I first encountered Kevin Rudd back in my early days at 4BC in 2005. It was back in his old Morningside electorate office - a cramped, two-room affair with yellowing paint on the walls and a large mahogany desk that took up most of the-then Shadow Foreign Minister's tiny office.
I remember him being very slick, even back then, while discussing some foreign relations matter he disagreed with the government about. I believe I used the term "robot-like" to describe him to folks back in the newsroom, but maybe that's just ret-conning considering how popular the term "Ruddbot" has become. The most recent media conference I attended with the Prime Minister was after he addressed an LHMU conference in South Brisbane. He was hailed as a hero, with a standing ovation and much praise of his dismantling of WorkChoices. Ironic, now, that the Australian Workers' Union has distanced itself from him, saying Julia Gillard is their best hope of retaining office and stopping any Liberal ideas of returning to WorkChoices.
I've come across Julia Gillard at media conferences too; as well as several phone interviews. I remember one in the lead-up to the election when she was being mocked a bit for her Kath-and-Kim-style speaking voice. It was around the time that ABC comedy had been having a go at the IR laws; Julia said "I'm not the only woman with a funny voice from Melbourne who dislikes WorkChoices". Nice line from a clever lady.
I don't know that any of us could have imagined on 24th November 2007 that such a popularly-elected new Prime Minister could potentially be meeting his end in this way. I mean, it's full on, no other way to say it.
So what's been happening? What's caused such a stupendous fall?
There was the mighty, tragic failure of the insulation program. The Building Education Revolution has also drawn fire for rorting and inappropriate developments. The government then put the ETS on the backburner, despite frustration over the issue in the lead up to Copenhagen triggering what we can now call the "warm-up spill" in the Liberal party last November. The government couldn't seem to tack down the humane position on asylum seekers, or at the very least properly combat Opposition "boogieman" tactics. The lengthy wait for the seemingly dull Henry tax review then exploded in April when the government announced its Resources Super Profits Tax. All of a sudden some of the richest companies/executives in the country had Joe and Daisy Blow believing they were poor put-upon battlers, being screwed over by a greedy and uncaring PM.
What I wonder though, is how much of this whole debacle is attributable to the thrusting of Tony Abbott (and his frightenly-packed budgie smugglers) into the spotlight as Liberal leader? After all, polls were good for Labor when the Liberals were busy scratching each others' eyes out. But with some of the above-mentioned policy debacles, the Mad Monk didn't have to do much more than saddle up with some of his trademark laconic putdowns to capitalise on Rudd and the government's freefall. Was it luck, or strategy? What came first, the chicken or the egg?
The most recent time I saw the PM was at a Media Club lunch at the Brisbane Sofitel earlier this month. After months and months of attending these lunches, I finally screwed up the courage to ask the PM a question. It wasn't about the mining tax, or other clever things that he responded to at great length and detail. No, I asked him if, as a South-East Queenslander, he'd filled in Anna Bligh's online poll about daylight saving and whether he supported it. The question actually got a laugh from the room, before the PM gave his briefest answer of the day "No, and no".
Looks like I was lucky to get that question in. With bookies listing Julia Gillard at $1.20 to roll Kevin Rudd, it appears it may have been the last opportunity to do so.
*Apologies for any inconsistencies or errors in this post; I'm writing it in the overnight hours of Wednesday 23/Thursday 24 June, after coming into work well before my 4am start to get a heads up on stories for the breakfast shift. I think it may be time for a McDonald's run...