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

froth and substance « Previous | |Next »
June 2, 2008

John McDonnell in an op-ed in The Australian makes an interesting point:

the Rudd Government is really a government of substantial reform. The Howard government took the view that the private sector generated wealth and the states delivered services. The role of the commonwealth was to collect revenue and distribute it and to maintain national security. The Rudd view is that John Howard was negligently passive and that the commonwealth should be active and ubiquitous, including having a major role in service delivery.

That seems to be not right with respect to the Howard Government. How about the GST? Or the reform to the labour market? Why aren't these considered to be reforms?Is this revisionist history?

There is also a question mark over the Rudd Government being big on structural reforms. What we have seen in the last six months is there being lots of activity that captures the 24-hour media cycle through tight news cycle management but which ultimately amounted to not much in policy terms. Oh, there is lots of talk about reform.

petroldebate.jpg Spooner

Is this revisionist history an attempt to avoid The Rudd Government being seen as, and becoming akin to, the Carr, Beattie, Rann and Bracks state Labor Governments? These were-- and are--electorally successful over successive polls, but they cannot be considered to be seriously reformist governments. On the evidence so far the Rudd Government increasingly looks to be in the Beattie/Bracks tradition rather than that of the Hawke/Keating (market-driven modernisers) or Whitlam (socially progressive) reformist one.

Certainly Rudd Labor, on the evidence so far, is socially conservative rather socially progressive. So that leaves the option of being market-driven moderniser. Is this likely?

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:48 PM | | Comments (2)


Last week the conservative media's commentators ran a narrative of "political crisis", which they had written in large letters over Fuelwatch, over leaks, over threatening the public service. They formed their own little echo chamber full of reverberation of a government in big trouble.

It was fictional. They made it up. The media re increasingly about their own narrative.

The media making stuff up is a big problem. We've gained this impression that the Rudd government has done nothing, Nelson is gaining headway, that governments can only be either/or one thing or another and so on.

The apology and Kyoto may have been symbolic, but they were certainly not nothing. The opposition is now whining about how much the government is trying to get through in a short period, which isn't nothing either.

If an election had been held this week you could count the Lib MPs on one hand by now, and with Rudd at 66, Nelson's rating does not count as headway. He did not win the fuel debate, if anybody other than the media was even paying attention.

The styles of government we've seen in living memory are not the only ones available, so why so they go on likening the Rudd Government to governments past? That would be fair enough if they also tried to get a handle on what the Rudd Government actually is, but like everything else, they ignore anything that doesn't fit their narrow understandings.

The result is that it's that much harder for citizens to work out what's going on. Pathetic. At this rate being ignorant of news and current affairs is a good thing.