When reviews go wrong

About this time last week the ALP broke out into yet another internal conflict. You could argue about the cause of the conflict until the cows come home, but the weapon used was Labor’s Review 2010. As reported by the Sydney Morning Herald

A SECRET Labor Party report has criticised the government led by Kevin Rudd as lacking purpose and being driven by spin and implies that the former prime minister or his supporters were behind the leaks that almost destroyed Julia Gillard’s election campaign.

It says the leakers ”should be condemned by the party”.

The report is the so-called sealed section of the 2010 election review conducted by party elders John Faulkner, Steve Bracks and Bob Carr and was never meant to be made public.

Obtained by The Sydney Morning Herald, the report’s findings will inflame tensions between Mr Rudd and Julia Gillard, which were on display throughout the three-day ALP national conference in Sydney which finished yesterday.

Mr Rudd was upset that his role as prime minister was clinically deleted from Ms Gillard’s opening speech on Friday and from a tribute to Labor’s handling of the global financial crisis.

The confidential report cites a period of drift and complacency for the Rudd government which began in mid-2009 after the opposition under Malcolm Turnbull was crippled by the Godwin Grech-utegate affair.

Internal research began to show public doubts about the government’s economic credentials, direction and priorities, despite its strong poll figures.

”Throughout this period there were 1900 press releases, however unlike with the earlier periods of government, there were no iconic issues for the public to latch on to,” it says.

”Ministers would make announcements and then move on to something different very quickly. In this context, the government was beginning to be seen by a portion of the population as lacking a core purpose and being driven by spin.”

The report accuses the Rudd government of being rich on themes, announcements and talking up a narrative but short on substance and follow-through.

This is damning stuff. But it was foolish, naive even, of the ALP and the Review’s authors to not expect this to happen.

New Zealand Labour’s review must be open, honest and far-reaching, but it cannot turn into a blame game. Leaks can and will happen, and I can just imagine exactly the scenario playing our over here. It’s not pretty.

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