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PM's away, and look who plays

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Michelle Grattan

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Stars party at the Melbourne Cup

Andrew Hornery catches up with the glitterati trackside on Tuesday afternoon. Phone vision.

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CUP day saw the ubiquitous Kevin Rudd mingling at Flemington with a couple of his backers, cabinet ministers Martin Ferguson and Anthony Albanese, as well as union leader Paul Howes, a ''faceless man'' from the 2010 coup.

Where better to share some cheer with your mates and (sort of) overlook a still-felt wrong but in the Emirates marquee at the Birdcage? When Mr Howes and Mr Rudd encountered each other, there was a good deal of mutual backslapping.

The former PM had paid a visit to Bionic Vision Australia at Melbourne University. Soon he was off, flying to Sydney to launch Phillip Adams' book Bedtime Stories, followed by an interview for the ABC's Late Night Live. Adams had been asking Twitter followers for questions to put.

Kevin Rudd shares some Cup day merriment with Labor figure and 'faceless' man Paul Howes.

Kevin Rudd shares some Cup day merriment with Labor figure and 'faceless' man Paul Howes. Photo: Jesse Marlow

Mr Rudd, who seems especially visible when Julia Gillard is out of the country - he did his well-publicised Lateline interview when she was in India - says he is not running for his old job. But he's certainly on the run.

Sunday saw him deliver an address titled ''The future of Sino-US relations: building a 21st century Pax Pacifica'' to the Closing Ceremony of the Beijing Forum 2012, at Peking University. He also did an interview from Beijing for Sky TV.

Within hours of landing in Australia on Monday he was co-hosting Ten's The Project, putting the heat on Joe Hockey over the shadow treasurer's leadership ambitions while trying to dance around his own (''I'm not a candidate'', he said when asked whether he wanted his old job back).

Rudd with cabinet supporter Martin Ferguson.

Rudd with cabinet supporter Martin Ferguson. Photo: Angela Wylie

Today he will be on the Nine Network's panel, commenting on the US presidential election.

The improvements for Labor and the PM in the polls are considered to have put paid to Mr Rudd's hopes of a return to his old job this year.

This means any chance would depend on the polls early next year.

Mischa Barton in the Emirates marquee. Click for more photos

Melbourne Cup 2012 : Birdcage & Fashion

The fashion and the celebrities at play at Flemington for the race that stops the nation. Photo: Angela Wylie

Julia Gillard ruled out an early election in an interview with a women's magazine published this week. In a new version of the gender offensive, Ms Gillard and six of her women ministers met Marie Claire at The Lodge last month. With a rash of speculation in Canberra that the government might go to the polls early next year, the PM was asked ''Are you going to call an early election?''

She replied: ''I read in the newspaper today that I was, but no''. Ms Gillard has agreements with the crossbenchers to run full term, which would put the election in the second half of the year.

That gives Mr Rudd more time, but if Ms Gillard continues to improve in the polls he won't be able to turn it to his advantage. (It is believed that Labor's own polling is more like this week's Galaxy poll, which had Labor trailing 47-53 per cent, than the 50-50 result of the last Newspoll.)

Some in Rudd's camp say his frenetic activity is not just about being seen by his colleagues but also driven by a determination that, if he can't be top dog, he will just do what he wants. And he always wants to do a lot.

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67 comments

  • It's always great to see our pollies out and about enjoying the obviously no strings attached hospitality of a foreign business. Pity those of us who work outside of Melbourne don't seem to get the same public holiday. Hang on, Anthony, Kevin, are they now Melbourne based !!!

    Commenter
    Krusty
    Date and time
    November 07, 2012, 7:49AM
    • Krusty,

      Michelle has misled you.

      It is not unusual for politicians to turn up at the Melbourne Cup, even if they aren't based in Melbourne. I seem to remember the Sydney-based John Howard turning up at a few in his time.

      As a matter of fact, the presence of ANY Australian at the Melbourne, regardless fo their occupation or location, is hardly what one would call a "news event".

      Sometimes it is not the events that the politicians turn up to, but the times when they are nowhere to be seen, that is more instructive.

      Ask yourself this question: Where was Tony Abbott during the Queensland Floods? Why was he not beside the PM, offering bi-partisan support to the people of Queensland? And why didn't Michelle consider his absence "newsworthy"? She certainly would have considered it "newsworthy" if the PM had been John Howard and the missing Opposition Leader Mark Latham.

      Commenter
      v
      Date and time
      November 07, 2012, 9:24AM
    • v 9.24am: Probably just that pesky 'nihilism' of his coming through again, v! That would be it, for sure...

      Commenter
      EBAB
      Location
      St Lucia
      Date and time
      November 07, 2012, 10:52AM
    • v, your comments start to resemble that of J Fraser. Abbot and Howard bashing in every second sentence.

      Commenter
      Peter Schmidt
      Date and time
      November 07, 2012, 10:59AM
    • Does anyone really care where these has-been Labor losers turn up? If there's a free feed (or free anything) you'll find them there.

      Commenter
      moi
      Date and time
      November 07, 2012, 11:00AM
    • Psssst! Pssssst!!! could someone tell Michelle that if you want to describe people as faceless you have to pixelate their faces, now you've blown it you've let us all know that Paul Howes actually has a face.

      Commenter
      Bushy
      Location
      Cressy
      Date and time
      November 07, 2012, 11:13AM
    • Rudd for PM! PLEASE for the sake of our children!

      Commenter
      James1993
      Date and time
      November 07, 2012, 11:24AM
  • This is 'news'?? More like 'opinion'. Yet again.

    Commenter
    Mav
    Date and time
    November 07, 2012, 7:51AM
    • We see Rudd here, we see Rudd we see Ruddy dud dud everywhere. Time to put duddy away.

      Commenter
      Pickled Herring
      Location
      Frankston
      Date and time
      November 07, 2012, 8:31AM
    • Yep. Michelle yet again, grinding the Rudd v. Gillard axe.

      Here's some news for you Michelle - the public don't care! We're interested in you know, issues and policies n' stuff....

      Commenter
      we've moved on
      Location
      how about you join us?
      Date and time
      November 07, 2012, 8:36AM

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