Monday, July 12, 2010


This is a picture of a Kevin Rudd prime ministerial souvenir bookmark. I bought it at the Museum of Australian Democracy gift shop in Canberra, which I visited whilst staying in our nation's capital for the ANZTLA conference almost a year ago. The museum itself is housed in Old Parliament House, and is well worth the visit if you get the chance. The gift shop also sells bookmarks of every one of Australia's 26 Prime Ministers, from Edmund Barton onwards.

As I write this, I think back to my first visit to Old Parliament House on a family holiday to Canberra in January 1987.  We went on a guided tour, and sat in the public gallery in the House of Representatives chamber. Our tour guide asked the group, "Who can name Australia's first Prime Minister?" No one else put their hand up but me. "Edmund Barton," I replied. The rest of the group, who obviously didn't know the answer, were audibly astonished to be upstaged by a twelve year old.

I digress. For those of you who don't have magnifying glasses, or don't know how to use image magnification functions on web browsers, the text on it reads as follows:

"Kevin Rudd was born 21 September 1957 in Nambour, Queensland. He won the general election on 24 November 2007 and became Prime Minister. His commitment to climate change and his focus on education and industrial relations during the election campaign were major factors in his electoral success. He has been the Federal member for Griffith since 1998 and the leader of the ALP since 2006. Almost immediately after Kevin Rudd was sworn into office by the Governor-General, Major General Michael Jeffrey, he ratified the Kyoto Protocol, an agreement amongst nations with the objective of reducing greenhouse gases that cause climate change. On 12 February 2008, the first parlimentary sitting day of the new Rudd Labor government, Prime Minister Rudd's apology motion to the Stolen Generation was tabled in parliament. This motion was carried by both sides of parliament. On 13 February 2008, Kevin Rudd delivered the apology speech in parliament."

Little did I know at the time that eleven months later, he would no longer be in office. Others more qualified than me have commented upon the spectacular implosion of a first term Prime Minister, and his rapid, ruthless execution in a party room coup, so there's no need for me to say anything further. I assume they're now also selling Julia Gillard bookmarks, and that in light of recent events, the wording on the Kevin Rudd bookmarks has been updated to reflect the fact that he's no longer in office. It just goes to show how fickle politics can be.

1 comment:

Scott McPhee said...

Remember how at the end of our tour of Old Parliament House, the guide invited people to ask questions.

Some man asked, "Why did we have to copy the Poms for?" (For our parliamentary system)

Dad remarked later that this man's wife would have nudged him, saying "Don't make a scene here!"