THE timing of this sweetheart deal for Gina Rinehart could not be worse for Julia Gillard, with her leadership on a knife edge.
It will make absolutely no sense to the public, who have been brow beaten by the federal government for the last three months about how billionaires like Ms Rinehart don’t need any favours from government.
It would appear to be another example of the poor political judgment the PM has been accused of by many colleagues since she became leader. And it could be the last straw.
The external politics of it suggest to voters a policy of “do what I say not what I do”.
On the one hand Gillard and Wayne Swan have gone out of their way to fuel a class war on the back of Ms Rinehart’s wealth. So how does Gillard now explain that 350 workers in Newcastle can lose their jobs as victims of the changing economy while offering cheap imported Labor to the mining giants that have driven this change?
The internal politics of it, however, will be what determines her fate. The caucus was not consulted about the policy and many are furious.
Even before this latest bizzare decision, secret discussions were taking place, including several last Monday night, following a meeting of Labor’s dominant national right caucus in parliament house.
Senior NSW MPs were again pushing the case for Rudd. Two senior Federal Labor Ministers from Victoria are believed to have threatened to resign if the plan to draft Mr Rudd back into the leadership was revived.
The Rudd haters will find it more and more difficult to justify their position in light of decisions like this.