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

A crisis of legitimacy « Previous | |Next »
March 18, 2005

I read the editorial in Thursdays Australian Financial Review yesterday, whilst having my morning coffee at Aussies in Parliament House. It was a bit of a suprise. The Howard Government's economic record and policies were placed under the micoscope. That is not new, as the AFR advocates a tough reform agenda.

What was new was the AFR's judgement that the Howard government was found wanting bigtime. My my. That is an indication that the political wind is now blowing from a different direction.

The editorial starts thus:

Who would have thought that just six months after the coalition's sweetest victory of all, the Howard Government would be facing questions over the directions of its reform agenda?

The issues are then listed:
Most of the problems the government is now wrestling with, or trying to duckshove the state's way, have been gestating for years. The government, and the rest of us, have had plently of warning about: the sorry mismatch of skills shortages and surplus unskilled labour; the moral hazard of a tax and welfare system that penalizes people for moving from welfare to work; the failure of telecom competition due to Telstra's bulked-up dominance; infrastructure shortages; and the lack of meaningful commonwealth-states co-operation in health, education and transport.

I would add a few of my own: the failure to shift the economy to an ecologically sustainable knowledge economy.

Then the AFR criticism begins. It says:

These are complicated, intractable problems requiring deep considerations and the courage to overturn lazy but popular institutions. But the government's allergy to anything resembling independent research has left it ill-equipped to tackle them....The Howard government much prefers to keep such work inhouse, the better to keep awkward conclusions to a minimum.
This is then illustrated in relation to teleccommunications, Treasury, and the current skills shortages. Then we have this:
It may seem premature to be talking about a crisis of legitimacy so early in the government's fourth-term....[but]national government's must initiate action on national problems-- that is what they are there for. The Howard Government cannot go on forever resting on well-deserved laurels for past successes. It needs to do better now.
It has been said politely.But it has been said. Decoded it says that the Howard government is now caught up in a crisis of legitimacy. That is a criticism with a sting in its tail.

The spotlight has shifted away from the turmoil within an ALP that has turned inwards, is fighting amongst itself and is crippled with despair. The light cast by the spotlight on the Howard Government is a harsh one that exposes the flaws.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 12:58 PM | | Comments (0)