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What ails good governance in Australia?

By Mehroz Sadruddin - posted Friday, 10 December 2010

In the last 18 months, the Labour party’s honeymoon with the voters has come to a grinding halt, as the Coalition strongly seeks to regain ground that it lost in previous state elections and the 2007 federal elections where it suffered a huge election defeat at the hands of the ALP.

Consider this, in 2009 the ALP held sweeping control over Australia’s political landscape. Not only did it hold a 17-seat majority in the federal parliament, it had also twice forced a change of leadership within the opposition, which had yet not been able to come out of the shadows of John Howard’s WorkChoices and had clearly failed to come up with its own policies.

At that time, the ALP also held the governments in all states across the Australian Commonwealth.


This article, however, is not about charting the downfall of the ALP and resurgence of the Coalition: this article will look at good governance, the lack of which has ultimately led to the downfall of the ALP across the nation. Throughout the country, the serious economic and social mismanagement that this government has demonstrated needs to be studied in depth.

Despite initially doing the right things, the ALP’s decision to scrap the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) after a lengthy public debate not only cost Malcolm Turnbull his position as opposition leader, it also chartered the new course of the ALP’s political demise.

The ALP has clearly failed to learn its lessons from that episode: confusing statements being made by ALP officials; leakage of internal documents; poor governance and economic mismanagement; and the well funded public relations campaigns have already done much harm to the ALP federally and in the states alike.

Since Steve Bracks assumed the premiership of Victoria in 1999, Labour’s lasting legacy has only been that of making big promises and then not delivering on them.

Victoria’s transport problems and Melbourne’s growing population and economy are two good examples that illustrate this point well.

Under the watch of the Bracks and Brumby governments in Victoria, Melbourne’s transport problems have multiplied. Based on existing infrastructure, Melbourne’s trains are becoming increasingly incapable of handling peak hour patronage and train punctuality has recently fallen to below 90 per cent.


When the Brumby government awarded the contract for operating Melbourne’s train networks to a Hong Kong based company, MTR (rejecting the bid made by the then existing operator, the French company Veolia Connex) it said in its public messages that it believed the new operators would bring a change in the way trains were operated across the metropolis. MTR’s excellent record in managing public transport in other cities was often cited as evidence to back the government’s spin on this issue.

But nearly 12 months into the contract, the train network consistently failed to meet its punctuality targets.

The new train timetables have actually created more hurdles for commuters because the problem of better utilising the available infrastructure remains. The original problems of train delays caused by bottle-necks in the City loop and the reduction in express services along many train lines have created more troubles for the city’s commuters who travel during peak hour.

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About the Author

Mehroz Siraj Sadruddin is an International Studies student at RMIT University, Melbourne

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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