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The Rudd Government

The Rudd Government: Australian Commonwealth Administration 2007-2010

Chris Aulich
Mark Evans
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: ANU Press
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  • Book Info
    The Rudd Government
    Book Description:

    This edited collection examines Commonwealth administration under the leadership Prime Minister Kevin Rudd from 2007-2010. This was a remarkable period in Australian history: Rudd's government was elected in 2007 with an ambitious program for change. However, as the chapters in this book demonstrate, these ambitions were thwarted by a range of factors, not the least being Rudd's failure to press ahead when he confronted 'road blocks' such the ETS or managing his massive agenda which constantly elevated issues to 'first order priority'. Although he started his term with stratospheric approval ratings, only two years later his support had collapsed and on 24 July 2010 he became the first sitting Prime Minister to be removed by his own Party before the expiry of his first term. In this book, expert contributors consider the Rudd Government's policy, institutional and political legacy. The 14 chapters are organized into four sections, outlining the issues and agendas that guided Rudd's government, changes to the institutions of state such as the public service and parliament, followed by discussions of key issues and policies that marked Rudd's term in office. The final section examines Rudd's leadership and reflects on the personal foibles and political factors that brought his Prime Ministership undone. The Rudd Government has been produced by the ANZSOG Institute for Governance at the University of Canberra. It is the tenth in a series of books on successive Commonwealth administrations. Each volume has provided a chronicle and commentary of major events, policies and issues that have dominated successive administrations since 1983. As with previous volumes in the series, contributors have been drawn from a range of universities and other organisations.

    eISBN: 978-1-921862-07-6
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Chris Aulich and Mark Evans
  4. Contributors
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Part I. Introduction

    • 1. It was the best of times; it was the worst of times
      (pp. 3-16)

      Charles Dickens began A Tale of Two Cities with the wonderfully evocative line that is the title of this chapter. It might well have described the fortunes of both major political parties in the period under review: the Commonwealth administration under Kevin Rudd from November 2007 until July 2010, when Rudd lost both the leadership of the Labor Party and the prime ministership.

      In this period Rudd’s approval ratings—extraordinarily high in the early days of his government—dropped to below 40 per cent by May 2010 (see Table 1.1), when one million voters turned away from Labor shortly after...

    • 2. Issues and agendas for the term
      (pp. 17-32)

      Kevin Rudd made at least two attempts to wrest the leadership of the federal Australian Labor Party (ALP) before he assumed the post of Leader of the Opposition on 4 December 2006. The first attempt was after the 2004 election and the much expected but ‘inglorious exit’ of the Leader of the Opposition, Mark Latham, in January 2005. Although Kim Beazley announced his intention to re-stand for the leadership, Rudd suddenly emerged as an ‘undeclared’ candidate in January 2005. But he was unable to attract any numbers (and by some accounts had secured as few as two votes) and quietly...

  6. Part II. The Institutions of Government

    • 3. The Australian Public Service: new agendas and reform
      (pp. 35-54)

      A change of federal government can be expected to produce new directions for the Australian Public Service (APS), and this is more likely after lengthy periods of opposition provide the incubation for new policy and the impetus for initiating change. The 1972, 1983, 1996 and 2007 turnovers stand out as significant turning points for the APS.¹

      Kevin Rudd’s first term was notable for the change of focus expected of a new government, and the distancing and differentiating of public governance and administration from that of the Howard government (cf. Halligan 2008a). But the aspirations were much higher—to anticipate the...

    • 4. Continuity and change in the outer public sector
      (pp. 55-86)

      This chapter continues the record of changes in the outer public sector carried through all previous volumes in the Australian Commonwealth Administration series. As in all previous volumes, here the ‘outer public sector’ is conceived of as that part of the public sector that is made up of non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs)—a broad category comprising mainly statutory authorities and corporations, government-owned companies and executive agencies, all of which fall outside the central establishment of ministerial departments and a few parliamentary departments. The word ‘quango’ is sometimes used as an alternative general class name.

      A difficulty with all relevant classification...

    • 5. The Rudd administration and the Senate: business as usual
      (pp. 87-96)

      Like most federal governments, the Rudd administration did not possess a party majority in the Senate. This is usually seen as a problem for governments—a source of trouble and frustration, giving rise to the possibility of a dissolution of both Houses under the deadlock-resolving provisions in Section 57 of the Constitution, if the Senate rejects, unacceptably amends or fails to pass government legislation within the terms of that section. Nowadays, a party majority in the Senate is taken to mean control of the chamber because of the strength of party discipline. In the past, however, non-Labor governments particularly could...

    • 6. Federalism: a fork in the road?
      (pp. 97-118)

      Over its long history, the Australian Labor Party has had a complicated and sometimes inconsistent engagement with federalism (Galligan and Mardiste 1992; Parkin and Marshall 1994). The Rudd Labor government, over its truncated lifespan of less than three years, earned itself a special place in this history by embodying and projecting many elements of this complicated inconsistency.

      At times, and especially in its first two years, the Rudd government, led by its prime minister, was seemingly intent on fabricating a collaborative approach that could be characterised as being in the national interest but respecting the role of the states and...

    • 7. The opposition
      (pp. 119-140)

      In a two-party unicameral parliament, the official opposition is deemed to be the largest majority party that is able to assume office if the government should resign (McKay 2004:247–8). In Australia’s bicameral system, where the government is formed by the majority party in the House of Representatives, the official opposition is ‘the main non-government party in that chamber’ (Parliamentary Education Office 2010:17.1). After the 2007 federal election, when the Australian Labor Party (ALP) won government, the Coalition parties, being the significant minority grouping in the House of Representatives, formed the official opposition.

      A government—opposition relationship is determined by the...

  7. Part III. Policy Issues

    • 8. Citizen-centred policy making under Rudd: network governance in the shadow of hierarchy?
      (pp. 143-160)

      The 2007 Policy Platform of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) asserted that ‘Labor will pursue new and innovative measures designed to foster greater participation and engagement of the Australian population in the political process’ (cited in Manwaring 2010). It seemed that Labor was following a trend that many authors have identified as a move from government to governance—more specifically to ‘network governance’,¹ in which governments encourage greater participation, especially by ‘expert citizens’ (see Bang 2005), in policy making, recognising that they can at best steer, not row (see Osborne and Gaebler 1992). Indeed, as Martinetto (2003:593) contends, this idea...

    • 9. The education revolutionary road: paved with good intentions
      (pp. 161-180)

      Kevin Rudd promised an ‘education revolution’, to widespread acclaim and almost no opposition. In this analysis, we argue that Rudd’s education policy was paved with good intentions to redress long-term deficiencies inherited largely from the Howard years. In many respects, however, the policy lacked the strategic and structural blueprint needed to realise its underlying ideals. The lack of a coherent educational framework informed by a deep knowledge of the Australian educational sector created conflicting policy agendas, some confused objectives and a lack of focus. The unexpected advent of the global financial crisis (GFC) precipitated one of the fastest surges of...

    • 10. The economy
      (pp. 181-198)

      Kevin Rudd claimed to be an economic conservative—a younger version of John Howard—during his campaign to win government in 2007. Rudd’s government of two-and-a-half years was, however, characterised by high spending, high debts and ill-fated economic policies and there were also a large number of policy about-turns and failures. The period was also dominated by the global financial crisis (GFC), and Australia was not alone in having to recalibrate its economic strategies to respond to what has been a significant, worldwide phenomenon.

      The GFC prompted the government to increase spending to cushion the potential effect on Australia. While...

    • 11. Climate change
      (pp. 199-220)

      The Rudd government’s first term in office was tainted by its public failings on climate policy. In the lead-up to the 2007 federal election, Kevin Rudd presented Labor as the party of climate reform, the party that was willing to take climate change seriously and make the bold decisions needed to set the Australian economy on a new course. Expectations were raised to unprecedented heights and there were hopes that Australia might provide an example of an advanced, emissions-intensive economy that was willing to place global interests above short-term national ones. These hopes dissipated over the course of the next...

    • 12. Sorry, but the Indigenous affairs revolution continues
      (pp. 221-240)

      In Indigenous affairs, the Rudd Labor government was bequeathed three major legacies from the 11-and-a-half-year reign of the Howard Coalition government. The first, dating from the recommendations of the 1997 Bringing Them Home report of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, was John Howard’s refusal to apologise for policies up to 1970 that had led to large-scale separation of Aboriginal children from their families and communities on the basis of race. The second, dating from 2004 and early 2005, was the abolition of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC), a national statutory authority and representative body for...

    • 13. Foreign policy
      (pp. 241-258)

      In 2007, when Kevin Rudd was sworn in as Prime Minister, he was widely expected to be a strong leader of Australian foreign policy (Manne 2008). While most analysts believed that a strong alliance with the United States would be maintained, it was also anticipated that Rudd would reassert a traditional Labor preference for stronger engagement with Asia. For those concerned that the previous Howard government had drifted too far into the orbit of US influence, Rudd also provided the hope that Australia would return to a more independent middle-power activism with action on issues such as nuclear non-proliferation and...

  8. Part IV. Rudd as Prime Minister

    • 14. The rise and fall of the magic kingdom: understanding Kevin Rudd’s domestic statecraft
      (pp. 261-278)

      If 2007 was considered a progressive landmark in Australian political history, 2010 would prove to be one of its low points. The collapse in the support for the Australian Labor Party (ALP) at the August election demonstrated the damage the party has done to itself in the eyes of many voters by allowing factional ambition to undermine representative and responsible government and to determine that the firing of prime ministers should rest with the party rather than the public.

      Most assessments of Kevin Rudd’s demise as the twenty-sixth Prime Minister of Australia after two years and 204 days in power...