called Howard’s battlers.

Those Howard battlers have defected en masse to form “Rudd’s regiment”. They turned on the Coalition because WorkChoices threatened the prosperity the Coalition gave them in the first place.

Under Mr Howard, they upgraded their homes and stuffed them full of booty such as new cars, flat-screen televisions, computers, games rooms and designer kitchens with European appliances.

Then the crunch came: rising interest rates and grocery prices on top of WorkChoices. The IR laws hovered above these families as they watched the balance tip further in favour of the boss at work.

The overwhelming perception was they could lose their jobs at any time, leading to the loss of everything a decade of prosperity handed them.

At the same time Mr Rudd arrived as a safe, and trustworthy, alternative.

He looked like Mr Howard and acted like him. Bar WorkChoices, climate change and education reform, he copied his policies.

“Me-too”. Importantly, he was not Kim Beazley or Mark Latham or Simon Crean.

It is a tribute to John Howard that Mr Rudd has performed as well as he has.

Indeed, the Opposition Leader has learned from the master.

Mr Howard does not deserve to be tossed out of office – but politics is a brutal business and he has made mistakes.

The admission he will stand down in 18 months has rendered him a lame duck.

Voters are correct to think a vote for John Howard is a vote for Peter Costello.

Eleven years of government has also taken the spark out of the PM’s appeal to the electorate.

It has stopped listening.

Over the past five weeks the Coalition has campaigned poorly as it wandered off message, handing out bribes to special interest groups. But Mr Howard has been a great prime minister and the country should thank him for the work he has done. He is owed our gratitude.

After several false starts, he had a shot at the top job and became Australia’s second-longest-serving prime minister, winning four straight elections.

The introduction of the GST, his handling of the crisis in East Timor, the crackdown on guns and the (belated) intervention in indigenous communities have all made significant contributions to our way of life.

But now there is a mood for change.

The Sunday Telegraph accepts readers believe it is finally time to give Labor a go.

But Mr Rudd needs to guarantee our nation several things.

He must stare down a Labor cabinet inhabited by many with union and factional allegiances.

Labor is restless after four terms in opposition and, with no real factional allegiance or support himself, Mr Rudd has to impose himself on the party.

He must stand before them and tell them it has been he who delivered government and it will be he who drives the agenda. Not factions. Not unions.

If they do not want to play it his way then they can challenge him and toss him out. If not, then stay out of his way as he delivers his promised agenda.

Mr Rudd must surround himself with a loyal team that will help him deliver on his promises.

During 2007, under the grinding weight of opinion polls in favour of the new boy, Mr Howard has faltered with endless giveaways to make us ever more dependent on government, which is already far too big.

The Sunday Telegraph advocates a vote for Labor, provided Mr Rudd gives these assurances.

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