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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

a telling quote « Previous | |Next »
December 17, 2004

All the signs are that the Australian economy is set to enter next year with low growth rates, a growing trade deficit, a dying housing boom and high household debt. That downturn was starting to happen during the federal election but the ALP did not notice. It did not connect the big election spend to a slowing economyand point out the dangers.

In this context this is telling quote from Ross Gittens, which I found on the Crikey website. It is from a paper Gittens gave to the Australian Business Economists Annual Forecasting Conference. Gittens says:

"But, as Lindsay Tanner has pointed out, Labor's lack of credibility on the economy runs far deeper than just the crazy tactics it adopted in this campaign. Economists look back on Labor's time in government with not a little respect, but the Howard Government has worked assiduously for the past eight years to trash Labor's reputation as an economic manager, with Labor doing little to try to counter that assault. Why? Because, as Tanner says, since Paul Keating's defeat in 1996 his successors have been ambivalent towards Labor's record on economic reform. Labor's wanted to be seen as opposed to economic reform, not as the primary instigator of it. Little wonder it's lost whatever economic credibility it once had."

Very apt, even if Gittens is recycling the argument of Lindsay Tanner. Tanner has cause for concern. Why has there not been money spent on modernizing Australia's aging and dilapidated infrastructure (such as the rail network, electricity, telecommunications)? Where was the money to addres the skills shortages?

One needs to ask why the ALP's ambivalence to the reforms it initiated under Keating, given Latham's neo-liberal reform creditionals. What is preventing the ALP from developing a new economic narrative that includes Australian's experience of the profound change from the effect of globalisation and the information revolution on our daily lives. As Tanner says:

"We need to find new ways to maintain prosperity, social equity and economic justice in this radically different world in which we find ourselves. We also need to reconnect communities and tackle the growing problems of social dislocation in today's world."

Why cannot the ALP connect that insight to the need for Australians to lift their exports, without pulling the resources rabbit out of the hat.

I see that Julia Gillard has made a speech in Melbourne saying that the ALP needed a new economic reform agenda. From reading Mark Davis' report in the Australian Financial Review it would appear that reform agenda would consist in using market forces to deliver more effective public services and a better environment.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 11:01 AM | | Comments (0)