The leaders of the political coup that last month removed Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and installed his former deputy, Julia Gillard, were not just “faceless numbers men”, as sections of the media have insisted. Nor can the role of Rudd’s dispatchers – including Bill Shorten, Mark Arbib, David Feeney, Paul Howes and Gary Gray – be explained by the fact that, in the main, they are representatives of Labor’s so-called right-wing Centre Unity faction. Rather, the critical point is the direct connection of these Labor “heavies” to big business, especially the mining industry. Their personal histories reveal a seamless movement between the Labor machine, including the unions, and the boardrooms of Australia’s largest companies.
In toppling Rudd so swiftly – the coup was executed within the space of just 15 hours – Labor’s faction bosses were simply taking action on behalf of the mining chiefs and other corporate executives, and their opposition to Rudd’s proposed 40 percent resource super-profits tax (RSPT). That the faction bosses felt no need to argue their case within the ranks of the party or the trade unions simply underscores the fact that the working class is not a factor in the machinations of the Labor bureaucracy.