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Good riddance to 'faceless men' of politics

Date

Dante Ceccon and Ben Westcott

From left, Max Schroedl, 23, Danielle Butler, 25, Troy Harris-McMillan, 21 and Mitchel Edwards, 21.

From left, Max Schroedl, 23, Danielle Butler, 25, Troy Harris-McMillan, 21 and Mitchel Edwards, 21. Photo: Jay Cronan

It's an image and a phrase that's dogged the Labor Party for 50 years.

In the autumn of 1963, Labor leader Arthur Calwell and his deputy Gough Whitlam were photographed waiting patiently outside the Kingston Hotel while indoors party powerbrokers met to decide the policy they would take to an election.

Papers coined these decision makers the ''faceless men'' as a stab at the unelected representatives holding up the ALP leadership. Half a century on, lunchtime patrons at the historic Canberra pub were happy to finally see the back of them, as Prime Minister Kevin Rudd hopes his party reforms to determine and protect future leaders will achieve.

Sent outside ... Gough Whitlam and Arthur Calwell waited outside the Kingston Hotel while party powerbrokers decided policy.

Sent outside ... Gough Whitlam and Arthur Calwell waited outside the Kingston Hotel while party powerbrokers decided policy.

As well as making it much harder for caucus to oust a Labor prime minister or opposition leader, the reforms will allow party members a 50 per cent say in who is elected. Max Schroedi, a 23-year-old student, said it makes him more inclined to vote Labor. "I think it was unfair how they could change leader without going to the people. It's a better way of doing it," he said.

Apprentice electricians Troy Harris-McMillan and Mitch Edwards said they think Labor's heading in the right direction. "I'm happier with Rudd over Gillard,'' Mr Harris-McMillan said. ''The reforms sound a lot better. They're doing more right things, rather than stuffing up more and more.''

Mr Edwards said the leadership merry-go-round has damaged Australia's international standing.

"What has happened has made Australia look like a bit of a joke around the world, so it's good he's doing something," he said.

But not everyone is so quick to trust Labor again.

69-year-old retiree and former Labor voter Jennifer Fox said the party hadn't changed enough to get her vote. "I've already made up my mind," she said. "Ultimately I don't see what difference the reforms make. I want something fresher and younger with more imagination."

Kambah resident Dani Butler remains cautious of the reinstalled Labor leader.

"He's a bit of a snake in the grass, having come back and stabbed Julia Gillard in the back," she said. "I'm not sure I can trust him."

40 comments

  • Don't decide your vote based on who is PM. If you do that you obviously understand nothing about that party or its policies and ideals. It's only the media that is hyping up the popularity debate on preferred pm. Sigh.

    Commenter
    Adzz
    Date and time
    July 10, 2013, 6:37AM
    • Really? Then just imagine Australia under a Tony Abbott government. Don't you think there's something strange about Abbott's walk when he gets angry? Have you ever witnessed Abbott being able to control his temper? Do you honestly want a bad tempered Tony Abbott to say what happens in Australia?

      I certainly don't want the likes of Abbott, Hockey or Barnaby deciding the future for Australia.

      Commenter
      Sharron
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      July 10, 2013, 8:43AM
    • I believe it was Mr Rudd who lost it and swore at a flight attendant for not getting a hot meal and it was Mr Rudd we saw swearing like a banshee as he struggled with his favourite mandarin phrases. Stick to the facts Sharron. We don't want an angry, revenge-driven person as PM so Mr Rudd is gone.

      Commenter
      Pete1
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      July 10, 2013, 9:13AM
    • Sharron, no because I don't vote on a party based on their leader, I vote for the party based on their policies & ideals. The tern "party" does not mean a one man show.

      Commenter
      Adzz
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      July 10, 2013, 9:15AM
    • Sharron I don't think someone can help the way they walk and that would be a ludicrous way to reject someone from a job. Really Gillard was hammered because people did not like her voice and the way she expressed her views. I think I can handle a person with a 'strange' walk over an egotistical clown. The cult around El Rudd is a said reflection of peoples insight into a persons personality. He started his cult with leaks to journalists when Latham was around and undermined the Labor party for over 3 years. In fact if he had not played his sociopathic games labor would have had a majority after the last election but of course it's all about him. When dumped Rudd was recording some of the lowest ratings in history- people seem to have short memories. Now of course he is setting himself up to be the 'absolute' leader with his changes. In addition if it was not for the unions etc. Rudd would not even have been elected in the first place. As for the ridiculous faceless men term can people get over it we know who they are so there is no great mystery.

      Commenter
      Roary
      Date and time
      July 10, 2013, 9:17AM
    • @Shazza. Right because KRuddy is completely in control of his temper. Just ask his staffers. Remember him abusing a poor girl over the food on flight, hairdryer incident? How quickly people in this country forget. This guy messed things up so bad his own party tossed him out before he finished a term!! For the sake of this country, call an election already and let the libs get onto the job of fixing this mess.

      Commenter
      steve-o
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      July 10, 2013, 9:21AM
    • Your absolutely right,and the media are never allowed to disclose anything of rteal importance happening in the Upper House,only ever really reporting on the theatrics of the Lower,and beoing compeelled to promote pop culture attitudes into the minds and hearts of the ill informed and misguided electorate.Like this nonsense about Rudds reforms removing the faceless men---what nonsense ,theyre the ones who want the term fixed,because of the other windows of opportunities that will be created for PMs to be more like a dictatorto be more powerful, and therefore have the ability to be harsher,with impunity from his PartyAnd they have Rudd well heeled now,so whether he or Tony gets in makes little difference to them,if the Rudd proposals get through--which the faceless men will make sure they do.

      Commenter
      Kane
      Date and time
      July 10, 2013, 9:34AM
    • Funny he allows himself in that way but makes sure no one can kick him out again! Now that's a man with integrity. That is Sarcasm for those who don't realise.

      Commenter
      Petal
      Location
      Sylvania
      Date and time
      July 10, 2013, 10:58AM
    • Strange comment "Don't decide your vote based on who is PM..."
      when voting means surrender all your democratic rights to the mob.

      Please explain to the readers what is happening to the people after each election.

      "There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead."

      Commenter
      Rick
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      July 10, 2013, 11:38AM
    • Agreed. Too much emphasis on what was previously a disposed leader. A figurehead has little to do with generating policy. Don't believe the Kevin Rudd HYPE!

      Commenter
      Liam of Botany
      Date and time
      July 10, 2013, 11:42AM

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