Andrew Bolt November 28, 2007 NOW that Kevin Rudd has won the election, Peter Garrett's quip that Labor will change its me-too promises may be coming true. The phoney election is over. Only the dumb or desperate Liberals ever thought Labor would lose. Now for the real election. Which "Kevin Rudd" will we get as Prime Minister: the conservative, or the Left's pet muppet? Right now there's one "Kevin Rudd" looking tough, but there's another "Kevin Rudd" talking mush. So the answer hangs in the balance, although I fear it's already tipping to the kind of faddish symbolism that gets black children hurt. Oh, I know, you'll think I'm just choking on sour grapes. But no. It's actually the triumphant Left that most wants to know if Rudd really is the me-too conservative he claimed he was before the election. To be blunt, they're hoping he was just fooling you and will now leap out of the closet dressed in red, or at least the pink of a nice Laurent Perrier Rose. They are hoping, in short, that Labor's environment spokesman, Peter Garrett, spoke the truth when he quipped that Labor's me-too promises didn't matter, because "once we get in we'll just change it all". You doubt such moralising folk could be so cynical? Then hear it from Leftist journalists, who screamed loudest that Howard was a liar but now pray that Rudd is one, too. Hear it, for instance, from David Marr, the Sydney Morning Herald journalist and writers' festival darling, who joined Labor party workers at Rudd's victory bash and said: "Many frankly hope Peter Garrett was right: that despite all the non-promises of the campaign, something is going to happen in Australia now. Their leader seems a mystery to them." Count Marr among those hopers, left flat by Rudd's post-victory press conference: "It was a performance so passionless, so grey that it raises the terrible possibility that our new leader is not channelling John Howard but Philip Ruddock . . ." Indeed, The Sunday Age is demanding Rudd be the radical he promised he wasn't. "Cast off Me Too," it urged him the day after his win. "The truth is many, if not most of us, voted against the other bloke -- it really was time -- and not actually for you. And many of your voters hope Peter Garrett was right; we'll see the real Rudd and ALP now that you have the keys to The Lodge." Will Rudd oblige, and reveal his inner Whitlam? From the pictures and TV footage, you'd assume no: conservative Rudd will stand firm. Already he's dropped the vote-for-me grin and adopted the I'm-the-boss frown, as he tries to assert himself as head of a government whose members are mostly well to his Left, from what we'd guess of Rudd's beliefs. He's even ordered all Labor politicians to visit two schools this week to get in touch, which should make them feel as patronised as the poor students they're about to bore. Indeed, I'm sure Rudd would like to do the Bob Hawke consensus thing, and govern, as he said on Saturday, "for all Australians" -- which means governing from the centre, where the next election must be won. Yet listen carefully. Hear the first sounds of Rudd doing a Garrett? I don't count Rudd's boast that he'll sign the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gases within days. He promised that futile gesture in the campaign, after all, and how well it's worked. US satellites now say 2007 is likely to be the coolest year since 1983. Saved by Rudd! No, it's the other bones Rudd is tossing to the Left, now voters can't complain to anyone about the mess. Here's one: before the election, Rudd was so keen to seem conservative that he supported -- and voted for -- the Howard government's intervention in troubled Aboriginal settlements in the Northern Territory. That meant backing such moves as checking children's health, sending in more police, opening Aboriginal towns to visitors, banning booze traffickers, and making sure welfare payments went on food for children. During the campaign, Rudd was asked if he'd change what had been done. His answer: "We don't intend to roll it back at all. Therefore when I say that we will be implementing and backing the intervention, it is as I have described before, and that is without qualification." But that was before the election. Here is Rudd now, as reported in The Australian: "The incoming prime minister said through a spokesman he was open to altering John Howard's unprecedented intervention. These include reintroducing the controversial permit system, which regulates non-indigenous access to communities, and modifying rather than scrapping the Community Development Employment Projects work-for-the-dole scheme." Here's another example of a Garrett: Just days before the election, Rudd was asked six times by 3AW's Neil Mitchell if he'd say "sorry" to Aborigines as Prime Minister. Rudd, still playing at being conservative, tried every which way to avoid promising that "s" word. Rudd: Well, the substance of it will be sorry, apology, but frankly if you ask me for the precise form of language . . . Mitchell: No, I'm asking for that one word, because this is where the Prime Minister has been targeted. Will you use the word sorry? Rudd: Yeah, I said in the debate against the Prime Minister at the beginning of the campaign that were we elected to form the next government of Australia, I will as Prime Minister of the country of course express an apology, and I make no bones with that. Mitchell: But the Prime Minister has already done that. Will you say sorry? Rudd: Well, apology is sorry, it's the same thing. And so on. But that was then, when voters still had a choice, and this is now. Which is why, just two days after the election, you read this in the papers: "Prime Minister-elect Kevin Rudd says that his government will make a formal apology to indigenous Australians early in its first term. "His deputy, Julia Gillard, made the same pledge earlier in the day, saying it was Labor policy to say 'sorry'." Suddenly "sorry" wasn't so hard to say, after all, at least not for Gillard, the Left's spearhead, even if Rudd yesterday was still choking on it, promising nothing but more talks. Cross? Well, Garrett did warn you: "When we get in, we'll just change it all." But who will complain? Not journalists like Marr. Not The Sunday Age. Not the Liberals, desperate not to seem nasty any more. Not the many Australians who think a symbolic gesture like a sorry can't hurt, and will at least prove we have good hearts. Yet there is a price to pay, and it will be paid by the very weakest. Here's an item from Marr's own paper last week: Aboriginal social workers in Brewarrina say the indigenous community there is confused and fearful after the attempted removal of four children from their families last week, which sent two of them into hiding. Grace Beetson, who runs the Ourgunya women's refuge, described scenes reminiscent of the film Rabbit-Proof Fence when Department of Community Services workers and police arrived at the children's house to take four of them into care on Thursday . . . But the department said the two babies were taken into care amid serious fears for their safety and that department case workers were thrust into a scene of escalating violence and personal risk when attending the premises. I'll say it again: the "stolen generations" myth is killing black children. Rabbit-Proof Fence was a film which rewrote history, so that the peaceful removal to a boarding school of a half-caste bush girl who had been abandoned by her father, rejected by her tribe and apparently preyed upon by white men, was portrayed instead as the violent stealing of a loved daughter from a Garden of Eden. Nor has this been the only lie told. Students read in their Jacaranda school histories that "more than 100,000" Aboriginal children were stolen simply for racist reasons, even though the top "stolen generations" propagandist, Prof Robert Manne, cannot name me even 10. The result? Child protection workers are now often too scared to remove black children from dangers they'd never tolerate for white ones. As Labor's national president, Warren Mundine, says: "They are in a no-win situation -- if they take the child's view, they are accused of being stolen-generation cultural, genocidal pigs, and then if they leave the kids in the (risky) situation, they are blamed for the dreadful and horrific outcomes." Think of the children who have died or suffered terribly for this myth. Here's just one of the many news reports I've collected: An Aboriginal baby who died lying on a filthy mattress between her passed-out mother and father could be alive today if Western Australia's Department of Community Development had intervened to take her away from her alcoholic parents . . . The Coroner . . . said it was particularly alarming that there was a reluctance by DCD to intervene to save Aboriginal children at risk. Here's another, from Victoria: A violent man who inflicted horrific injuries on his toddler nephew was given custody despite fears expressed by childcare workers that he posed a danger . . . But court documents claim the magistrate ruled (Aboriginal) cultural identity a priority. Myths have consequences. And here is Kevin Rudd's first test. Is he of the Left, more concerned with seeming good than achieving it? Then he'll say his "sorry" to the stolen generations that never were, and sabotage the intervention that is trying to save black children from cultures gone rancid. Or is he truly a conservative, more concerned with getting good results than flaunting good intentions? We'll find out sooner than I suspected, and I do hope Marr will be disappointed -- not least because blacks' lives really are more important than white lies.