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

The Australian: our future is conservatism « Previous | |Next »
December 15, 2010

In No time to rest on our laurels in The Australian Paul Kelly says that Australia needs more reform, if economic growth is to continue. This is yet another variation of Murdoch's message to Australia that the Gillard Government stands for nothing and it is weak. The general argument is put by Chris Berg at the ABC's Unleashed:

the era of reform is over. Our boldness has gone. No longer are we able to push through major economic changes. We have no appetite for challenge. Australian politicians are hesitant to take risks, intimidated by polls, and the Government is cripplingly scared of focus groups and opposition.

What Kelly adds to this is that the result is complacency and blandness.

Kelly states that rarely has the gulf between the power centres of the "insider" culture of the political-media class, which sees the need for more reform, and the "outsider" perspective, which is in a sullen mood, been greater. According to Kelly:

the Labor Party seems confused and divided about the fundamentals; that is, about the sort of society and nation it wants Australia to be. Such economic, social and educational challenges penetrate policy and values. What are Labor's core values? Julia Gillard talks the language of economic reform and educational standards, yet the gap between talk and delivery is vast.

What sort of reform are those in the power centres of the political-media class talking about then? A more sustainable Australia? Shifting to a low carbon economy by investing in renewable energy like China? No way. That is definitely not what is meant.

Reform is economic reform as understood by the Business Council of Australia. That reform is pro-market reform to ensure more labour mobility, less industry assistance, less red tape etc and increasing productivity. Nothing about the Murray-Darling basin or health reform.

Kelly's argument in support of this kind of pro-business reform is that:

The GFC has delivered a shattering intellectual and moral message to the world: while the US is wounded, the European model is crippled. Europe's system of government debt, entrenched welfare, extensive regulation and mushy "tolerance towards all" as its unifying value is broken. Does Labor not see the obvious?

Gee I thought that the global financial crisis dealt a death knell to a neo-liberal mode of governance structured around free market economics, not the crippling of social democracy and Green progressivism. Two years ago governments saved the necks of the world’s financial markets who were begging for help. Now the market is back to intimidating governments and there is a deep resentment against markets and financiers.

The obvious for Kelly is that a declining Europe and a rising Asia means that Australia should embrace the values of personal improvement, economic competition, educational excellence, national pride, strong family ties, cultural traditionalism and rising religious faith. The obvious is that the future lies with conservatism, not the Green progressive social democracy that shapes Labor thinking; a social democracy premised on reducing inequality.

Chris Berg sees little connection between emissions trading and the pro-market reforms of the 1980s:

The reform of the 1980s had one clear and unambiguous goal: to clear up a century of accumulated, unnecessary or entirely counterproductive regulatory burdens. These burdens were holding back Australia’s economic growth, limiting personal income, and entrenching private interests at the public expense.The goal of an emissions trading scheme is very different: to impose burdens on the Australian economy...the great reforms of the 1980s ... were designed to boost, not restrain, economic growth.

Well no. The goal of an emissions trading scheme is to use a market mechanism to facilitate a shift to renewable energies, and away from coal, so as to reduce greenhouse emissions produced by the coal-fired power stations.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 6:55 AM | | Comments (10)


The Gillard government should be doing more to act on its Labor values----a fair go, a just society, a strong economy---rather than just talking about them.

Re climate change: Australia - a country with more to lose than most - is dragging the chain on reform.

Australia is the world's top coal exporter, generates more than 80 percent of its electricity from coal and its per-capita emissions are among the highest in the developed world.

The mining industry, however, says that Australia's reliance on resource exports exposed the country to higher costs than other developed countries when it comes to curbing emissions.

So lets not proceed to curb emissions cos that would cut economic growth. The mining industry's campaign against climate change is one based on fear.

Transnational companies now believe (with good reason) they transcend the limitations of nation states. Supposedly sovereign governments are there to do the bidding of the giant global corporations. That's what they mean by 'more reform' - making it easier for transnational companies to operate without petty interference by governments.

So, its all about "reform", is it?
The comments here follow the right sequence, down to the conclusion offered by the last poster, Ken Lovell.

The use of the word "conservatism" to describe what Kelly and Berg want is quite wrong.

A "conservative" is suspicious of change, particularly rapid, large-scale change. Kelly and Berg (and those on whose behalf they write) are anxious for just such quick, big changes as a real conservative would firmly oppose. Kelly and Berg and their backers are, in fact, howling radicals.

And specifically on labour mobility, The Man Who Bought Queensland (aka Clive Palmer) knows it includes flying in Chinese coolies to work in his installations. Like the 1890s all over again!

Interesting symptom on the ABC news tonight.
They are pitching out staff from enviro, parks and gardens in SA, to "balance the budget".
This is at the same time as news of costs for remediation of land in Bowden is to be round the $ thirty million (something similar for the ACTIL site?) mark.
So the parks go to hell in a hand cart, so that the government can trail behind industrialists, to lick up their mess after them, but where that money is supposed to spent; parks, etc, becomes devalued thru being starved of funds.
The cleaning up task rightly should belong with the polluters, not a public that sees its own amenities degraded, to put even more money in corporate pockets?

Oh that's what I LOVE SO MUCH about the wingnut mentality... if you can't beat reality into submission, it's just because you didn't use a big enough hammer!!!!

Oh... and I'm 100% behind gordon... Kelly and Berg and their backers are dangerous frootloops. Off with the pixies they are. Calling them "conservatives" makes no sense at all.

Berg is of course the archetypal one dimensional man (Marcuse) or the hollow man (T S Eliot).

He, along with his fellow ideological hacks at the IPA ,and the Oz too, are quite fond of the USA Tea Party movement. Even believing that the Tea Party is the movement that is going to regenerate USA politics and culture.

Apparently they are incapable of connecting the dots. Which is say that the Tea Party people are precisely the victims of the neo-liberal project to create the perfect market(scam) under the Christian "God".