Rudd v Gillard: So, running the country is child’s play?

Rudd to Challenge Gillard Leadership On Monday - Intentious

The breaking news is that Prime Minister Julia Gillard is calling a Labor leadership ballot on Monday at 10AM. She will probably win this ballot but the irrecoverable damage to her leadership has already been done. This goes to the problem of politics in this country.

It’s treated like a game.

It’s like we’re at the footy barracking for sides… except we are not playing for something as trivial as a piece of metal hammered into the shape of a trophy. We are playing with the levers of a whole nation and it is contemptible that it is described, rightly, as a “soap opera”.

Government is not a game.

Running the country shouldn’t be a soap opera. There are consequences and far reaching outcomes for decisions that touch the lives of every person in this country, especially if the helmsman gets it wrong.

This is the power of intrigue since time immemorial, where the love of power and the love of the game comes second to governing the country. Rather than focusing effort on developing effective policy, two fools are scrambling for control of the helm outside the reach of the electorate. They are so lost playing their game of chess that they don’t realise the country is burning down from want and neglect. That it has come to this is a sembelance of the necrosis that is happening for the policy implemented by Gillard, and how deeply unpopular and impotent those policies are with the Australian public.

Here are some different plays for the game and rules for the game:

  1. Don’t give the media a soundbite to play on repeat by never answering a compromising question with a straight answer. Case in point of the consequences: “there will be no carbon tax under a government I lead
  2. Fix the problems of the last administration such as taking us from $50B surplus to a $150B debt in one term
  3. Manage those who do not want to lose their entitlements as part of point 2, lest they become angry protest groups e.g. Victorian nurses
  4. Gotcha you’re not politically correct such as Mark Riley’s attempt to catch Tony Abbott out with the “shit happens”
  5. Make decisions that are politically motivated to skewer political opponents rather than to help advance the good of the country. If the nation takes damage from the pettiness, it is collateral damage.

One wonders the motivation of politicians… are they humble servants in search for the good of the country, or are they playing the political game for the power and the intrigue? Doubtless it is both (because one needs a certain ego and strength of personality to survive and rise up the ranks in politics).

If this is the case it should be “fixing the country first” before playing political games in the MP’s own time. Because right now those cheeky games are paralysing that which is happening at the helm. What is the root cause of this game? A political correctness that tries and fails to ensure that everyone is a winner, that everyone does the “right” thing, where the NIMBYs run the country and are trying to protect their entitlements by protesting loudly and voting for the candidates most likely to retain these entitlements. All while seeking bribes these activists new ones for the vote. And it is especially easy to vote for a tax that somebody else has to pay (e.g. the “rich” people over $80,000 a year).

It’s not that this battle is completely new either: John Howard’s government was flagging and he refused to hand over to Peter Costello, who was in the end loyal and never challenged. Then Peter Costello is accused of lacking “ticker”… the alternative is the poll and the bitterness we will see on Monday.

I weep for my country, and the circus it has become.

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Categories: Politics, Law

Author:Richard Lee

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6 Comments on “Rudd v Gillard: So, running the country is child’s play?”

  1. Saint Just
    February 23, 2012 at 9:58 pm #

    1. If you don’t like soundbites, you won’t like the other guy. “stop the boats.” “balance the budget.” He’s a master at it and one of the reasons he’s so effective.
    2. Debt bad. Surplus good. Oh please. Any government that loses 1/5th ($200 billion) of it’s revenue in a single year will not deliver a surplus – Labor or Liberal. Note Tony Abbott only promises to ‘balance the budget.’ Anybody know exactly what it means? Anyway, it’s a nice lovey dovey vague term with no commitment to ‘debt’ or ‘surplus.’ He’s not stupid enough to promise something specific, especially when he’s not being pressed on it.
    3. People have the right to collectively bargain and to have a voice. That’s democracy. Whether they are ‘unions’ or ‘think tanks’ or ’employer groups.’ If you don’t like it, maybe you’ll prefer Syria. Bring an umbrella. I hear it’s raining shells.
    4. ‘Shit happens’ to soldiers dying was just plain stupid. If you ever meet someone who’s lost a loved one I suggest something more compassionate.
    5. You’ve contradicted yourself. Labor are running a policy platform based on governing a country, not on popular opinion. That’s their problem. They’re in this mess precisely because they are so ineffective at playing the political game.

    To be honest that really was just regurgitated mainstream opinion and not really intentious at all.

    • Richard Lee
      February 24, 2012 at 12:17 am #

      Well, it was intentious enough for you to comment on it. Perhaps you are a Labor staffer.

      There is a deep malaise at the top of this country, and it is because brinkmanship and gaming the top job is being put before the interests of the country. The rather serious job of steering the nation has devolved into a footy match.

      It happened with Howard and Costello, it happened with Keating and Hawke… but it is ugliest and most disfunctional between Rudd and Gillard. Because they can powergame the media machine is why they got into office. Powergaming the media is fine until you realise how much they lied and how happy they are to self destruct the country once they are out of reach of voters.

      1. Sound bites are terrible because it becomes a game on who can trick someone into saying something they regret. It prevents politicians who lead us from being frank about what they think about issues, and hence makes it more difficult to decide who to vote for. It’s like playing a game of taboo… I hate it, for instance, when politicians evade difficult questions for fear of self-incrimination. That fear shouldn’t exist.

      2. Debt IS bad. That’s why we have the carbon tax, the mining tax, the means test for medicare… because Labor is scrambling for money to pay for its shonky spending- pink bats, flushing down money by sending cheques out… I don’t mind debt, as long as it’s not being spent on stupid. If it was their own money, they wouldn’t have spent it that way, but since it’s the public purse… Rudd started it after pretending to be an “economic conservative” to get elected in 2007, before wasting billions being so ineffective.

      3. Right now, those that complain the loudest are the ones that have disproportionate amount of resources spent on them; they have the national narrative captive. Think Boxer the horse on Animal Farm, where he who works hardest is whipped to pay for largesse, grandiose and stupid schemes. Think now the demand for an extra “$5 billion dollars on education”… if throwning money at things solved problems, how can neigbouring countries spend less yet still outrank Australia and overtake it in the education rankings?

      4. Abbott’s quote was taken out of context. He was speaking solemnly to a general and had tailored his words to that general, with whom he was in rapport, and who said, “yeah, it does” without taking offence. If you were speaking to a welshman in a bar, or Crips in a nightclub, or an executive in the office, you’d tailor your speech to connect with their reality to get your point across. Someone had to battle 3 months for freedom of information and read his lips to get that private comment, so they could post a “gotcha”. That is the stupidity which has turned politics in this country into a game.

      5. The problem with Labor’s platform is it’s not the one that people voted for. They changed it after the vote was done, when the electors have now to wait to punish them for deceiving them. At this rate, that is why Labor will be thrashed at the next election.

      I don’t like the Liberals. But Labor on the other hand… they are hopeless. I have a choice between voting for evil or stupid… and right now stupid is winning.

  2. Saint Just
    February 25, 2012 at 7:46 pm #

    I agree with you’re last bit. Labor have blindsided us all with a lot of stuff they never took to the voters and sprung on us later – both leaders and policy.
    Lastly, I’m not sure ‘hopeless’ even begins to explain it. Not even the most fluent English academic could find the words to describe the shit we are putting up with now from Canberra.
    If I took a shit and wiped my arse with the ballot paper and handed it personally to Julia, it still wouldn’t express how pissed off I really am with them all.

  3. February 26, 2012 at 1:00 pm #

    I was having this discussion on debt with my dad on Friday night and it seems that most people – myself included – are a little bit confused about our current debt situation. It’s a little tricky to find CURRENT debt figures broken down into a) public debt b) private debt c) external debt, explain their differences, and explain how Labor has reduced it from what it was at the end of the 2009 global economic crisis. Once again, thanks to tradition-old Liberal / Radio National campaigning, the black and white facts around a) every government being required to spend on economic stimulation rather than retard the nation of stimulus completely, and b) the rate at which we are paying the debt off is completely comparable to any Liberal government doing the same, is being ignored. Labor, like ALL governments, have financial drains and financial holes. But all in all, we are stronger and more shielded as a country thanks to the expert balancing act between lowering unemployment / creating jobs AND paying off debt. It’s no mean feat. Now, can anyone give me concrete debt figures? Even better if you can compare it to historical debt of past governments.

    • February 26, 2012 at 10:13 pm #

      I think a huge essay could be written on the topic of “fiscal responsibility”. I will gloss over it, knowing I am no expert and am happy to be corrected.
      1) Private debt is the responsibility of the individual to incur and to repay. Other than ensuring that credit providers do not mislead customers and that they should spell out terms clearly, I can’t see why the state should police this. Default is bad, the resulting homelessness is bad and welfare is to be avoided, but ultimately we need to treat people like adults and spell out the consequences of our actions. In Asia, if you incur debt and cannot repay it… you’re out on the street and you starve. Tough, I know, but there are so many safety nets here that entitlement now trumps responsibility in many parts of Australian culture. In fact, emotional blackmail to protect such entitlements is spin that is common in Australian politics and advertising.

      2) Public debt is sovereign debt that a government borrows from the international debt market on behalf of the taxpayer. The debt is underwritten internationally and insured against, given a “rating” based on its rate of return. The capacity to borrow is based on the capacity to repay. A smart person would note that, if you borrow money, you should spend it on something used to tangibly make you more money e.g. building highways, or even a broadband network (don’t get me started on that one!). The problem with the way the Labor government has spent such money is that a lot of it is fanciful and wasteful, which gave a quick sugar rush but now has left a large debt hole with little perceivable long term benefit. The debt Labor has incurred and its associated policy is not making it money… it’s making the debt worse.

      3) I don’t know what external debt is. Please clarify this term.

      4) If “the rate at which we are paying the debt off is completely comparable to any Liberal government doing the same”… how come we are currently in so much debt? Given there was a financial crisis and Rudd’s one crowning achievement was avoiding a technical recession (and the crisis of confidence that would have incurred)… he did that by re-mortgaging the house and pawning everything in it. I mean, sending $900 cheques out… come on! That is flushing money down the drain. Not his money, but money that has to be vacuumed from our wallets in taxes, so in effect our money. Which could have been better spent as per point 2.

      5) To pull an extraordinary turnaround for “surplus in 2013”, Labor have to introduce a raft of new and unpopular taxes in order to compensate for that reckless spending. That means a mining tax, a carbon tax, and nibbles like the Queensland disaster levy (if there was a surplus, there would be no levy) and means testing private health insurance levy.

      6) There is much talk of “middle-class-welfare” but it is more class war rhetoric from Labor to justify the taxes in point 5 to cover the ineptitude and the waste. The poorest among us need assistance… but what real value do the middle and higher tax payers derive from the taxes they pay? It seems that more and more taxes are being used to bankroll government boutique projects, rather than items of meaningful public benefit. Not only that, it smacks of tall-poppy syndrome to discourage innovation by taxing the successful at exponentially high rates.

      7) I was listening to a “fact sheet” on the renewable car industry today in the car on the way to the city… there was a sound-bite where a local Australian researcher said, “we need more government funds to keep this going…”
      why should the taxpayer be funding this industry’s quest to build the spruce goose? Why should we pick winners with government grants in the arts and science? If such things were any good, the market and the public would vote with their wallets instead. I’d say much of the money spent on pure research has tenuous value. Government contribution is good to encourage such research, but should never be an essential part of it.

      I think ultimately the core of fiscal responsibility is spending money to make more money so that we citizens can choose where to spend our own money. Taxes and the public service provide necessities but, when their welcome is over-stayed, they become a parasitic drain on the nations productivity. I might write an intentious article on this later.

  4. February 26, 2012 at 1:17 pm #

    PS: I for one, *can. not. wait.* for the Aussie blockbuster movie about Rudd v Gillard to come out in a few years.

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