A potential masterstroke.
Allow me to jettison all humility. Way back a few eons ago I predicted that the IR laws might just be the bridge too far that ends the Howard dynasty. The arrogant attack on the people who've delivered him power over Labor.
Well this could be the counterpoint that completes the melody. Infuriating to the hardcore unionists, no doubt, but a timely move that will almost certainly win Rudd more votes than it loses.
After all, who's a hardcore left winger on IR issues going to back between the final 2? Howard? Even the Greens don't really stake this out as priority territory, they can see what being too close to the CFMEU does for Labor's forest policy.
Rudd may have wanted this confrontation in any event, to assert himself and make clear that he, and not Combet, is running for PM. He may also be planning to pick up where Crean left off and work at bringing the power of rank and file party members closer to that of the old guard.
Or he may not.
Because the strongest reason for setting out a moderate, centrist policy on IR is to blatantly take the option of retreat away from Howard.
Howard has been preparing the ground for such a move, talking of being open to change, of 'listening', acknowledging his problems in the polls. He'll have realised by now that Workchoices was strategically unwise, and he doesn't like the idea of going out on a loser.
So there he was, bridge too far, starting to edge backwards and "whoosh"; Kevin's landed and it's too late.
Centre ground. A reasonable policy. Unfair dismissal in small businesses but only once you've proven yourself. Secret ballots- whatever could be wrong with that?
Knight takes Rook.
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