The boy from a town called Nambour

From today’s Crikey email:

For those of us who are proudly parochial Queenslanders, the Labor launch in one of Australia’s “magnificent cities” (to quote Kevin07) yesterday certainly warmed the heart. And Kevin Rudd very cleverly wove his upbringing and values together into a thread that unified many of his key themes. As well as being the “boy from Nambour”, he was fleshing out the story of his beliefs and what he stands for, while Anna Bligh sought to defuse the “wall to wall Labor” attack.

Even if Rudd wasn’t quite from a town called Hope, it was all a tad Clintonesque.

As was the contrast with the Coalition launch on Monday – a veritable blokefest with Peter Costello’s testosterone heavy mockery offset only by the appearance of women solely in the guise of wives. Bill Clinton famously promised a Cabinet which looked like America, and as Dennis Altman wrote in the Financial Review yesterday, woman are sparsely represented on the Coalition’s front bench.

There’s something in that rather clever YouTube video from the Ministry of Truth which parodies the Libs’ ads and reminds all of us that 87% of Ministers are “old, rich white guys”.

The appearance of Anna Bligh and Julia Gillard on stage helps create the perception that Labor really are modern and “fresh”, compared to a PM whose flights of rhetoric about a speech Menzies made in 1942 probably does make him seem “exotic”.

Something similar was at work when Wayne Goss’ Labor opposition ran against a National Party government in 1989 seemingly composed of identikit graziers and a Premier who was picked because he looked and sounded like Joh. Goss’ success owed much to a desire among urban and educated Queenslanders to sweep the Cabinet table clean of Ministers who symbolised the past rather than looked to a more cosmopolitan future.

Kevin Rudd and Wayne Swan, Nambour High boys both, will understand that point very well indeed.

There’ll be a lot of commentary on the clever politics of the Labor launch, and the “stop the spending spree” call is very clever indeed. But it’s well worth attending to what the presentation says – and not just in terms of the slogans. Rudd is banking on the fact that there are future-oriented Australians out there in sufficient number who believe that as far as John Howard is concerned, they’re the forgotten people.

It’s probably a good punt.

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Posted in federal election '07
42 comments on “The boy from a town called Nambour
  1. Darlene says:

    The Boy from Nambour, hey?

    When I went to one of a speech by the author of one of the books about Rudd, I asked him during the Q & A what influence did he think Queensland had on Rudd (we all know about the “Queensland is different” thesis argued by the likes of Humphrey McQueen). The author made mention of the “bible belt” characteristics of Nambour, but also said Qld has changed a lot so I don’t think he thought the influences were that great.

    It’s interesting that Rudd’s “Boy from Nambour” line is much more palatable than that “Boy from Green Valley” thing.

    “The appearance of Anna Bligh and Julia Gillard on stage helps create the perception that Labor really are modern and “fresh”, compared to a PM whose flights of rhetoric about a speech Menzies made in 1942 probably does make him seem “exotic”.”

    Thank heavens for that. How boring it is that the Coalition seek to perpetuate the notion (if not the reality) that being a politician means one has to be male.

  2. Greg says:

    Well, why shouldn’t Rudd come off Clintonesque? Howard’s taken his cue from Reagan/Thatcher, so it’s natural.

  3. mbahnisch says:

    Wasn’t saying it was a bad thing, Greg.

    I’d completely forgotten that “boy from Green Valley” stuff from Latho, Darlene (probably repressed much of the memory from the 2004 campaign because of its deeply depressing outcome!). But it’s an interesting contrast in the appropriation of Clinton themes – executed well by Rudd, mucked up by Latham.

  4. gandhi says:

    1. I thought Rudd’s fist-pumping exuberance at the launch looked great on TV. Ready for victory!

    2. NOTE: Rudd grew up in Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s QLD. ‘Nuff said.

    3. Here’s Doc Howard’s vapid response to Rudd’s clever promise of a computer (not an ice cream, alas!) for every high school kid:

    “I’m not opposed to computers. There are a lot of computers in a lot of schools now. Nobody’s against that. I didn’t come here to attack computers. I think we all like computers and we all find computers are a marvellous aid and we love them and they make our life so joyous, we get so much information. They’re terrific, nobody’s arguing about that.”

    How out of touch is that?

  5. mbahnisch says:

    NOTE: Rudd grew up in Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s QLD. ‘Nuff said.

    Not sure that enough is said – so did I. Joh was Premier for the first 19 years of my life! What implication are you drawing from it?

  6. lazyaussie says:

    “I’m not opposed to women. There are a lot of women in a lot of schools now. Nobody’s against that. I didn’t come here to attack women. I think we all like women and we all find women are a marvellous aid and we love them and they make our life so joyous, we get so much information. They’re terrific, nobody’s arguing about that.”

  7. mbahnisch says:

    Heh!

    That’s about right, actually.

  8. Ah, come on, Kevin could have stood there and made armpit farts for 20 minutes and everyone who comments here would have applauded it.

    Purely from a presentation point of view, what I haven’t seen anyone say is that it seemed to involve some stuff up regarding the placement of the autocues. Wasn’t everyone constantly aware that he was using them, when the point of them (I thought) was to allow a more natural looking delivery?

    As for the computer promise: seems kind of late in the technological day, now that families can buy an adequate 2nd hand primary student’s laptop for, what, $300? A new one for maybe $700 from Big W, and it should last a good few years.

    I also thought Julia Bishop on the “education debate” today was very good, even though I have had reservations about her in the past.

  9. jinmaro says:

    Rudd wouldn’t have paid university fees would he? Puts a different slant on his personal achievement and career opportunities.

  10. Darlene says:

    “But it’s an interesting contrast in the appropriation of Clinton themes – executed well by Rudd, mucked up by Latham”.

    Very interesting. I am sure that are a lot of factors that explain why the appropriation has been varied in success (e.g. personality, political convictions).

    “Ah, come on, Kevin could have stood there and made armpit farts for 20 minutes and everyone who comments here would have applauded it.”

    Tee hee, I think being able to armpit fart for 20 mintues would deserve applause. I suspect a lot of people who read this site aren’t necessarily fans of Rudd. He’s quite a conservative man.

    I grew up in Joh’s Qld as well, and I was born in Nambour. “Now go bake me up a possum pie, and get some sunscreen for the back of my neck”.

  11. Enemy Combatant says:

    Yes, lazyaussie and gandhi. It was El Rodente at his disconnected, patronising worst. How sweet it is to savour the details of Death Watch 07.

  12. David says:

    As an IT professional, I’m not convinced that a computer in every schoolbag is necessarily a good thing. (I also know some teachers who agree with me.) From what I’ve seen, they tend to get use for playing games and producing googled cut’n’paste essays, and it’s actually extremely difficult to use them as a genuine tool for learning in schools.

  13. Guido says:

    Where the hell is Nambour.

  14. joe2 says:

    “There’s something in that rather clever YouTube video from the Ministry of Truth which parodies the Libs’ ads and reminds all of us that 87% of Ministers are “old, rich white guys”.”

    Yep, it struck me as clever at the start. If only they had not spoken of Downer as “camp”. I cannot stand that bloke, at all, but that sought of stuff is dumb, tacky and so old fashioned.

  15. mbahnisch says:

    Where the hell is Nambour.

    Sunshine coast hinterland, about an hour’s drive north of Brisbane.

  16. Fanny Robin says:

    Nambour is a smallish town in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. Close by, further inland, is the Blackall range escarpment towns of Montville, Maleny, and Mapleton. It is, or at least was, very beautiful former farming country: small, family fruit and dairy farms. Its forests were heavily logged and pretty much wrecked (for the beauteous cedar in particular) by the early-mid 1900s. In the 60s and 70s hippies, Vietnam vets and assorted other alternative types, artists, writers, settled in the area in much the same way their counterparts did in the hinterland of Byron Bay, further south.The older inhabitants, who tended to be religious and conservative, didn’t like the new settlers much and made that clear.

    Eleanor Dark wrote a gem of a novel “Lantana Lane” about her life there in the 1950s after she and her husband moved to Montville from their home Varuna,in Katoomba, NSW. It gives a good feel of the area, the period, and its farming community, as being totally hilarious. Highly recommended.

  17. mbahnisch says:

    Thanks for that – it sounds interesting.

    I haven’t been up Maleny way since the early 90s, but I’ve heard it’s changed a fair bit (and not necessarily for the better).

  18. Adam says:

    hi joe2,

    you could take it that way, or see it as a discreet way of pointing out that this is as close as the coalition gets to accepting (overtly) gay white males into their exclusive bretheren…

  19. nobby says:

    don’t you queenslanders ever get embarrased by all this parochialism.

  20. Enemy Combatant says:

    “don’t you queenslanders ever get embarrased by all this parochialism.”

    No way, noddy. Not when Kevvie’s gonna be the next PM. He may be a bit of a nerd, but he’s OUR nerd. And Federal Treasuer Wayne is “cool” by us too.
    Besides, that Johnny Howard’s nuthin’ but a bloody Cockroach!

  21. mick says:

    Did Howard actually bite on that computer stuff? That’s just dumb.

    Sorry I missed the launch, it sounds like it was interesting in so many ways! Stupid time zones.

  22. Leinad says:

    Who gives a toss about unions – can Australia risk a Labor govt dominated by Banana-benders?

  23. joe2 says:

    I am starting to doubt whether I could stand QLD triumphalism on election night.

  24. jinmaro says:

    Rudd/the ALP is going to win. I’m convinced of it now. He is a Queenslander, yes, and is not from any part of the Qld left, historically or today. But at least in this election campaign he/the ALP has managed to spin an inclusive national narrative, compared to Howard’s divisive, negative attacks on working trade unionists and their families, which I think people want and need to hear now.

    This is particularly the case given the growing acceptance and knowledge of the fact that we collectively face huge, unprecedented challenges around climate change, population growth, the provision of water, the effects of pollution, biodiversity depletion, and domestic repercussions of volatile regional and international politics.

    Rudd offers some hope, some confidence that we can fashion a response to all these. Howard doesn’t.

    Howard’s already gone.

  25. Zarquon says:

    Things have only gone downhill since Ql won the Sheffield Shield Pura Cup.

  26. Ambigulous says:

    Her Majesty’s Vessel Menzies.
    Orders of the day: Friday 16th November.

    Boy to press Capt Howard’s brown trousers (3 pr) for Sat 24th, 9am. No grog to be taken from stores for private use. Pistols to be taken from the Hysterics (Lt Downer, Lt Andrews) for safekeeping: lock in armoury.

    All crew to be informed we anchor 5 miles off Heads in 120 fathoms every night, to reduce temptation to desert in darkness; applies to Officers also. Navigation duties all foresworn to Capt Howard these next 10 days, with tsunamis in offing.

    Take in provisions of grapefruit, fresh apples, potatos, leeks, gruel when next ashore if sympathetic grocer may be found. Last eight grocers horsewhipped and held aboard in infgirmary and will be put off at Nauru on our imminent voyage to British Isles. None dare call it “exile”.

    Confiscate all lights and signalling flags, to prevent further unauthorised messages from vessel. Loose lips sink Her Majesty’s vessels. May hove inshore on the morrow and take aim again at RBA headquarters, if range be good and aim true we shall have the better of it.

    Sharpen cutlasses in morning, expect close raiding parties from dinghies and canoes.

    Stout hearts and true, men.

  27. pablo says:

    Easy on the triumphalism beyond Queensland Joe2. A Newcastle Herald poll taken on Monday Nov 12 of 300 voters in the marginal NSW seat of Paterson showed the sitting Lib on 46.3 with ALP 33 and 21 percent undecided. This roughly mirrors a similar poll at the same time before the 2004 poll. Baldwin is an ok local member but these figures suggest the ALP will need plenty of Green preferences to threaten incumbency.

  28. philiptravers says:

    I am a drifter,and I have seen the rain,the rain that comes from loneliness,as I drift from town to town,looking for the answers to my sorrows,and if the answer is Rudd ,well it is bound to be Crud,and, I will have no will to borrow. And Howard isnt the Gingerbread man.I guess, as a matter of observation many will remain disillusioned.I am now making films of such in my mind at a empty picture theatre near you.

  29. Leinad says:

    pablo: I wouldn’t read too much into a poll of 300. Especially when the Newcastle Herald claims a margin of error of 0.1 percent(!? WTF)

    I’m adding ‘Nambour’ and similar references to Ruddling’s childhood to the list for the Elekshun night drinking game. One shot or two, LPers?

  30. joe2 says:

    Oh hell, philiptravers, you are a poet and you do not noet.

  31. wpd says:

    David re your comment

    “As an IT professional, I’m not convinced that a computer in every schoolbag is necessarily a good thing. ”

    I agree that computers are not ‘silver bullets’. Certainly computers/broadband give access to knowledge/info etc but so did/do Libraries.

    Children are always motivated to seek knowledge but not necessarily the knowledge etc that society regards as valuable. Computers give uncensored access to the ‘big bad world’ as oppose to Libraries which always ‘censor’ and deny access to ‘all’ info.

    The real task for teachers in primary and secondary schools is to get the students to pursue ‘valuable’ knowledge and that task is best explained by sociological insights.

    By and large, Education is not a technical problem that requires a technical solution even if technology can aid and abet the process.

  32. David Rubie says:

    We should probably be requesting a thread for the election night drinking game. Nambour mentions are a good start Leinad.

    “Working Families” – take a shot.
    “It’s not over yet” – take a shot.
    “What’s your take, Antony?” – take a shot.
    “McKew has taken Bennelong” – chug a whole beer, then NUDIE RUN!!!!!! GO MAXINE!

  33. Liam Hogan says:

    Oh, no way. Dobell references to the Bird are the drinking triggers supreme.

  34. Leinad says:

    “Firewall strategy” – take a shot
    “The marginals are the key to this election” or something similar – take a shot
    Bartlett stays up – two shots (though this will probably only occur sometime in December at the 317th count.
    Newhouse takes Wentworth – three shots
    Chas boneheads either Howard’s concession/Rudd’s acceptance – I guess a bottle of something would be appropriate
    One of DLP/CDP/CEC/LDP/Hanson/Ecuyer wins a quota – rip head of nearest native wildlife to hand, drink

  35. mbahnisch says:

    don’t you queenslanders ever get embarrased by all this parochialism.

    Nope.

    If anyone mentions the LDP on election night, I’ll be mightily surprised.

    And I haven’t calculated the margin of error on a sample of 300, but it’d be a hell of a lot more than 0.1%.

    I’m off the grog at the moment so apologies for the sobriety of this comment.

  36. mbahnisch says:

    https://larvatusprodeo.wordpress.com/2007/11/15/the-boy-from-a-town-called-nambour/#comment-1365

    That’s going in the best comments of the year pile, I reckon, Ambigulous!

  37. steve says:

    I do believe that the present Queensland Parliament since the election of Grace Grace has about 42%(from memory)Female representatives well above the level of any other Australian Parliament and in World leading territory.

  38. Darryl Rosin says:

    “I do believe that the present Queensland Parliament… has about 42%(from memory)Female representatives”

    It’s 31 out of 89, or about 35%. No idea of that’s more or less than other Parliaments and Assemblies.

    “don’t you queenslanders ever get embarrased by all this parochialism.”

    Ha! You’ve never spent much time in Qld, have you nobby?

    d

  39. nobby says:

    darryl rosin,
    my son was at a rugby league test, aus v nz in brisbane and the locals were all barracking for queensland,amazing.

  40. Ambigulous says:

    Why thank you, Mark B

    1 divided by square root of 300 is 1 divided by approx 17.321, or 0.057735 as a fraction, or 5.77%. If “one over the square root of N” is a fair measure of sdampling error, I’d estimate +/- 5.8% on a sample of (N =) 300.

    Ya hafta feel sorry for all the marginalised in the campaign (those not in the “Working Families” camp): the working singles, working de factos, working widowed, working kids-left-home-withou-a-by-your-leave, working poor, unemployed, unemployable, living off dividends, rentiers, layabouts, street poets, disabled, tycoons, stud-muffins-between-jobs, et al.

  41. Helen says:

    the Coalition launch on Monday – a veritable blokefest with Peter Costello’s testosterone heavy mockery …

    They don’t realise how sick a lot of us are of that style of politics, and Mark Latham’s biggest mistake was that he didn’t, either. And he wasn’t about to change, because he made some fatuous remark about politics being all girly-fied with not enough masculinity these days. I’m sorry, but he wasn’t the new blood we needed, unless you are a straight white footballer or something.

    Ambigulous: LOL.

  42. mbahnisch says:

    Yep, Helen, he was very worried about the “crisis of masculinity” or something. Whatevs!

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