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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.

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*.*1996
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*.

*1996

But everyone was talking about the Labor leader. An ambitious, fresh-faced, Chinese speaking, young gun called Kevin Rudd.

Simon Cross / Getty Images

The opposition leader was insanely popular. He was unstoppable.

William West / Getty Images

And people wore these t-shirts. Like, out in the world. Where other people could see them.

Bradley Kanaris / Getty Images

... Seriously, so many people thought this guy was cool.

Simon Cross / Getty Images

As predicted, Labor creamed the conservative coalition in the election, John Howard lost the seat he held on to for 33 years. What's worse, he lost it to a former ABC journo.

Sergio Dionisio / Getty Images

For the first time ever, Labor held government in every Australian state and territory and at Commonwealth level.

Torsten Blackwood / Getty Images

And for the first time in history, a woman was deputy prime minister. Her name was Julia Gillard.

ABC TV

Here she is tearing up and whispering "thank you" to her running mate Kevin Rudd on election night.

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

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."
Mark Nolan / Getty Images

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.

AMC

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.

Over on the other side of politics, Brendan Nelson became the leader of the opposition.

Greg Wood / Getty Images

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.

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.
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.
skyvington.blogspot.com.au

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!

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.
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.

And this smiling young man was biding his time as the shadow minister for families, community services, Indigenous affairs and the voluntary sector.

Tracey Nearmy / AAPIMAGE

And Rove Live! was a thing! Politicians would go on Rove and make bad jokes. Man, Rove was great.

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:

Network Ten / youtube.com