Rudd v. Abbott: The Quiz

Cover Image: Rudd v. Abbott (by David Marr, published by Black Inc.)

If you think it’s hard telling the prime minister and the opposition leader apart by their policies, try telling them apart by their Quarterly Essays!

Below are fifteen essay extracts from Rudd v. Abbott; see if you can guess whether they are from the Quarterly Essay on the prime minister, or the Quarterly Essay on the opposition leader. (Answers at the bottom.)


1. And the party was almost as stunned as the nation. “God almighty,” one of the [Labor/Liberal politicians] cried in the party room that day. “What have we done?”


2. The [Labor/Liberal] whip walked down the corridor, stood at the precise spot indicated on the carpet and announced [Abbott’s/Rudd’s] victory without a trace of pleasure.


3. [Abbott/Rudd] found power at the university in another quarter altogether. He led a group of evangelicals called the Navigators, intent – or so it seemed to other students – on imposing a puritan rule … [Abbott/Rudd] is remembered as a serial complainer about booze being sold in the college bar.


4. [Re: Abbott’s/Rudd’s Maiden speech] The vision is personal and conservative. His ambitions for government were old-fashioned …


5. [Re: A speech given by Abbott/Rudd at a dinner in late 2008] “The art of effective democratic statesmanship is of presenting your principles, presenting your convictions, in ways which sufficiently impress the public such that you are seen as a man or woman of principle, but which don’t so worry the public that they think you would be a risk if you found yourself in a position of power.”

6. [Abbott/Rudd] is carefully obscured. What has been abandoned? What is merely hidden on the road to power? It is hard to tell, especially as he continues to insist he is a politician of enduring values.


7. … Recalls one interstate official … “He’s absolutely dogged. He gains results by persistence and erosion, by wearing you down.”


8. He was seen to be a bit too keen to run crusades of his own. In unattributed briefings to the press, [Labor/Liberal] parliamentarians were calling him the unguided missile and the loaded dog of the government.


9. But how good were his political instincts? Nil, according to one colleague from those years …


10. He inhabits that prudish world where respectability, upbringing and faith merge in a kind of resolute caution.


11. Who is [Abbott/Rudd]? A political Christian.


12. The new minister would stand in his office every day before Question Time rehearsing answers to questions that rarely came his way … [Abbott/Rudd] gave these rehearsals his all, mastering the detail, practising his rhetoric, gestures and quips. He was determined to shine in parliament, determined to meet any challenges that might come his way. He wanted no balls-ups by himself or his department. He wanted to be on top of any major issues that might arise. But his first priority was his own political performance.


13. First and foremost, he is the engine that drives him. Every witness to his life … talks about the phenomenal machine inside this man. He turns many faces to the world, but the engine under the hood is the same 5.4-litre V8. What you see of [Abbott/Rudd] at any particular moment depends on the destination and the terrain. He is a sui generis off-road vehicle whose driver is only glimpsed in passing, a shadow through the windscreen.


14. There are figures in caucus who say: this man has turned out far better than we feared. And there are those who reply: he is as rackety as we feared [a previous Labor/Liberal leader] would be. He is defended by the party, but more out of necessity, it seems, than conviction. He is the leader. Come what may, he must lead the party to the next election.


15. Face to face, it’s so clear. [Abbott/Rudd] is driven by anger. It’s the juice in the machine. He is a hard man to read because the anger is hidden by a public face … he’s a politician with rage at his core, impatient rage.




















1. Abbott. 2. Abbott. 3. Rudd. 4. Rudd. 5. Abbott. 6. Abbott. 7. Rudd. 8. Abbott. 9. Rudd. 10. Rudd. 11. Rudd. 12. Abbott. 13. Rudd. 14. Rudd. 15. Rudd.

Evan Williams

Evan Williams is a New York-based comedy writer. He has contributed humour to The New Yorker’s Daily Shouts, McSweeney’s and SBS Viceland’s The Feed


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