I'll wager that in one week you can't remember one paragraph of Kevin Rudd's letter informing the faceless men in NSW Labor that faceless men from head office would run the show for a while.
You won't, I won't, they probably won't. But I doubt you'll forget the national emblem on the top, the coat of arms, the weighty words that say this letter comes from the head of our nation's government. Every touch leaves its trace and this one is designed to send a message about power and how it's used. Or abused.
This is a message from the PRIME MINISTER OF AUSTRALIA MATE, not just some bloke working the numbers within the legally approved structures of a political party registered under and responsible to the laws in NSW and the Commonwealth.
Many of you reading saw it instantly when we posted it this morning.
What business is it of the Prime Minister of Australia (forget Rudd's in the job, imagine it was Howard) to write a formal letter to the state secretary of a political party's administrative wing, using the office and devices of head of our national government. Would Rudd as PM write and direct the Liberal Party if it displeased him? Or directly to a state division of a commonwealth department that one of his ministers runs?
Render unto Ceasar what is Ceasar's and unto Rudd what is Rudd's. The leadership of the Australian Labor Party is a matter for the machinations of the Labor Party and its systems. Why do we tolerate Rudd's abuse of our Prime Ministership for a tawdry display of cheap, showy pretence - made for media. It's what Rudd imagines an avenging anti-corruption PM from central casting would do. But the real deal would achieve, do it quietly, be judged on results and would make sure his own actions were an example to follow, not to laugh at.
At the Victoria Police Academy we were shown and discussed the mini-series of the 1980s about police corruption. For one young bloke it started with looking for a deal on a used car. He was told he was a dill for looking on a Saturday off duty, "Come with me in your discount suit son". The older bloke showed him how to turn up tooled up, ask to see the second hand traders books, give all the cars the scary roadworthy treatment, casually introduce the idea that you're in the market for a deal that was so good, it could make you forget all those small details!
He learned the ropes quickly. Like the ideal point in negotiations to introduce the likelihood of a charge of offering an insufficient bribe.
We learned that we each held a responsible office as one of Her Majesty's Constable's of Police and we had a duty to discharge without fear or favour, without malice or ill will. And the absolute certainty in policing is that every constable has hovering above him a ton of bricks desperate for a hint of corruption to free it. Corruption in the police includes the receipt of a discount cup of coffee or free meal at a pub. To the businessman providing it it's an exercise in relationship building - to an Ethical Services Department Inspector a sure sign of corruption.
And that's the point that Kevin doesn't get. How can he not see that it's improper for the Prime Minister of the nation to issue directives directly to a body registered under an act of parliament, a body with responsibilities to the laws of NSW and its electoral provisions, a body that receives federal funding and which raises money for the purposes of federal and NSW state elections, a body subject to oversight by federal government bodies, a body that must itself slavishly adhere to electoral laws and whose internal rules and regulations must be filed and approved in its registration as a political party? But none of that counts when a Prime Minister decides to direct it as to how it is to act.
If your message is that you abhor corruption, you are revolted by corruption and you will root out corruption where you see it, you might find people laugh at you when you corruptly use your office to advertise your inner corruption killing credentials Kevin.