By MICHELLE GRATTAN
Kevin Rudd is nothing if not brazen. Less than a fortnight after rolling Julia Gillard he has proposed an historic change that would prevent such a putsch in the future.
His radical plan – one of the most fundamental reforms ever to Labor rules – would guarantee that the leader who won an election would remain as PM for the full term, except in extraordinary circumstances.
A key part of the blueprint, considered at a special caucus meeting on July 22, would give the Labor party rank and file a 50% say in the choice of the leader, equal to that of the parliamentary party.
Rudd is driven – at least in part – not by the coup he just executed but by the 2010 one which saw him tossed from the prime ministership.
As he colourfully put it, in an obvious reference to what happened then, his change would “prevent anyone just wandering in one day or one night and saying ‘OK, Sunshine, it’s over’”.
But his initiative does go to the substantive issue of how damaging leadership instability can be. Generated and fed by constant polls and the frenetic media cycle, it can have destructive consequences for good government.
The ALP leadership merry go round has also contributed to public disillusionment with politics.
The PM’s move neutralises the opposition’s line that if the voters re-elect Rudd there is no guarantee they would get him for a full term. On the other hand, given what’s just happened some voters will probably do a double take and react cynically.