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Rudd Right Man For New Times: Daily Telegraph Election Editorial

This is the election editorial from Sydney’s The Daily Telegraph.

The Daily Telegraph is a News Limited publication.

Editorial from The Daily Telegraph.

Rudd Right Man For New Times

This is an unusual editorial in that it praises the leadership and legacy of our current prime minister – and calls for him to be thrown out of office.

The Daily Telegraph believes Kevin Rudd should be the next Prime Minister of Australia.

We believe Australia has been lucky to have been led by John Howard for the past 11 years.

But we now believe Mr Howard has reached his use-by date – if for no other reason than he almost believes it himself.

Our three-year Federal terms are short enough without a candidate for Prime Minister making a vague promise to walk away at half-way through.

The 18-month to two year construction Mr Howard has put on his departure is, bluntly, an insult to the voters’ collective intelligence.

We agree in part with the argument that Mr Howard has shown more honesty than Bob Carr, Peter Beattie, Steve Bracks or Geoff Gallop.

But if you intend to do something unacceptable, letting people know up-front does not somehow render it acceptable.

He simply does not look like a man who has his heart in it any more. We say that more in sorrow than in anger. It is a pity that after more than a decade of energetic reform and strong leadership, he goes to an election which, in retrospect, he will probably admit he should not have contested.

We believe it is totally unacceptable for Peter Costello to waltz into the prime ministership. It is not the job of John Howard to make Peter Costello prime minister. It is the right of the Australian people to elect him.

It is an insulting argument that the people can this Saturday exercise a vote by default for Peter Costello to inherit the job during the term.

On its recent, ill-disciplined form, the Liberals are not in a position to guarantee anything.

His vague future and confusion over future Liberal structure, informs our conviction a vote for Kevin Rudd is a vote for certainty and unity.

Certainty and unity are not of themselves the basis of a cogent argument for change. Oppositions must provide a compelling alternative. We believe Kevin Rudd has done so.

In 12 months, Mr Rudd has achieved tremendous policy discipline across the ALP. Measures which previously would have drawn condemnation from Labor’s Left, such as the Aboriginal intervention strategy, have won bi-partisan support.

More importantly, and with the able assistance of Shadow Treasurer Wayne Swan, Mr Rudd has given reassurances Labor will maintain the prudent economic path charted by the Coalition. If they don’t, they will be gone in one term.

We were heartened that Labor abandoned its former oppositionism and backed the $31 billion in tax cuts – relief which, given vast returns from the minerals boom, should be viewed as the beginning of ongoing tax reductions. We welcome plans to reform the public sector.

Industrial relations remains Labor’s weakness. Kevin Rudd must show that, with 70 per cent of his frontbenchers being unionists, it is he who is leading the party – not the other way around.

That said, Mr Rudd has shifted Labor someways towards the centre on industrial reform. He has ousted labour movement thugs. While unconvinced as to the claimed evil of AWAs, we are impressed Mr Rudd stared down calls to completely reverse Workchoices, maintaining the blueprint’s most important limits on union power.

Most impressive of all is that Kevin Rudd has embraced new thinking and championed new ideas, which appears alien to John Howard.

This election can really be summarised as the tale of two campaign launches. Where John Howard looked flat and pessimistic, Kevin Rudd looked fresh and optimistic.

Thousands of families are excited by the idea of a prime minister who passionately advocates IT as the cornerstone of learning, who will make Canberra the enabler of a long-overdue solution for high-speed broadband access throughout the suburbs and towns. It is not gimmickry. It is vital.

It is not faddish to acknowledge the reality of climate change. This week, 250 of the world’s leading scientists delivered a sober account of its implications. While the Kyoto Protocols are imperfect, Kevin Rudd is right to argue that signing the agreement is a vital first step.

John Howard was the right man for his times. He has been a great economic manager, he has stood up on national security, he mourned with us through the Bali attacks, through flood, drought and fire. But he clearly no longer wants to go the distance, failed to spell out a three-year vision, and he does not deserve a lap of honour.

Kevin Rudd has shown discipline. He has campaigned with enthusiasm, ideas and energy. We believe that Kevin Rudd is the right man for these times.

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Malcolm Farnsworth
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