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The first year

By Leon Bertrand - posted Wednesday, 26 November 2008

While a few of its policies have been good, the anniversary of the Rudd Government’s election is an opportunity to reflect on its generally poor start to office.

My first criticism of the Rudd Government is that while the government has made numerous policy announcements during its first year of office, the number of ideas and plans which have been followed through are few. Of course some policies, such as its fibre to the node network and the “education revolution” are clearly long-term. However, even on these policies there has been a conspicuous lack of progress.

The Labor Party in Opposition portrayed WorkChoices as a policy that was harming many workers every day and even though IR and Workchoices were the most important issues according to Labor, it took an entire 12 months to implement their policy. Whatever your personal views are on industrial relations, the Rudd Government has been far from impressive in its inaction on this issue in its first year of office.


Similarly, the 2020 Summit held earlier this year produced many ideas that the Rudd Government said it would carefully consider. But has the Rudd Government passed into law or otherwise implemented any of the ideas from the Summit? Has it even announced that it intends to put into action any of the ideas? Once again, there was much publicity but little or no follow-through.

The same applies to many of Kevin Rudd’s other announcements. Remember when he promised to establish a nuclear disarmament commission? Or a new Asian/Australasian body to complement ASEAN? Or the republic? Or amendments to the Australian Constitution to recognise Australia’s first peoples? There seem to be many grandiose announcements which are not followed up with action.

Moving on to the bad policies, there are quite a few to mention.

Abolishing AWAs was not good economic policy, even though it was an election promise.

Whatever your views on climate change, signing Kyoto was only going to have the effect of exporting carbon emissions to other countries.

Doubling the first home owner’s grant, and the introduction of interest-free savings accounts for home buyers, promise to only increase house prices, so the biggest beneficiaries will be property sellers.


Even more regressive are plans to implement a paid maternity leave scheme, as I have explained in a previous article.

Meanwhile, reducing the income level at which the Medicare surcharge applies was always going to put more pressure on the already struggling public health system, as well as increase the health premiums of those who struggle to afford private health insurance such as the elderly.

FuelWatch and GROCERYchoice have proved to be ineffective.

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About the Author

Leon Bertrand is a Brisbane blogger and lawyer.

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