Aussies could be in Afghanistan 'until 2040'
Updated 4 hours 54 minutes ago/ABC NEWS
People sit with two of the wounded lying in a hospital in Kandahar
No end in sight: Wounded Afghans in hospital in Kandahar after at least 39 people died in an attack on a wedding overnight (AFP: Nosrait Shoaib)
A former high-ranking United States defence official says Australian troops could be in Afghanistan for the next 30 years.
Australia's strategy in the country has been thrust back into the spotlight this week with the deaths of two Australian Army engineers in Uruzgan province.
Defence Minister John Faulkner says Australian troops are likely to be in Afghanistan for the next three to five years as part of the US-led effort against a resurgent Taliban.
But former US strategic analyst Daniel Ellsberg has warned that the war is not even half-way through.
Mr Ellsberg exposed how four successive US adminstrations lied to the public about the Vietnam War when he leaked the top-secret 'Pentagon Papers' to the New York Times in 1971.
"For Australian troops I think that three to five years is not just a conservative estimate, it's totally foolish," he told Radio National this morning.
"The war will no more be over in three to five years than it is right now.
"If Australians are committed to supporting this strategy they can figure on 10, 20 and 30 years."
Mr Ellsberg says the recent deployment of 30,000 US troops is unlikely to be the last such deployment. ...<cont>
Clarke and Dawe with the word from Rudd
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Rudd predicts poll thrashing over mining tax
Updated 1 hour 46 minutes ago/ABC NEWS
Mr Rudd says that despite an election nearing, the Government is determined to introduce the tax. (Reuters: Jonathan Ernst, file photo)
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says he will continue to take a "whacking" in the polls as the stand-off continues over the Government's proposed resources tax.
In his first appearance on ABC1's 7:30 Report since his infamous "7:30 Report land" quip, Mr Rudd said it will be a "long-fought and tough debate" over the super profits tax.
His comments come as he faced pressure from his own party to settle the dispute with the mining industry over the proposed 40 per cent tax on above normal profits.
The Opposition is campaigning strongly against the proposal, arguing that it will affect everyone's cost of living.
Recent surveys showed the Government's popularity plummeting in the wake of the tax announcement.
But Mr Rudd said that despite an election nearing, the Government is determined to introduce the tax.
"This business of reform is a tough business, is a hard business. It's never some sort of even and smooth trajectory," he said.
"I expect that we're going to continue to take a whacking in the polls for some little time to come yet.
"You can't just dodge hard questions like tax reform - you've got to engage in it."
The Prime Minister appeared flustered when pressed by presenter Kerry O'Brien on the issue, but avoided a display of emotion like his last appearance on the show.
Last month, a visibly angry Mr Rudd accused O'Brien of living in "7:30 Report land" after being questioned over his decision to shelve the emissions trading scheme.
The Opposition seized on Mr Rudd's performance in the interview, comparing him to former Labor leader Mark Latham.
But this time round, Mr Rudd started the interview with smiles, saying he was "happy to be back in 7:30 Report land".
Mr Rudd appeared unworried by his recent thrashing in the polls, saying results were "up and down" for former prime ministers John Howard and Paul Keating.
"Numbers are up and down ... depending on the toughness of the fight," he said.
"These debates are always tough and that is why the Government is going through a tough time."
'Gang of four'
Mr Rudd also defended the Government's decision-making process against claims that power is too concentrated in a small group of senior ministers.
Some in the Labor caucus are privately critical that key decisions are made by the so-called "kitchen cabinet" or "gang of four" of Julia Gillard, Lindsay Tanner, Wayne Swan and Mr Rudd.
There have also been several reports that key ministers have been left out of the decision-making process.
But Mr Rudd said he has a strong and capable cabinet.
"It's pretty easy to become fixated on one thing or another, but this list of reforms is impressive," he said.
"Those ministers are impressive ministers as are their colleagues and they've taken charge of these things themselves."
The politics of the World Cup
Source: 7.30 Report
Published: Thursday, June 17, 2010 8:31 AEST
Expires: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 8:31 AEST
John Clarke and Bryan Dawe on the politics of the World Cup.
Labor to dump Rudd for Gillard
By political editor Chris Uhlmann
Posted 4 minutes ago
Kevin Rudd and his deputy Julia Gillard (AAP: Alan Porritt)
Kevin Rudd looks likely to be dumped as Prime Minister.
Factional powerbrokers have spoken to the ABC and are awaiting the outcome of a meeting between Deputy Leader Julia Gillard and Mr Rudd.
The move against Mr Rudd began several weeks ago in a discussion between Mark Arbib and David Feeney from the NSW right faction.
The pair met Ms Gillard this morning and by noon had told her they had the support of the NSW right, the SA right and the WA right.
They told her that the party could not win the next election with Mr Rudd as Prime Minister but with her they could go forward with a strong message.
The two powerbrokers said even without having picked up the phone they would get a 60-40 split on the right, with the left split down the middle.
Mr Feeney and Mr Arbib said they had done their work and were now waiting to see the outcome of the discussion with Ms Gillard.
Senior party strategists and some cabinet ministers are now convinced Mr Rudd cannot win the next election.
One senior party source said: "This crypto-facist made no effort to build a base within the party and now his only faction - Newspoll - has deserted him. He is gone."
Labor sources do not believe there is any way back for Mr Rudd from this crisis.
Wow. Rudd could be out. Julia Gillard in.
I played internet scrabble against a lady in Aus. She won. In between plays we talked about Aus politics. She has no great animosity against Rudd, but she was quite animated in the brief time we had for chatting about Gillard.
Rudd is out!
Labor's shadow men stuck knife into Rudd
By Simon Santow
Updated 2 hours 13 minutes ago
'Went down like a house of cards': Former PM Kevin Rudd on the backbench (AAP: Alan Porritt)
Political commentators say largely unknown Labor Party factional strongmen have shown their control of the Labor Caucus by engineering the political demise of Kevin Rudd.
Mr Rudd was ousted by his deputy Julia Gillard in an unopposed leadership spill after it became clear that he had no chance of marshalling the numbers to prevail in a contested leadership vote.
Some of the strongmen behind his demise are union bosses, while others have made the transition into Parliament as members and senators.
Apart from wielding power, there is one thing that they have in common: they are largely unknown to the Australian public.
David Feeney, Mark Arbib, Bill Shorten, Bill Ludwig, Karl Bitar, and Don Farrell are hardly household names, yet they hold sway within the Labor ranks.
Political commentator Professor Ross Fitzgerald says the Labor Caucus largely reflects the views of the factional strongmen.
"The factions these days in the main reflect the Caucus," he said.
"But in terms of the exercise of power, when push comes to shove, the factions, and especially the right faction, wields tremendous power in the Australian Labor Party federally and in most states.
"For Kevin Rudd to say as he did that he wanted to break the power of the factions is laughable.
"I would have thought this is the factions' revenge. He went down like a house of cards."
Professor Fitzgerald earned his spurs in Queensland, home to Mr Rudd and Ms Gillard's new deputy Wayne Swan.
But the state is also the power base of Senator Joe Ludwig and his father, Australian Workers Union (AWU) national president Bill Ludwig.
The Ludwigs control the AWU along with the AWU's shining light in Federal Parliament, another Rudd coup plotter, Victorian MP Bill Shorten.
Professor Fitzgerald says Mr Shorten, along with fellow strongman Mark Arbib, will do extremely well out of the overthrow of Mr Rudd.
The World Today has spoken to former premiers, MPs and Labor stalwarts, who all agree that Mr Rudd suffered at the power of the factions.
They also say that internal polling conducted by the ALP showed the devastating effect Mr Rudd would have on the Government's election prospects if he remained leader.
One Labor source says the internal polling reflected a view much worse than Newspoll's own published poll.
The source says that when faced with the evidence the heavyweights came together at the beginning of this week to try and convince Julia Gillard she had to challenge.
While the right wing of the party would have preferred to push one of their own into the top job there was simply no alternative but to tap the left-winger Ms Gillard on the shoulder.
One insider says the move to oust Mr Rudd only had one focus, to ensure Labor won the next election.
However, another source says there is also a sense of irony, as many of those same factional bosses who helped oust Rudd had also given him advice that helped undo his popularity with voters.
The source says it was not just Mr Rudd who over promised and under-delivered, but it was Mr Rudd who paid the political price.
2. The left, the right and the union heavies: Julia's rise to the top
Andrew Crook writes:
ALP, ALP RIGHT, AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY, AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER, JOHN BRUMBY, JULIA GILLARD, KEVIN RUDD
The right-wing coup that made notional left-winger Julia Gillard prime minister of Australia fits a pattern starting in her earliest days in student politics -- a drive for power that subsumed strict factional loyalty for crafty opportunism.
Gillard's fundamental decision to strike out from the ALP's left and join the Socialist Forum in 1984, an organisation specifically set up to expunge the last vestiges of Bill Hartley-style command and control from the party, set a course that would lead all the way to the Lodge, even if it wasn't obvious at the time.
The untethered influence peddling didn't immediately work -- two disastrous pre-selection bids faltered on factional lines in 1993 and 1996 failed because of her casual disregard of former comrades that might have seen her elected.
Tellingly, it was only her stint as John Brumby's chief-of-staff, and her subsequent netting of the support of Brumby's powerful right faction, that finally allowed Gillard to neck Gaye Yuille in 1998 in Lalor -- a development that enraged Lindsay Tanner. Yuille, the well-liked state secretary of Tanner's Clerk’s Union, had strong links to the local community and, unlike Gillard, was a fixture in Melbourne's western suburbs.
The Victorian right elevated Gillard in Lalor, and 12 years later was again central to the bloodthirsty decision to decapitate Kevin Rudd and make Gillard prime minister.
"I've known Julia for a long time," a chuffed Brumby crowed this morning. "She's got a great intellect, great compassion and a wonderful way with people."
Bill Shorten, his NSW media stalking horse Paul Howes, David Feeney and their union acolytes have their grubby paws all over this morning's extraordinary events. It was an AWU crisis meeting yesterday that set the wheels in motion, a meeting that will almost certainly lead to a slew of Liberal 'faceless men' election ads.
Even after her Lalor victory, Gillard was still working the angles to move to the front bench, as loyalists like Tanner (who has watched on bemused over the last 24 hours) and Kim Carr remained unwilling to break entirely with the faction-strewn past. Carr was still tenuously onside, but the relationship was one of opportunism.
According to Jacqueline Kent, whose biography of Gillard outlined the machinations that gifted her a seat on the green leather, it was her "network of influence" rather than her flagging loyalty to the left, that foreshadowed yesterday's stitch-up, in much the same manner as the cross-factional pact that let Gillard and Rudd topple Kim Beazley.
"She's never been somebody who has dealt in factional blocs ... it's all been about networks of influence," Kent told Crikey. "She's definitely no Kristina Kenneally ... It's about negotiation rather than the 'workers united' kind of stuff."
Kent said she wouldn't have been surprised that Carr, central to the Beazley putsch, also flexed his muscle yesterday: "She's always relied on him at crucial times to make it through, really."
Now, Gillard's networks have paid the ultimate dividend. The shocking idea that a 28-old-year-old right-wing unionist in the form of Howes can put the wheels in motion to dump the nation's leader, even if acting as cover for Rudd-rival Shorten, has left the Victorian Left incredulous. If Rudd's failed communication strategy was slammed for being run by a clutch of cleanskin 30-year-olds in Alister Jordan, Lachlan Harris and Andrew Charlton, then Howes won't escape scrutiny for his role either.
"This was a loathsome performance ... what the hell is Paul Howes doing instructing the caucus?," one senior Victorian left faction source told Crikey this morning.
The source said the Howes-led putsch "was fallen into, as opposed to brilliantly executed". It was, ironically, "brought about by a significant capacity to manage communications...nothing terribly bad has happened externally."
The backroom role of Health Services Union head and ALP national president Michael Williamson has also caused concern, as has Feeney's decision to seemingly bury the hatchet with Shorten in a bid to knife Rudd. This may even lead to the divided Victorian right re-uniting behind Gillard as PM, with ramifications for the state's factional peace deal.
Perhaps the best indication of the frenzied behind-the-scenes machinations was Rudd's reflexive pitch last night to the hearts of minds of the left, the left that Gillard abandoned, in a last minute bid to keep his grip on power.