For the love of revenge

However you may feel about Kevin Rudd, he is not an easy character to ignore. He has this knack  – very artfully and assiduously honed – of remaining the public eye. No matter how casual he may make his appearances seem, there is a calculated and cunning plan underpinning them.

Even Kevin may not know yet what political moves he will make over the next six months – there may be none – but he is ensuring he has plenty of options available. Not for nothing was he the power behind Wayne Goss’s throne as Queensland premier and very few are those who make it to become Prime Minister.

One thing is for sure, though: he desperately wants to be PM again. No matter what he says, there is an inner core to his being that wants that prize almost more than life itself.

Just what he would do if he got the gift is anyone’s guess but insightful Australian Financial Review columnist, Grace Collier, raises a very intriguing point about Rudd’s relationship with the unions.

That Rudd and the union movement are estranged is no secret. Many – though certainly not all – were against his elevation to federal Labor leadership. Those who supported him expected a pleasant parcel of patronage once he was in power. They got a big gift with repeal of Work Choices but that was, after all, a no brainer.

Once the warm inner glow of that bauble dissipated, they waited for more – but it never came. Instead Rudd treated them – like so many others – with contempt. Utterly convinced of his own superiority he believed he was not beholden to anyone. Proving the point he even forced two activist union officials out of the party. That sent shudders through the rank and file as they pondered the unthinkable scenario of a Labor PM actually taking to the union movement with a big knife.

Revenge was forthcoming as the Australian Workers Union subsequently played a major role in deposing Rudd and installing Julia Gillard. How intense do you think Rudd’s hatred is of those who humiliated him and, effectively, did so without warning? There is a fire in Rudd’s belly that would fuel half a dozen massive United States’ aircraft carriers better than their existing nuclear power plants.

Which brings us to Collier’s point about what kind of retribution Rudd would exact on the unions if he were to make it back as Prime Minister. Ooh, it would not be pretty. If we know anything about Rudd it is that he is, in the grand Labor tradition, a great hater.

Don’t be seduced by the charming dimples: look into the hard as obsidian eyes when Rudd is angry to gauge his taste for vengeance. It’s visceral.

Of course, Rudd’s renaissance may never come. But if it does, then the union movement across this nation might well wish for the glory days of John Howard and remember when Work Choices reflected a calm and benign industrial relations regime.


Acknowledgement: Grace Collier, The Australian Financial Review