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Sunday, June 01, 2008

Blogging this year has been sporadic. Miss Eagle has been living life instead including pleasuring herself in the Northern Territory during the last month. But I have to burst into print to-day over Kevin Rudd and his so called "work ethic".

Let's take a little walk down memory lane.

It is Queensland in the 1990s and Wayne Goss (Wayne Swan was State Seceretary of the ALP) has just ousted the National Party from 32 years in government. Wayne Goss was elected Premier of Queensland on 2 December 1989 and remained there until 1995. Two things characterised the Goss period of government - arrogance and aloofness - and they were demonstrated before Goss was ever sworn in as Premier.

On election night in the tally room, he famously told a group of cheering young Labor supporters who were beside themselves with understandable excitement that they should take a cold shower. In my view, it was - eventually - this same sort of arrogance and aloofness which brought the Goss Labor government unstuck so that, on the morning after the loss, Queensland Treasurer Keith de Lacey could say "There's a message in there somewhere but I don't know what it is."

And what has this to do with Kevin Rudd's so-called work ethic? Heaps - if one could just learn from the Queensland experience.

It is said that, when Rudd was interviewed by Goss for the position of Chief of Staff, Goss was taken aback when Rudd asked if there was any objection if he took Sunday off. And so the Rudd "work ethic" entered political life.

But it is not just this anecdote that provides our lesson. When the Goss government came to power it had the support of most of the Queensland Public Service. To be sure, not the support of the high-ranking bureaucrats who were put to one side with in-trays and no out-trays. But, generally speaking, the support of most members of the Queensland Public Service. Within about twelve months, the Goss Government - with Rudd as a significant player - had lost the support of the Queensland Public Service because of the way it was treated.

There was no mention then of huge work demands - they were just treated shabbily. In fact, all round many long time, long term supporters of the ALP and the incoming Goss Government were treated shabbily. However, it could also be fairly said that the Queensland Public Service was the first to feel the heat, the first to lose the faith.

So my heart goes out to the public service tribe of Canberra when people say it is a public service town, a Labor town and now people there, the "working families" there, cannot stand a fair chance of establishing the work-family balance.

I have often wondered what Kevin Rudd has learned from the Queensland experience that would change his attitudes this time around - if change there would be at all. And then I thought that Canberra is a large stage with a diverse group of players which might limit some of the attitudes seen in Queensland. Perhaps this is happening. Perhaps, behind the scenes, Rudd is receiving some astute advice - if he is not too arrogant and aloof to listen.

But - as I have always said to my kids -
if you don't chose to listen and take on board good advice.
That's OK.
Life has a way of teaching you.
It seems that the
might just have a life lesson for Kevin Rudd.

When you can do nothing else: bear witness.