Chasing the Norm

Australian academic and blogger on politics, international relations, and culture

Rudd, Gillard and Beyond

Rudd, Gillard and Beyond
by Troy BramstonRudd Gillard and Beyond

Sometimes authors write books because they have to, not because they need to. One gets the feeling this book sprung from the desire of a publisher to have a ‘what it all means’ tome after the end of the recent Labor government. Or perhaps given Bramston’s obvious ambition, the initiative came from the writer. Either way, the purpose of the book seems set well before the content of it was conceived.

That is not always a bad thing, and this is no bad book. But it’s an odd end product. It’s far too insiderish for much appeal to the wider apathetic general public, yet there themes and issues are too well known and discussed in a generic way for those inside the triangle* to get much use.

Still, i suspect many who follow politics the way most normal people follow sport will pick up a copy. There interviews with Rudd and Shorten help to present both men in perhaps as good a light as they could hope for. For me, Shorten came away as a figure to look at closer, Rudd as even more delusional than seems safe. Gillard is the only one who didn’t speak to Bramston and so the writer seems unsure what to think.

Bramston has set himself up as the medium of Labor, but when Labor people don’t give him access, the resulting prose is decidedly medium.

I do like Bramston’s work and think he plays an important role. But if he wants to step into the Paul Kelly/George Megalogenius upper tier of journalists who can help define Australian politics, he needs to take more time than ‘two brief bursts’. A serious engagement with the wealth of insight from the political science fields would be a rich starting point. Like his subject of the Rudd and Gillard government, simply being productive is never enough. Valuable, honourable legacies are built upon having a defined purpose and a language which elevates to that level. Maybe next time.

* Ala Washington DCs beltway, Canberra has a parliamentary triangle which seperates those inside and in the know from the general mass.