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

social policy reform « Previous | |Next »
March 29, 2006

I just don't see it myself, even though it is a common interpretation in the Australian media of the effects of Tony Blair's visit:


I understand that Blair's uplifting oratory has seduced the Canberra Press gallery, who reckoned that Blair highlights the poverty of talent amongst Australian politicians. However, I cannot see how Blair's stance undermines the ALP's support for Kyoto as Patrick Walter asserted in The Australian. Blair confirms the ALP's position surely.

Sure Blair rejects the ALP's opposition to Australia's ongoing involvement in Iraq. What I see is that the chaos and violence of the insurgency in Iraq bears little resemblance to the upbeat pre-war forecasts of Britain, the United States and Australia to improve security, provide for economic development and prosperity and win the "hearts and minds" of the Iraqi people. For all their current talk about not flinching in the face of the decisve battle over fundamental values and terrorism, it's Bush, Blair and Howard who are whistling in the wind about Iraq, not the Beazley-led ALP.

So maybe the talk about fundamental values, vision and guts has more to do with domestic policy and the articulation of social democratic vision in a global world?

The judgement here is that federal Labor has failed to develop such a vision in relation to the economy and the welfare state. Blair, in contrast, has developed a vision that recognizes the role of markets, individual choice and personal respsonsibility and his reforms make health, education, housing more responsive to the needs of users, rather than providers and unions.

John Rokam spells it out in The Age:

It is Labor and its values that are making the party unelectable. And the proof of this is revealed in the attitude Gillard displayed last week. She made great fun of John Howard as a throwback to the 1950s and "the monocultural world he remembers, of white picket fences shielding white families". In 1988 John Howard's policy statement Future Directions famously featured a father and a mother and their two children standing outside a house surrounded by a picket fence. For as long as Gillard remains obsessed with the colour of the faces and the colour of the fence, there's no hope for Labor.
On this account the ALP dumps on a job, a family and a home as old-fashioned, and is out of touch with common values. Really, its not what I hear when I listen to the ALP speeches in Parliament about working families, child care, and the casualisation of the workforce.

Unlike the Institute of Public Affairs ALP has not embraced the Evangelical Christian Right's understanding of family values and family life.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:42 AM | | Comments (0)