To take a limited lead from a fictional example set in a different country with a not-entirely-identical system, didn’t we all see Chief of Staff Leo McGarry chair JCS security meetings in the White House Situation Room while Jed Bartlet dealt with the presidential schedule on West Wing? None of the stock Republicans on The Hill rose in the House to excoriate President Bartlett for this, did they? If the Head Of Government not attending every such security meeting really is such a big deal, wouldn’t a TV drama based on how such things get spun as part of partisan politics have played at least once with the idea in 7(?) seasons?
Seriously, just how many senior members of Cabinet really need to be present for every single NSCC meeting?
This leak smacks totally of senior defence and/or police personnel feeling slighted by the age of Alister Jordan sitting in as Rudd’s representative. Jordan may “only” be 31, but he was Rudd’s Chief of Staff, the most senior person in the PMO after Rudd himself, not some junior office boy. The Chief of Staff of the Prime Minister’s Office is surely entirely the right person for Rudd to delegate as his representative at meetings that he cannot himself attend. Questions that have been raised regarding Rudd’s judgement in appointing Jordan in the first place are, or at least damn well should be, an entirely separate issue from whether the PM’s Chief of Staff is an adequately serious and responsible level of prime-ministerial representation at senior-level meetings that the PM cannot, for whatever reason, attend.
The Opposition says the revelations show that Mr Rudd is not fit to be a minister in a future Labor government.
The committee, attended by senior officials including the chief of the Defence Force and the Australian Federal Police commissioner, is where some of the most important decisions of government are made.
One senior official said that in his nearly 30 years of dealing with this committee and its earlier incarnations he could not remember a prime minister treating it with such disdain.
Deputy Opposition Leader Julie Bishop says, if true, the claims mean Mr Rudd should not be considered for any ministerial position in a future government.
The Opposition is also trying so hard to paint this leak as coming from a Labor Cabinet figure – disunity in Labor! Danger, El Ectorate, danger! – that, in combination with the quote I’ve bolded above, it only makes me more sure that it’s actually coming from an old-school-Tory-leaning defence or police official.
It’s interesting to note how the two-smears-for-the-price-of-one spin on Rudd’s first day campaigning in his own electorate as “sucking oxygen from Gillard’s federal campaign” echoed this narrative: the idea that Rudd is such a loose (and disloyal) cannon, obviously not fit for senior office and that thus Gillard is not fit for senior office either if she gives him a Cabinet position. Oh yes, how dare he get his office to send out press releases about where he would be for his local election campaign (shock! the gall!), and then not give the milling press pack any juicy #spill soundbites?
Then we get another two-smears-for-the-price-of-one spin on Rudd’s consideration of taking up a position on a UN panel for climate change:
Mr Rudd, who discussed the post further with Mr Ban when in New York last week, said the panel would be comprised of many former and current heads of government, foreign ministers and ministers from developed and developing nations.
Obviously, if Rudd is re-elected as MP for Griffith (high probability) and then given the Minister for Foreign Affairs post (also high probability), being part of such a panel would actually be part of his duties, not some part-time perk at all. Surely he should be considering the role seriously given his understanding of his future prospects, and talking about it is being transparent about how he sees what the job of Foreign Minister entails. Gillard surely should be happy to have someone so willing to look into larger aspects of the Foreign Minister’s international role. But yet again, it’s being spun as Rudd the loose cannon and Gillard being irresponsible to want him in her Cabinet.
Don’t fall for it, Julia. Don’t fall for it, Kevin. The LibNats and the media magnates are so shit-scared that there will be a rapprochement between Rudd and Gillard that will look good to the electorate, that they are trying to set up great walls of division between them. Don’t let them get in the way of the larger message.