Government’s third birthday nothing to celebrate
The infamous ‘gang of four’, making all government decisions, came to symbolise the style of the first term of the Rudd-Gillard Government, and is reminiscent of the first chaotic days of the Whitlam years.
In 1972 Gough Whitlam and Lance Barnard were sworn in as an absurd two-man ministry making a raft of two-man decisions, which set the scene for three years of extraordinary incompetence and profligacy.
Today, marks the third anniversary of the election of the current government and it can be argued that Labor’s abandonment of cabinet government, and centralisation of power around a select few, similarly set it down the pathway to the mess it is now in.
This government has been plagued by the ‘home handyman syndrome’ – starts countless jobs, but finishes none of them properly. This has come about due to a total focus on controlling the politics of the 24-hour media cycle, combined with appalling management skills.
It is a government that has lacked the courage to make tough decisions; a poll-driven approach, obsessed with not wanting to offend anybody.
As a result, marketing has dominated, rather than the required oversight and attention to detail essential for successful implementation. The multi-billion-dollar waste encountered with the school building program, the pink batts disaster and its ill-conceived $43 billion-plus NBN are prime examples.
It is a government that also used the Global Financial Crisis as a Trojan horse to justify an old-style Labor interventionist agenda which involved among the biggest spending and borrowing sprees in our nation’s history.
We are the only government in the world which re-regulated its labour market in the middle of the financial meltdown, the only country renationalising its telecommunications sector, the only country seeking to nationalise 40 per cent of its mining sector, the only country seeking to remove private health insurance, kill off employee share ownership and which sought to introduce a massively bureaucratic and high-taxing emissions trading scheme.
The government without doubt overreacted to the GFC and by continuing to borrow $100 million a day to fund recession like spending levels, it is placing continued pressure on inflation and interest rates.
Labor was elected on a promise to ease cost of living pressures, but under their watch we have seen seven consecutive interest rate rises which have resulted in the average mortgage holder paying around $6000 more a year.
The government has been exposed for raising unrealistic expectations and for failing to make a difference.
Labor knifed Kevin Rudd as leader, because Julia Gillard conceded the government “had lost its way”.
Yet since the change of leadership, nothing else has changed. Julia Gillard looks a diminished figure who lacks authority and all the same problems remain unsolved. It is a government that looks to be out of its depth.
The government’s border protection policy has unravelled at the seams, the mining tax remains a mess and after walking away from an ETS, Julia Gillard took just three weeks to break her election promise not to pursue a carbon tax this term.
There is also a sense of despair and depression sweeping across the Murray Darling Basin as the consequence of the uncertainty surrounding Labor’s water management policy paralysis. Shops are closing, retailers are reporting sales 25 per cent lower than their previous worst years and young people are heading to the cities.
The Gillard government is also beholden to the Greens, and this will become of even greater concern when the Greens hold the balance of power in the Senate from next July. The renewed push for a carbon tax, a tougher mining tax, gay marriage, calls for a new government bank, regulated control of interest rates and a desire to walk away from the privatisation of the NBN, are Greens priorities.
Labor may be in government, but the Greens are in power with the tail already wagging the dog.
This is a bad government.
Its belief that government knows best, and its propensity to tackle every problem by taxing, borrowing and spending, is putting Australia in a highly vulnerable position if the world economy takes another dip.
Labor’s third birthday in government is nothing to celebrate – it is a time for fundamental change. Don’t hold your breath.
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