Robert James Lee Gillard (here’s hoping)

I wrote up my own views about the power of ‘consensus politics’ here. Specifically I suggested that three aspects of a leader’s performance involve whether:

  • unity or division is emphasised
  • there is a cult of the strong leader as opposed to the leader being seen as an orchestrator of wider forces
  • populist themes dominate political rhetoric

I’m hopeful regarding Julia Gillard on each of these scores, though more confident of the first two than the third.  Anyway, in Monday’s column for the Sydney Morning Herald I tried to argue that consensus was the only way through the kinds of impasse we’ve seen mar the Rudd Government.

Where is politics headed after the ALP’s near-death resources rent tax experience?

Bold change looks increasingly difficult – even if you’re popular (ask our latest former PM), and even if you control the Senate (ask our previous former PM). Yet at least at the national level, complacency and inaction don’t play too well either. We want to understand and believe in where our national government is taking us.

The three defining policies of Kevin Rudd’s government were the fiscal stimulus, emissions trading and the resources rent tax. In each case the government’s policies were adapted from independent advice embodying the broad consensus of experts. Each left the vast majority better off.

Yet their political fallout culminated in the removal of a prime minister. There’s a common pattern to the way in which the headwinds mounted with each initiative, and there’s a way of doing things better.

Even putting money in people’s pockets and building new community facilities proved politically bruising. Commonsense says you don’t respond to a crisis by throwing a party. Trouble is, in some economic downturns commonsense is wrong. And though the government did little more than implement Treasury advice (Treasury is the institutional embodiment of economic responsibility in the bureaucracy) a few experts could always be found to tell us how reckless it all was.

Our media’s ”he said/he said” style of reporting meant that only those with a keen interest would have known that the overwhelming opinion of mainstream economists supported the party to fend off recession. And how many Australians knew that more than three-quarters of the forecast budget deficit reflected economic conditions, not the stimulus?

Also, with media values supporting entertainment over enlightenment, the stuff-ups trumped the good news on page one – and of course, given the speed and magnitude of the stimulus, there were some royal stuff-ups. But the media didn’t ask how representative they were or whether rushed projects might nevertheless be good value given that part of their cost would be met from taxes paid by those who’d otherwise be unemployed.

Then there was emissions trading. Malcolm Turnbull had already maxed out on opportunism in opposing the stimulus (no offence, Malcolm, an ALP opposition would have done the same). But as he argued, no pro-market mainstream party could keep its credibility and oppose a market-based response to climate change.

That was the only reasonable position. But, as Tony Abbott proceeded to demonstrate, an opposition’s political interest lay elsewhere. As an American commentator wrote recently noting the parallels with Republican obstructionism towards Barack Obama:

moderate members of the Liberal Party agreeing to a version of Rudd’s signature policy initiative would make Rudd look good, like a dynamic leader capable of forging compromise and getting things done. If voters cared passionately about policy issues, of course, the Liberals would thereby be alienating them, but elections turn on swinging voters whose views are fuzzy.

Of course Rudd should have campaigned for emissions trading. But any doubts about the political efficacy of Abbott’s plan to block it as a ”big new tax”, were dispelled by the politics of Rudd’s resources rent tax.

Again the product of independent expert advice, it would have raised nearly $10 billion annually to fund tax cuts elsewhere and improve the budget bottom line. It would increase mining activity – encouraging more marginal investment – and was notionally levied not on voters but on owners (with a good smattering of billionaires and foreign companies).

But things still fell apart. Each time a billionaire said he’d hold up a project because the tax rendered it unviable, this fact was gravely reported as a setback for the government. Though the new tax was to fund company tax cuts and other tax favours to small business, most industry groups lay low. Some cross sectoral industry bodies opposed the new tax even though the package would have benefited most of its members.

And when business groups did support the tax – well, that’s not really very compelling news is it? All this forced Julia Gillard to negotiate the mining industry’s tax regime with – well, the mining industry. (Julia, I’ve got some time next Friday when we could get together and negotiate about how much tax I pay.)

Is there a better way? Australia’s greatest period of economic reform and the longest tenure in government by a single party since Robert Menzies, coincided with the accord, an agreement formally between the Hawke government and the unions, but in fact involving business – and to some extent other peak groups.

Each six months or so the government would outline the critical economic priorities. The accord partners would then negotiate seeking consensus on how to address them. The process delivered lower real wages, micro-economic reform and the introduction of key business taxes.

The opposition made what trouble it could. But the accord co-opted the great and powerful lobby groups out of their lowest common denominator cherry picking and into supporting the consensus. Unions sold lower real wages to workers and business leaders sold capital gains and fringe benefits taxation to business. Even the opposition was shamed and bullied into supporting micro-economic reform. When they opposed capital gains tax and fringe benefits tax they looked carping, negative and irrelevant.

Of course, any modern analogue of the accord would be very different, but I’m hoping our new PM takes some inspiration from the consensus style of Australia’s most successful Labor PM, the only really good prime minister in my lifetime. After Paul Keating, John Howard and Rudd, they might be ready to dial down the political heroics and embrace a government that builds social consensus behind its vision.

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Corin
Corin
11 years ago

Nick, I read your piece and liked it. I also thought this was good: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/rudds-decline-shows-voters-want-reform-but-never-retreat-20100702-ztvy.html

It seems to me there was a fairly high degree of support for action on climate change including support from business groups such as Ai and BCA. Yet that dissapated and was terminated ultimately by Rudd which killed his capacity to carry debates more widely as well as with regard to climate change and ETS as an efficient reform. The ETS became about appeasement of ‘losers’ as well, not about good policy and this diminished it. For example, it could have been better to have lowered the company tax rate in the ETS package as well as the Henry review. Perhaps and best done as a single reform, rather than seperated. i.e. they are potentially mutually reinforcing and support each other …

In my view the big problem for reformers is that there is little clarity about what are the big items in need of change. In the 1980’s it was far simpler to identify problems and they were largely created by Government putting obstacles in the road of a better and more efficient economy. Now, the big philosophical shift at least over climate, is that this is not a result of Government action, but potentially the result of inaction. Therefore it is harder to shift the entrenched view that Governments are not very good at changing things. This is why the ETS should have been easier to sell than direct action but alas both sides have killed that …..

Perhaps the ETS debate should have been more like the National Competition Policy debate, where government action was needed to generate reform, rather than it being simply a matter of deregulation.

In my view, climate should have been ‘the reform’ and tax should have been the ‘add on’ as this was where the concensus in politics to my mind had fallen. I can’t see Hawke making that error and shifting horses from a largely popular reform to a reform that had had little or no community buy-in (RSPT). The RSPT or MRRT could have been a second term priority along with a much deeper set of response to Henry.

Simply put they should have gone in February at a DD and done Henry review in 2011 ….. they’d have had a more enabling senate for a progressive centre ground as well as long as the Green didn’t go all ‘troppo’ … sorry for the analogy.

Much to say really … so little time.

observa
observa
11 years ago

This Govt lost goodwill because it indulged itself in short term populist newsbytes with little real substance or homework. It started with Fuelwatch and Grocerywatch and promises of fiscal conservatism. Without resort to lunar price controls the first 2 were doomed to failure with the inevitable gallery letdown. Fiscal conservatism needed careful and ongoing thought and planning, yet when fiscal stimulus was called for they again chose the populist road that $8000 solar handouts had begun and ultimately had to be withdrawn. Pink batts for allcomers was just begging for some to get trampled in the stampede. OK to take the schools stimulus road but instead of following the example of the $900 and $950 cashbacks to taxpayers by funding school staff and councils coal-face decisionmaking, they wanted monuments to beplaque and ribbon cut. Stoking up a very specialised building sector begat the obvious like free insulation did and immediately pissed off the very people they wanted to help. Perhaps this is the common failing of lefties to want to command and control everything and certainly that was Rudd’s downfall.

A global ETS was similar in that regard with the sublime irony of professional Maoists telling Western amateur lefties ‘in their dreams’ to international oversight and as well the lack of forethought as to how well carbon credit creation and trading had worked to date and squared with the juxtaposition of the GFC fallout. Lunar dreaming to not have a Plan B under the circumstances(straight carbon tax with offsetting tax cuts?) and Copenhagen provided the rude awakening and demonstrated the inevitable lack of any considered fallback position.

Without prior close attention to that promised ‘fiscal conservatism’ and an election looming a quick tax grab was needed to paper over the cracks and hence the hasty RSPT and again the inevitable. Whilst the argument for resource tax clawback had some sound basis and no doubt political appeal, in the end it was seen as a rushed, poorly thought out deficit tax grab that had an industry gobsmacked at the infantile homework behind it. To add insult to injury we now have the panicky Dilly Solution to cover up past inaction to the bleeding obvious with 170 deaths and a procession of boats filling empty detention centres to overflowing when commonsense showed all along you can’t run countries like the Salvos or Mother Theresa and the nuns. Apparently they get the tradeoff bit now but at what cost?

In summary it’s hard to reform any swamp when you’re up to your tits in alligators of your own making, although perhaps being spoiled by the previous swamp master just compounds the comedy capers look. That’s for the electorate to judge soon.

Corin
Corin
11 years ago

Nick, on a connected but slightly tangential path, the debate regarding cultural diversity also indicates perhaps that politicians in the late 70s and the 80s were more liberal, less inclined to populism and more prone to bipartisanship in the national interest. In my view, perhaps a greater willingness existed in politics, to ‘do what is right’ rather than what is expedient. I know Howard likes to talk up a lot of his involvement in the creation of ‘bipartisan’ reform, but I think it likely that Labor could have lost office if the Liberals in opposition acted like Labor over the GST or Abbott over most other things. It’s a pity Howard (well following Hanson’s arrival) ended the bipartisanship on celebrating diversity.

Have politicians become less concerned with teh national interest?

Perhaps we need a new generation of Bert Kelly’s who might not be Minister’s (in the current climate) but will be ‘lights on the hill’.

Corin
Corin
11 years ago

Nick, I agree to a very large extent, but I also think Labor has a tendency to underestimate the importance of the Liberals support for many of the policies. In your article, I note your views of the Accord.

In my view, an Accord like instrument could have a life again, if only to trade tax cuts at the low end for lowish increases in the national wage case. I note you have written on this, particularly in Tax Cuts for Growth. I thought that some of your best work.

Me-guess for what it’s worth is that Andrew Leigh would be best served by being back bencher for a while. Once a politician said to me: “politics is like Aussie Rules football, you can’t chase the ball around as it always goes somewhere else. You have to read the play and hope you are right …”

Andrew probably needs to read the play well but he also needs to stay right not expedient for his long term profile.

PS. I think I may have been in early primary school when you started in public life …

Corin
Corin
11 years ago

Sorry for another post!

On a more personal reflection, in about June 2008 after having spent 18 months slaving for Labor, I woke up and realised that the politics I admired had largely ceased to exist. It happened occassionally, among individuals (as it always had) like Emerson, Gillard (who was excellent in person even though I disagreed with many conclusions over FWA) or to a much lesser extent Tanner but the politics of reform had never really entered the culture of Federal Labor. Also, many of those inclined to reform hadn’t moved with the times, so some were seeing market reform through the guise of past challenges rather than the new challenges such as climate in particular.

This seems the biggest issue, many climate sceptics would be more inclined to market based solutions than environmentalist who seems more prone to wanting heavy interventions like the MRET and direct action ….

I think Labor is a political force not dissimilar to the Liberals in about 1966, it appears to be the only show in town but this masks a longer term decay of renewal through policy debate. Deep debate with big thinkers ….

I’ll shut it for a while.

Corin
Corin
11 years ago

I think it can be boradened and maybe Andrew leigh can do this. But where it gets tough is that he’ll create many enemies. For example, were he to come to the very rational view that an MRET is daft and a carbon price was far better, he’d be clobbered by both sceptics and the Left. In my view, there is a hollowing out of rational reform as the centre ground has splintered into more hardened camps. This exists in wider politics vis-a-vis the Abbott ascendency in the Libs and also internally in the ALP, where climate sceptics (often more market friendly) are outnumbered by interventionists, but there is no strong base for rational reform that ‘triangulates’ to use your earlier term. So you end up with intervention rather than reform. This is magnified by the example of the green car policy and many other initiatives like that.

The above is a gross simplification but you get the drift …

I really will shut it now …

Butterfield, Bloomfiled & Bishop
Butterfield, Bloomfiled & Bishop
11 years ago

observa, you really should write at catallaxy.

neither Fuelwatch nor Grocery watch needed any price controls. Far from it. It was giving consiumers information to buy the good at the cheapest price!

that isn’t bad saying something is the complete opposite of what it was.

A fiscal conservative should spend money when faced with the worst problem since the Great Depression particularly combined with a credit crunch.
you cannot have careful planning before a GFC unless you wished to be swamped by it. you have to act. that is why the stimulus was so successful.

the RSPT is not needed to get the budget back in the black. IT contributed $635m to that very goal.

the budget is getting back into the black because the economy is much stronger because of the stimulus.

Paul Foord
Paul Foord
11 years ago

Playing on the theme, was it Kevin Ruddock? Could it be John Winston Gillard (or given the red hair ‘Pauline”). There appears to me to have been a strong move to the themes of John Winston’s days on refugees and there has been continuity regarding Indigenous affairs.

observa
observa
11 years ago

BBB- “neither Fuelwatch nor Grocery watch needed any price controls. Far from it. It was giving consiumers information to buy the good at the cheapest price!”

That’s piffle when Rudd clearly raised the expectations of the gallery as reported back here-
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/watchdog-will-have-no-teeth/story-e6frg75x-1111117096979
Then after axing the useless Grocerywatch(as if consumers don’t know where best to shop) Emerson gets it right here-
http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/canberra-to-replace-grocery-pricewatch-20090628-d0s5.html
But then he was always a healthy skeptic along with Ferguson and Tanner-
http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/leaky-vessel-will-sail-on-with-fuelwatch/2008/05/28/1211654124083.html
And that was essentially always this L-Plater Govt’s problem. Play to the gallery and dump themselves in it longer term when they can’t deliver the rhetoric.

observa
observa
11 years ago

To be fair to this Govt BBB, when you delve back into the history of Fuelwatch and Grocerywatch and the latest with the RSPT, they may have inherited a natural tendency for bodies like the ACCC (Samuel) and Treasury(Henry) to be sympathetic allies of interventionist big Govt and thereby drink their own bathwater a la another set of military intelligence organisations and their empathetic Govts. Make sense?

Butterfield, Bloomfiled & Bishop
Butterfield, Bloomfiled & Bishop
11 years ago

observa you do not seem to have the faintest idea of either fuelwatch or grocery watch were to act.
It had nothing to do with price controls.

it actualy enhanced the market mechanism and consumer sovereignty.

observa
observa
11 years ago

Come off it BBB. The Govt were dog-whistling to the gallery along with the ACCC at the time. If ‘it actualy enhanced the market mechanism and consumer sovereignty’ then why was it scrapped?
Ans: Because as a dog whistle the dogs had woken up there was nothing of substance to be had when they came a running and it just served as a running sore for the Opposition to pick at.

Butterfield, Bloomfiled & Bishop
Butterfield, Bloomfiled & Bishop
11 years ago

well you actually have a fuelwatch of a sort in WA.

that should give you something of a hint.

Where you get price controls from who knows.

funny how all those people who loves markets didn’t think giving consumers more information to make a decision was a good idea.
It would have been the closest thing to a Walrasion auctioneer we would have seen.

observa
observa
11 years ago

“well you actually have a fuelwatch of a sort in WA.
that should give you something of a hint.”
What, that State Liberal Govts can play to the gallery and waste taxpayer dough on platitudes too?

“Where you get price controls from who knows”
Simply that it was constantly implied(dog-whistled) in Labor’s election campaign that ‘working families’ were being screwed by the Cole/Woollies duopoly and Big Oil and Rudd and Co will saveya! ie we’ll get those ripoff prices down folks and when they couldn’t SHORT OF LUNAR PRICE CONTROLS this was the inevitable result-

ABC’s PM Nov 9 2009

BRONWYN HERBERT: Craig Emerson is the Federal Minister for Small Business, Competition and Consumer Affairs.

Hey says the Government’s Grocery Choice website would not have made a difference in lowering costs, but says more competition in the sector is needed.

CRAIG EMERSON: Putting prices on the internet, in a website, while giving consumers more information doesn’t of itself provide more competition in grocery retailing. We are doing the hard policy work of introducing more competition by tearing down the barriers to entry by rivals to Coles and Woolworths into grocery retailing.

And on scrapping Grocerywatch-

‘Yesterday, after a meeting with major retailers, Dr Emerson said it had become clear it was not feasible to implement the envisaged Grocery Choice proposal. It “would not be able to generate reliable, timely data as a basis for consumers to make meaningful comparisons in their local neighbourhoods”, he said’
http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/national/grocery-website-quietly-checks-out/story-e6frea8c-1225740964270

“funny how all those people who loves markets didn’t think giving consumers more information to make a decision was a good idea”
As if paying millions to public servants to do what consumers do everytime they drive past a servo or check their junk mail or visit their local supermarkets will somehow help drive down prices and make them better off? I’ll let Emerson’s final words on the matter explain it to you.

observa
observa
11 years ago

Mind you when I say SHORT OF LUNAR PRICE CONTROLS I implicitly assume not even this L-Plater Govt would be so stupid as to venture there, but they are beginning to shake the faith a bit of late.

Butterfield, Bloomfiled & Bishop
Butterfield, Bloomfiled & Bishop
11 years ago

observa you still haven’t offered a scrap of evidence to show price controls were ever contemplated.

A more comprehensive form of the WA fuelwatch would have helped.

Choice believed they had a good version of Grocery watch on board as well. gosh no public servants.

you really cannot even get that right.

let us just check out Observa’s logic.
We nee only to drive past a service station to know the price. Yes but i need to drive past it and I have no idea of how it compares to others.

A fuelwatch actually tells me the prices. I can either get petrol in my local area or get it when I drive somewhere elase but I have noticed it is cheaper.

If you actually understood the market system or fuelwatch you would know that!

look up what a Walrasian auctioneer is.

Paul Frijters
Paul Frijters
11 years ago

Nick,

I am not sure about this. The Netherlands has the institutions you seem to ask for (a triage between politics, unions, and business) and I have not once in my life seen a successful challenge to vested interests in the Netherlands. Consensus in practice seems to me that vested interests are forewarned and organised against any opposition. Any minister advocating something new gets isolated, ridiculed, and then sacrificed.

I don’t know what made the Hawke era different, but I doubt it had much to do with co-opting business and unions and you shouldn’t expect much from an institutionalized triage system.

.
.
11 years ago

Homer,

When debtaing Fuel Watch on catallaxy you contended that it would help service stations, whilst positing a business model no one who has ever worked in one, nor any other economist has ever seen.

“Choice believed they had a good version of Grocery watch on board as well. gosh no public servants.”

So why spend the public money then econometric evidence shows no collusion etc?

“We nee only to drive past a service station to know the price. Yes but i need to drive past it and I have no idea of how it compares to others.”

You’re inferring that each route normally taken only has one service station. You’re also inferring we only have one opportunity to fill up our cars without facing high opportunity costs of running out of fuel.

We don’t need the Government doing this. This is very marginal benefit stuff, the kind of work that leads to poor Governance.

“look up what a Walrasian auctioneer is.”

They don’t exist in the real world. Kevin couldn’t and Julia still cannot conjure one up.

Butterfield, Bloomfiled & Bishop
Butterfield, Bloomfiled & Bishop
11 years ago

Marky,

No I have worked in a service station. I showed up your knowledge of how Service stations work was err wrong.

It has nothing to do with collusion.
it merely enables consumers to make more informed decisions.
It makes consumer sovereignty something practical not theoretical.

I am inferring looking at a website showing all petrol stations prices is more efficient than driving past a service station.

Walrasian auctioneers do exist when you have said websites!

As I said it is a pity people who claim to support the market system do not understand how it works.

that is catallaxy to a tee

.
.
11 years ago

“I have worked in a service station. I showed up your knowledge of how Service stations work was err wrong.”

I assume it went broke. On the cat you contended they did not try to make a significant proportion of revenue from impulse item sales.

.
.
11 years ago

“I am inferring looking at a website showing all petrol stations prices is more efficient than driving past a service station.”

Yes Homer, that’s all people drive their cars for. To buy petrol.

You dunce.

“Walrasian auctioneers do exist when you have said websites!”

So the Government can get rid of market inefficies by simply posting information no one wants?

Right…

Butterfield, Bloomfiled & Bishop
Butterfield, Bloomfiled & Bishop
11 years ago

No Marky,

you look at a website ans see where the best prices are.
you might be only driving in your local area or you might be driving elsewhere.

It doesn’t matter you would still know what the best prices is.

you do not know this at present.
No you say they do not want it.but then you do not approve of effective markets

.
.
11 years ago

“you look at a website ans see where the best prices are.”

Are you still contending the only reason why people drive is to buy petrol?

“you do not know this at present.”

Wrong. You don’t know if I don’t know.

“you do not approve of effective markets”

The market is effective, fuel is historically cheap, we’ve conquered the tyranny of distance and margins are low.

The take is in squeezed supply vis a vis a series of wars, high taxation, double taxation and depressed exploration globally through the 1980s and 1990s when the Saudis cheated their cartel or fuel became very cheap due to high and sustained growth.

We don’t need an artificially construction of an abstract idea to save a few dollars here and there for people who forget to buy fuel when it is in less demand. They can most probably afford it anyway.

Corin
Corin
11 years ago

On the issues in your article Nick, do you think Labor since Dec 2007 has continued the Great Complacency or been an improvement on Howard’s Liberal’s on the reform front. I think it’s hard to consider that Rudd diverged from the Great Complacency but I do think the Libs would have been at least as bad in the past 2 or 3 years …….

Still, the first terms should be a time of doing things. Blair waited for a second term and ended up with little as a result.

Corin
Corin
11 years ago

For what it’s worth, I do think there is scope for a more radical reforming future: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/politics/opinion/markets-bring-mobility/story-e6frgd0x-1225781310921

Obviously you can’t say much in 800 odd words. This piece is a bit more substantial but I now disagree with one statement made (that’s the breaks when you publish something): http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=9376

Worth a read perhaps. In my view Andrew Leigh should not shelve his visions as he could really cut through (but be quite divisive). Maybe Andrew could go where other economic minded MPs fear to tread. Oblivion or bust … who knows.

Oblivion likely … but why die wondering and get out before you’re 45 if you fail.

Tel
Tel
11 years ago

observa you still haven’t offered a scrap of evidence to show price controls were ever contemplated.

From a very quick google search…
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/04/15/2217746.htm

The scheme will require service stations around the country to notify a central authority of their prices for the next 24 hours by 2:00pm.

They will then be required to stick to that price for the entire day, thus eliminating afternoon price hikes.

Sounds like price controlling regulation to me, presumably compliance costs to be borne by the business in question (and passed to the consumer).

I do note that when the price per barrel of oil was going up, up, up (before the GFC) so fuel prices went up in line with that, but when the price of oil fell down fuel prices only can down a little bit and have rapidly caught up the difference. Someone is making a fatter margin than they used to do.

I also note that Rudd could have saved a lot of angst and done a better job for a lower price by not using brute force to tell the petrol station how they were going to need to report to Big Brother every day, but by just paying a few people to zip around on scooters with GPS receivers and numeric keypads. Statistics can reasonably easily extract whatever features you care to discover (including afternoon price hikes), but making the raw data available as a web feed allows private data-mungers to extract all kinds of interesting bits while cutting down the taxpayer spend. A clear case for public money delivering public goods (see Nick, someone does listen).

Maybe a Kaggle competition — how to implement Fuelwatch in a way that is cheap, effective and non-interfering? Hmmm, not sure of a fair way to pick the winner. OK first a Kaggle competition on the best way to pick a fair winner in the type of political questions that have no clear winner (and since this competition is recursive, the winner must evidently pick itself).

Corin
Corin
11 years ago

I largely agree with this. Turnbull is the most interesting politician since Keating but it hasn’t done him any favours yet. He should have waited to take over either late last year or post election. He’s a shakespearean figure in his passion is what makes him great and also stupid politically. I think he’s somehow more patient now he’s lost.

Hawke’s humanity carried his capacity for tough decisions and allowed him to embody the politics of ‘difficulty’ and ‘change’ in a way that Rudd could not. Hawke as a former figurehead of the unions (then I imagine seen as more representative than now) gave him a capacity to act not in the short term but longer term interests of working people. That’s a hard act to do.

Labor started to drop its argument for te stimulus once it became about waste … They didn’t want the legacy and so got lumbered with the negatives. Labor may rue this for a long while.

I suspect when another shock come the public at that point will remember Rudd more fondly if the Govt don’t take such action.

Rudd’s primary fault in my view a refusal to prioritise policies, cull dross and announce ‘non-core’ promises early. Everything promised was a commitment – it was crazy! He needed to pick 2 or 3 big things and just do those. He also refused to provide any coherence. For example, it was obvious that say the seamless economy policy was best thought of as a wider issue about federation, but here there was no prime ministerial narrative – no imprimatur. So whilst Ministers like Emerson or such would make a key speech on something like that, in my view those speeches should have been by the PM himself. he should have done less programme specific speeches – that Ministers can do – and more here’s where we’re going on big stuff. i.e. how all the issues (seemeingly dispirate relate). Hawke and Keating did that brilliantly and Howard often did as well.

So the PM became about programmes not narratives. He didn’t discuss frameworks or motive. Look where it got him …. A man with no centre of gravity.

And by the way, that’s no media spin, he genuinely could form polar opposite views about similar issues and somehow not see why that was intellectually fraudulent … maybe he did and just choose to ignore that. This is why his The Monthly essay was so tortured and horrid … so perhaps he did do narrative but it was misguided stuff when he did that.

Much to say …

Butterfield, Bloomfiled & Bishop
Butterfield, Bloomfiled & Bishop
11 years ago

I think Corin is on the money with most of what he has written.

I also think Rudd copied Howard too much.
Like howard he spent so much energy getting to PM he couldn’t figure out what to do when he got there properly.

Then he had statistical illiterates getting rid of him when the ALP would be comfortably re-elected.

Kevin you needed a Liberal caucus

JamesK
JamesK
11 years ago

I just don’t know if this sort of thing is possible within the current cheer squad media culture.

When does Abbott release anything other than a thought bubble? From ‘just turning the boats around’ to his spontaneous whim on paid maternity leave through to his flip flopping about being on the verge of a famous victory. Both sides are equally guilty of this sort of thing but there is precious little media scrutiny of Abbott’s lack of depth.

And of course all of this was inverted when Rudd was in ascendency; the media scrum just uncritically shuffled off in whatever direction he pointed them.

We have churned through 5 different party leaders in this electoral cycle. I don’t know if that circumstantial or the machine now just chews them up and spits them out like they were gen y pop stars.

Gillard bent over backwards trying to frame asylum seekers as a big picture issue requiring complex long term solutions. Within 2 days the media were breathlessly reporting her ‘policy’ was in ‘tatters’ despite both the ET President and Prime Minister saying they would approach the issue with open minds.

In that environment, how do you create reform based on consensus, especially if the singular objective of the opposition is to create ‘great big new scare campaigns’?

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