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‘Kevin Rudd: Standing up for the Southside’ Fabric Bag #2015-0022

White fabric bag printed on both sides in blue and red: ‘Kevin Rudd: Standing up for the Southside’. Black plastic insert at base of bag.


Every election in Australian history has defined and changed the political landscape. The Federal election held on 14 September 2013 was no exception. At that poll, the Liberal/National coalition led by Tony Abbott defeated the incumbent Labor government, led by Kevin Rudd, after just two parliamentary terms. This was a rarity in Australian political history. Rudd had been in office just eleven weeks; his second period as Prime Minister, having been ousted by Julia Gillard in June 2010, less than a full term into his first prime ministership. Rudd had led Labor to victory over the Coalition in 2007, ending John Howard’s eleven year tenure (the second longest in history) and with a reformist agenda which included reversal of changes to industrial relations laws, ratifying the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change and an apology to Indigenous Australians over government policies of the past, most notably the removal of Indigenous children from their parents.

Initially popular, the first Rudd government suffered a loss of standing in opinion polls in early 2010, following its decision to abandon its proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. The legislation had been defeated in the Senate and negotiations with the Coalition, led by Tony Abbott, stalled. The resulting loss in popularity prompted a change of leadership on 24 June, with Rudd replaced by Julia Gillard. Gillard became Australia’s first female Prime Minister and, despite some initial successes, failed to win a majority of seats at the 2010 election. The result was a minority Labor government, reliant on support from the Australian Greens and a number of independents. The Gillard government passed several crucial pieces of legislation, notably the Clean Energy Bill (colloquially referred to as the ‘carbon tax’), but suffered from a perceived lack of legitimacy and a series of damaging leaks. With Abbott and the Coalition repeatedly leading the Gillard government in the polls, by June 2013, with an election weeks away, Labor returned Rudd to the leadership in an attempt to recover its electoral fortune. Some analysts argued the result would have been worse under Gillard, but the party was nonetheless defeated. Gillard did not contest her seat of Lalor, and Rudd retired from parliament some months after the election loss.

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This tote bag is part of a larger collection of objects which document the 2013 federal election and are historically significant as a visual snapshot of local and national campaigning and the candidates and issues associated with the electoral discourse at the time. Taken together, this material illustrates the tactics used by political parties to energise supporters, attack opponents and spread their own messages in the hope of winning elections. These are key and crucial components of Australia’s democratic tradition.

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Width 306 mm
Height 425 mm
Medium Polypropylene
Creator’s name Unknown