Thursday, 12 January 2012

ONE FOR THE COUNTRY, ROBERT (Spectator leader Jan 13)

Downing a schooner in 11 seconds flat, stirring up the old embers of bitter political rivalry, offering gratuitous and unwelcome advice to his current successor. Hawkie’s getting up to his old tricks again. But why?

Boredom would be one obvious answer. It has been noted that Australians don’t really know what to with their ex-leaders. Where most countries either line them up against a wall, sling them into prison, or get them to set up their own library, your average Aussie ex-PM soon finds himself – once the memoirs have been published and the requests to appear on Q&A have dried up -twiddling his thumbs in a twilight retirement.

But for Bob Hawke, the great populist of his generation, being ignored doesn’t sit well. Hence the need to remind the crowd of his proven skills both as a beer-swiller and as a power-broker. Grabbing the headlines several times over the silly season, it is clear that RJH has a specific motive in mind. Berating Julia for being in bed with the unions comes across as a bit rich from the former head of the ACTU, so what’s the real story?

Bob Hawke never got over his chosen son Kim Beazley being knifed by Rudd and Gillard. He will not tolerate a return to Kevin, and presumably, like his old buddy Richo, he suspects the game’s up for Gillard. The polls say so.

What Bob has always craved is a successor in his own image. A down-to-earth bloke with a proven track record in the union movement. A pragmatist with the negotiating skills and economic nous that allow for progress, stability and reform. Someone who will be widely regarded as “the best Labor PM since Bob Hawke.”

Over the summer recess, let’s hope Greg Combet has been working on his skulling technique.

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