August 26, 2010 | Ronda Jambe

It’s about the governance, stupid

The Greens have come out of this election mess smelling sweeter than the rest. The ALP pulled at least two wrong reins: not standing on their principles and calling a double dissolution over the emission trading scheme, and then axing their leader and replacing him with another slice of milk toast on climate change.

How sad that the ALP couldn’t deal with Rudd’s mannerisms or personality, sadder still that they keep choosing unsuitable people. We can all blush over Mark Latham, but we should also blush over Julia’s ridiculous use of cliche over substance. The ‘real’ Julia, the ‘yes we will’, the ‘moving forward’, without tying any of it down to real action, that was all stepping backwards.

The strength of a Parliamentary system is supposed to be the ability to form solid policy by consensus, not to mimic a grandiose presidential system with a superhero at the helm. Rudd should have been tamed and they should have marched to victory – after all, Australia was not as battered as other countries by the GFC, wastage from the stimulus notwithstanding (although that was another big pointer to the need for governance reform). Why didn’t they listen when told about the insulation scandal? or the over-spending in schools? Somebody was sloppy, or compromised, as with the Wretched Gretch affair: lots of warnings, no attention paid.

But the bullying and posing that passes for management in some parts of the public service seems to have been equally absorbed by the Parliament. Maybe that’s where it originated, if you look back to the classic text on neo-liberalism in Canberra by Michael Pusey.

Now the cat’s out of the bag, the independents are increasiungly bolshie, and the previously unheeded murmurs calling for a carbon tax are bubbling up to a roar. Suddenly we¬† can dispense with the big talk fest, which was all Julia was able to offer.

And now it just might be possible to have a kinder polity, as Abbott suddenly realises, and perhaps private member’s bills and other forms of collegiality might get a look in. Have a look at the extensive papers on electoral and parliamentary reform on the Democratic Audit of Australia site: time for real change, and the ALP needs it internally more than ever. Are theypaying attention in NSW, or just hoping their spin will compensate in time for the election next March?

All overdue, and this surprisingly dramatic turn of events just might reinvigorate our democracy. Or they can all run and hide, but not forever.

The ACT has announced it will go for a 40% cut in emissions from 1990 levels by 2020. This was the policy many community activists were pushing hard for, especially the group ‘Canberra Loves 40%’.

A triumph of the local will – and if our federal elected officials don’t listen, they can expect to be booted by those who do.

Posted by Ronda Jambe at 6:33 am | Comments (4) |
Filed under: Uncategorized


  1. I agree with the sentiment that the cabinet should have pulled Rudd into line so that government was by cabinet, not by Rudd on his own or the group of four. One problem is that committees (or cabinets) bigger than about ten become dysfunctional.
    In her own ministry Julia Gillard should have been looking to adopt policies from the countries leading the eduction field and the USA is not among those.
    As for the school building programme letting some states spend or supervise the federal stimulus package was asking for trouble but I wonder if giving the money to the principals or parents groups would have resulted in much better outcomes.
    Get over it, the stimulus was essential policy and overall it worked.

    Comment by John Turner — August 27, 2010 @ 1:08 am

  2. The Rudd-Gillard government scored a remarkable number of own goals and the failure to call a double dissolution over the Opposition’s rejection of the ETS seems remarkably inept politically. Perhaps the government thought the voters wouldn’t notice.The result of Rudd’s masterful inaction is that Abbott is now a likely PM,rather than just another forgotten Opposition leader.

    I agree with your opinion of Pusey’s book,I read it about 20 years ago.It reminds me of the ‘Lucky Country’ by Donald Horne,there has been little significant change since the time of writing, the same second-rate oligarchy still runs the nation.

    Comment by Russell W — August 27, 2010 @ 5:49 am

  3. Regarding wasteful spending: admittedly, even Joseph Stieglitz acknowledged that all big spending programs involve wastage.

    The critical factor is always not the specific point in time (until it becomes absurd) but the direction of change. In the US, waste and corruption, especially in the military, would seem to be increasing, and absurd: tens of billions in aid for Iraq have simply gone missing. Another big marker of bad governance.

    Regarding Pusey, my own research on the public sector and its governance often felt like an update of Pusey’s. Plus ca change….

    Comment by Ronda Jambe — August 29, 2010 @ 9:43 pm

  4. Its a bit hard to accept that the same government which gave us the totally inept pink bats program and the wasteful school building revolution was such a world leader in achieving better economic outcomes than every other country on the planet ….

    Maybe we were just lucky that to have strong demand from China ….

    Comment by Kevin — September 6, 2010 @ 8:18 am

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