Philosophical Conversations Public Opinion Junk for code
parliament house.gif
Think Tanks
Oz Blogs
Economic Blogs
Foreign Policy Blogs
International Blogs
Media Blogs
South Australian Weblogs
Economic Resources
Environment Links
Political Resources
South Australian Links
"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

The ALP & policy formation « Previous | |Next »
June 17, 2003

in his recent leadership campaign against the challege launched by the socially conservative Kim Beazley, the embattled Simon Crean argued that he stands for policy not poll-driven marketing.

What policies asks Ken Parish? Well, Crean kept on mentioning the River Murray amongst others (eg., Medicare) when he appeared on television.

Ken Parish claims that the policy of returning 1500 gigalitres to a dying River Murray is half-baked without giving any reasons. (Ken's weblog seems to going downmarket and reinventing itself in a more tabloid style.) Contrary to Ken's judgement this commitment to returning to 1500 is good policy. It is fully within the perameters of the Living Murray project of the Murray-Darling Basin Commission and clearly distinquishes the ALP from a Coalition Government straitjacketed by the irrigators and the National Party. Crean is to be applauded fro breaking new policy ground. Ross Gitten's piece, which was all about the ALP adopting courageous policies, does not even mention the River Murray. Typical economist blindspot.

However, this environmental policy is little more than a skeleton of a policy. A commitment. Nothing more. As Tim Colebatch accurately observes:

"Crean's commitment to return 1500 gigalitres of water a year to the Murray-Darling system.... is only a first step. Where would the water come from? If it comes from irrigators, who would pay the bill to compensate them and restructure irrigation areas so that uneconomic uses give way to sustainable farming? The bill will be huge; Labor cannot dodge that issue."

The ALP is dodging the issue. The water will have to come from irrigators in the Goulbourn and Murrumbidge valleys of the Murray-Darling Basin and compensation (around $1.5billion) will need to be paid. There is a credibility problem because the ALP is in favour of big tax cuts-----reducing bracket creep. It says that money for this policy initiative will be funded by reallocating priorities, not by increasing tax (eg., an environmental levy) How so? What is going to be cut? These would be significant cuts. There are no details.

How is the ALP going to ensure a sustainable agriculture? That is the long-term solution, and it will require more than letting the market rule through water trading. How will a federal Labor Government bring the Labor States into line to ensure their reasonable use of water (s.100 of the Constitution) within their territory?

It is a bit thin. A small target that ducks and weaves in the prevailing wind. Small policies that bear no relationship to an overall vision of a better kind of Australia. This an ALP that wants to get its hands on the levers of power without offending anyone. As Gitten's says:

"Labor is selling two propositions: the Liberals aren't putting enough money into government services and they're making you pay too much tax. So it wants to portray itself as the party of bigger government and the party of lower taxation. Which makes it the Magic Pudding Party."

Gittens is spot on. As John Quiggin observes "a serious policy program could make a big impact."

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 2:37 PM | | Comments (4)


The official position of the Murray-Darling basin ministerial council is that a flow of 1500 gigalitres would have only a moderate chance of restoring the basin. Even that cannot be achieved without taking on the upstream irrigators.

you are right. 1500 gigalitres is the upper limit of the MDBMC policy framework.

Yet the River Murray requires a lot more by way of environmental flows to be a healthy river.

Taking on the upstream irrigators (in Victoria and NSW)is the key. I reckon both the Coalition and the ALP will wimp out.

For their policies to have any substance they need to clearly spell out how they will clawback water from the irrigators for environmental flows.


So you agree with my assessment that Simon has to date been largely a policy-free zone (just as Bomber was before him).

But you think I'm going "downmarket". Well, you'll find I've posted a couple of more solemn pieces this morning (with no semi-naked bodies). You can be assured I'll continue doing so as, I'm sure will Geoff, Chris and Wayne. But I don't think blogging should ever get too overly solemn. We're doing it for fun, after all, and there's nothing wrong with the occasional light-hearted, even frivolous post. Otherwise the blog would end up reading like the old Soviet version of Pravda (or its right wing equivalents) and have just as few readers.


hang a mo.

It is good to see the fun and the pleasure. There is nothing wrong with being lighthearted and frivolous. Nor is there anything wrong with differnt styles of weblogs including tabloid.

Let difference bloom (including austere and serious weblogs.

What my criticism was directed at was calling the ALP's proposal for 1500 gigalitres of environmental flow for the River Murray half baked without any argument or reasons to justify why you consider it to be half-baked.

The effect of half-baked was that you dismissed it to all intents and purposes.

The River Murray policy is a serious policy initiative that deserves a considered response. The response can be flippant or ironic etc but it should also be considered. Give us reasons why you judge it to be half-baked.

Crean is right. He puts good policy out in the public sphere only to see it ignored or dismissed by the big media---and now the micro-media.

It is your dismissing a serious policy initiative that is the reason for me saying that your weblog was going downmarket; not the light heartedness or frivolity.