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

politics as administration « Previous | |Next »
July 28, 2005

The politically elegant Bob Carr defined the strategy of politics as administration for the state Labor Governments.


Nick Greiner's op. ed. in The Sydney Morning Herald defines the style as:

[Carr] brilliantly masterminded the minimal risk, masterful inactivity model of politics, which suited a time of strong national economic growth and increases in state revenues and has been substantially copied by other state ALPs... Carr's term will be seen as an outstanding example of modern politics, of the supremacy of perception over performance and spin over substance.

I couldn't agree more. Carr kept the wheels the machine ticking over whilst doing a bit of repair and maintenance, with a political focus on reaction, short term solutions, working the media headlines, law and order and budget surpluses.

That approach meant neglect of infrastructure.

That is the model followed by the Rann Government in SA. Its current political dominance is also going to be wasted in terms of health energy, and sustainable urban living.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 10:18 PM | | Comments (4)


The more I think about it, the more I think no govt commits to infrastructure even though everyone calls it is because wherever receives the infrastructure will be seen as pork barrelling.

You could almost substitute Howard for Carr and remove the reference to states and ALP except for "revenues" if it wasn't for a few prominent world events.

I do Labor is beginning to be on the skids in NSW. An upbeat account of Bob Carr's legacy by Tanya Plibersek, the federal Labor MP for Sydney.

I personally find too much ALP spin in the piece. It does not address the way the right-wing machine (the Sussex Street bruvvers) runs the government, not caucus. It is the machine's agenda not the members of caucas. Nor would you know from the op ed that the Carr Government is very unpopular because its failure to deliver.

The Carr Government has not been good on hospitals, public transport, water or energy, even though he says otherwise--only rail is a problem.

What Carr has done in terms of water is very questionable as a long term strategy: desalinisation rather than recycling.

Where is the change in direction for a 4th term of government?

I agree that Howard has done little by of infrastructure renewal and reform, especially in energy.

Don't you thank that the state ALP governments could be more adventurous in terms of reform? Have they not played it very safe, too safe?

Most of those issues under Carr were there several premiers before him too, so he's probably not entirely at fault.

Now with rail, they tried a couple of times and failed mainly in my opinion they had a project management problem.

Take any attempt to fix the rail was delayed for any reasons, all the trains needed to be stopped, the public complained about that but want the rail system fixed, so the trains ran again and the public complain again.

Its a lose/lose scenario.

Only way they can come close or have marked improvements is if the public is able to go without the rail for a set period of time.

I know I've been very generic but I'm sure you get the picture.

Yes, the State govts have played it safe. Too safe? Hard to say. They don't have any international incidents they can hide their faults behind as federal politicians do.

Water Recycling is definitely the first step, I agree.

Iemma vs. Brogden

I haven't seen any polls but agree with the general sentiment of "who?" when referring to Iemma. Brogden is more likely to be known but still needs a bigger profile.

Fair enough about the rail network. However, Carr and the other state premiers had the cash to do important things like improving the hospitals system by putting more money in, rather than just continue with politics as administration.Isn't being managerial what the Liberals are?

The ALP states had the cash rolling in because the boom and the GST. They spend it on retiring debt and budget surpluses year in and year out. So the hospital queues got longer. Because they do so little they are on the defensive much of the time.

They stand condemned for this because they are Labor governments and, as Labor they say that they are concerned with the welfare state and improving the health of their motre vulnerable citizens.

The gap between their rhetoric and practice is big. And Carr is stil going around saying the hospital system is fine.

If you say they had problems just like the Libs then are you saying that it is a case of Lib-Lab? Mike Steketee in The Australian says that the characteristic of the Carr Government and for all the Labor states are:

"... economic caution marked by prudent budgets, a hardline stance on law and order, and a dash of environmental policies for the true believers, including those tempted to desert to the Greens. Pragmatism is paramount and populism thrives. The Labor label is almost incidental and it is regularly missing altogether from the election campaign literature."

I concur with that judgement.