Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Follow the Leader

What you see depends on where you stand.
You know what I mean? If I sit at my desk, I can see the palm trees and the giant Moreton Bay fig in the yard. It’s a vista of rich green shapes that fills the window. But if I move about 5 steps to my boss’s desk, the green growth that fills my window is only a small part at the edge of his vision. He sees mainly blue-grey sky, grass, and beyond that, the river reflecting the mood of the sky.
Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard is in a very different place now to where she was just a month ago, and I imagine her view is very different from the back benches. More importantly, Ms Gillard’s view of the future has changed too. I don't know what it is that she sees, but I know it's different, because her perspective is different.
Kevin Rudd has been Prime Minister before, so the view is distantly familiar, but the environment and challenges are different.
Remember  that our views have changed too. Where a month ago our leader was a red-headed woman, it’s now a silver haired man. Change is emotional, for those involved and for those looking on. As a Change Manager, I should be aware of this, and in a professional capacity, I certainly am. As an observer and biased commentator on the political situation, I seem to be less astute.
There is still so much bad feeling lingering after the spill. I had thought that perhaps the Rudd fans who’d been so depressed after the June 2010 spill would have regained their equilibrium and be ready to get on with the job. Equally, I hoped that the Gillard supporters would accept that whether this year’s spill was right or wrong, warranted or not, restoring Rudd to the Prime Ministership has given the ALP a genuine opportunity to win the election and retain government.
The acceptance, the unity I was hoping for just isn’t evident. There is still pronounced ill-feeling, most of it aimed at Kevin Rudd. Those who supported Ms Gillard while Mr Rudd – in their opinion - destabilized the party and white-anted the leader refuse to forgive and forget. Some vow to boycott the ALP and vote Green. Others are still incoherent in their rage at what was done to our first female Prime Minister.
Perhaps we should take notice of how the Australian cricket team has behaved since their spill. South African-born coach Mickey Arthur was never well accepted by Australian cricket fans, so after a string of disappointing performances by the Aussies, Mr Arthur was sacked by Cricket Australia.
The Aussie fans were pleased to see the end of Mickey Arthur, particularly when he was replaced by Aussie bloke Darren Lehmann, better known to all as “Boof”. Boof doesn’t say much to the media. He gets results, and grotesque failure by the Aussie top and middle orders notwithstanding, we almost beat the Poms last weekend in the first Ashes test. No-one expected that.
Unlike politics, the cricket spill seemed to be surgically precise. Mickey was gone, Boof was in, and everyone was happy.
Except Dave Warner. And Mickey Arthur. And Michael Clarke and Shane Watson. First of all, Dave Warner, banished from the Australian team for two tests because of unacceptable off-field behaviour, admitted that his poor attitude and resulting booze-fuelled larks may have been a factor in the decision to give Mickey Arthur the boot. Very perceptive, Dave. Actions have consequences... but the coach failed to manage Dave's behaviour. I'm not making excuses for Dave Warner - he's old enough and experienced enough to know better - but when it became obvious that he had a problem, he should have been counselled and disciplined.
And now, Mickey Arthur is suing Cricket Australia for four million dollars, for wrongful dismissal. Now I don’t know what was in his contract, but if his employment was to coach the Australian team to victory, he failed in most of his objectives. If his contract included doing nothing to damage the reputation of the Australian cricket community, he failed on that measure as well as his team repeatedly made headlines for boozing, blueing, and failing to do their homework.
In his media statements, he has indicated that he was the hapless victim in a feud between Aussie Captain Michael Clarke and opener Shane Watson. Respected senior players like Brad Haddin are falling into line to support their team, denying any kind of contretemps between Pup and Watto. Boof, of course, has remained silent, as he should.
Whether there is or was any klnd of conflict between Pup and Watto is fascinating in light of Arthur’s claims. If there was no feud, Arthur is lying and looking for high profile scapegoats and a big payout. If there was a real feud, Arthur, as coach, should have intervened and managed the situation in whatever way was appropriate. In both cases, Arthur is wrong. I fail to see any "wrongful" in CA's dismissal of the former coach.
Mercifully, whatever had been going on within the Australian Cricket Team under Mickey Arthur is being dealt with, and team is behaving as a team (except for the regular batting catastrophes) and everyone, from fans to players to the Cricket Australia management group is united behind the bloke called Boof.
In the meantime, Labor supporters are still venting their bitterness all over social media. Julia Gillard isn't suing anyone for wrongful dismissal - she's got way too much class for that. In any case, if part of her role as parliamentary leader of the ALP was to lead the ALP to an election victory, she would have found herself soundly defeated. Another female Labor leader would be brought undone.
I understand that her supporters might abhor the way that Mr Rudd replaced Ms Gillard, but that’s done. My loathing is for the way she was treated while in the top job, but standing here at the boss's window, I can see that there was little option but to replace her. Continuing to focus energy on the spill appears as ALP disunity, and helps no-one. Ms Gillard's supporters need to move to a bigger window with a different view. It’s not Rudd versus Gillard that they should be seeing; it’s the Rudd versus the Coalition in the coming election and the view from that window is tinged with hope. 

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