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'The Killing Season' Reminds Us Just How Weird Australian Politics Was In 2007

The ABC documentary starts with Kevin Rudd's first year in power. It wasn't that long ago, but things were really different back then.

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Welcome back to November, 2007! We're on the eve of a federal election and this man is the prime minister of Australia.

Yoshikazu Tsuno / Getty Images

His name was John Howard, he always wore a Wallabies tracksuit when he went for power walks and he'd been in power since time immemorial*.



A former union boss by the name of Bill Shorten was left out of Kevin Rudd's ministry.

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Marginalising someone who Rudd saw as a political threat would turn out to be a mistake. In the documentary, David Epstein, Rudd's then chief of staff, called it "a silly approach to take."

Remember the GFC? As the world struggled through the financial crisis, Australia was pretty much doing this.


Kevin Rudd's cash handout saw taxpayers getting up to $900 to help stimulate the economy. The Libs say this started a government spending habit that Labor couldn't kick, but no one was listening because we were all out buying iPod Nanos in every colour for the economy like true Australian patriots.

In The Killing Season, Treasury secretary Ken Henry gives Kevin Rudd a lot of credit for his leadership during this time.

"I said to him subsequently that his instincts were better than mine, and I still think that," he admits.

Then there was a spill, and a man called Malcolm Turnbull took his place. People like him now but back then he....wasn't very good.

Alan Porritt / AAPIMAGE

Many people saw him as arrogant, and his approval ratings dipped to 25%.

In polling throughout 2009, most people wanted Joe Hockey to take over as leader.

A pre cigar-smoking, budget-night-dancing, poor-people-not-driving, get-a-good-job-and-buy-a-house Joe Hockey, but still. Different times.


Oh yeah, and there was a huge scandal called utegate. UTEGATE. GO STRAYA!

Basically, Turnbull said he had evidence that Kevin Rudd and Wayne Swan had misled parliament and acted improperly on behalf of a Queensland car dealer, to give him access to a fund called OzCar.

Turnbull's smoking gun was an email from a treasury official. He thought it was enough to bring down the Rudd government.

Only problem was, the email didn't exist. A man called Godwin Grech made it all up!

Alan Porritt / AAPIMAGE

After a police raid, the email was revealed to have been forged by Treasury bureaucrat and Liberal party mole Godwin Grech.

As a result of the monumental balls-up, Grech resigned in disgrace and Malcolm Turnbull earned himself the unfortunate nickname that marked the beginning of his decline, "Malcolm Terminal".

Looking back on the affair in The Killing Season, Kevin Rudd says, "In the hothouse environment of Canberra, people do crazy things. Malcolm Turnbull did a particularly crazy thing."

Ah, 2009. Good times.

Back then, Rudd and Gillard were an unstoppable team, Turnbull was a bit rubbish, we argued about utes and Abbott wasn't even on the radar. I guess there's only one thing to say about that brief but strange period in Australian politics: