I saw Kevin Rudds National Press Conference address. At the start, there was a technical disconnection between his mouth and the words that came out which was distracting but it was soon corrected. The speech also seemed a little too long and repetitive (Rudd still lacks Howard’s communication skills) but he got his main points across forcefully and answered questions very effectively.
From an economists’ viewpoint, the most important point Rudd made in his speech was that Howard lived in easy, blessed times with an unparalleled resources boom (rarely equaled in our history). Rudd said he would have given his eye teeth to be governing in such an era. He noted the RBA estimate that the terms of trade bonanza contributed 8 per cent to national income and some $400 b to the budget bottom line over the last decade and accused Howard of “squandering the opportunity” presented by the mining boom by failing to invest in education, training and infrastructure and other productive activities. (Instead Howard frittered much of the mining windfall revenue on middle class welfare – a point Rudd did not make for obvious political reasons).
In my view, the Coalitions failure to grasp the golden opportunity offered by the mining boom undermines the claims by Howard and Costello to being good economic managers.