Former PM Paul Keating said on Monday night's 7.30 program:
"It is my view. Well, were Robertson to be elected leader he would have no moral vantage point to lead from. I mean, jumping on and off buses and trains as Transport Minister doesn't give you any authority out there to be leader of the party. If you've actually connived into the destruction of the parliamentary leader and are a principal cause why 20-odd, 24, or 25 members of Parliament have lost their seats in Parliament, if those dead men and women are hanging around your neck, and they are, you've lost the vantage point of the leadership."
- Paul Keating, 28th March, 2011.
What I wonder is, is does it really matter who becomes leader of the party?
My basic contention is that in Westminster parliaments generally and particularly in Australia, that the Leaders of the Opposition are generally lame ducks, whose only real job is to guide the party back to government.
Really apart from Bob Carr who became Leader of the Opposition from the outset against the then Greiner Government, does anyone really care who that person is? Even Bob Carr noted in his book Thoughtlines, the following excerpt from his diary in 1988:
"I spent today like a doomed man, taking phone calls and drafting a statement, still saying to the press I wasn't shifting. I feel a jolt in my stomach about what I'm getting myself in for. I will destroy my career in four years. Everything's altered. It's my fate ... So, for better or for worse, I become leader of the party next week."
- Bob Carr, Thoughtlines (2002).
Peter Collins, Kerry Chikarovski, John Brogden, or at Federal level, Brendan Nelson, Kim Beazley, Simon Crean, Alexander Downer, Dr John Hewson... They've all been Leaders of the Opposition but may as well have had the title of "Billy No-Mates".
If you're looking for a lame duck leader who doesn't necessarily have to do anything until the run up until the next state election in 2015 then you could really pick anyone for the job. Since their political career will probably be rubbished anyway then it scarcely matters who you choose.
So you may as well pick John Robertson. I've never heard of him before and I probably never will again. He sounds perfect for the job.