'It has been quite a honeymoon, but now reality bites. Kevin Rudd apologised to the Stolen Generations and signed the Kyoto Protocol in style. Banishing Work Choices booklets to the pulp mill, Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard turned the "rip-off of working families" into high emotion in parliament. Industry Minister Kim Carr is off on a mission to distribute buckets of money to needy multinationals keen to manufacture a green car. Environment Minister Peter Garrett has declared war on plastic bags. And the Prime Minister is alarmed about the "epidemic of binge drinking across the country".
To date, the Rudd Government's symbolism has been rewarded with record opinion polls, with Brendan Nelson struggling to hold double figures. At some point, though, voters, as well as history, judge governments for lasting achievements. It's too soon for the Rudd Government to have long-term runs on the board, although it is generally doing well keeping the Northern Territory intervention on track. Already, however, the Government has made one lasting mark on the reform process: it is the only government in 30 years to wind it backwards.
Elected on a promise to abolish WorkChoices, the Government will have to deal with the inflationary and unemployment consequences of doing so. Undoubtedly, 25 years of industrial relations reform under the Hawke, Keating and Howard governments swept aside restrictive work practices and helped drive jobs growth. Yet so cowed is the Rudd Government in the face of union muscle that it won't even proffer an opinion on a responsible figure for a rise in the minimum wage. '
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
I thought today's editorial in The Australian was illuminating. The Rudd Government is inexperienced with an unskilled ministry (even Gillard has disappointed). Rudd however is an experienced showman - the type of confidence trickster who can play stupid political games with apparent conviction. I say 'apparent' because he doesn't believe what he says and it shows. He has consolidated his power base skillfully.