1Q: Is there merit in governments playing catch-up politics?

Tim Dunlop’s blogging experiment, One Question, has the third round happening. (For full details see Tim’s original post.)

The current question is this: the government is accused of playing catch up politics, but is there some merit in such an approach?

The other participants have their answers up already, and I’m behind because of more interest in other questions this week, to be frank, as well as a horrid day of HTML coding yesterday rescuing crashing websites which ate into my writing time. (At least this post is shorter than my other efforts.) The other answers are:

Andrew Bartlett | Joshua Gans | Kim Jameson | Robert Merkel | Harry Clarke | Tim Dunlop | Ken Parish (still to come)

I’m with Tim: the obvious answer is that yes, there certainly is merit in governments playing “catch-up” with adopting policies which have been initiated by others and which offer an effective approach to addressing current issues. To ignore good policy crafted by others would be foolish and arrogant, surely.

However, the term is disparaging, and Tim unpacks why. It implies that the government has been belated in its response, and that its commitment to the policy may be incomplete and merely a matter of politicking i.e. the government is less interested in actual policy than it is in politics.

This week’s question was Joshua’s, and he asked it before the Howard emergency plan was announced, referring to the examples of broadband policy and climate change. It’s hard, now, not to apply the question to the indigenous emergency plan, which we have written about quite extensively here at Hoyden. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]

This is where the accusation of catch-up politics has its force: reminding voters that just because a government adopts a policy in response to public outrage/pressure, it doesn’t mean that the government plans to fully stand by and comprehensively implement that policy, which is what the public actually wants to see. The public deserves, and ought to demand more forcefully, proper oversight and accountability over government policy implementation.

Howard’s efforts at catch-up regarding the child sexual abuse crisis will hopefully be at least a circuit-breaker allowing the implementation of more comprehensive long-term approaches as per the Wild/Anderson report. His choices are controversial, but there’s no doubt that at long last the issue is at front and centre and can no longer be shoved onto the backburner.

The sting regarding why strong intervention has taken so long will be an issue come election time, and going back to the first 1Q on political motivations affecting the perceptions of policymaking, what will the public decide? That the policy is good enough that they’ll give Howard another go, or that the policy is too important to leave in the hands of a politician just playing catch-up games?

Categories: culture wars, indigenous, Politics

Tags: , , , ,

3 replies


  1. 1Q: Is there merit in catch-up politics? » The Bartlett Diaries
  2. CoreEcon » Blog Archive » 1Q: Catch-up politics
  3. Club Troppo » Missing Link 3 July, 2007
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