Technology ministers strongly back Gillard


news The Federal Government’s cadre of Labor Ministers most involved with the technology portfolio have emerged as strong backers of Julia Gillard in the Prime Minister’s tussle with rival Kevin Rudd which erupted last night following Rudd’s resignation as Foreign Minister.

Speaking on ABC Radio’s AM program this morning, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy accused Rudd of perpetuating “a complete and utter fraud” on the Australian Labor Party over the mandatory pre-commitment technology for poker machines which the Gillard Government had been attempting to implement with the support of independent MP Andrew Wilkie.

Conroy accused Rudd’s camp of meeting with industry lobby group Clubs Australia on the issue. “Kevin Rudd’s supporters were walking around caucus saying look, dump Wilkie, I’ll make this go away,” the Minister said. “The Australian public needs to know what’s been going on here.”

Asked whether his statements were borne out of an attempt to protect his own status, Conroy said his efforts were aimed at protecting the Gillard Government’s reform program — including the carbon tax, the disabilities insurance scheme, and the key project for Conroy’s own portfolio — the National Broadband Network policy.

Conroy represents the Victorian electorate where Gillard also hails from, and was frequently referred to by elements of the media as one of the main members of Labor’s right faction which assisted Gillard in taking power from Rudd prior to the 2010 Federal Election, although on the actual night the leadership spill took place, he admitted to watching soccer instead. Following the election, he received a minor promotion to a role assisting the Prime Minister in maximising the digital productivity opportunities offered by the NBN.

The Daily Telegraph has additionally reported this week that Conroy was one of the key ministers consulted by Gillard as to whether she should sack Rudd from his post as Foreign Minister for undermining her control of the Government, and separately that Conroy has started counting the number of votes that Gillard can count on during the ALP leadership ballot which Gillard announced this morning, to be held next Monday.

Parliamentary Secretary for Immigration and Citizenship, as well as Prime Minister and Cabinet Kate Lundy, who has been one of the driving forces behind the Government 2.0 movement in Canberra, this morning revealed on Twitter that she would support Gillard, as she did during the 2010 leadership contest. “I will be supporting @JuliaGillard in Monday’s Federal Labor Caucus leadership ballot. Australia needs and deserves this stability,” wrote Lundy.

In 2010, Lundy had believed that Gillard’s ascension could represent the potential for the Government to change its stance on its controversial Internet filtering policy, which the Senator has long opposed. However, under Gillard Labor has remained staunchly in favour of the policy.

Special Minister of State Gary Gray, who oversees peak IT strategy group the Australian Government Information Management Office, also criticised Rudd this week, noting that his ouster in 2010 wasn’t about popularity, but good governance. He said Rudd couldn’t come back and become Prime Minister again. “Being prime minister isn’t a job you have a shot at and then you come back again if you think you’ve learned a lesson,” he said. “The country and the governance of the country are too important and we’ve moved on.”

And lastly, newly appointed Attorney-General Nicola Roxon, who is responsible for setting policy in key areas such as data retention, telecommunications monitoring, online copyright infringement and more, has also signalled her support for Gillard

“I’m not a man and I’m not faceless and I don’t think that it would be good for the country to have Kevin be the Prime Minister again,” Roxon told ABC television this morning. And on Gillard: ” She’s the Prime Minister. She’s got the overwhelming support of the Party. If there is a leadership vote I am sure that she will win that convincingly and then that must be an end to this, no matter what people’s personal feelings are. Government is bigger than one person. We get the opportunity from the public only to govern occasionally and we’ve got to make sure that we make the most of that.”

In a press conference in Adelaide this morning, Gillard made reference to the structural separation of Telstra through the implementation of the National Broadband Network policy, which will eventually see its wholesale and retail arms separated, with customers migrated onto the NBN infrastructure.

Gillard said that this separation had been “a reform not attempted prior to my prime ministership”. However, Delimiter believes that this statement is factually incorrect, with the grounding for the talks between Telstra and NBN Co which led to the pair’s landmark agreement being signed in June 2011 having been laid substantially before Gillard came to office, under the Rudd Administration, in which Conroy was also Communications Minister. The current NBN policy was substantially detailed in April 2009.

I was disappointed to see Gillard claim credit for the NBN policy this morning; it was always a policy substantially cooked up between Rudd and Conroy, and I have seen very little evidence that Gillard has played any part in its implementation. There are also indications — such as her ongoing inaccurate claims that a Coalition Government would rip the NBN fibre out of the ground — that Gillard doesn’t fully understand the policy.

At the moment, most commentators consider it fairly unlikely that Rudd will defeat Gillard in any ALP leadership ballot to be held in the near future, with most agreeing that the former Foreign and Prime Minister doesn’t have the votes amongst Federal Labor parliamentarians.

However, should Rudd be successful in his effort, I would say that it is extremely likely that Conroy will lose his cabinet role as Communications Minister. It’s a position which he has been in for a long time, and he has now supported Gillard through several leadership struggles, and been highly visible in doing so. He might even resign from the Cabinet if Rudd took power again.

I would say it is less likely that Roxon would lose her role. Her comments today have been more diplomatic than those of similar strong Gillard supporters such as Conroy or Treasurer Wayne Swan. In addition, Roxon served in Opposition as Shadow Attorney-General and was only recently appointed to the role in Government. Her removal would cause too much chaos for the Government. As for the others, I wouldn’t suggest either Lundy or Gray would necessarily be in Rudd’s firing line, but anything’s possible in a broad cabinet reshuffle.

Image credit: NBN Co


  1. A lot of the support for Gillard is self serving with the pollies too busy trying to save their own skins. It’s a bit disappointing actually.

    • Agree Tezz.

      As one who supports the NBN (and therefore, ‘currently’, consequently Labor) I personally find the attitude of the current Labor mob very distasteful indeed.

      No matter how you look at it, an elected PM (Rudd) was shafted. Whether for the right or wrong reasons, he was shafted.

      Now for those to suggest he is a traitor for wanting his position back and not fully supporting the party who mutinied against him, is gross hypocrisy, in my opinion.

      • “No matter how you look at it, an elected PM (Rudd) was shafted. Whether for the right or wrong reasons, he was shafted.”

        Where does this ide come from?

        Australians do not vote for an elected PM. They vote for a party, or parties. The party itself elects the leader, whom then either becomes Prime Minister or Opposition Leader, depending.

        You, the people, don’t vote beyond that point. Sorry.

        Rudd shafted himself by trying to run the party regardless of ministerial matters. It’s pretty obvious to anyone who watched Rudd carry himself and the attitude as leader that his was very much an “over the bodies of others” leadership technique.

        Rudd ended up in the foreign ministry likely to keep him busy and (effectively) away from leadership. Unfortunately he decided to, once again, take the “Rudd first, party second” line and pull the pin whilst overseas.

        The man couldn’t even wait to return home, and face the music up front. Oh no. Have a hissy fit overseas, dump some other minister in the drink to cover his arse and then skulk around playing the “it’s unfair the majority of the party doesn’t want me as leader” card. And people buy it, lock, stock and smoking barrel.

        This entire shenanigans has and will cost Labor it’s shot at the next general election. Regardless of whom the leader is, they won’t be the next PM. Rudd has singlehandedly pulled the pin on his party.

        People love to blame Julia, for having at least some skin in the game and wanting the leadership position. Rudd is caustic to the party. That Abbott openly states he doesn’t care who it is illustrates the point well.

        Once in power, the NBN is as good as dead.

        Technology ministers back Julia because, frankly, like her or not, she get’s things done. Rudd is all sound and music and yet signifies nothing. He backed out of ETS, backed out of mining tax and generally backed out of anything that was a bit hard.

        I don’t really like either minister. But I *really* don’t like what Abbott and his cadre of goonies have up their sleeve. It’s not a good outcome for Australia. Turnbull? Maybe. The man is smarter than the average bear, but he’s not in leadership contention; Libs will not have a spill this close to an election.

        So people thinking that voting for the Coalition will somehow install Turnbull as leader, are sadly mistaken. Before the Labor implosion? Maybe. Not now.

        Those supporting Rudd, believe he’s the only way to beat Abbott. A blind man carrying three stoats could beat Abbott if their entire party backed them to the hilt. That’s the key. A unified party. That’ll get things done. Not this petulant “I want my seat back, you f–kers” crap.

        • Brendan I will be voting Labor regardless of who is leader and have no association with any political party….

          Being so, I have had a few heated stoushes with some now banned posters for their ridiculous Liberal partisanship (we know who they are) and my friend it seems you are no better than them, but on the flip side, in my opinion.

          Of course we do not vote directly for the PM, but the party leaders are the paramount figure by which the party’s are judged. Which is why the “leaders” have a pre-election debate and are the pinnacle of every campaign/media circus prior to every election.

          As such, if you think it’s ok for a party (any party) to have a figurehead at an election such as Rudd (who don’t forget, toppled Howard unlike many before him who failed) win, only to be “shafted” and I repeat “shafted”, well your idea of actual democracy is about the same as those now Delimiter banned Liberal activists.

          I repeat, in my opinion.

          • I’m simply speaking my mind, without resorting to playing the man. Be good if others could resist and play the topic too.

            Gillard didn’t roll Rudd. The party elected a new leader due to Rudd’s increasing instability and to prevent yet more policies heading into oblivion.

            Never mind that Gillard was the Labor leading heading into an election and was retained as an party-elected leader, of an elected party.

            In many ways, Kevin was removed as leader for the same reason Turnbull was. They may well both be good in front of the press, but they both struggle to gain party support for leadership.

            This is not the US of A. We do not elect a president. We elect members of a party. The leader may speak for the party, hence the leader debates, and that may swing votes on occasion, but, ultimately we have a first-past-the-post election of parties.

            Rudd continues to believe he can use public pressure to force his return to leader. It’s not “us” the public that he has to work with, it’s his party that he has to work with. Even if voted back in, he will struggle, yet again, to get anything done. Just as prior.

            I lost count of the times it was Gillard whom announced policy actions on his behalf. She may not be liked due to the leadership change, but she’s always got things done.

            Being a PM isn’t just a popularity contest, it’s performing for the people, on their behalf, and working with the elected party members and caucus to get the job done. He’s always struggled to work with his own team. That’s not a stable option going forward.

          • You’re right, except that you’re skipping over the fact that the people elect the party, and if the people don’t like the leader (rightly or wrongly) the party won’t get elected in the first place.

            So although we can’t elect the leader specifically, we can’t vote against the party to try and stop a party with a leader we don’t like from being PM.

  2. Actually, no, support for Gillard is not self serving. MPs wanting to save their own skins would just keep quiet in case litte Kevvie somehow wins the prime ministership back. The people speaking out are actually displaying an honesty and straightforwardness we should welcome more in politics.

  3. Either way, the ALP is screwed. Personally, I believe Rudd won’t win, but he’s played a very good political game.

  4. This might’ve sealed the deal for the NBN fellas. =(

    We know whats going to happen if Abbott gets in, its likely that this leadership spill probably has just sealed Labor’s fate.

    What happens from here? Who knows .

  5. Even as a lifetime Labor supporter it’s obviously hard to have confidence in the Government at the moment. However as much as I recognise her own imperfections, Gillard still has my full support over Rudd. He’s deliberately destabilising the government and has been doing so for months. I think people forget just what a nasty person he is. Just look at the way he has treated his own personal staff, air hostesses, and everyone else around him with his incredible ego and unstable temperament.

    Rudd’s speech played on all the insecurities and key terms (“faceless men”) that the media and opposition have been labelling the Government with, and painted himself as someone opposed to (and outside of) dirty politics. If anything it sounded like a victim impact statement, more so than an “honourable” resignation speech. I can’t believe some people are actually buying it!

    Gillard isn’t perfect (huge understatement I know), but the last thing Labor needs is that unstable, revengeful, megalomaniac back in power. Remember he was taken down for good reason. He had his own personal agenda and wouldn’t listen to anyone from his own party, let alone the wishes of the Australian public. Krudd is a vengeful snake, and I don’t trust a single word out of his mouth.

    As for the NBN, I don’t know what to think any more. It’s very depressing. Given Abbott just directly referred to it as a white elephant, and said that it’s an area for corporate investment ( in his latest media conference, not half an hour ago) it’s clearly still on the agenda as the first thing he’ll want to deconstruct as PM.

    I’ll be voting Labor for the NBN and if they implement the recommendations of the Gonksy report. They are doing some great work which is unfortunately being tarnished by this ridiculous leadership spill. All I can say is bring on Monday so we can get this shit out of the way and Labor can try to build its reputation up before the next election (fat chance I know).

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