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Latham on Rudd Government « Previous | |Next »
March 6, 2008

Mark Latham has an op-ed in todays AFR evaluating the Rudd Government's 100 days in office. The title, 'Reform a casuality of spin' sums the argument up. This Labor government, in contrast to Whitlam and the Hawke's 100 days, lacks policy substance. Under Rudd the ALP has become the party of review.

Latham says:

Even Rudd's strongest backers concede that he lacks a reform agenda. At best, they say, he will change 10 per cent of the programs of the Howard Government. This is the problem with the ALP as an instrument of reform. It wants to change marginally the way in which government agencies operate when the big challenge, for people committed to social justice and equality, is to transform the way society functions.

This is not just Rudd Labor. It's a general condition of Labor Governments around the world that claim to be embody the social democratic heritage. The current state Labour governments in Australia are a good example of this.

Latham says that the beef---bold plans and concrete policies---is missing:

When it comes to big ideas, policies to alter the destiny of the nation, the Labor movement is an exhausted volcano. The great debates that animated left-of-centre politics postwar have been resolved. Around the world Labor governments have become a curious hybrid of conservatism and media spin. They are conservative because they have run out of reformist ideas. Yet to retain power, they need to spin a different story to their constituency:they are not , in fact, as timid as they look.

So the 100 days have seen the Rudd Government primarily engage in symbolic initiatives.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 1:39 PM | | Comments (4)


Phew! What a relief. For a moment I thought that Mr Latham was going to use NSW Labor as the new Labor paradigm.

What kind of reform is he talking about?

Latham wanted the nest egg from birth and lifelong learning to promote autonomy. Isn't that more or less what Labor is proposing with education and government contributions to home savings accounts?

Rumpole QC
Latham never had much time for the machine men from Sussex Street. He said as much in the Latham Diaries, which no doubt, you have read.

They are proposing a lot but not really do that much. Latham was quite strong on social policy + social capital as well as building an enterprise culture.