Sunday, November 25, 2007

The sweetest victory of all

So, they actually did it.

I’m so excited I can’t think straight. (Still.)


One of my favourite moments from the election coverage was when ‘Red’ Kerry O’Brien said ‘In Bennelong, it looks like the ABC is leading ... I mean the ALP is leading ...’ Pause. Red face. ‘I guess that had to happen at some point tonight.’

I got all teary when the cheering broke out at ABC headquarters when it first looked like Maxine was actually going to win it. Seriously, how proud would you be of your former colleague?

Imagine it: Maxine McKew, Minister for Communications. (Even though she’s strongly hinted she’d like Education.) Imagine the collective sigh of relief at ABC headquarters.

I predict that this forthcoming book will be a bestseller. I know I want a copy.

And Peter Garrett, Minister for the Environment. Surely he’s going to show his true colours now that he’s in the job. That's if he gerts it, I suppose. It seems that he might not. Though I don't know how one stupid, ill-timed joke disqualifies him as Minister for the Environment. I read in the SMH that they think he might lose that one but get Minister for Indigenous Affairs. That would be pretty good, too. Can't he have both?!

I have to admit that I’m more excited by Maxine (yes, I know it’s not 100 per cent confirmed, but ...) and Peter Garrett (fingers crossed) than by Kevin the conquering hero himself. I reserve my judgement until he starts work.


How about that speech? He’s certainly no Keating in the orator stakes. He’s a great speaker – a natural – smooth, polished, exuding ‘ordinary bloke’ humility. He wears his erudition lightly. Much more so than the famously ‘prolix’ Kim Beazley. But he speaks from the head, not the heart. There’s no passion, no clever wordplay. His message is tailored for the ‘everyone’ he promises to govern for.

When he opened with ‘I will govern for all Australians’, my heart sank. Talk about ‘me too’. But then he followed it up with his own ‘dog whistle’, this time aimed at us, the chardonnay left. ‘For indigenous Australians. For those who have come here from other countries.’ Phew. Didn’t like the schtick about national security. Didn’t like the suck-up to America. But it’s all part of the reassurance game, I suppose. I did like the fact that he said he would act urgently on climate change. And the education revolution is wonderful in theory. Here’s hoping it includes properly paid educators and the return of a workable public school system.

I guess times have changed. I guess Latham proved that ‘mainstream Australia’ doesn’t want a passion-fuelled Keating. Speeches that read like poetry are SO 1993-1996.

I think Kevin 07 and his team have some massive opportunities. One of them is the rare window they have to fix the big problems in our federal system. Imagine if they actually work together with the state Labor governments to rebuild public health and education without playing the traditional blame game. They probably have a very limited time-frame in which to do it.


Oh, and Julia Gillard, second most powerful person in the country. A woman. A genuine lefty. Living a few train stations away from me. Bless her and her empty fruit bowl.

That was the other big emotional moment for me last night, seeing her finally, cautiously, embrace victory, with tears in her eyes.


Of course, this, really TRULY the sweetest victory of all, is not one for the true believers. It’s the one for the battlers who have returned to the Labor fold.

I’ll be interested (and nervous) to see how the ALP goes about keeping them without alienating its progressive wing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Fixing education will not be easy - no more so than bridging the health outcomes for indigenous people. I suspect that this term in office will be about setting up the conditions to call for a mandate in social policy that is more 'progressive'. I hope it will be, anyway.