These were the words of John Howard Australia’s second longest running Prime Minister, just one of the many Prime Minister’s stepping in to the spotlight at this, the halfway point of the current election campaign. There is the current Prime Minister Julia Gillard, the alternative Prime Minister Tony Abbott and then there is Julia’s haunting “ghost who walks,” Kevin Rudd, the former Prime Minister who’s just returned from exile.
As we scan them most of us are asking, will the real Prime Minister please stand up? It must be disconcerting for the Prime Minister Julia Gillard to see Kevin performing so well; he looked decidedly prime ministerial, if not presidential, as he stood at the podium flanked by two Australian flags. His message was crafted brilliantly, and he spoke like a statesman, defending his record. And I think he believed he was the real thing.
If Kevin was removed because his government had gone off the rails and Julia was brought in to get back on track, why is he now centre stage, arguing for the legacy that Julia wanted to move on from. It has now come out, that the visionary climate change policy that Kevin was committed to and was wanting to fight for, was white anted by back room party hacks. Because they had the numbers they were able to build a view in cabinet that moved Kevin Rudd from his core values. These very same unelected people then moved to dump an elected Prime Minister when it turned out that the polls showed people’s trust in Kevin Rudd had been damaged because of their interference.
Some people don’t understand that leadership sometimes means you have to turn your back on those you lead if you are going to stay ahead of the crowd. The only problem with that is, you might get a knife in your back when you’re trying to do the right thing.
Whatever you think of John Howard, he introduced the GST, one of the most unpopular policies Australia has ever seen. At the time many screamed that he had destroyed the social fabric of the nation with this policy yet we hardly talk about it now; we’ve adjusted. John Howard led. Nobody ever asked for the real John Howard to stand up.
Love him or hate him, and I certainly have a deep dislike for many of his policies, we never had any doubt about where he stood on any issue.
The American comedian Bill Cosby was once asked the secret of success; his answer: “I don’t really know, but I can tell you the secret of failure – try to please everyone”
Who knows what might have happened if Kevin Rudd had been leading the other side of politics? It makes you think.