The Stalking of Julia Gillard (2013) by Kerry Anne Walsh is a wildly partisan look at the decline of the Gillard government. If you were unaware that the Gillard government was impressively unpopular following Gillard’s reversal on the introduction of a C02 tax and that many journalists wrote articles suggesting that the ALP would lose dramatically at the next election were she not replaced then this book may have something for you. Alternatively if you too are solidly on the left of the Australian political spectrum you may find more evidence that Rupert Murdoch and his lizard henchmen run Australia. For anyone else it’s worth saving time and skipping the book. Downfall, by Aaron Patrick is much better. No doubt after the next act, that of the ongoing Federal Election, there will be some really interesting books about the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd years.
Walsh gets some impressive facts wrong. On page 30 she talks about the 3 trillion dollar economy and after all is 100% difference in the size of the Australian economy important? Walsh is also one of the few people who believe that Gillard did not break a promise in introducing the Carbon Tax. Politifact covers the issue in more detail. Walsh happily elides mentioning the protests by environmentalists against what was perceived to be Gillard’s policy before the election. Not a word is said about the ‘Citizens Assembly’ that was to be held to reach consensus on the matter.
There is some irony in the book. Walsh is upset because right wing commentators are right wing commentators. They shouldn’t be you know. But apparently books as partisan as Walsh’s are just what we need instead. It’s also worth noting that Walsh is a commentator on Sky Agenda, shown on channels owned by Murdoch. Perhaps she is part of some dastardly plot of Murdoch’s to befuddle the Australian Left with silly conspiracy theories.
The story of how a reasonably popular first term Prime Minister was removed and the succeeded by someone who was initially popular but who made a number of serious political mistakes that snowballed is fascinating. But this book ignores most of that and just looks at articles critical of Gillard. There were a lot written. Many of them were pretty poor. However the reason they got traction was because the government was in trouble. The Gillard government depended on ALP votes of people who in normal circumstances would have been sacked. This was because Gillard had unwisely called an early election before establishing authority and then ran a poor campaign. On top of this leaks affected her. But ‘The Real Julia’ was the ALP’s own idiocy.
Rudd & Craig Thomson would have been calmly removed and ignored in a normal government. Gillard having to defend Union corruption was an awful look and reflected serious problems within the ALP. The Obeid scandal showed just what can happen when corruption is ignored
Rudd’s incredible ability to generate media interest is also given scathing treatment. Rudd is clearly an amazingly ruthless operator who works very hard at self-promotion. In government there also clearly real problems with the way Rudd ran the government. Walsh’s assertion that Gillard was drafted in and had no leadership ambitions is laughable. The Wikileak’s US diplomatic cables show that Gillard was sounding people out for a chance to become Prime Minister. There isn’t anything wrong with that, it’s hard to imagine many, if not most, senior politicians not doing the same. But pretending Gillard was loyal is unbelievable.
Partisan reviews of politics can, even if their central theme is a bit silly, be interesting as they bring up little known facts. Conspiracy theories are not nearly as entertaining as they become diatribes. The irony of Walsh complaining about one eyed views of politics is amusing for a little while but rapidly becomes tiresome. Skip this book.