Simon Crean is a very smart man - Ever since being elected as leader of the Federal Labor Party, Simon Crean has been delivering the goods. He has walked the talk and talked up the walk. He is here, he is there he is seemingly everywhere.
"...when he marries virtue and self-interest it is a powerful combination..."
What impresses me is the way he is always on the attack. Always ready with a new angle on a fading issue, always ready to start off a new issue. Always ready to thrust - and so far not having to parry.
[It's ok - the cliches will shortly end]
In a great opinion piece, Glenn Milne, outlines the Opposition Leaders leadership in the public outcry against the Governor-General. His assessment is that Crean had the political insight into the situation and it's necessary course, whereas the Prime Minister did not.
After listening to the Opposition Leader's constitutional case against Peter Hollingworth, Howard asked: "I suppose your resolve is to get him to resign?"
"No, John," Crean responded. "My resolve is that he won't resign."
Howard was taken aback, the flicker in his eye betraying the fact that, at that moment, the Prime Minister realised the only way out of this crisis might be for him to sack the Governor-General.
Crean had already met with the Governor General and had formulated his opinion. Howard had not. The meeting with Howard was again at Crean's instigation. Setting the agenda.
But the quality of Crean's behaviour during this crisis has run deeper than that. Crean has managed almost seamlessly to marry politics, propriety and process.
Contrary to government opinion, Crean does not seem to be flogging a political pony on this one. He seems to genuinely be concerned at the public outcomes on this issue. Now I am not so doe-eyed that I think Crean incapable of scoring political points - not so - but when he marries virtue and self-interest it is a powerful combination.
Crean again took the initiative in telephoning Hollingworth, suggesting that he publicly answer the allegations as early as December 8th. Communication flowed back and forth and a face to face meeting was set up.
I was privately wondering, and it's a good thing to wonder, at the gall, that's right, of Crean in fronting up to Yarralumla and telling Hollingworth that he should resign - but having read this piece by Milne, it seems that Crean went about building a relationship with Hollingworth over a few weeks so that he had a platform to make his suggestions.
Milne closes with these lines:
The Opposition Leader's position was impregnable. He had behaved impeccably both constitutionally and personally. His dealings with Hollingworth and Howard had been open and proper, and he weighed, in a considered manner, his initial compassion for Hollingworth against the growing weight of evidence against him.
This was the week Simon Crean first looked like an alternate prime minister.
Crean is a fine leader.
I welcome the coming Senate inquiry into the "Howard is a liar" allegations, and can't wait to follow Crean's handling of the issues. It will be much better than Survivor - although the stakes [and ratings] may well be as high!