Punch & Judy: The Double Disillusion Election of 2010

Punch & Judy: The Double Disillusion Election of 2010

Mungo MacCallum
Black Inc., $22.95

How is it possible that after such an overwhelming election win in 2007, leading Australia through the global financial crisis relatively unscathed and implementing government policy relatively successfully, the Australian Labor Party could remove Kevin Rudd as leader and be contesting the Federal election with a completely different Prime Minister in 2010?

Punch & Judy sets out to answer that question.

MacCallum, with the contextual knowledge his long experience as a political journalist gives him, reflects on the closest Federal election in Australian history. He guides us through Labor’s first term in office, through the GFC, the climate change summit in Copenhagen and the proposed super mining tax, to its seriously last minute change of leader from Kevin Rudd to Julia Gillard.

At the same time he looks back on the Coalition’s own leadership changes in his typical acerbic and entertaining style.

MacCallum’s description of some well known opposition figures are “laugh out loud” funny. Kevin Andrews is described as “a figure used by parents to frighten recalcitrant children into obedience”; Nick Minchin as “a throwback to the Dark Ages”; and Barnaby Joyce as a “loud mouthed ignoramus”.

Often seen as a Labor mouthpiece, MacCallum pulls few punches as he describes the government’s complete lack of ability to speak clearly into the public realm or follow through on major policy commitments. He also points the finger at the party machine’s responsibility for the disastrous position Labor found itself in when the election was called in August 2010 and the subsequent failure of the election campaign in an increasingly sceptical and disengaged electorate.

Punch & Judy is a thoroughly entertaining commentary on the most boring and vacuous Federal election I can remember.

Karyl Davison

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