The Killing Season: rise of the public servant PM

To everyday Australians, Kevin Rudd in 2007 was the prototypical image of a public servant: helpful, polite, across the detail of both policy and implementation. Sarah Ferguson’s documentary on the Rudd/Gillard years begins with the familiar relationship between minister and secretary, but in extraordinary circumstances.

“What are we going to do now?” one of Rudd’s Labor colleagues remembers hearing as, for the first time, a former top bureaucrat becomes Australia’s prime minister. He broke the mould, bypassing factional politics but also a leader always on the go and demanding exhausting performance from his staff and his officials.

ABC last night aired the first of three episodes of The Killing Season, an account of one of the most turbulent times in Australian political history under the stewardship of Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard. This episode focused on the first Rudd years and the challenges that shaped his government.

It began with an apology for past Australian policies to the Stolen Generation, depicting a time when the Rudd government, still in its honeymoon, was in control of both its agenda and the message.

Ken Henry

Ken Henry

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