Maxine McKew pens tome on Rudd-era innards, Crikey

June 22, 2012

Ex-MP Maxine McKew is preparing a tell-all book on her rollercoaster ride in federal parliament that is expected to include an in-depth account of Kevin Rudd’s brutal skewering at the hands of Julia Gillard.

In the first book-length account by a Labor MP specifically recounting the days leading up to Gillard’s knife attack, Crikey can reveal that Louise Adler’s Melbourne University Publishing is preparing to unleash the tome on a disillusioned public still perturbed by their preferred PM’s 2010 axing.

Crikey understands the wily Adler has been pushing hard for McKew to include as much damaging insider gossip as possible, a move that could detract further from Gillard’s rock-bottom popularity and lead to renewed calls for Rudd’s resurrection. Detailed accounts of the decapitation in the book’™s early chapters would maximise the commercial impact.

McKew, who famously saw off John Howard in the 2007 Ruddslide, confirmed to Crikey she was finishing off the book this morning, but stayed mum on specifics and declined to reveal its title.

“Yes I’m writing a book, MUP is the publisher and it will be out by late October,” she told Crikey. “It ranges over my own campaign and my time in government basically I’m covering the period from 2007 to 2010 and beyond.”

But readers would have to wait for the detail: “Am I going to give away the key themes in my book? No. I’m not going to cannibalise my own writing.”

When the Rudd-Gillard leadership showdown was live in February, McKew wrote a punishing critique of Gillard, accusing her of “painting herself as the saviour, when in fact she had been a prime architect of the decision that caused a reversal in the fortunes of the Rudd government.”

The decision to shelve the ETS was pushed relentlessly by Gillard and Treasurer Wayne Swan.

Gillard, she wrote, was a craven puppet of genius strategists such as Mark Arbib, and was guilty of “shirt-fronting her leader with an ultimatum and forcing a decision that would come close to wrecking the government’s environmental credibility”.

Sources close to the book said McKew was also keen to include several chapters relating to Rudd-era policy wins, however MUP is said to be comparatively less keen on this angle.

McKew served as parliamentary secretary for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government under Rudd and came out strongly in the days following his assassination to pledge support for her dumped leader. At the time, she was sitting on a margin of just 1.4% and was duly dudded at the ballot box by the Liberals’ John Alexander.

The one-time Lateline host added that the narrative would be comprehensive, and that while Adler had approached her in the days after her defeat, she had decided to take her time. â”It’s not a quickie,”she said. “It’s longer than an essay and shorter than War and Peace. I’m working on providing readers with a good read for Christmas.”

In 2007, Margot Saville wrote a book, also for MUP, on McKew’s successful 2007 Bennelong campaign to dislodge Howard. The Battle for Bennelong was released just weeks after Rudd’s election triumph.

In addition to finishing off her book, McKew will next month take up an appointment as a vice-chancellor’s fellow at the University of Melbourne’s Graduate School of Education, working alongside Dean of Education Field Rickards. She is expected to focus on “classroom practice in schools”, as a partial follow-up to federal government national partnership money sunk into low socio-economic-status schools.

Next week, McKew, who moved to Melbourne from Sydney a year ago with her partner, former Victorian Socialist Left ALP state secretary Bob Hogg, will appear at Melbourne’s Wheeler Centre for a session on “Insider Insights”, hosted by former Monthly editor Sally Warhaft. (UPDATE: At the session, Warhaft revealed that the book would be titled “Tales from the Political Trenches”).

The book is the second big recent coup for Adler. Last month she tapped sacked Vogue editor Kirstie Clements to share her thoughts on the bitchy world of women’s magazine publishing.