A quick follow-up to my previous post. Kevin Rudd’s announcement today of a push for a “productivity pact” shows he knows he really should grow the pie, but simply has no idea how to do it, which confirms that new Kevin is old Kevin and not much different from real Julia.
Last time Rudd was Prime Minister he was similarly bereft of plans, and so was born the 2020 Summit, whose only fruit to date is the NDIS.
Promising to get together and talk after the election is eerily similar to Hawke’s tactic when catapulted into the Labor leadership in 1983 almost at the same moment Malcolm Fraser called the election.
Hawke had an excuse for a lack of policy. He really had only just taken over the job, which was that of Opposition Leader, not Prime Minister. Opposition leaders are cut some slack on policy. Not so Prime Ministers, and even less so, Prime Ministers who have been the author of most of the policies currently being followed by their government.
After 6 years you would expect Kevin Rudd to have some ideas of his own that he was prepared to share with the electorate this side of the election.
Which reminds me of Julia Gillard’s proposal to deal with the Carbon Tax via a citizens jury, which was deferral dressed-up as consultation. She hoped to skate around the question of a carbon tax long enough to win the election. As a tactic it never really worked, and she ultimately paid the price for the lack of an honest policy on taxing carbon.
Rudd has good reason for wanting to defer discussion until after the election, otherwise electors might pick up some of the discrepancies.
Discrepancies such as:
- How does he propose to lower the price of electricity at the same time as an emissions trading scheme makes it more expensive?
- How will he make the labour market less rigid without moving in the direction of Work Choices and “insecure employment”?
- When was the last time his government cut regulations, and if it hasn’t cut them to date, how could it do so in the future?
- If the government can’t reliably forecast a budget outcome, what weight can we put on a policy to lift productivity growth from 1.6 per cent to 2 per cent or better?
Rather than growing the pie, this looks like pie in the sky.