What a disappointing PM Kevin Rudd is turning out to be. Despite the rhetoric about ‘working families’ and the impression he seeks to create of a diligent, hard-working leadership this guy is not proving to be a particularly competent PM. In part it is presumably inexperience which means that the key resource he needs are those civil servants he has recently been so intent on alienating by accusing of laziness - these guys obviously are not part of the 'working families' brigade.
Rudd has said a profoundly ambiguous ‘sorry’ to indigenous people and has signed a soon-to-be- redundant Kyoto agreement. We should all be underwhelmed by these symbolic actions that do nothing to improve the lot of anybody.
On economic policy Rudd’s decision to encourage middle income earners to abandon private health insurance thereby putting increased pressure on an already overstretched public health system is possibly the most socially destructive policy he has yet undertaken. The move should devastate the public hospital system and will reduce overall standards of community health care. To suggest, as both Rudd and Nicola Roxon did, that the policy can be justified on the basis of the implied tax relief is ludicrous unless you favour the poor paying relatively higher taxes.
I say it is 'possibly' the most foolish policy move since an almost equally foolish policy was to sideline the Productivity Commission in assessing the case for continued protection of the automobile assembly industry by substituting known protectionist and Labor hack Steve Bracks to head an enquiry whose outcome was well understood from the day it was set up. Rudd last week compounded the error by rejecting an opposing view from the Productivity Commission before it had even been publicly released that showed that reducing protection to 5% after 2010 would provide significant benefits to automobile consumers and small gains to the economy. a doubly stupid move since the PC report provided valuable information on how protection might be structured even assuming you did want to continue it.
The FuelWatch policy which essentially tells retailers that they must post prices in advance improves the prospects for coordination among retailers and might therefore increase prices a little – contrary to the stated intention of the policy.
Rudd followed these moves with a scathing critique of the foolish proposal by Brendon Nelson to cut the excise on petrol by 5 cents per litre. But he then reversed his stance by implicitly endorsing Nelson’s foolish populism with a proposal to cut the GST on petrol on the grounds that petrol was already subject to a hefty excise. This is populist backflip nonsense since there are taxes on taxes throughout the economy.
The rhetoric about grocery prices and the proposal for the ACCC to monitor prices will noit help the government repeal the laws of supply and demand with food prices continuing to increase as a consequence of supply shocks and, in particular, increased energy prices. Moreover, there is little the government can do to reconfigure industry structure to drive more competitive outcomes. The horse has bolted in retailing with the large duopoly (Coles, Safeway) established in the field.
The chorus of Labor drones are singing their foolish tunes of hero worship for Rudd but I imagine they simply don’t have the brains to think through these policies or are too committed in their quasi-religious fervour to think about much at all. Mark Banished at LP is now criticising the ABC for being biased about Labor over claims of its pro-Chinese, anti-Japanese biases because it didn’t first check with the Japanese that they had in fact been offended by being overlooked. As if they would say they were offended!
I’ve been banned from LP for suggesting that MB lacks independence of thought. I think I should have been banned for being tediously boring in stating the obvious. On the other hand a ban has commitment benefits for me - my urge to comment on the drivel LP usually offers as social commentary will be diminished. More time for the important things of life.