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

big target strategy « Previous | |Next »
August 30, 2007

In a discussion of Labor's IR announcement over at Blogocracy JWH of Kirribilli (the cheek) comments "This was Rudd's big chance to differentiate his party's policies from the coalition but he has essentially defered it to the next election"

As it turns out, the differentiation lies not in current policy, but future plans we haven't heard yet. We've already heard that the coalition has more plans for deregulating IR which has the potential to frighten a lot of people, including some who feel they're doing OK so far.

What might those future plans entail? How much worse can it get?

These sorts of questions undermine the devil you know, who can you trust, battler's friend and safe pair of hands arguments that have served Howard so well.

The (incorrect) impression that Labor will take over all public hospitals is already out there. Howard has taken over one, seemingly on a whim, and his future plans for others remains a mystery. One by one maybe? In what order?

On education we know Rudd plans an Education Revolution, which has a universal ring to it. Howard on the other hand wants history taught differently and the future of public education is anyone's guess.

You never know with Howard whether you're going to get a hospital takeover, a nuclear power plant or a plebiscite. He seems to make these things up as he goes along.

What we do know, and what Rudd will no doubt remind us of at every opportunity, is that he does have plans to further deregulate industrial relations. We don't know exactly what those plans are, but it's unlikely to be pleasant.

Commenter JWH went on to say that Rudd "is determined to have the election decided on personal image rather than policy" which seems to be true. But it looks very much as though the spotlight will be on Howard's image and Howard's unannounced policy. IR is still Rudd's big chance, he's just reorganised the location of the target.

| Posted by Lyn at 12:34 PM | | Comments (9)


there are differences in the two IR policies that are significant from the perspective of the deregulated market. Two arguments constructed from the writings of the AFR crowd.

Rudd and Gillard give the mining companies and those on six figure salaries efficiency and flexibility re AWA's, but not to small firms, cafes and restaurants. Don't the latter need it too? Even more so?

Secondly, it is argued the politics of the workplace works for Rudd and Gillard. They are being clever as we are in boom and "fairness" can work. But come the economic downturn--- inevitable these free marketeers say--then efficiency needs to cut in to shed or cut back on the employment. But the economy will be less flexible because of rigidities cause by regulatory rules, unfair dismissal rights, and stronger unions, to ensure "fairness". Rudd and Gillard are left exposed as smarty pants.

Unpopular reforms are required to ensure the continuation of national prosperity. Rudd fails on that criteria. Howard gets the big tick. Gillard is seen as the big liability. She is the Medicare Gold lemon who has soured relations with business. Gillard is the big target.

So speak the advocates of the free or deregulated market. We must push on with the deregulatory reforms, however unpopular. Reform fatigue is not an option. Market flexibility is a must; fairness is a job as opposed to being unemployed.

I'd make two comments. The politics in this is that union power must be broken once and for all it would seem.That's the position of the mining companies is it not? Secondly, these free marrketeers , who beleive in the small state, really criticize Howard and Costello over their commitment to a high-taxing, big-spending and very centralised government.

"Cheerful" stuff- actually barren Manichean, Hobbessian. Begs the question; who is the world designed for and what defines "meaning of life" and "person".
As it happens, when everything thing was going so swimmmingly for the Howardites this time last year, the occasional talk of this stuff slipped into the newspapers and the Howardites could hardly bother to languidly deny it.
Let's never forget, with these miserable bastards "reform" not just a mechanism employed for some higher objective but is an objective itself. Perpetual "becoming" is a precondition for the elimination of optimism as to mass state of mind. Think in terms of the biblical axiom, "there will be no rest for the wicked". There is NO time off for good behaviour. Any spare moment inadvertantly employed in reflection of preconditions; what things could or should be about is sure evidence that the serfs are not yet, even, fully enough occupied.
And do not fail to recognise that large sections of Labor are not infected by this gloomist thinking. Do not think that the current phase of "reform", including teaching the public that "development" is only acceptable on terms that include future misery through pollution, via Gunns; the straightjacket of secondary boycotts legislation from the $sweet man and Labor's attempted obscuration of its eventual sell-out prefigured in the announcement that union access to work sites remains all but banned, are anything but just the current wave.

Just scanned an article in online opinion by Dr. Natasha Cica along these line entitiled " In search of a moral compass" (28/8) that ponders what life after Howard would be like?
which element of the ALP soul would triumph in the event of an ALP victory?
Ps. As some know am deeply entranced of sadism of cartoonists to victims. Have adored Pryor's dealings with of the "little fellow", but Moir's depiction of Gillard a couple of post back, this site, is excruciating.

I presume that both Liberal and Labor party strategists have concluded that winning votes in the marginal Tasmanian seats of Braddon and Bass comes from supporting the mill not opposing it.

Federal Labor is committed to being a true friend of the timber industry.

A witty quip from a Crikey reader--a Niall Clugston:

The fact that Kevin07 - Licence to Copy - has made himself a "small target" on workplace relations, while simultaneously basking in the glow of a union-stoked fear campaign, merely indicates that Howard has finally met an opponent as unimaginative and opportunistic as himself.

I like this idea of reading readers comments. Many are very good, and the comments are an integral part of the national conversation.

Nicely spotted.


Even mining companies must know that unions are all but dead in the water. We still get the occasional git barging onto a site and wreaking minor havoc, but they don't have anywhere near the power they used to when they used to shut down entire industries if the cafeteria ran out of coffee.

I suspect that breaking the unions is purely symbolic. Especially when unions have backed mining companies on IR and Tasmanian forests and pulp mills. So yes, it's politics of the ideological kind.

The free marketeers and government are always going to at odds. Consider unemployment. High unemployment is good for the free market because it keeps wages down, but high unemployment is bad for governments because it makes voters unhappy. At least big government keeps a lot of people employed.

You'd think they'd have had enough of the high-taxing, big-spending thing by now, but they can't quite seem to let go of their loyalty to the Liberal Party ideal. No matter how far the actual party moves away from that. There are a lot of Labor supporters guilty of the same thing.


We seem to have been perpetually becoming and creatively destructing for decades now. This really struck me last night watching Difference of Opinion, hearing that the states are just arbitrary lines on a map that mean nothing - we should be carved up into more practical divisions and only have 2 levels of government.

Practical or not, the sorts of changes we've seen and proposed changes like this one take no account of human beings as a society. Apparently we're nothing more than a tricky management question.


It's a worthwhile thing to read comments. They're often more interesting than the story.

You also get the impression that Australians generally are interested in politics, which isn't true of course, but it's a nice impression to indulge occasionally.

I like the idea that people are so enthusiastic about putting their opinions out there. We rubbish opinion as uninformed, unscientific, unofficial and therefore valueless. But that's a value judgement itself.

I wonder whether we haven't had a strong opinion culture all along that's just needed some outlet. How often have you seen some opinion poll and thought "I don't think that. Why didn't they ask me?"

Whether it's a national conversation is a bit uncertain. On issues people really care about it's more like a bar room brawl. But at least they're throwing words instead of punches or bombs or something.

Lyn, agree with you about constitutional change.
Trouble is, politicians always interpret this as meaning in ways solely to do with more power for themselves, or overthrow of the three tiers and exploration of more so-called "emergency powers" for themselves.
We've seen plenty about making something that half works entirely dysfunctional for nothing better than electoral grandstanding and consolidation of power in few hands, against the intentions of the founding fathers, as to state federal relations and civil rights, recently.
But what if Howard instead had accepted his responsibilities,

particularly after 2004 and worked with the Senate and with the states, to solve problems instead of just constantly trying to disrupt things or engineer false crises? Where would half the upset over constitutional problems be if things had been allowed to work. Cooperative and inclusive approaches have been perversely discouraged, and adversarialism at all costs has been the norm.
Obviously then
given the mentality, nothing on human rights charters, written constitutions and other stuff in writing that defines beginnings and endings of responsibility, power and accountability.
Gary, your comment deals with what typically grates with this reader. Watched two sad cases in Kroger and old whats-his face as defacto Labor on Lateline saying the same thing. But whatever happened to gifted politicians who won people over with good arguments.
The current lot ( both sides ) don't even try. They queue up to make heroic pronouncements about bravely putting up electricity and water prices, but on things like Cubbie Creek and Gunns the silence is deafening! Surely, even the people of Braddon and Bass could realise a false dichotomous proposal is being presented. But then They couldn't even get it right when Latham proposed $800 mill. for reconstruction in Tasmania in 2004, so what hope of any better electorate differentiation this time!?
It needs not be the world's filthiest pulp mill, OR the end of life as we know it except for vegepatches and shivering in caves listening to quolls noisily and grumpily shagging in the thick bushland under a clear moon.
Surely an efficient, clean and sustainable industry- a third way, if you like?
It's not the Greens who hold things up, but Gunns and their slimy captive politicians they obviously have backdoor sweetheart deals with.


I'm being optimistic here, but the kind of constitutional change we'd need to abolish the states as we know them would need a referendum and there's no way my local state of origin Qld supporters will vote for something that might confuse things in the future.

Victorians are Victorians, New South Welshmen are precisely that and up here in Queensland everyone to the south is a Mexican. Including those Canberra lot who want to introduce some fancy stuff with clocks that fades curtains.

I'm from Sydney and after 10 years here people can still tell I'm a foreigner. No pieces of paper, no matter how official, no matter how pontificated over, will change that.

It may be bureaucratically inconvenient, but it's who we are. And regardless of how ridiculous it is, we seem to like it this way.

People like to crap on about how bad the states are, but if push comes to shove I think we'd rather the inconvenience of crap state governments than change anything about who we are.

Hope so anyway.