With the nation's leadership now returned to Kevin Rudd, Tony Abbott is feeling the heat. Peter Wicks reports that Tony has some explaining to do.

I HAVE HELD BACK on writing my opinion on last week's dramatic turn of events in Canberra.

For what it's worth, now the dust has started to settle I will have my little vent.

It is fair to say that on the evening of the 26th June I was quite taken aback and utterly devastated that our first female Prime Minister could be outed in such a fashion.

I make no apologies for being a fan of Gillard, her achievements speak for themselves.

Julia Gillard's signature reform, DisabilityCare Australia (NDIS) has just started to kick in. It will transform the lives of many Australians. A long overdue reform that was initiated, negotiated, and put in motion by Prime Minister Gillard.

We have had major education reform, with a huge investment in the education of our youth.  The National Plan for School Improvement (Gonski) has already been signed and sealed in NSW, the biggest state – a Coalition controlled state I might add – along with SA, and the ACT.

The Murray Darling Basin agreement, an agreement that has been out of reach for around a century has become a reality under Julia Gillard, with a lot of brilliant work also done by Minister Tony Burke.

She has implemented the country's first ever Paid Parental Leave scheme.

Her government passed the Clean Energy Future package (carbon price) and tied it to Europe's emissions trading scheme.

In a world first, her Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon  introduced plain packaging for tobacco products. Achieved whilst the Coalition took millions in political donations from "Big Tobacco."

After years of struggle by victims, Julia Gillard was the prime minister to stand up to churches and other institutions.  She announced the commencement of the long overdue Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

She leaves behind an economy that is the envy of the world and an unemployment figure that most nations can only dream of.

Remember, all of this was achieved through a minority government. It's a feat that must leave the nations of the world in awe.

Achieving so much in less than one term is remarkable. As Australians we should hold our heads up high. We should be proud of Gillard's achievements.

Alas the press didn't really like to embrace these achievements.

For the press, there were more important things to discuss.

Julia's hair was always a popular topic, as was the size of her butt, her voice and choice of clothing. There was also open debate about her marital status, her lack of children, "deliberately barren" as one Coalition MP put it, and the sexuality of her partner.

She stared down sexism and misogyny on an almost daily basis. For her to hold her head high and maintain her dignity during this time, while many of those in the mainstream waded in the gutter up to their chins, is incredibly inspirational.

Australia was not the first country to have a female leader, many others came before us. I'm sure many of them endured similar gender based slurs and sexist comments as those directed at Gillard. Having said that, that obviously doesn't make it right or acceptable.

Here is a list of some other countries that have had a female leader:

 

Ceylon

 

Poland

 

Germany

 

India

 

Turkey

 

Chile

 

Israel

 

Canada

 

Jamaica

 

Sri Lanka

 

Burundi

 

Moldova

 

Argentina

 

Bulgaria

 

Kyrgyzstan

 

Central African Republic

 

Bangladesh

 

Iceland

 

United Kingdom

 

Liberia

 

Croatia

 

Bolivia

 

Ecuador

 

Trinidad And Tobago

 

Portugal

 

Guyana

 

Costa Rica

 

Dominica

 

Mongolia

 

Finland

 

Norway

 

Panama

 

Slovakia

 

San Merino

 

Senegal

 

Brazil

 

Yugoslavia

 

Indonesia

 

Peru

 

Phillipines

 

South Korea

 

Mali

 

Pakistan

 

Finlad

 

Thailand

 

Haiti

 

Peru

 

Denmark

 

Lithuania

 

Mozambique

 

Guinea-Bissau

 

Nicaragua

 

Macedonia

 

Slovenia

 

Bangladesh

 

Ukraine

 

Northern Cyprus

 

France

 

Bahamas

 

and of course New Zealand

Several of them enjoyed the experience so much that they have had more than one female leader.

It is remarkably telling that some of these countries are Islamic.

We are constantly being told that Islam is the religion that holds women back and oppresses them, yet we seem to have had a harder time grasping the concept of a female leader. What does that say about us I wonder?

One of the great things about being at arm's length from a bitter divorce is that one can continue to admire both parties for their qualities. In my opinion, it's the same with leaders of a political party.

No matter what your preference in the leadership debate there is no doubt whatsoever about the immediate impact of Kevin Rudd being back in the Prime Ministers chair.

Screen shot 2013-07-04 at 7.15.10 PM
Kevin Rudd back in the prime minister's chair and laying down the gauntlet to Tony Abbott. (Image courtesy screenshot from ABC's 7.30)

The impact on the polls has been instantaneous. Labor is once again back in the position where they can fight for a win. In the preferred prime minister stakes Tony Abbott finds himself lagging behind Kevin Rudd despite all their trash talking.

The other more welcome impact has been the dialogue surrounding the election, in particular the refection of it in the mainstream media.

We now seem to be talking about policies rather than taking pot-shots at the PM.

In the last week there have been public discussions about 457 visas, asylum seekers, emissions trading schemes, and of course the reality behind Abbott's "turn back the boats" policy.

The switch back to talking about actual policy has clearly caught the Coalition off guard and left them fumbling around in a desperate search for any logic in their positions.

Their "turn back the boats" policy, for example, created a furor when Prime Minister Rudd stated that if implemented  it could create the risk of conflict between Australia and Indonesia. Julie Bishop came out all fired up and ready to take on the issue from every angle except the glaringly obvious one - the Coalition's policy directly conflicts with Indonesia's. When you also consider it would also be both nations defence forces actually facing each other to enforce their nation's policy, conflict doesn't seem like too much of a stretch to me...

Indonesia has stood their ground ruling out any support of Abbott's slogan posing as a plan.

Then it was John Howard's former Foreign Minister Alexander Downer's turn to have his two cents worth.

Downer told the ABC that Indonesia was OK with us turning the boats around as long as it was done in a discreet manner to save embarrassment to the Indonesian Government.

However, as ABC's Latika Bourke pointed out, there is nothing about the Coalition's policy that is in any way discreet. Quite the opposite in fact.

This is slogan driven politics where a bumper sticker is turned into a policy position.

Over the weekend many of you may have witnessed the spectacle of Tony Abbott at a Liberal campaign launch. Tony stood before a room full of people all wearing the same shirt and waving the same silly flags while Tony Abbott paraded himself on a platform like he was Sarah Palin jumping onstage after a moose hunt.

845701-290613-liberal-campaign-launch
Tony Abbott attempting to look presidential at a recent rally in Victoria. (Image courtesy theaustralian.com.au)

Tony Abbott signals his intentions at his campaign launch by turning his back on his supporters

Abbott was introduced by the most popular Liberal Party figure that they could muster, John Howard - who took pot shots at Kevin Rudd like a bitter and twisted old man.

John Howard as most of you will remember was defeated in spectacular fashion by Kevin Rudd in 2007. He was so unpopular he was even wiped out in his own electorate of Bennelong, the only time this has happened since 1929.

Whilst all this back slapping and self congratulating was going on Rudd was off meeting the people of Western Sydney, walking the streets talking to real people. He took the rock-star adulation he received in his stride.

Abbott has been quick to point out the Labor Party is clearly unstable. His evidence being how close the vote was - as Rudd beat Gillard by only 6 votes.

I have to admit he has a point on this one, clearly instability was an issue.

However, the operative word in the previous sentence is "was". Julia Gillard has announced she will not be contesting her seat of Lalor in the coming election.

The instability is gone it would seem.

Interestingly though, when we look at the Liberal Party and their last leadership challenge the two candidates for the position were separated by only one vote. Yes, Malcolm Turnbull lost his leadership to Abbott by one lousy vote. I wonder if that makes the Coalition 6 times as unstable?

Particularly when you consider Malcolm Turnbull is still around and is again standing in his electorate of Wentworth come election time.

Abbott says the "faceless men" have chosen the leader. That it should have been the people who choose the leader, not the party.

I wonder when he will practice what he preaches and allow the public to choose the Liberal Party leader? Call it a hunch but I think if it were up to the public Malcolm Turnbull would be at the helm.

Abbott's Liberal Party relies on the support of their Coalition partners, the National Party who claim to look after the best interests of rural Australia. So while those in rural Australia are screaming about the impact of Coal Seam Gas mining, Tony Abbott is getting nice and cosy with the mining companies that seek to destroy these farmer's future.

Farmers are screaming blue murder that the two big supermarket chains, Coles and Woolworths, are squeezing them dry and sending them broke with their demands. Meanwhile,  Liberal Party MPs and staffers are attending events sponsored by Woolworths and hosted by a Woolworth's senior staff member.

The same event where Tony Abbott's cheerleader and shock-jock Alan Jones made the tasteless and offensive comments about Julia Gillard's recently deceased father.

I wonder how long it will be until National Party voters wake up, smell the coffee? How long until they realise they are being treated as fools and are being sold out by the party that claims to represent them?

Tony Abbott likes to portray himself as a "real man". He cycles, plays sport, and likes to perform his ridiculous strut whenever he walks near a camera. However in the "real man" stakes Kevin Rudd who wins out.

We all know Rudd has flaws, we were bombarded with them by, not only the Coalition but by Labor MPs during the failed leadership challenge in early 2012.

However, Rudd has manned up, taken a big bite of humble pie, admitted his flaws, dealt with and overcome them and moved on. He is all the stronger and better for it. This to me is the mark of a true man.

In contrast, Tony Abbott also has flaws which he at first denies, then either makes up lame excuses or ignores them. Most of these flaws have shown up in Abbott's past, and clearly Abbott has not grown up or manned up since.

Those who choose not to base their opinions of Tony Abbott on the multitude of claims of misogyny, religious extremism, and negativity, and those who ignore Abbott's past of throwing punches at a woman, and his inability to speak the "gospel truth" probably should ask themselves a question. Is this the character I want of a prime minister? Is this the team I want leading our country?

Do you know anybody who would think the government front bench of the Australian Parliament is an appropriate place for somebody like Sophie Mirabella?

The decision to leave Mirabella there alone should be enough to convince people that Abbott leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to decision making.

We all know Kevin isn't Mr Perfect, nor is he Kevin 07 or even Kevin 11 any longer, however the bounce back in the polls, his popularity, and his ability to pull himself back up certainly make him Special K.

For those who are seeking a real point of difference between Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott, there is one difference that truly defines them, it is this difference above all else that truly separates them:

Tony Abbott will never be Prime Minister.

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