This should be shaping up as the real issue in the upcoming Federal election – for both the PM and the Leader of the opposition. What do either of them really offer for the future of Australia? Sadly, how would we know, when the media encourages both of them to “win the week’s news headlines” instead of pushing for bigger goals and the comprehensive plans to make them happen?
Ross Gittins has a strongly critical op-ed on Rudd’s shortcomings which pinpoints a failure of principle in balancing politics with policy – Rudd appears overly concerned with the media cycle in the short term instead of creating policy that makes a meaningful difference so that it garners broad public support. How long can this be sustained?
As Gittins points out, the hospitals plan is a clear winner for Rudd because most of the population already want Federal control over hospitals. What Rudd’s plan actually offers doesn’t quite come up to the selling soundbites though – nothing to improve primary care or preventative health care, little to shorten waiting lists, still mixed responsibility and no increase in system flexibility. He’s offering little more than cosmetic change, when what the public wants is reconstructive surgery.
So what does Abbott do in response? Ditches the part of the scheme that the public actually does want (more Federal control) and offers his own package of purely cosmetic reforms. Ho hum to both of them.
Rudd’s studied avoidance of the issue of emissions controls over the last few months (largely achieved by focussing on his hospitals plan) is a much larger problem.
Many of the people who contributed to the defeat of the scheme last year – who got into bed with the climate change ostriches – did so in the belief that its rejection would force Rudd to come back with a better offer. He’d be forced by the pressure of public opinion. How wrong-headed they were. Now we have Rudd seriously contemplating doing nothing about ”the great moral challenge of our time”.
A principled national leader would be more interested in the current and future good of the nation rather than just ensuring that he remains as leader. A principled leader of the opposition would be more interested in challenging such a superficial leader on the grounds that his policies lack consideration for the current and future good of the nation, rather than competing on a different raft of superficialities in order to take his own turn as national leader.
Weighing the various superficial policies on offer: muddled and ineffective as Rudd’s health and CPRS schemes are, at least they offer the shell of a policy that could be implemented in both cases. Abbott’s policies so far don’t even offer that much, due only in part to the lack of policy talent on the Opposition front bench. Because both sides have bought into the media circus noise machine of reporting the governance and legislative debates of our nation as some sort of sporting contest.
Of the two possible PMs on offer for the next term of Federal government, my preferred PM is still definitely Rudd, but that’s despite his politicking, not because of it. I want more than just the less bad of the two options. I want the LibNats (and other parties) to be effective in parliamentary opposition. I want Rudd and his Cabinet challenged to provide comprehensive and effective policy positions in all portfolios.
I don’t want an opposition that just plays politics, because then all we get is a government that just plays politics, because that’s all they need to do to stay in power.