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National Press Club -

View in ParlView









12:30 PM




KEN RANDALL: Welcome to today's National Australia Bank address. It's a great pleasure to welcome
back Tim Gartrell, in rather different circumstances from his last appearance here.


Tim was Campaign Director of course for the Labor Party in the election we've just had, and that
was by virtue of his position as General Secretary of the Australian Labor Party. He's now in his
second term as secretary and he was assistant secretary before that, was elected unopposed back in
those sort of earlier years.

It's become a custom that the campaign directors come here after the election and tell us what
really happened, what they think we should know about what really happened. And Tim's counterpart,
Brian Loughnane, from the Liberal Party will be here next week.



But, with the election over and most people rather glad that the long campaign has finished, it's
time to look back and see what really happened. So please welcome Tim Gartrell.


TIM GARTRELL: Thanks, Ken, and the National Press Club Board for the opportunity to be here today.
Thanks also to the National Australia Bank for the invitation to - and sponsoring this event.

I'd like to welcome ministers, parliamentary secretaries, government staffers. I had some
government staffers when I was here in 2004, they had a table up the back, but the government
staffers I see here today are much better looking and finer quality of people...


...and they're here with much better intentions, I think. And friends, thanks for coming.

Since 1996 it's been a great Press Club tradition to invite the campaign directors to speak in the
aftermath of an election. I first became part of that tradition in 2004. And I want to say right
now that I'll happily continue the tradition today, but note that it is in far more congenial
circumstances than



those of three years ago. Or, as my Dad said in one of the papers on Saturday, it's better than the
kick up the arse I got last time.


History is made during the tumultuous weeks of an election campaign. In the weeks immediately
afterwards, history is written. And sometimes, as you all know, history is comprehensively

It's now just over a week since polling day and already there's been a lot of discussion about what
it all means: what went right, and what went wrong. It is, and I say this from experience, an
unforgiving process. Today I want to contribute my two-bob's worth to the analysis of the 2007

And I want to begin by exploding the notion that oppositions don't win elections but that
governments, for whatever reason, lose them. In 2007 this is an argument that cannot be supported
or sustained. Kevin Rudd and Labor won this campaign outright with a clear message about new
leadership and a long-term plan for Australia's future.

It was never a case of sitting back waiting for victory to fall in our laps. It was a tough fight



step of the way, up against opponents who would do anything, say anything and spend whatever it
took and more to get themselves re-elected.

Never before has encumbency been so powerful or so outrageously bankrolled. Billions of taxpayer
dollars squandered on government advertising; a shameless spending spree on regional pork

This campaign, as our new Prime Minister reminded us daily - and sometimes more than once a day -
was like climbing Mount Everest. And what drove us to get to the summit first was our single-minded
determination to make Australia a better and fairer place.

Labor prevailed because we looked forward to the future with enthusiasm, and hope and energy, and
we took the Australian people with us.

Labor's voice was heard because while John Howard harked back endlessly to the past we saw the
future, saw what had to be done and laid out a plan to do it.

Rudd Labor stared down the challenges ahead with policies to sustain economic prosperity beyond the
mining boom. To keep downward pressure on interest rates; to tackle climate change; water and
skills shortages. To start an education revolution;



to return fairness to the workplace and a national plan to fix our hospitals.

In the washup to the campaign I've frequently been asked to pick the turning point in Labor's march
to victory, the one seismic moment when the dynamic of the campaign changed forever. In truth,
there wasn't one single moment, there were many.

The spectacle of a prime minister who'd lost touch debating Kevin Rudd's plan for the future. John
Howard's blatant bribe for votes at his campaign launch and Kevin Rudd's claim that this sort of
reckless spending must stop. These were two pivotal moments. But the real story of Labor's win is a
chronicle of momentum.

From experience I can tell you that igniting and fuelling political momentum is an elusive
challenge. It doesn't just happen. And in Australian politics it doesn't happen often. This is
historic. This is o... this is only the third time that Labor has one from opposition in the post-war

The momentum Labor built through 2007 was not confined to the return - was not confined to the
return of one single group. It goes comprehensively deeper and wider than that. It was a wave that
swept up Australians in almost every demographic, at either end of the spectrum and in the middle.
The under 30s and the over 60s; manual trades



workers and the university educated; mums and dads and families with both parents working; mums at
home. And this was self evidently not a swing confined to narrow sectional groups.

This was a swing that on election day would deliver seats to Labor in the Far North in Queensland;
on the Central Coast in New South Wales; in Western Sydney and the suburbs of Brisbane, and in John
Howard's own backyard of Bennelong. The momentum started a year ago from this day when Kevin Rudd
took over the leadership.

The published polling revealed voters across the board were intrigued, interested in what he was
saying. Here was now a new leader with something to offer. For the first time in a long time people
were listening to an opposition and considering changing their vote. And there's no underestimating
the significance of this. Of the last 18 state and federal elections, this was the first time
there's been a change of government.

As approval ratings for Kevin Rudd climbed steadily, some commentators and all our opponents were
quick to dismiss them as unrealistic, an argument that wore thin over coming months as the polls
climbed inexorably higher, and Kevin Rudd cemented himself as a strong, capable leader, more than a
match for John Howard.



After budget week Newspoll had Kevin Rudd at a satisfaction rating of 68, a nett approval of 52.
The budget in May was one of the many turning points in 2007. John Howard and Peter Costello
resorting to their favourite pre-election strategy, rolling out the familiar pork barrel.

In contrast Kevin Rudd staked his claim on economic conservatism with a modern, sensible,
conservative and achievable agenda: trades in schools and small business reform. By now the
Australian people were seriously taking notice.

Across a broad section of the population Kevin Rudd and Labor were now being judged as a strong and
a responsible alternative. Part of this was the recognition that Labor was changing, positioned at
the centre of Australian politics. That Kevin Rudd was the leader of a modern, forward-thinking
Labor Party with a plan for the future.

Our research was telling us that people thought Kevin Rudd was different to the old Labor Party, a
new style of Labor leader with an agenda that connected with people. Our benchmark studies
reflected this sentiment with a substantial movement across all demographics.

The minor party protest vote evaporated while at the same time around five per cent of the
population shifted away from the Coalition directly



to Labor. The size of this movement demonstrates that it was not just one group moving to Labor.
This was a wholesale movement to Labor.

Our research showed we were making up critical ground with female voters, traditionally the subject
of a gender gap against Labor. Young people; mortgage holders; families with kids in childcare;
TAFE and trades qualified men and women; seniors and pensioners.

By September our research showed that we led the Coalition in what they misguidedly regarded as
their heartland: the over-sixties demographic. Labor's strong performance amongst younger voters,
the under 30s, was identified early, but now we were making inroads amongst older voters.

Positive messages on climate change, education, health as well as WorkChoices were attracting very
large numbers of voters in the 45-65 age band who had previously voted with the Coalition. Again,
Labor's message about WorkChoices and industrial relations, and ending the blame game in health,
crossed all demographic boundaries.

Post-election, there's been much discussion about Labor winning when the economy is growing. Some
important points need to be made about this. First of all, our research was showing us right from
the start, that despite the economic management



claims of the Howard Government, people wanted a change in direction. Again this wasn't confined to
any particular group, from February onwards, our research was showing that more than half of the
population wanted Australia to head in a different direction, while only a third wanted to keep
going in the same direction.

So it was obvious that despite a robust economy, the increasing disenchantment with the Government
agenda, could not be papered over with claims of economic competence.

What the Government didn't understand was what Kevin Rudd knew, that people are doing it tough,
particularly in outer metropolitan and regional areas, where our feedback was that family finances
are tightening significantly. That's why the Howard Costello negative attacks on Labor's competence
to manage the economy fell on deaf ears.

This shift across every demographic, delivered us a patchwork of seats, seats like Ford in
Queensland, Hasluck in WA, and Kingston in South Australia, where our focus on cost of living, and
responsible spending, struck a chord with mortgage holders. In fact, people with mortgage
repayments of between $1400 and $1600 a month, just above the average repayment, stood out as one
group that moved solidly to Labor.



The swing was on too in the outer metropolitan provincial electorates, like Corangamite, Dobell and
Macquarie, where there are higher proportions of TAFE-qualified workers, and trades workers. And in
the inner metropolitan electorates, like Moreton and Bennelong, where there are higher proportions
of young people, voters with a degree, and professional workers.

In terms of household income, Labor also performed well in a broad base of seats. The seats of
Bass, Braddon, Wakefield and Page, are in the top 25 seats for households with low incomes. But
Labor also polled well in seats like Lindsay, Bonner and Solomon, where household incomes are above
the average.

Labor won seats with a high proportion of labourers, seats like Blair, Braddon, Flynn, Page, and
Wakefield, but also in seats with a high proportion of blue collar workers, including technicians
and trades people, machinery operators and drivers.

Kevin Rudd's empathy with working families, and cost of living pressures, had broad appeal among
women working full time and part time. At the same time, we improved our position significantly
amongst stay at home mums.



Today, Labor holds seats across the full spectrum of Australian society, and our priorities in
government will not be defined by any single group. As Kevin Rudd said on election night, Labor
will govern for all Australians, whether they're paying off a mortgage, entering retirement, or
just starting out. Whether they live in the cities, the regions, country towns or the suburbs.

The campaign to shift the country back to Labor is an unfolding narrative of gathering momentum. It
began a year ago to this day, when the Parliamentary Labor Party elected a new leader. From that
day, the agenda was set, a plan for the future, a plan to tackle climate change, housing
affordability, childcare shortages, a plan to fix our hospitals, to get rid of WorkChoices, to take
the pressure off working families, and start an education revolution.

What sparked the interest of the electorate was the huge difference between what Labor was offering
for the future, and the gaping hole that was the Government's lack of vision for the years ahead.
Demonstrating that difference began from day one. It continued relentlessly through 2007, with the
release of our first chapter of the education revolution, which became the platform for our first
campaign advertising, kicking off on Australia Day.



For Labor the campaign began right back then, putting pay to the notion that the Howard Costello
juggernaut would flatten us come the campaign proper. We hi-jacked the campaign kick-off, and then
we hi-jacked the policy agenda. Kevin Rudd seized the policy initiative, and ran with it, from that
day until election day.

Labor assumed the role of government, laying out policy after policy, on the environment, ratifying
Kyoto, implementing a 60 per cent carbon target, establishing an emissions trading scheme, a
renewable energy target of 20 per cent by 2020. On education, an early learning program for our -
all four-year-olds, trades training centres in every secondary school, halving HECS fees for maths
and science students, and the education tax refund.

Labor's $2 billion health and hospitals reform plan, GP super clinics in local communities, a
Commonwealth dental health program, a massive national investment in cancer research. Making
housing more affordable, by reducing infrastructure costs, and charges through Labor's First Home
Saver Accounts, and a National Rental Affordability Scheme.

Tackling the cost of living pressures, by strengthening the role of the ACCC to monitor supermarket
prices, and appointing a Federal Commissioner to make sure motorists get a fair go.



High speed broadband, and an additional 2000 aged care beds.

Critically during the winter break, when I know from experience oppositions typically lose
momentum, Kevin Rudd continued to drive the agenda, taking his plans directly to the Australian
people, he campaigned through that break across the country, and listened to what people were
saying. They were under financial pressure, they were worried about WorkChoices, they were worried
about their kids' future.

Of course, we didn't operate through a vacuum throughout the year, or through the campaign. While
Labor set out its plan for the future, and seized ownership of the future, John Howard remained
steadfastly anchored in the past, and addicted to negativity.

From us, a plan for the future, from them, a voice from the past, obsessed with the past, refusing
to acknowledge, let alone address, the challenges of the future, a government that neither knew,
nor cared, what mattered in the lives of Australian families. A government that won absolute power
in 2004, and misused this power to impose WorkChoices on working families.

So what we had was John Howard who had lost touch, and Peter Costello, who'd never been in



touch, a Prime Minister of so little understanding of what was going on in the real world, that he
lectured the Australian people, skiting in Parliament in March that working families in Australia,
have never been better off.

The Treasurer, Peter Costello who insisted right to the end there was no housing affordability
crisis, obdurately refusing to acknowledge the impact of six interest rate rises, after they
promised to keep interest rates at 30 year lows. Nothing to do with him, he shrugged, but families
with average mortgages were now paying $3000 a year more.

After eleven and a half years in power, the Government had moved into another zone, completely
estranged from the Australian people. It had no real idea what was going on out there in the
nation's cities, suburbs and regions, and it didn't seem interested in finding out.

We came into this campaign taking nothing for granted, we went into those long six weeks, knowing
every single day had to be a good day, no room for error, a gaff-free zone. I don't have to tell
any of you, presented with the choice between the serious policy story, and a terrific gaff on the
nightly news, the gaff will win hands down.

So from day one we were determined to run a campaign distinguished by its discipline, in every



sphere of our operation, and there was no-one more disciplined than Kevin Rudd and his team. And I
pay tribute to those here - to all those here who had no life for the best part of the year,
because I can tell you that campaigning Kevin-style, is no picnic.


Stimulating, demanding, exhausting, and full of surprises, yes. Relaxed and comfortable? Never.

On the other side of the ledger, the Coalition's campaign was characterised by disunity,
negativity, and mixed and confusing messages. The economy's in great shape, crowed John Howard, but
there's a tsunami on the horizon, cried Peter Costello. The backdrops that changed daily, go for
growth, the confident proclamation at the start, dropped in favour of the stylised Australian flag,
and then the desperate return to the negative, don't trust Labor with the economy. And on some
days, you got all three.

It was a campaign that was 95 per cent negative. This was reflected in everything they did and
said, and all their advertising, and in the end, the Australian people didn't wear it. It was there
in almost every word spoken by John Howard, they tried every negative attack they could think of.
They attempted to denigrate Labor's team, and



failed spectacularly. They demonised unionists, even going as far as claiming businesses would have
their front doors kicked in, and their premises torn apart by union thugs. They even claimed a Rudd
Government would mean more graffiti and car hooning in your street.

This was a campaign of fear-mongering and slur, culminating in the racists pamphlets distributed by
the Liberal Party in the seat of Lindsay, a classic case of a Liberal Party being consumed by its
own ideology, but the result tells us, in the end, they were the only ones listening.

Of course, since November 24, the Liberals and the Nationals have been busy re-writing history,
frantically and shamelessly reinventing themselves, and recasting their role in the demise of the
Howard Government, shedding their skins like summer cicadas, trying desperately to throw off their
old dry shells, and their old dead ideas.

Here we are just one week - just over a week after the election loss and they're all at it, falling
over one another in the rush to dump policy after policy, sacred decade old tenets and traditions
of the Liberal Party unceremoniously trashed as Nelson, Turnbull and Bishop lead the stampede from
ground zero, trampling everything in their way. WorkChoices gone; an aberration that mysteriously
now has neither author, supporter or enforcer. It



was once the Liberal's only vision of Australia's future prosperity. For this new Liberal
triumvirate, desperately trying to reinvent themselves, it's as if it never was.

This is not, of course, what Brendan Nelson thought when he went on Channel Nine's Sunday Program
in March. Back then he said, the WorkChoices legislation is about Australia's future. And don't
forget he voted 20 times in favour of WorkChoices, voted to strip away overtime, penalty rates and
holiday pay. Now he wants us to think he just ducked out of the Cabinet room when the decision was

Brendan Nelson whose contribution to the climate change debate was to claim that Australia had
rightly refused to sign the rote with the Kyoto Protocol and whose vision for Australia's energy
future was the assertion that it was now time to consider, in the longer term, the most obvious
power source, nuclear energy. Whose view as Education Minister on low year 12 retention rates was,
and I quote, some young people are salmon and they want to get to the top of the waterfall, but
there are many young people who want to find a quiet pond in the world.




Well, I say this to the Opposition Leader - and when you work that one out let me know.


Well, I say this to the Opposition Leader, you haven't changed your spots and you aren't fooling
anyone, least of all the Australian people. You were a senior minister in the Howard Government,
you back the policies of the Howard era and you backed WorkChoices. Now you want us to believe
you're a new breed of ideology free Liberal, warm and cuddly. Well, you either stood what you did -
you stood for what you did in Cabinet or you don't. And if you don't, then you don't stand for

It's the same with Malcolm Turnbull who says one thing to the electorate in his campaign materials
and another in the Cabinet Room. And through all this deconstruction and reconstruction, lurking
around the edges the man with those unique people skills, Tony Abbott.


He's signalled that it's game on. He'll be making future leadership bids so watch out Brendan. And
note that it's the plural. If he doesn't succeed the first time he won't be calling it quits.



So there you have it. A party desperately trying to deny its past, all the time circled and hunted
by its own, now moving further and further to the right.

Well it was a long and hard 42 day campaign, a long campaign designed to wear us down, but which
broke them. It was also a huge team effort. I'd now like to take a few minutes to thank some of the
people who played a big role in this campaign and who I relied on through the fog of long hours and
sleep deprivation and stress. I can't name everyone here but let me start with two senators elect.

David Feeney, the assistant national secretary, not only had to sweat it out in the notoriously
precarious number three spot on Labor's Senate ticket in Victoria for 42 days, he played a crucial
role in leading Labor's target seats effort and picking up those critical seats.

The other senator elect, Mark Abib, the outgoing New South Wales general secretary who I owe an
enormous debt of gratitude to. Federal Labor wins when the New South Wales branch and the national
office work together, and this campaign was the culmination of three years dedicated to achieving
that goal. But it was more than that. Mark was my co-conspirator on strategy, advertising and



I also want to thank our campaign spokesperson and now Cabinet Minister Penny Wong, who took on
some of the toughest guys on the other side and came out on top. To all those who slaved at the
campaign headquarters for 42 long days and the weeks and weeks before, I say, thanks. You helped us
make history. And all the staff at the National Secretariat for their years of dedication during
those tough years in opposition.

To those poor souls who toiled for the - what's known as the campaign director's unit, that's me,
among them our research director, Nick Martin, one of Labor's rising stars, the indefatigable Sandy
Rippingale who is - has given more than eleven and a half years of her life to winning back
government, the wonderful Bernie Shaw and the brilliant and tireless Alex Cran (*). I couldn't have
done it without you guys.

Thanks also to our state branches for their discipline and unity. I'd like to especially thank John
Bird from the Queensland branch for his contribution. And our advertising team. Our agency, STW,
our producers at Cutting Edge and our media buyers are Icon. The advertising in this campaign was
first rate, from creative conception to production to that arm wrestle to secure those best TV
spots. Our team wins hand down - hands down.



In particular I want to thank Neil Lawrence and Tania Jones. Not - Neil just - not just for being a
great creative [sic], but for his sound understanding and appreciation of political strategy. And
Tania for making sure all these great ideas actually happened.

Much has been said about the market researchers used by our opponents, always about their crucial
role in victories, never their role in their defeats. Well I want to thank our researchers for
finally besting the other side. Tony Mitchelmore's one man band toured Australia talking with
hundreds of swinging voters. His insights were invaluable and helped steer us through the
complexities of popular opinion. John Utting, Stephen Mills, Liz Kirby and the team at UMR provided
first class quantitative research. And despite last minute nervousness, mostly on my part, courtesy
of some wobbly published polls, they got it spot on.

To Kevin and his staff I want to extend my thanks. Every bit of credit Kevin gets for this
election, he deserves and then some. This is his victory. A tribute to his incredible discipline,
his capacity for hard work and his strong intellect. He will be one of Australia's great Prime

I'd also like to acknowledge the big part played by Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan. As they say, the
Deputy PM and the Treasurer each played a



blinder. Kevin has the best team in Australian politics.

I'd like to thank them all, but acknowledge two. David Epstein, who has always, always done the
hard yards for Labor, in the good times and the bad times. Yet again he threw himself into this
campaign with complete and utter dedication. Alister Jordan, another rising star, has been there
for most of Kevin's journey to the Labor leadership and now the Prime Minister's office. To quote
an old phrase, he is as tough as nails and as smart as paint, and I've never seen such personal
commitment, hour after hour, day after day, week after week.

On the road with them, the every cheery ALP National President, Senator John Faulkner.


Another contributor to this victory. Our critical link between the party, the campaign
headquarters, the caucus and the leader's operation.

Finally, some personal thank yous. I'd like to thank all those who put their faith in me during
these difficult opposition years. I'd especially like to thank all of those who rallied around us
following the last campaign and the difficulties that followed. In particular, my then deputy Mike
Kaiser and Mark



Abib, who encouraged me to hang in, tough it out and who backed me to the hilt. Despite Labor's
reputation as the hardest party in the business, I was given incredible support after the 2004 loss
from the national executive and the party, and I hope this result is my way of paying them back.

It's not a fashionable view, but I'm a passionate believer in the importance of our political
parties as crucial institutions in our democracy. You only have to visit the US to see the flaws in
a democracy where big money consultants finance and run campaigns. We should continue to strengthen
and improve our parties as institutions and support and train the next generation of party
officials and campaign directors.

I was lucky to receive such support. Anthony Albanese, who's here today, gave me the opportunity
when I was in my early 20s to develop my passion for politics and campaigning. Gary Grey, who
against advice from some in the party, brought me in as a campaign organiser in 1998 for the
election. And Geoff Walsh who mentored me as his deputy and then supported me when I stood for this
position. Geoff's advice and support has been constant and has got me through some pretty tough
times. And for that I'll always be grateful.

And, most importantly, I'd like to thank my family. Kerry, my wonderful partner or more than 16



and our gorgeous daughter Rose, for putting up with the inevitable disruption to our lives that
years of politics brings, and the late night arrivals and pre-dawn departures for 42 long days of
the campaign.

Finally, I want to pay tribute to all the people who can't be named here today because there are
far too many of them. The thousands and thousands of Australians who never gave up on the Labor
Party and what we stand for. Who, despite more than a decade of loss and disappointment, never lost
heart, never lost faith and never lost hope. Whose shoulders we stood on to build this victory.
Thank you.


KEN RANDALL: Thank you, Tim Gartrell.

As usual we have a period of questions. I'm sure you're looking forward to them. The first one
today is from Paul Bongiorno.

QUESTION: Paul Bongiorno, Ten News, Tim.

I was wondering if you and David Epstein have sent an email to Paul Keating on how to win an




QUESTION: And if so, what did you say? My second question goes to what was the key factor in the
election win? I noticed Newspoll today had health and education at the top of the tree. Whereas an
Ipsos poll from Meet the Press on Sunday had WorkChoices.

What's your opinion and I hope you come down in favour of the Ipsos poll?

TIM GARTRELL: I'm not coming down in favour of any published polls for a while.

Look I was talking to Paul at the campaign launch - we're mates, I think that can, that's official
now, we're mates - and the good thing about Paul is you always know what he's thinking and he says
it to you in very colourful ways so, it's actually great to have someone like Paul around.

The key factor - look, there will be a debate, a long debate about WorkChoices, health, education,
all the rest. What I think strategically it came down to was who was best placed to govern for the
future. This was a battle from the future. A battle which I think the Government missed, and a
battle which John Howard gave up on.

Interestingly, in the last week, two critical interviews - the, what we call the marriage
counselling session on Today Tonight and the 7.30



report. All of that air time critical in the last week, John Howard and Peter Costello as well,
spent their whole time attacking us and talking about the past. At what point in the campaign did
they put forward a strong coherent narrative about what they would do for Australia's future?

And it's incredible, given who they were up against, a younger, energetic, driven future orientated
leader. To me, it was incredible. But I think they got addicted to negativity and they got stuck in
the past.

So WorkChoices yes, a big moment, particularly after 2004. A big uncoupling of the Howard battlers,
from John Howard. Health and education important. Cost of living critical. But the most
strategically important issue was us winning ownership of the future.

KEN RANDALL: Question from David Crowe.

QUESTION: David Crowe from The Australian Financial Review.

I notice you didn't thank the union movement and I'm wondering to what extent should you thank
them. How would you describe the debt that's owed to the union movement in terms of campaigning on



And what does that mean for 2010 if there is any antagonism between the ALP and the union movement,
what could the costs be in 2010? Do you need that same support to win again?

TIM GATRELL: Look, we can sort of explode the myth that's been going around - that the Government
put around - of, you know, what a shock that the union movement would be campaigning in an
election. I mean the unions have campaigned in every election since their formation. And this
campaign was no different.

And it's absolutely the right of the union movement to campaign to get rid of terrible legislation
and WorkChoices was the worst industrial legislation in our history.

So yes, they campaigned on that and we thank them for campaigning on that issue. We were also, as
you know, opposed to WorkChoices, so it was a complimentary campaign.

I thanked the thousands of people who have supported us. I include the unions and rank and file
union members in that. People who were - around three million of them - who were demonized on
television every night, ad nauseum. So I think their role in the election's clear and I'm happy to
acknowledge that.



And in terms of 2010, you know, Kevin Rudd has said he's going to govern for all Australians. The
difference between us and the Liberals, is we're not anti-union. We're not going to push the unions
out, we're not going to try and destroy them. They've got a seat at the table. It's a table with
other people there. And I think they'll be happy with that. I think they've got a say.

And from what I understand, talking to both business and union people, there's now a healthy
dialogue going on between unions and businesses about ways to cooperate, ways to get on with the
job. So this era of division and denigration is over and I think people are working around it.

KEN RANDALL: Laura Tingle.

QUESTION: Laura Tingle from The Financial Review Tim.

Just taking up your point about how the campaign really started a year ago today. What role do you
think generational change ultimately played. I mean, you obviously had one former younger leader,
last time round for Labor. But what - given what's happening in the Liberal Party now, it's quite
interesting to know how important it is you have a leader who wasn't attached to the former



And also both sides wandered into the area of state issues during this campaign, whether it was
hospitals, as you say hoons. Do you think it's likely that federal politics will retreat into more
federal issues next time round? Or do you think we're now stuck in a bit of a netherworld, where
federal campaigns still focus on what were traditionally state political issues?

TIM GARTRELL: Yeah, I'll just start with the state issues. I think they played a reasonable role. I
don't think they dominated.

The problem with the Liberal Party campaign is that wall-to-wall state Labor Governments was there,
but it - so was everything else. I mean there was a sort of six point charge at the machine gun
nest from them. And as the old saying goes, you attack, everywhere you attack, nowhere.

And so, you know, the wall-to-wall - there wasn't really a coherent story built up about
wall-to-wall Labor. And at one point it got to the point where there was advertising of state
health ministers who were unionists, in a sort of bizarre attempt at trying to bring it all
together - which lost me and I think lost a lot of voters, particularly in Victoria where the
Government had just been re-elected handsomely.



So I think the state issues will always be there I mean Kevin's obviously made commitments about
the health system and working with the states on that. We've made - had strong rhetoric about the
blame games, so obviously that will feature in the next campaign.

In terms of generational change, I think the reason the generational change worked is because, not
just because of Kevin's strong advocacy, but they let it happen. I mean they just, like I said
before, they basically let Kevin Rudd just own the future - look younger.

There was never an attempt to sell the transition to Peter Costello. I mean in the British election
last time round, the British Labour Party very aggressively sold the transition from Blair to
Brown. And got them in a room and made a big ad, which they got a top European film director to do
it. It's a great ad, and you want to have a look at it if you're into that sort of thing like I am,
which is a bit sad.


TIM GARTRELL: But that was a very aggressive attempt to sell the transition. And what we had this
time was, I think, John Howard tried to do what he'd always done and just sort of shove it away,
and I know John Faulkner during the campaign, several times said to



me, you know, we just can't let this happen again. And so we started focussing very, very heavily
on the leadership and John Howard's retirement.

But in my view they should have been out there selling that transition. They had to sell it, or
they were going to leave themselves vulnerable to the attack that we launched in the last two

KEN RANDALL: Next question's from Malcolm Farr.

QUESTION: Malcolm Farr from the Daily Telegraph.

Every first time government for the past 35 years has had their first election early, earlier than
the three year term. What sort of temptation will you - there be for you to do that, if you've got
a smallish majority of six to eight seats?

And would there be a prospect of a need for a double dissolution election to justify that - an
early one?

TIM GARTRELL: Well actually I'm feeling like I'm doing a 68 day campaign, kicking it off in
February, so...




...I don't know about all you guys. Just to keep it going. Actually I shouldn't say that - Kevin
might take up the idea.

Look, they're entirely matters for Kevin and we'll see how things roll out over the next few years.
And so I'm not going to speculate on double dissolutions and all the rest.

I mean the Liberal Party has got to decide is it pro or anti WorkChoices and they're pretty
internally divided on that, so we'll see where all that goes over the next few years.

KEN RANDALL: Maria Hawthorne.

QUESTION: Maria Hawthorne from Australian Associated Press.

You were talking about how the focus was on having a gaff free campaign and it wasn't completely
like that for you guys. So I was wondering what your feeling was when you first heard about Peter
Garrett's short jocular conversation with Steve Price and what was the best way to manage that?

TIM GARTRELL: Well look, you never get a gaffe-free campaign and I think, you know, Peter learnt
from that mistake. He said he learnt from that mistake. And the best advice you can give someone in
a situation like that



is be honest, say what happened, and get out there.

And he did that.

You know, Peter had - then had a very good debate here with Malcolm Turnbull. And he then went and
campaigned pretty ferociously on the ground in seats. I had good feedback from candidates about
Peter being in their seats, and how that went on the ground. So you know, that was a difficult
time. I thought Peter handled it very well, and handled the pressure really well. And of course,
you know, if he'd had his way again, he wouldn't have made a joke at the Chairman's Lounge(*), but
that's life.

KEN RANDALL: Andrew Probyn.

QUESTION: Andrew Probyn from The West Australian, Tim.

I'd like to get your thoughts on what actually happened in WA. You talked about an across the board
movement to Labor. Of course, it was much smaller in WA. In fact, you only hold, now, four seats
for sure out of 15 in WA. You might even lose Swan, having lost - there being a change with Hasluck
and Sterling.



What is it about the conditions across the Nullarbor that make it so difficult for Labor when it
comes to hunting down seats?

TIM GARTRELL: Well, I mean, you obviously - the obvious one is that this is a place where the
economic conditions are so strong that there are less people who are feeling left behind, as I said
in my speech about other parts of the country.

So that's a difficulty.

We h... Labor has to be honest: the union scare-campaign had more currency in WA. There's no doubt
about that.

We have to be honest about that.

We've got an inquiry that will be happening into the West Australian campaign. I think the state
office, they run a very hard campaign. They did a good effort.

But we have to really look into those things.

And WA was always an area where John Howard had more support, and it's always an area that takes
longer to - for people to get to be known.



Kevin Rudd put an enormous effort in by going there, I think, five times during the campaign. But
there's a range of factors we have to look at there.

But there's a range of factors we have to look at there. But, you know, we really do have to
examine what happened there in terms of the union story, because there was some ridiculously
self-indulgent behaviour by people there. And Labor has paid a bit of a price for that.

KEN RANDALL: Mark Kenny.

QUESTION: Mark Kenny from the Advertiser. Congratulations, Tim, on your campaign. I wonder if you
could just tell us how significant it was, that statement that the Prime Minister made in the House
of Representatives that working families have never been better off.

And just how significant that was at the time as you saw it, and how - what role it played, I
guess, in the way you were able to characterise the Government.

And also, if you could just give us your thoughts on that interview that Peter Costello and John
Howard did together, I think, on the Monday of the final week, what you thought they were trying to
achieve, and what it did achiever, what your research showed?



TIM GARTRELL: Yeah. On the working families in Australia have never been better off, I think that
was a real turning point. Because here you have people clearly saying that - in - where it mattered
in the campaign, in regional Australia and outer metro, that the things are tough for them.

You had people in our research saying, you know, we've cut down doing the Sunday drive, for

We don't go out and get takeaways much.

Signs of real tightening there.

And this was a real problem for the Government.

So you had John Howard say working families have never been better off. He then made the comment
about oh, maybe this is a joke, people not supporting us. You had Tony Abbott saying people were in
a parallel universe. The Government was exuding this arrogance towards these people.

You've never had it so good. Let us tell you about it. These are boom times. You're all doing well.

And they fell for that classic trap of long-term governments of not looking outside, you know, the



core, the wealthier areas; and losing touch with people in outer metro and regional areas.

And they are. People are doing it tough. There's no doubt about it.

On the Today Tonight interview, look, I said before, I think they were trying to copy what Brown
and Blair had done. I think they realised, we had started advertising about the retirement, and
about the handover to Peter Costello.

Logically, for a lot of people, the Howard retirement was a real shifter for them. There were still
some Howard loyalists out there. When they knew that Howard was retiring and that was confirmed, it
became official, that unnerved them.

I think they got that feedback, and they hit the panic button.

I mean - I don't know what's gone on behind the scenes in their camp. And I don't profess to know
it. It looked to me like Peter was pretty uncomfortable being there.

Someone said to me it looked like a strange version of Seven Up, or Eleven and a Half Up [sic]. Or
the marriage counselling session. There's a whole range of gags that went around at the time.



But I think that - and the whole - but then the whole interview got lost. When you're there, you
dragged yourselves together. Are you going to talk about the future and how this transition is
going to work? Are you going to say, okay. Here's a five year plan. I'm John Howard, I'm going to
do two years of it, and then, at this critical point, I'm going to hand over to this bloke.

Did any of that happen? No. They just attacked Labor and then talked about the past.

Odd. Good odd, but odd.

KEN RANDALL: Lenore Taylor.

QUESTION: Lenore Taylor from the Australian Financial Review. How would you have had to change your
campaign if the coalition had made a late leadership change to Peter Costello? Did you have a plan
b for that contingency? And a second question if I may. What was going on, do you think, with those
late published polls; and did your internal polling show a shift in the later part of the last

TIM GARTRELL: In relation to Peter Costello, I think a late change, I don't think, would have made
a hell of a lot of difference. I think the rot had sort of - it had set in pretty heavily. And as I
said, Peter Costello had linked himself in with this working families have



never been better off quote, saying that there was no housing affordability crisis.

So he was exuding similar vibes as John Howard towards the people who were doing it tough. So yes.
We did have contingencies. We have had Peter Costello contingencies for probably about six years,
to be honest. I will have to publish them, at some point. The great what if book.

But - so we did have contingencies. But I don't think it would have made much of a difference. And
I think it was far too late. I have a personal view, and this is not a view shared by a lot of

I actually think we would have got a greater result against Peter Costello, even if they had have
shifted 12 months out, or 18 months out. That's my strong view, informed a fair bit by folks
through research on attitudinal stuff on Peter Costello.

But yes, we were prepared. But it just became more and more unlikely as it rolled along.

On late published polls, they were worrying. As people know with any published poll, you can try
and ignore it. You can look at your own stuff and say our stuff still has us on track. You can do
all those things.



But it still gives you the butterflies, and I did sort of on the Friday, did get a bit worried.

A few older and wiser hardheads.

[Audio cuts out for approximately half a minute]

... data. And we've been looking at this for a long time, and it's going to be good. It was a pity
The Australian published the tables on - from Newspoll on the Saturday, because the tables actually
said a lot about the Newspoll. When you took WA out, it was fine.

And we were worried because there was rumours going around that Queensland wasn't good in The
Australian's tables. But when we got hold of them, they were very strong, very strong results


I mean, both of these are, by the way, are in the error margin as well, so you can't say they were
wrong. There's obviously the margin of error. Galaxy has always downplayed us a bit. And again, we
were getting rumours from people in Galaxy saying, oh, Labor's got a problem in Queensland. You're
only going to get two seats. And we were always pretty buoyant about our chances in Queensland.



So little bit unnerving, but we were reassured. Just.

KEN RANDALL: Kieran Gilbert.

QUESTION: G'day Tim. Other than the fact that you won, can you describe the key difference between
working with Mark Latham...


... and with Kevin Rudd.

TIM GARTRELL: Look, I've actually said this on the weekend. I actually got on pretty well with Mark
when he was Leader and during the campaign. It was Mark's behaviour afterwards in the diaries that
I've got an issue with. And so - and I think from his point of view, his leadership is now marred
by those- by those diaries.

If I had known at the time of the campaign what he was actually writing about me in the diaries, I
probably would have had a bit of a different view [laughs].

And, look, I think the problem too, Mark had always cultivated a risky personality, a bit of a
larrikin, bit loose with the language before he became Leader. And that had an attraction to it.
But the big difference between him and Kevin is



Kevin has always been very careful, very cautious - I'm saying this in a positive way - and
actually, interestingly, quite respectful of John Howard. You know, he always has addressed him as
Mr Howard. He always understood that you had to show a bit of respect to someone who is older than
you. So there was a - there's a critical difference there.

But in terms of day-to-day campaign contact, of course I think it was better working with Kevin but
I don't think some of the things written about Latham in the - about his behaviour before he lost I
think are inaccurate.

KEN RANDALL: Phil Coorey.

QUESTION: Hello, Tim. Phil Coorey from the Herald, Sydney Morning Herald.

Look, it's a hypothetical, but given everything else remaining equal, do you think you would have
been able to have won this campaign with Kim Beazley as the Leader against John Howard?

TIM GARTRELL: Yeah look, I think that is too difficult to predict. Certainly, making the case for
the future would have been more difficult, so that would have been tricky. But there's so many
possibles here. I mean, if we'd had Kim Beazley as Leader, would they have switched to Peter
Costello. And if they had how would that dynamic have played out. So I think



that's a diff... really difficult question to answer, to predict.

I think it would have been a lot closer and I think it would have come down to the campaign, really
come down to the campaign where Kim always was a strong campaigner. But I think he was having
trouble with momentum in December - November, December of '06. So I think that would have been the
hardest point, getting him through right to when the campaign kicked off.

KEN RANDALL: Patricia Karvelas.

QUESTION: Patricia Karvelas, from The Australian newspaper. Now, you do have wall-to-wall Labor
governments everywhere now. Do you worry that one of the states will fall, and do you have a plan
for campaigning to try and, you know, protect yourself against that? And what is that plan, if you
can share any of it?

And the second part of my question is, our Newspoll today revealed Malcolm Turnbull is a lot more
popular than Brendan Nelson. Do you think he'd be a more formidable opponent to Kevin Rudd?

TIM GARTRELL: Just on the wall-to-wall Labor, look, I think the - our best asset, apart from the
state Labor Governments being very good and competent, and



a number of them having new leaders, which is important in terms of what I talked before about
owning the future and freshening up a government, we've got this terrific asset in the State
Liberal organisations and Oppositions.

The shenanigans going on Queensland today are a classic example of that. I think that they're just
disappearing into themselves.

The New South Wales Liberals particularly are becoming more and more extreme, more and more a party
that's drifted away from the centre. There's no coincidence that the Jackie Kelly pamphlet stuff
happened in New South Wales. Similar operations, similar style of people. Now, those people are
actually on the rise in New South Wales of that behaviour and that sort of mentality. So in New
South Wales, where things are tough for the New South Wales Government, you do have the other side
being pretty scratchy.

In relation to Malcolm Turnbull, I wouldn't put too much in today's Newspoll. It says more about
Brendan Nelson's problems than it says about Malcolm.

To me, Malcolm seems like a bit of a John Hewson character. Interesting that he's also the Member
for Wentworth. And I think he'd be prone to risky behaviour, risky policy, and I think he'd also
just try



and stand for everything - anything as well. And I just don't think that you can get away with
that. So I think he'd be a completely different kettle of fish.

The other thing about Malcolm is he's made a lot of internal enemies. And I know that Tony Abbott's
comments were made when it was looking like Malcolm was going to become the Leader. So, as I said,
I think that will be game on.

KEN RANDALL: Ross Peake.

QUESTION: Ross Peake, from The Canberra Times. I noticed Gary Gray down the back so I wonder if I
could ask you if you have any ambitions to go into politics?

Also, are you prepared to discuss how much your budget was for the campaign? And I noticed last
time Labor got $16.7 million from the AEC. How much do you think you'll get this year with the
higher vote?

TIM GARTRELL: A lot more than last time.


In relation to politics, I'm really keen to - this will tell you I'm a complete lunatic. I actually
want to run he next campaign. I hope it's not 42 days but I'm really keen on doing it. This is a
terrific job. It's



incredibly challenging. You have to take things through from the day after the election through
national conference and then the campaign. I enjoy it, so that's what I want to do.

It is good to see Gary here. Gary toughed it out. The 1998 campaign, interestingly, was I think one
of the best organised campaigns we've ever run, and that was - I got to witness Gary's skills
firsthand at that. He's a fantastic campaign director. So it's good to see Gary getting through and
coming through into the parliament. He will be a great addition to things.

In relation to our budget, well it will all be disclosed in the long run but it - we did spend
more. We also raised more, and we were also banking on a high primary vote. I think we got - we
were competitive with the other side. The other side clearly had a lot of money because their
primary vote was down. And, as you know, the public funding is based on the primary vote.

So it will be interesting to see their returns as well. But my prediction that they had starved the
state branches and squirreled all the money in centrally, and had been fund raising three years
solidly, I think was right because when we really got into the nitty-gritty of the campaign they
were in there, and we were sort of matching each other.



So you will see a larger spend but I'm not going to go into the final details. We're still
crunching the final numbers on that as well.

KEN RANDALL: Well, let's finish today with a question from Glenn Milne.

QUESTION: Glenn Milne, Tim, from News Limited Sunday publications and The Australian.

You mentioned the reams of research that you had on the cost of living issue. I wonder can you tell
me how long do you think it will be before it's your fault in terms of rising interest rates,
grocery prices and petrol prices?

TIM GARTRELL: Look, I think the big mistake the Government made was to have no empathy with people.
And that's a critical thing that we need to do. We need to do as much as we can on the policy
front, but also understand people's pain and the things people are going through, why it is that
there are - people in some areas are doing it tough, and understand what we can best do for those

I think that's the best you can do. The thing we certainly will not do and should not do is start
telling them that, hey, everything is fine, you know, it's just dandy and you've never been better
off. That's one thing that we just make - have to make sure we never do.



And I think Kevin Rudd is connected in enough with the electorate to know that why people are
struggling, and also to know that that - making a statement like that would just be plain wrong.

KEN RANDALL: Thank you very much.


Thank you Tim. Congratulations. Here's a memento of today and from what you've said, look forward
to seeing you next time.

TIM GARTRELL: Thanks Ken. Thank you.


* * End * *