A smiling K.Rudd prepares to launch his campaign. Photo: Harrison SaragossiLike emotionally damaged relatives to a dysfunctional family reunion, they mostly turned up. There was Hawkey, perma-tanned and hirsute, like a Floridian retiree who had doddered into the wrong condo. He smiled and raised his hand in a Windsorian wave. His wife, Blanche d’Alpuget, in white pedal pushers and a hot pink top, glided at his side, an escapee from The Golden Girls set.
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Next came Paul Keating, aged but ever elegant, introduced as ”Australia’s greatest Treasurer!”, words that made Wayne Swan sink ever lower into his fifth-row seat.

And then, of course, the Rudds. No political family smiles longer or harder. Therese Rein was splendid in a pink opera coat and Jessica Rudd sparkled in apple green. The Prime Ministerial sons trailed meekly in their power-glamour wake.

The venue was swarming with youthful volunteers wearing T-shirts emblazoned with two words: ”Kevin Rudd”, as though ”Kevin Rudd” was an underground band. No references to the Labor Party were discernible until Deputy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese took to the stage to buoy the crowd with his idiosyncratic brand of Tory-bashing. ”Tony Abbott is no John Howard,” he said, and for once he didn’t mean it as a compliment.

Sure, Tony Abbott would be a great bloke to join you for a morning run. He would (let’s face it) be a better pick for your footy team than one K Rudd. But it was Kevin you wanted running the country. A hard worker, focused on his vision for the country. ”Kevin has had his critics,” Albo said, in marvellous understatement. But he is here to help.

Soon the helpful visionary himself, introduced by wife Therese, appeared in the room’s far corner. He spoke with gusto about family, jobs creation, the Labor tradition of a fair go, carbon pricing and education. He introduced coherent Labor-sounding policy about TAFE funding and support for tradespeople. He said that Labor had plenty of fight, and it wasn’t done fighting yet. It was a great speech. If only he had given it weeks ago, they whispered.

Rudd made generous use of the second person, a refreshing change from his usual first person, and used hand gestures to accentuate his message, pointing every now and then at a hapless crowd member, as though he or she was the sole target of Mr Abbott’s malignant slasherism.

In her heartfelt and humanising speech introducing her husband, Therese Rein told the story of the day she sent her husband to the hardware store to buy a mosquito candle. He came home with a visionary swag of home improvements items – everything from secateurs to a stepladder, Blu Tack and Roman flares. And no mozzie candle.

A cynic might say this wee tale was an unintentional insight into Kevin the Visionary. You task him with something simple like buying a mozzie candle, and he comes back with equipment and plans for a modern working family that is striving to meet the challenges of a clean energy future. You can’t say he doesn’t think big. It’s just that sometimes, all you really want is a mozzie candle.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.