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The Forum > Article Comments > Rudd's ruthless style entrenched Labor > Comments

Rudd's ruthless style entrenched Labor : Comments

By Scott Prasser, published 16/1/2007

To know what a Rudd Labor government might look like, take a peek at what happened in Queensland when Rudd held sway in the Goss government.

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Fred Argy bagged Scottís article in a letter to The Australian, claiming that Kevin Rudd, not being a Minister, can't be blamed for too much that happened in Queensland "in the late 1980s", and that Scott was partisan. Iíve worked for both Fred, for whom I have great respect and affection, and for Kevin, who I found had no people-management skills and tended at times to be focussed on over-simple ideas, e.g. every school child must learn Chinese and Japanese languages.

As head of Queensland's Office of the Cabinet from 1991-96 (thatís not in the 1980s, Fred), Rudd was an agenda-setter who called the shots. In that period I wrote a high proportion of Cabinet briefs for Premier Wayne Goss and later Treasurer Keith de Lacey, and attended a number of meetings between Rudd and Ministers. Even very senior ministers knew that, if Rudd wasn't onside to their proposals, they could forget them. So, yes, he can be held accountable for policies, processes and outcomes of the Goss government.

As for being partisan Ė by not equally bagging Howard, in Fredís view: Howard is well-known, thereís plenty of basis to form judgements on him, favourable or otherwise. In terms of being a potential Prime Minister, Rudd is a relative unknown, and itís fair enough for Scott to draw on his knowledge as a Queensland academic and former public servant to put his reservations about Rudd to the public.
Posted by Faustino, Tuesday, 16 January 2007 9:09:07 AM
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Yes, I think Mr Rudd might be hidebound and when needing to seek advice he relies on his own.

I have a picture of Mr Rudd as Captain of the Titanic being informed by the kitchen staff that the ship is running dangerously low on ice. Mr Rudd barks back at the kitchen staff: "Don't worry. I know where we can get some cheap ice and lots of it. Trust me."
Posted by Sage, Tuesday, 16 January 2007 10:37:04 AM
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Rudd's style of doing things that contributed to the Goss Labor governmment's downfall, also resulted in the succession of Premier Beattie to the throne of our uniquely Queensland government.

The claims at the time about Goss's Labor Government, not so much about Goss himeslf, was that it had become arrogant, and stopped listening to the people.

Rudd obviously had a hand in planning the revival of Labor, and the characteristics of leadership and organisation required to attain government and keep it. Political appointments and allegiances in the public service were and are pivotal to this control of government - the reason why whistleblowers aren't tolerated, public servants that speak up are stomped on and eventually sacked, or their contracts terminated, and individual initiatives that don't conform to Labor policy are killed off.

The same arrogancy, and inability to listen to anyone apart from political advisors and politically aligned public servants remains the hallmarks of this Labor Government, and the annointed successor to Beattie, Deputy Premier Bligh.

Labor in government takes on the role of director and controller of the people. Instead, Parliament ought to be the servant of the people. Democracy fails because it is not people whose voices and aspirations that are represented, but the political party, unless the people's voices happen to coincide with Labor policy. Interestingly, in the UK, where Queensland Labor gets many of its so called initiatives from, especially in education, Blair's annointed successor, Chancellor Gordon Brown has referred to enabling greater democracy, with individuals and local committees to be involved in decision making, even referring to "participatory democracy". Its unlikely that such talk or even such democratic reform could happen in Queensland, because the power is too great for the winning political party which gets all the spoils, and can do what they like in their unicameral Parliament. Because of this, individual rights are neglected and treated with great indifference.

New federalism under Rudd, when combined with Beattie's proposals to follow Germany, and have State Premiers appointed to the Australian Senate, thereby always holding partisan political control over the whole country, would be abysmal.
Posted by Derek@Booroobin, Tuesday, 16 January 2007 12:11:08 PM
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Faustino, thanks for those insights,

Yes Rudd is a simple animal, one who thinks simple solutions are better to chase than understanding complex problems and the need for strategic planning on a number of levels.

Public sector management in those days delivered unto us some very boring and shallow leadership.

They were all Laborites, too common for the Tory's. Unfortunately we ended up with these autocrats ruling the roost.

Qld gov is full of these nerdy types in high office.
Posted by Rainier, Tuesday, 16 January 2007 6:03:40 PM
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Scott suggested that Queensland's Goss Government (under the guise of implementing the Fitzgerald reforms) had put in a political fix in favour of the Labor Party and tightly centralized control, rather than effectively achieving democratic reform. He also suggested that Kevin Rudd's potential as Australia's Prime Minister should be judged by what happened when he had a powerful role under that Government.

I personally have no clear picture of who was most to blame for the abortive 'reforms' under the Goss administration and suspect that systemic factors were mostly responsible. (See ...

However the consequences were not limited to a failure to improve the democratic process as Scott suggested. There were many adverse practical consequences that also need to be taken into account to fully assess the history of the Goss Government.

For example:

(a) the severe electoral reaction in 1995 against the Goss administration was clearly the result of public dissatisfaction with service delivery, infrastructure provision and government arrogance (see ...;

(b) pre-existing machinery for planning and development of infrastructure was dismantled without putting anything effective in its place - and this compounded the infrastructure backlogs that have now been recognized (see ...;

(c) growth management machinery was established that experienced observers saw as merely a pretence (see ...;

(d) an amateurish approach to economic development was adopted - one of whose consequences was that marginal rural, provincial and coastal communities were left without the support needed to cope with pressures for difficult economic change, and this led to serious social symptoms and the political instability associated with One Nation (see ..., and

Moreover, not only was the democratic reform of Queensland's institutions ineffective, but abuses related to the state's political and judicial system seem to have continued (see ...
Posted by CPDS, Wednesday, 17 January 2007 11:48:20 AM
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