Planned productive afternoons quickly devolved as our political junkie alter egos came out of the closet. Initially, there was a sense of Déjà Vu. Both of us remember being in high school and huddling around a computer to watch Rudd’s teary farewell and Gillard facing her first question time. Then, it was something unusual and a moment of “political history”.
After frantically running through the halls collecting the usual suspects, we settled in the TV room. Subconsciously, we began a social experiment. The door was left ajar, and at each passing person we chorused, “it’s happening! It’s happening!” If they immediately knew what we were talking about, we welcomed them inside. If not, we hurried them along to the JCR.
Despite our unified front we were a fragmented party. Our caucus featured Will ‘Bob Carr’ Abbey, Ellie ‘Penny Wong’ Ryan, Charlie ‘Steven Conroy’ Shenton, Amani ‘Peter Garratt’ Green, Will ‘Wayne can’t-get-a-surplus Swan’ Mosley, Liam ‘Greg Combet’ Gage-Brown and Hugh ‘Numbers’ Utting.
Our Twitter feeds were running, our news journals overflowing. We waited and watched, eagerly awaiting any updates. With each new piece of information came fresh speculation about the outcome of the afternoon and increased division in the house.
Question time ensued as the Opposition Leader moved a motion of no confidence in the Prime Minister. Our responses were disparate. “We were able to abandon our factional politics to stand united behind our leader,” said no Labor party member, ever. Proceeding question time, tensions were high and temperatures were higher. We called for a half-time break before the vote.
Team “Kevin twenty-thirteen” left the room in favour of the West Wing, where they began developing their next iconic line of campaign shirts. Team J-Gillz needed to let off some steam. Our leader challenged the opposition’s to a hit of tennis, telling him to “take his best shot.”
Oh wait, JG actually said that #auspolrealtalks.
Our caucus room hit maximum capacity when Rudd came to speak: we’d been waiting four hours for this moment. We got nothing. Gillard’s leadership was assured though his brief remarks seemed to also be an advertisement for what a return would require. The man might be hated, but he’s not dead yet.
On the whole, #Spillard 2013 began similarly to 2010: staffers ran between offices and the Australian public watched not much be streamed live. But 2013 differed in its shatteringly disappointing anticlimax: Abbott’s motion unsuccessful, Crean moved to the backbench, no challenge from Rudd, and Gillard and Swan reelected unopposed.
After the anticlimax, Gillard said, “the whole business is completely at an end”, but our caucus isn’t sure it is. It seems to us our Parliamentarians have lost the capacity to commit: for the ALP, the last three years have been an emotional rollercoaster and the Liberal Party are just marginally more stable.
For the Liberal Party, it will be an unqualified success. Highlights from Abbott’s no confidence motion will be on every evening news. On the other hand, our afternoon as was a farce; a word that’s recurred through most news sources. The public debate will focus on Labor’s disorganisation and forget its significant economic and social reforms.
Perhaps the most telling sign of all was the text Ellie got from her father:
Ellie: LEADERSHIP SPILL!
Dad: You or the ALP?
Australian Politics is as grounded in reality as much Ellie is likely to overthrow Rufus #occupyMB. We look forward to providing you further updates as the public debate continues to deteriorate.