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The Forum > Article Comments > The endemic problems of the Gillard Government > Comments

The endemic problems of the Gillard Government : Comments

By Don Aitkin, published 19/12/2011

It is not entirely clear to me what 'Labor' and 'Liberal' mean any more, and it seems that a great deal of contemporary politics is simply about staying in power.

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Don
You have articulated the feelings of many who can no longer discern the difference between Labor and Liberal. And many who are dismayed by the 'sport' of politics about winning and strategies, much more than about values and community representation.

One point resonated with me, and that was the distance that Ministers have from their respective departments. Oftentimes there are practices and processes implemented that contrast greatly with what was intended to give the appearance of adhering to the wishes of the incumbent PM or Minister. In reality (sometimes) the end result is nothing more than a smokescreen or PR stunt.

I sometimes wonder if the curse of the 24 newscycle and evolution to infotainment could not be countered by ignoring it completely, giving open and honest answers, admitting to mistakes and outlining remedies, putting forward policy positions clearly and with explanation from both government and opposition. In other words leaving no room for guesswork and investigative revelations.

The mentality within some ministerial offices is certainly bemusing and can fall within the range of keeping the Minister happy and acting as a conduit to departments usually through DLOs, to real contributions, speech writing and consultations around policies. Staffers in electorate offices can be of great value in communicating the feelings and concerns of constituents.

It is certainly relevant to offer the idea that perhaps these stafffers sometimes act more as an impenetrable wall between the Minister/PM and their departments than a conduit.
Posted by pelican, Monday, 19 December 2011 8:52:41 AM
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"It is not entirely clear to me what 'Labor' and 'Liberal' mean any more, and it seems that a great deal of contemporary politics is simply about staying in power."

There is no doubting that Labor has abandoned its traditional values, and has undone the good work that the Hawke and Keating governments did in loosening the labour markets and improving economic efficiency. Labor now has adopted same-sex marriage as policy, which makes its traditional family-oriented champions of past years turn in their graves. It splashes billions of dollars around wastefully in its interventions, viz. the BER and the NBN. It weakens Australia's areas of comparative advantage, e.g. knee-jerk restriction of live-cattle exporting, reducing and /or removing industry cost advantages through pointless imposition of the carbon dioxide tax, and discouraging investment with the mining tax.

Labor blames its policy implementation failures on the Liberals, as if they were partners with Labor in government. The Liberals are there to oppose and keep the Government honest, not to agree with and pass Labor's poorly formulated policies.

The Liberals would not have adopted any of the above erroneous solutions had they been in Government
Posted by Raycom, Monday, 19 December 2011 10:54:23 AM
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Considering the authorís experience and seniority, I find his analysis rather naÔve.

He assumes that the fundamental purpose of government is to serve the public. According to that theory, the observations of government being hungry for power for its own sake, donít make sense.

What if that theory is wrong? What if the real purpose of government is to get and keep hold of power for its own sake, and seek prestige even falsely, and enjoy spending other peopleís money, regardless whether it is immoral, or wasteful, or corrupt?

That would have more explaining power, wouldnít it? It would explain all the political phenomena the author remarks in this article. It would also explain why there is so little difference between the parties in terms of what they actually do.

And the evidence or reason to falsify this theory is Ö?
Posted by Peter Hume, Monday, 19 December 2011 11:07:20 AM
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The combination of poorly thought out and executed policies, pledging firm policy commitments to the people and doing exactly the opposite, and running an endless spin cycle is why no one trusts Labor anymore.
Posted by Shadow Minister, Tuesday, 20 December 2011 6:57:40 AM
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What a hell of a long winded way of saying, Gillard is a totally incompetent catastrophe, but if we spin it verbosely enough, this may all disappear & perhaps people won't notice.

Sorry Don, nothing could hide or even camouflage Gillard's ego or incompetence. Your attempt at absolving her for her total failure, just makes it more obvious that she is a failure, & needs help to try to hide this.
Posted by Hasbeen, Tuesday, 20 December 2011 8:25:24 AM
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This article is not about Gillard or Abbott but an analysis of the changing nature of government and politics in adapting to 24 hour news cycle and the growth of party politics over democratic principles. It is about the growth of spin and obfuscation.

That is a simple summary my interpretation. How anyone can turn it around to suit their own agendas is a tactical marvel but a transparent one.

One can understand the reasoning of Peter Hume and the arguments for small government except for the principle in the idea of government as representing the interests of citizens, making a very real difference in people's lives including equitable distribution of essentials like health, aged care and education. The US is a fine example of why the private sector cannot be relied upon to deliver certain services.

If managed properly with a strong legislative accountability framework, government is still better than a reliance on the free market. This is why the US there are people in a First World country who cannot access health care and huge disparities in wages, while the corporate sector is the first with their hands out for the 'socialist' purse. There is not much to be said in the idea of privatising profit and socialising loss as regards to the lowest paid having to prop up the richest in societies. It beggars belief really. (Acknowledge that Peter Hume is not advocating this practice)

Governments don't have to be big but they should be upholders of democracy in a pluralistic society. Power distribution is a modern problem with 1-2% of the population having too great an influence.

It also does not mean that governments have to be involved in every minutae of social life, much can be left to the private sector, to individual or group philanthropy and endeavour. This does not mean begging for crumbs from the rich man's table but prioritising what it is that governments should be involved for the collective interest and what should be out of reach of government.
Posted by pelican, Tuesday, 20 December 2011 8:52:58 AM
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