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Rudd Labor: thin policy? « Previous | |Next »
March 23, 2008

One interpretation can be found here on David Burchell argues in the affirmative using the example of education. His argument is that there is little integrated policy substance or sense of direction.

ruddideas.jpg John Spooner

Is it too early to make a judgment --eg., climate change, broadband or health reform? The indications on these issues suggest a modernizing Labor; bringing Australia into the 21st century. But what does that mean over and above growing the productive base of the economy?

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 1:11 AM | | Comments (16)


Cardboard Kev: what policy?

Is that a swan swimming off to the left there or is it a duck. Perhaps its swimming south for the winter.

True. We've seen none of the kind of coordinated approach to anything that resembles planned, whole reform of any kind. However, I think Burchell's Janus thing is too simple. I think he misses the bigger picture in the same way commentators missed the bigger election strategy.

If things don't start to make more sense come the budget Labor can rightly be accused of coasting I think. Looking back, including over the election year, Rudd likes a series of big splash occasions to dovetail in retrospect. At that rate it's still too soon to judge.

Rumpole QC,
Credit where credit is due. There is a specific broadband policy. It is one in which the government and private enterprise build fibre to the node broadband. This is being resisted by Telstra on several levels. Telstra wants to charge exorbitant monthly rates and retain a monopoly position.

Spooner's cartoon is misleading, more so than the left direction of the swan/duck. Moving away from the Right? Who knows.

Socialism is wrecked--that's true. As Mark Latham said:

On every front, collectivism is in retreat. With the fall of the Berlin Wall, the idea of state socialism is dead. For many people, the triumph of the market economy has legitimised the ideals of economic self-interest. Throughout the Western world, the traditional role of government is under question: the large, centralised bureaucracies of the welfare state appear to be out-of-step with an increasingly self-reliant electorate. The public's faith in the public sector is at an all-time low.

It is not obvious that economic rationalism or neo-liberalism is as a way to manage the effects of globalization on the Australian economy. Nor the Third Way as understood in terms of the enabling state that aims to achieve a dynamic balance between state, market and community.

What the Third Way means in Australia after Howard is fuzzy. It means more than Lemma's keeping the lights on. It has to mean something more than what it did under Hawke/Keating Labor in the 1980s. Blair Labour in the UK stands between Hawke/Keating Labor and Rudd Labor. That means an increased emphasis on individual freedom and markets as opposed to the welfare state and interventionist industry policy.

we can take some guidance on Latham on policy direction under Rudd Labor. He had an op-ed in the AFR on the weekend saying that Wayne Swan's:

most powerful and convincing performance has been his populist attack on he banks over interest rate rises. This was the real Wayne Swan, talking passionately about one of his core economic beliefs: a greater role for government in controlling the financial sector. He is much more comfortable with the pre-Keating economic model than today's open and deregulated policy settings.

Swan was one of the chief movers in the ALP for (Beazley) Labor to distance itself from the economic legacy of Keating era.

Yes we will have to wait and see for more info on the HMAS Sydney to see which is the front and back to work out where the duck is swimming. If the front is where I think it is my guess is the duck is headed to China.

Nan, Cardboard Kev and his camorra may indeed have a broadband policy. However, the ALP was planning to turn the well fed and tame cat known as Telecom loose knowing it would become a tiger. The tiger no longer obeys its former owners and those former owners wonder why. Expecting that tiger to play nice is a bit like expecting turkeys to vote for an early Xmas.

Rumpole QC,
re your comment ALP was planning to turn the well fed and tame cat known as Telecom loose knowing it would become a tiger. The tiger no longer obeys its former owners and those former owners wonder why.
Shouldn't you be pointing the finger at the Howard Government, not the ALP. From memory the former were in power in the last decade and screwed things up with Telstra.

Their broadband policy consisted in privatisation; not building a national broadband infrastructure to keep the Australian economy competitive. They did not structurally separate Telstra nor did they create competitive markets in telecommunications.All they were concerned about was getting as much cash as possible from the sale of Telstra. The Liberals left a mess.

From memory during that decade the ALP was in opposition. Rudd Labor through Conroy has indicated their preference for an open-access structure, which means that competition is inherently within the plan.

Rumpole QC

Telstra is about gouging as many dollars out of customers as is possible in the shortest space of time, before competition makes them do what they should have done in the first place. It is probably the most disliked corporation in the country.

The ALP will lose out badly if the new broadband network (FTTN) means that many thousands loose their ADSL2 connection and are forced to pay typical Bigpond prices just so Telstra can earn an unreasonable rate of return on its share of the investment--over 18% Phil Burgess, the Telstra mouth---says.

Rumpole QC,
Rudd Labor is limited in its national broadband network at affordable prices.We need fiber to the house (FTTH) as oppose to Fiber to the Node (FTTN) that they are going to deliver. The latter is not going to change things much.

Guy Rundle in The Age says that Blair Labour in the UK offers us a picture of what may happen with the Rudd Government:

In the meantime, those who want a forecast of Rudd Labor should look to the decade of New Labour in Britain. There, New Labour's trick has been to substitute behavioural coercion for real structural change, so instead of addressing a shortage of 5 million homes, war is declared on obesity or binge drinking. Does that sound familiar? Having abandoned any desire to implement real change, Labo(u)r turns its attention to reshaping and disciplining the public. Eventually behavioural control becomes its own end, the only tool left in the box.

He reckons that is Rudd Labor, five, three, two years down the track.

Maybe. It is climate change that will be one of the issues that defines the Rudd Government, even if it is an issue of tough choices, of clashing values and objectives.

Gary and Peter, I haven't been avoiding you I've just been a little unwell. Gary, I have been reading articles at the NSW State Library about PJ Keating. I avoided the usual encomia. Some of those articles reveal that in the mid to late 80s the ALP caucus was debating the matter of selling Telecom. Yes, they didn't sell it but they would have cheered JohnBoy and his camorra for flogging it off.

Peter, I did describe Telstra as a tiger. That tiger mauls and bites as many people as possible, even its former kindly owners.

Rumpole QC
Yes you are right about Keating and Treasury. But the ALP in opposition did propose structural seperation of Telstra----that was when Lindsay Tanner was in charge of Communications.

The ALP then backed away from some reason. Do you know why?

I agree with you about the Rudd Government being judged in terms of climate change. It is a defining issue. As Tim Colebatch says in The Age:

The tough choices are now right ahead. What makes them tough is that the main weapon to get greenhouse gas emissions down will be to make people pay heavily for emitting them. But no one wants to pay heavily — and the electricity generators, Australia's biggest greenhouse gas emitters, don't want to pay at all.

Power stations pump out 200 million tonnes of greenhouse gases every year, more than a third of the nation's emissions. Most of that comes from 20 or so big, coal-fired stations, such as Loy Yang A and B, Yallourn and Hazelwood. When emissions trading comes in, their owners — such as the Labor governments of Queensland and NSW — want to get free permits. None is more determined than the Iemma Government in NSW, which is trying to sell its power stations. With free permits, they could bring a good price: no permits means billions less.

He says that as emission permits become expensive, coal-fired power will become increasingly uncompetitive with gas, and maybe even with wind or solar cells on the roof, forcing power stations to make expensive retrofits or shut down.

But that is how it should be. Will the Rudd Government deliver on that?

An Advert in the Courier Mail today states that 98% of the population is covered by their wireless network. It didn't mention that it doesn't work well enough to actually use in a lot of places.
Clearly Telstra can't be trusted with percentages.

Gary, I can only assume that the ALP backed away from a restructured Telstra because it was told that the ALP's proposed model wouldn't work.