Editorial – Volume 5, Issue 3

Australian Polity

Volume 5, Issue 3



The Hon. Kevin Andrews MP

The retrospective documentary on the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd government, The Killing Season, attracted considerable media attention in recent weeks. Featuring the two main protagonists of the Labor era, Prime Ministers Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard, it was evident that the series provided each of them the opportunity to blame the other for the premature demise of the Labor government.

Shining through the three-part series was a portrait of the brooding Rudd and the Machiavellian Gillard. The constant plotting was underscored by a number of Labor figures whose lack of current relevance seems to have driven them to reconstructing their plotting for the documentary.

The naked lust for power, the undue influence of people who had spent relatively little time in Parliament, and the lasting distrust, especially for the current Leader of the Opposition, reflected a hubristic group, more concerned about their own advancement than the Australian people.

In the end, the documentary was more of what the media like best, the theatre of politics, with its intrigue, plotting and scheming. Largely missing from this treatment of the era was a consideration of the policies of the Government, except to the extent that they shaped the political clash within the Labor Party.

Yes, there was reference to the Emissions Trading Scheme and the Global Financial Crisis, but in the context of the internal party politicking amongst the key protagonists.

This is hardly surprising as Mr Rudd won government with few policies of his own, and Ms Gillard insisted that she was rescuing a good government that had lost its way.

There are two views about achieving political success. One is to have few policies on which to be challenged, and then determine a direction once in government. This approach runs the risk that everything is considered through the immediate political lens, and consideration of principles and longer-term challenges and consequences are relegated.

The other view, favoured by this journal, is that political parties are best to have properly researched and well considered policies. A political party requires the flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances or new and unexpected challenges, but it is best placed to do this with consistency, integrity and acceptance if it works from a position that has been publicly discussed and understood.

The New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Bill English, reflects this approach in his essay in this issue of Polity. Mr English describes the general approach of the National government, and explains the carefully researched approach to welfare policy across the Tasman. This social investment model was supported by the McClure Review of Welfare in Australia, and should be implemented here.

The other essays in this edition of the Australian Polity contribute to ongoing policy discussions. Andrew Broad writes about the importance of water in the Australian economy. Eric Hutchinson argues for a national heritage and arts lottery. Barry O’Sullivan calls for an effective response to the blight of domestic violence. Michael Sukkar and Richard Harrison discuss Magna Carta and the future of the Australian Human Rights Commission.

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