The usurping of the Australian democracy: a tragedy with Macbethian parallels
Posted on June 24th, 2012

Ajit Randeniya

June 24 marks the second anniversary of the callous usurping of the former, elected Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd by the current incumbent Julia Gillard. On this darkest day for the Australian democracy since the CIA orchestrated “ƒ”¹…”dismissal’ of the then Prime Minister Gough Whitlam in 1975, a democratically elected head of the Australian federal government was ousted through a factional vote during the secretive internal Labor Party caucus process.

The manner of her ascension was a curse on Gillard’s prime ministership from the beginning, leading to the strong resentment towards her by the Australian people. She was the first Australian politician to ascend to power by dispatching a duly elected prime minister in his first term. Also, , the community felt that Gillard feigned unswerving loyalty to Rudd until the evening of 23 June 2010 when she walked in to his room and demanded his job, without any compelling explanation other than the vague claim that the good government had “lost its way”.

According to a Herald Nielsen poll conducted soon after, seven out of 10 voters disapproved the way Labor treated Rudd. Labor’s own internal research had found out, as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald at the time, “Gillard is seen as cold and untrustworthy, haunted by the way she took the job.”

Her performance at the subsequent 2010 election campaign strongly reinforced the community mistrust: leaks against her revealed that, in Cabinet meetings of the Rudd government, she had opposed Labor’s plan for paid parental leave and the move to increase the age pension. Yet she was campaigning on these policies. Having failed to win an outright majority, Gillard was forced to craft a minority federal government, the first since the 1940s in Australia. During the process, in order to garner the support of the Greens, she easily jettisoned the explicit campaign promise that a carbon tax would not be introduced.

It appears that Rudd’s failed challenge in February 2012 served to remind the public of the ugly origins of Gillard’s prime ministership, contributing further to the progressive erosion of trust. In a series of Essential Media polls conducted in April 2012, only 25 per cent found Gillard “trustworthy”. It is clear that Gillard suffers from a terminal lack of political legitimacy.

An evaluation of the performance of Gillard’s government over the last two years also shows a preoccupation with the “ƒ”¹…”social engineering’ aspects of marginal issues brought to prominence by special interest groups and cronyism: the government boasts about the number of pieces of legislation it has got through parliament, but these, including the carbon tax legislation, are not what the people asked for! One such piece of legislation, dubbed the “Wikileaks amendment”, (but had nothing to with Wikileaks!) hurriedly passed through Parliament in July 2011, lacked any clear rationale for its need, and its exceedingly wide potential application; the government hid the real target of it!

The “ƒ”¹…”Wikileaks amendment’ was preceded by another amendment passed in March 2011 that expanded the ability of the Australian Secret Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) to share information obtained from wiretaps and computer access with other agencies. The Gillard government ignored the objections of the Greens, some journalists, the Law Council of Australia, the Federation of Community Legal Centres (Vic), and the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law to a Senate inquiry.

On the economic front, Gillard is going around the world, lecturing about economic management, but the economy is simply riding on the back of China’s growth and she can take no credit for it.

On the cronyism front, people like Bob Carr, who had literally “ƒ”¹…”run the State of New South Wales to ground’ after over 10 years as Premier, was resurrected from seven years of retirement to be appointed to Kevin Rudd’s former job as foreign minister. The “ƒ”¹…”coup’ that enabled the gift to Carr was launched by the same man who was one of the “ƒ”¹…”witches’ behind Gillard’s rise, Mark Arbib: he created a casual Senate vacancy by resigning just hours after Gillard triumphed over Kevin Rudd in the leadership ballot on February 27!

Carr in his new position behaved ” ike a little kid who’s just been given a big bowl of lollies,” said an official who’s been working closely with him: he promised to elevate the worsening rift between Islam and the West and the destruction of the world’s oceans onto the global agenda, and said, ”The world can be a colourful and reconciled and happily untidy picture instead of the monochrome and totalitarian hostility that would emerge if we don’t get this right”; he said China had to accept that Australia’s support for the US was ”not directed at any one country”. “ƒ”¹…”Senator’ Carr had a rough start in the job when he proposed sanctions against Papua New Guinea if it cancelled its mid-year elections. China angrily ignored his request to visit Tibet to examine human rights!

David Gonski, chairman of Investec Australia, a South African bank, and who had been advising the moneybags such as Frank Lowy, Kerry Packer, Rupert Murdoch, Izzy Asper and Kerry Stokes, sometimes simultaneously, was appointed chairman of the $73 billion Future Fund, and was commissioned to report on schools funding: he recommended an injection of $5 billion to lift standards. Gonski has been involved in controversial takeovers, such as 2011’s failed ASX merger with the Singapore Stock Exchange while he was the ASX chairman, and had close links to Singapore as a director on Singapore Airlines.

Two years after she walked into Kevin Rudd’s office and demanded the prime ministership from him, Julia Gillard has become a sorry political figure, strongly mistrusted by the Australian population, kept in power through the Machiavellian tactics devised by the vested interest groups that put her there.

These similarities are way beyond the clichƒÆ’†’©d parallels that could be drawn between the actions of any ambitious woman and the action of Lady Macbeth. Increasingly, Gillard’s inability to shed the Australian public’s perception of her as a cruel, disloyal and untrustworthy person is beginning to look like Lady Macbeth’s delusional inability to wipe King Duncan’s blood from her hands long after his murder!

But the similarities don’t end there: the conspiracy that precipitated Rudd’s ousting, the manner in which the dagger was driven in to Rudd’s back and the political consequences of the action to Julia Gillard, all bear strange resemblances to the plot of Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

As a reminder of the storyline of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, it is widely believed that the plot is based on Volume II of Holinshed’s Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland. In Macbeth, Duncan, the King of Scotland becomes the victim of a well-plotted regicide in a power grab by his trusted captain Macbeth who has aspirations to rule the country.

The play begins with the brief appearance of a trio of witches who prophesy that Macbeth will be elevated to Scottish nobility and would eventually become King of Scotland. Lady Macbeth who desires the kingship for her husband wants him to murder Duncan in order to obtain it. While Duncan is asleep, Macbeth stabs him, and easily assumes the kingship. Macbeth becomes a tyrannical and murderous king, making him immensely unpopular with Scottish nobles. Lady Macbeth, becomes plagued with fits of sleepwalking in which she bemoans what she believes to be bloodstains on her hands, and ultimately commits suicide. King Duncan’s son Malcolm returns from England with an army and defeats Macbeth with the help of Macduff, a nobleman hostile to Macbeth’s kingship from the start, and becomes king.

The characters that plotted the political assassination of Kevin, that of Kevin Rudd himself and that of Julia Gillard bear strong resemblance to those of the witches, King Duncan and Lady Macbeth respectively.

Shakespeare reveals little about the Three Witches, whose prophecies and predictions prompted the Macbeths to murder Duncan-aside from the fact that they are servants of Hecate. The “ƒ”¹…”faceless men’ – Mark Arbib, Bill shorten and Pal Howse who were instrumental in plotting against Rudd and goading Gillard in June 2011 easily fit these characters. Also, as Wikileaks revealed, at least two of them were servants of Hecate!

Shakespeare’s King Duncan is crafted as a sensitive, insightful, and generous a benevolent father-figure full of kindly words, not seen out on the battlefield. Duncan is completely deceived in the intents of Macbeth and he is killed for his softness, his childish trust and his inability to read men’s minds in their faces; his murder grieves Scotland and is accounted the cause of turmoil. Despite not being quite the “ƒ”¹…”man of kindly words’, Kevin Rudd easily fills the shoes of Duncan.

Needless to elaborate, like Lady Macbeth, Gillard committed the political assassination, but has been unable to enjoy the fruits of power in terms of being loved by the Australian public. Like Lady Macbeth, Gillard could well be crying in her private moments: “Here’s the smell of the blood still. All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. O, O, O! “Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?”

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