The Devalued Prime Minister

Whatever the political stripe of the incumbent, the office of Prime Minster has always commanded a certain respect. It is the highest elected political office in the land and, through the government, is responsible for the stewardship of our nation.

Over the decades there have been good Prime Ministers and those who fared less well. Judgement as to whom should fill each column could often be determined by the political allegiance of the assessor. Posterity allows some Prime Ministers to transcend such partisanship and be afforded the respect of both sides of parliament.

Similarly, there are some who hold our highest political office who do no credit to their predecessors or the office itself. These are our devalued Prime Ministers. This list is mercifully short but Kevin Rudd must surely be at the very top of it.

It is clear that nothing Mr Rudd says can be relied upon. His every action is clearly contrived for political benefit no matter what the collateral damage. This credibility gulf was reaffirmed by the disclosure of the betrayal of former NSW Premier Morris Iemma by Mr Rudd and his astonishing $38 million back flip on government advertising. It is clear that Rudd’s word is worthless and his desperation to cling to power has less to do with the national interest than with his personal vanity and ego.

There have been a range of reports regarding the personal behaviour of Mr Rudd that have documented his erratic and hectoring manner. We have all heard about Mr Rudd reducing an Air Force steward to tears over a substandard sandwich, his meltdown because no hairdryer was available during a trip to Afghanistan and his foul language when dealing with his own peers. A psychologist friend tells me this type of behaviour is the hallmark of an unstable and insecure personality.

One could possibly make excuses if this erraticism was kept private. Unfortunately, Mr Rudd’s dysfunction is manifesting itself in the government’s policy agenda with terrible results.

We are all aware of the pink batts disaster, the failure to protect and secure our borders, the waste associated with his schools building program and the hopelessness of the now scrapped emissions trading scheme.

We also know that Mr Rudd has helped destroy the value of savings and investments for millions of Australians through his corralling of Telstra and his great big new tax on mining.

It is these two policy decisions that have caused Australia’s standing as a relatively secure and stable investment destination to come into question. The concept of sovereign risk, being the risk of investment conditions changing due to government action, has starkly entered the Australian investment arena.

The result has been a plunge in the value of the Australian dollar, a huge fall in the share market and the flight of investment capital to perceived ‘safe havens’. Even if there are no more ill-considered policy thought bubbles from this government, it will take a long time for Australia to rebuild its international reputation.

Our Prime Minister’s insistence on excessive hyperbole and hasty policy has devalued his standing nationally and our country’s standing internationally. He has devalued the office of the Prime Minister in the eyes of everyday Australians.

These reasons, among many others, ensure that whatever the result of the next election, Kevin Rudd will assume the ignominious honour of leading the short list of Prime Ministers who do no credit to the office or their predecessors.

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