Rudd said it was companies such as Atlas that were pushing up the dollar and making it hard for foreign students to live in Australia.
There was a collective gasp, with executives asking Rudd if he “wanted to wipe out the iron ore industry to help foreign students”.
Michelle's explanation will possibly sound dramatic to some readers. But I think there's merit to what she's arguing and I'll explain why later. Here's Michelle's take on things:
Rudd sees himself as the president of the Asia-Pacific Union, rather than the Prime Minister of Australia. So his constituents are Indians as well as Australians. As shocking as that may be, it is the real Kevin Rudd. The public mistakenly views Rudd through the prism of nationalism. But he is not a nationalist, he is a card-carrying globalist. His top-order priorities are regional integration of Australia into Asia, and advancing global governance. Domestic policies are a low-order priority that Rudd engages in to maintain a nationalist facade. Ban Ki-moon enunciated Rudd's core belief: "This is, after all, an era of integration. Regional integration is taking place all over the world". Hence, like the European Union, Rudd declared that Australia and Asia should move towards one superstate by 2020, called the Asia-Pacific Community.
Subsequently, Rudd has worked on two fronts: to weaken our national identity, and to promote regional standards in its place. He is weakening our identity by maximising the transnational flow of people, ideas and business: hence Rudd's record high immigration and foreign student numbers, relaxed foreign ownership, Asia-centric education, relentless free trade agreements, diversifying the military, etc. He is also centralising education, health, law, national security, as a precursor to harmonising with forthcoming regional standards. Climate change was a handy crisis for advancing global governance. The economic stimulus was about shoring up global interdependence and preventing a backslide into protectionism. His entire tenure has been one long gasp.
In contrast, domestic policies are an afterthought, to maintain the facade of nationalism. But Rudd's facade is cracking and the public is worried about: big population choking infrastructure, foreign buyers forcing up housing prices, immigration straining social cohesion, etc. The ETS [emissions trading scheme] back-flip is the biggest crack in Rudd's facade, but it doesn't reveal a hollowness, it reveals a transnational-progressive ideology where the interests of Australia are an afterthought. Rudd has brought the "era of integration" to our hemisphere and the Australian public still mistakenly views him as a nationalist.
When Rudd announced his Asia-Pacific Union, he said: "The purpose is to encourage the development of a genuine and comprehensive sense of community whose habitual operating principle is cooperation". Which means he wants us to become people without identity and without independent thoughts. Hence, to Rudd, the Australian people deserve no more attention than international students. Rudd is an ideologically-driven wrecking ball, devoid of ordinary sensitivities of identity, social cohesion, carrying capacity, infrastructure, etc. He is a mad ideologue and there are going to be a lot more collective gasps, as he dissolves Australia into Asia, until the public wakes up and votes him out.
I don't think this view can be lightly dismissed. The Australian political class does seem keen to promote regional integration. Back in 2003 an Australian senate committee advocated the creation of a Pacific Union, along the lines of the EU:
In essence, it proposes a Pacific community which will eventually have one currency, one labour market, common strong budgetary and fiscal discipline, democratic and ethical governance, shared defence and security arrangements, common laws and resolve in fighting crime, and, health, welfare, education and environmental goals.
In 2005, the Labor Party produced a policy paper of its own which advocated establishing a Pacific Community on these lines:
There would be a Pacific Parliament, a Pacific Court, a Pacific Common Market, a common currency and military integration.
When Rudd was elected as a Labor PM in 2007 his first priority was to push for the creation of an even larger regional bloc, an Asia-Pacific Union. He was rebuffed by some of the Asian powers, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the "dream" is over. It is credible that a major priority remains the creation of such a regional bloc.
Perhaps some people might find it difficult to register such a possibility because politicians are groomed to appeal to the public: to act like statesmen and wear shiny suits and put on a reasonable face in their public appearances.
Think of David Cameron and Nick Clegg in the UK. If you look at this Daily Mail story, you'll see photos of the pair exuding charm for the cameras and looking like anything but radicals. The story goes on to report Cameron's assurance that he and Clegg would,
put aside party differences and work hard for the common good and the national interest
But it was only last year that Clegg wrote a political manifesto rejecting the very idea of a common good or a national interest:
people have been empowered by technology, travel and prosperity and are no longer willing to subordinate themselves to a collective whole in the name of a supposed ‘common good’
Labour has lost its ideological way ... They are unsure how to deal with a globalised world in which the nation state is no longer the correct locus of power.
According to Clegg, it is a good thing that we now live a more atomised existence. It means that we are more self-defining (more autonomous) than if we are connected to a particular place.
We live in a more atomised society where people are no longer rigidly defined by class or place.
Clegg openly rejects the idea that his role is to be a defender of an existing entity; he sees this as the great conservative error, the error of being determined to "preserve, protect and defend". He is motivated instead by "a political ideology that stems from a restless, optimistic ambition for change and transformation."
Is Clegg therefore the man to trust to defend the national interest and the common good? I would have thought that there was hardly anyone less suitable. As much as he might look the part at press conferences, he is at heart a radical bent on a transformation in which the nation state would give way to international institutions and laws.
It's the same with Rudd and other politicians. We shouldn't take the public persona as the real thing. A friendly smile doesn't mean that they are nationalists upholding the common good. It's much more likely they are ideologues with an agenda.
Finally, don't forget Rudd's new national school curriculum. Every subject in this curriculum has to be designed with three "cross-curriculum dimensions" in mind: Australia's place in the Asia Pacific, Aborigines and sustainable living. This speaks so poorly to Australia's mainstream heritage that it even provoked criticism from Susie O'Brien, normally a somewhat leftie columnist in the Melbourne Herald Sun:
these three themes don't reflect the full picture of who we are as a nation or how we see ourselves. Where are the themes reflecting our British and European roots and current realities?
It's an important question because the three themes are more than just discrete subject areas to be learned and then forgotten. They actually underpin the entire 11-year curriculum, and provide topics for examples and analysis across all subject areas - year in, year out ...
At present the three themes don't reflect, for example, Australia's membership of the Commonwealth, the fact that we have an English monarch, and the fact that many of us have European family heritage, not just Asian or Aboriginal origins.
We can't turn our back on the fact that while Aborigines were our first Australians, and the Asia-Pacific is where our country is located, many of our families came from Europe or the United Kingdom.
Our institutions, system of government and laws, and our social identity owe more to our European and British past and present than our indigenous roots or our position in the Asia-Pacific region.
And yet this is not reflected in the themes that underpin the entire national syllabus.
It risks alienating young students, who may not feel as connected as they could be to their learning.
The idea that Australia's place is within the Asia Pacific is going to be integrated into topic selection and points for analysis in every subject area during every child's primary and secondary education. What does that say about the agenda of the Rudd Labor Government?
What are some possible flaws in Michelle's comment? Well, I'm not sure it's just Rudd or Labor who see Australia's future in terms of closer integration within the Asia-Pacific. After all, student numbers were also rising at the end of Howard's term of government.
Perhaps too a couple of the more attention grabbing statements are overstated. But overall I think Michelle's comment is praiseworthy. There is no "hoping against hope" in it, no wishful thinking. She has recognised straight out that Rudd is not a nationalist in any meaningful sense of the term. We are not to sit back and rely on the likes of Rudd to defend the national interest.
If readers had a different reaction to Michelle's comment, let me know - I'd be interested to know what they are.