27 December, 2021

Review: The Case for Courage

Alright, I know Kevin Rudd is problematic. He’s the policy wonk who got ideas above his station in a way that even ending a decade of regressive Liberal government wasn’t enough to make up for. He was torn down by his supporters and then, as if to justify their action, did everything he could to destroy those who tore him down, even if it meant destroying his legacy at the same time.

We can only wonder how much better off we would be if Rudd had been the policy brains behind Julia Gillard’s political nous, but here we are. As he points out in this pamphlet though, first you have to win elections, and the fact remains Rudd is the only Labor leader to ever win a majority in the last quarter century. At some point, we have to face up to that fact and the reasons behind it.

So yes, Rudd is problematic but for all that, everyone should read this. It is effectively an alternative manifesto for the ALP and it’s one they should take very seriously. It contains many ideas both rusted-on Labor-right and the progressive left will find, well, courageous, but it’s hard to fault any of them. In fact, if Paul Keating had written this very document – as he well could have – all the Gen X Labor fanbois would be all over it, and rightly so.

There are plenty of potential Gotcha! moments. He calls out the bully boy tactics of the Murdoch media and proposes standing up to them in a way he completely neglected to do when in government. He returns to a pragmatically compassionate refugee intake – the one he threw out the window in 2013 for a chance at leading Labor to a third term. There is also no small amount of score-settling and told-you-so moments, from the early stimulus of the GFC to the NBN, and the truth is, he’s perfectly justified in doing so.

The contradictions are there for all to see but I encourage you to look beyond the chance to shout Aha! and judge the policies and tactics on their merits. Although it’s personal, not official, this is the most mature and forward-thinking policy document I’ve read since, well, since Kevin07.