Greg Rudd’s decision to run for the Senate in Queensland as an Independent is a real show stopper. And lest it be thought that it’s some Machiavellian manoeuvre by Kevin, let me assure you it ain’t so. The two men have not spoken for months. Greg did not tell his younger brother before the announcement; indeed, he kept it a closely guarded secret from him.
The implications are fascinating on two levels – first for the light it throws on the Rudd family and Kevin’s continuing quest for the leadership; second its effect on the increasingly complex political scene as the Labor party confronts its electoral prospects under its current leader.
As I wrote in my biography of Kevin, Greg, who was born in 1954, three years ahead of his brother, ‘tended to bond with his father’ while Kevin was undoubtedly mother’s boy. In the little farmhouse at Eumundi, he and Kevin shared a bedroom. Kevin was the tidy one. ‘I have this perfect picture of him,’ Greg said. ‘I walked in one night and he was standing at the chest of drawers very tense and annoyed, so tense he was almost shaking and he said, “Is it so hard to pick up those socks and put them in the drawer?” I’ll never forget that. I probably said, “Yeah, it is”.’
In short, while they bear a physical resemblance to each other, they are really chalk and cheese. And their relationship is, at best, rocky.
Greg is a genuine political independent. While he worked as a Labor ministerial staffer in the 1990s he then turned to lobbying and has just as many friends on the conservative side of politics as among the Labor Party. For example, he told Queensland Premier Campbell Newman of his Senate intensions well before the formal announcement. His father was a Country Party man and Greg has some very close links to the LNP. And he regards the Greens with political disdain. So there is absolutely no guarantee that he will support the Labor side in crucial votes.
Yet paradoxically, it is the political potency of the Rudd name – so assiduously promoted by his brother – that will practically ensure he gets elected. And it will come in place of a Labor candidate.
At a time when Kevin’s quest to topple Julia Gillard is once again gathering pace, it’s a complication the former Prime Minister just doesn’t need. In their latest move his forces are trying to blame Julia Gillard for getting into bed with the Greens while Kevin realised all along that they were a viper at the Party’s breast. And it’s working pretty well.
In a transparent counter-measure, she is attempting to raise her profile in Queensland with serial journeys and announcements of political largesse such as the G20 meeting. But all to no avail. Her reception during her latest swing through the State was consistently hostile. And according to the polls, even her adopted home state of Victoria has turned its back on her.
I’m afraid the Gillard experiment is terminal and Kevin’s return is highly probable…unless of course it’s derailed by the boy who wouldn’t pick up his socks.