While Prime Minister John Howard fends off some vocal accusations over his plan to deny HIV positive people immigration to Australia, the opposition Liberal Party has stumbled rather badly with some Australian voters. And some of the elements could be lifted directly from US politics.
Opposition leader Kevin Rudd and Liberal MP Browyn Bishop were going to travel to Long Tan VietNam to commemorate ANZAC Day. Where Mr. Rudd gets into trouble is in the timing of things, literally. There were going to be Australian veterans at Long Tan, 80 or so, and Mr. Rudd and entourage. This entourage included the Australian TV's Seven Network.
Last week the story broke in the Australian media there were plans to shift the time of the dawn ceremony by an hour to better fit the morning time slot on Seven Network's Sunrise program and gain better ratings. Naturally there was a large amount of fury about this since it appeared that Rudd and Seven Network were disrespecting Australia's military veterans. And this is where thing get interesting.
Kevin Rudd went into damage control mode and denied ever knowing there might be a pre-dawn service. Sound familiar? It should, us poor spectators of the DC Clown Circus know that dance too well and like our own buffoons Kevin Rudd did not escape being covered in feces. It turns out on March 27 Repatriation commissioner Bill Rolfe of the Department of Veterans Affairs emailed Rudd's personal secretary warning of the pitfalls of moving the service to 4:15am VietNam time. So now Rudd is owning up to a mistake being made, that the email was not brought to his attention, and his staff has been counseled. This too sounds familiar, as in 'we have corrected the problem now lets move on.' Except earlier Kevin Rudd used missed emails to crucify the Australian Wheat Board over its dealings in Oil for Food with Iraq, so one can see Rudd is trying to sing a new tune and hope no one notices.
And how else to end this trip into political suicide than to note some defenders of Rudd have fallen back to the oldest excuse of all to try and shove the debacle under the rug. They claim its all politically motivated since federal elections are coming up. Really? Of course its all politics you POMs, why else you think Rudd was flying to Long Tan; he was angling for the veteran vote and he screwed things up royally when trying to deal with the fallout of a crisis not of his making. Which calls into question the quality of his judgement. Like Rudd chumming it up with convicted former WA Premier Brian Burke, in 1994 Burke was convicted of misusing Parliamentary travel expenses, who seems even after prison to still be politically connected and making things happen. Rudd has some baggage it looks like, of the unsavory sort.