John, Labor did more than vote for conservative policies: they enacted them in Government

Another John Howard whinge this week:

When we were in opposition, we supported many of the Labor reforms of the Hawke-Keating governments. By contrast, when we were in government we received no support at all from the Labor party in relation to any of the difficult economic reforms we implemented.

Well, perhaps, but that’s because Hawke and Keating enacted a whole lot of right-wing economic policies that you couldn’t help but support. Their strategy was to become more conservative on economic matters than your own party; of course you didn’t vote against those sort of measures.

In contrast, when you were in government, what progressive policies did you ever put up for them to vote for? All you did was lunge even further to the right.

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3 responses to “John, Labor did more than vote for conservative policies: they enacted them in Government

  1. jordanrastrick

    Wait, so I take it you oppose the microeconomic reforms of the Hawke-Keating era, seeing as how they’re far too right wing? You’d reimpose tariff barriers, nationalise Qantas and the CBA, get rid of enterprise bargaining, fix the Australian Dollar exchange rate, and abolish compulsory superannuation?

    Or is it that do you not have any actual dispute with the hard won policy reforms in question – you just had to give that impression in order to take issue with the words of an ex-prime minister? Seriously Jeremy, for someone who loves to deride the major parties for their petty bickering and lack of substance, and the media for focusing on the partisan conflict and self-obsessed introspection instead of the issues, its starting to seem like you really just want to be part of the action.

    Looking over your last few pages of posts, there’s been a definite recent trend toward point scoring at the expense of actually saying anything about policy.

    Complaining about the Q&A moderators not passing through your questions to a former politician; mocking the obvious stupidity of some random internet idiot commenting on a news article; hilariously demanding that the ALP should roll over and let the Greens win lower house seats off them without a fight; suggesting the ABC are stooges of the Liberal party(!) because they reported a pretty newsworthy quote from one of their MPs – it all falls into the least interesting to read category, and is frankly a waste of your blogging talents.

    I like it better when you talk about Legal Aid, or Mental Illness, or the Housing Market (even I don’t agree with you there), or Electoral Reform (ditto).

    As a more general rule, the best posts here IMO are the ones that don’t use any of the following terms:
    “Labor”,”Greens”, “Liberal”, “News Ltd”, “ABC”, or “The Age”

    You’re not a politician or a spin doctor – its not your job to make Tony Abbott or Andrew Bolt look bad, so while I know its tempting to make those easy arguments, why stoop to that level when you have the freedom to only contribute constructively to public debate?

    Furthermore, unlike an MP giving a soundbyte for the nightly news, you’re largely preaching to the converted when you heap gushing praise on Bob Brown and contempt on John Howard. To judge from the comments at least your audience is largely “rusted-on” Green voters, and you’re not convincing those of us who aren’t of anything much when you attack journalists and polticians instead of ideas.

    Your blog, of course, so you’re free to write or not write whatever the hell you want. But that’s just my two cents about how I think your efforts would be best spent.

  2. “Wait, so I take it you oppose the microeconomic reforms of the Hawke-Keating era, seeing as how they’re far too right wing? You’d reimpose tariff barriers, nationalise Qantas and the CBA, get rid of enterprise bargaining, fix the Australian Dollar exchange rate, and abolish compulsory superannuation?”

    Not tariffs, but there are other things we’ve given up in trade agreements that we shouldn’t have.

    I don’t agree that it necessarily was a good idea to no longer have a deposit-taking institution that was there to provide the necessary basic service on which everyone (including welfare recipients) relies controlled by the government, so that the service could be properly provided in unprofitable but socially necessars areas.

    And compulsory superannuation has been a fantastic way of further entrenching corporate power – the executive class uses our money to make sure that the dominant shareholders in every company are other companies controlled by boards with, for example, a strong self-interest in ensuring that the “market rate” for executive remuneration grows ever more obscene.

    My point here is that of course the Liberals were able to vote for the sort of policies the ALP proposed during its 1980s lunge to the right – claiming that it was because they were being “balanced” or “fair” or “open minded” is absurd.

    You’re not seriously denying that the ALP lunged to the right in the 1980s, are you?

    And I find your summary of a selected set of my more recent posts, ah, interesting.

  3. jordanrastrick

    “I don’t agree that it necessarily was a good idea to no longer have a deposit-taking institution that was there to provide the necessary basic service on which everyone (including welfare recipients) relies controlled by the government, so that the service could be properly provided in unprofitable but socially necessars areas.”

    Sectors of the economy that the government should nationalise ahead of banking, if the argument is to benefit welfare recipients and other financially disadvantaged people:

    Supermarkets, pharmaceutical companies, housing, big tobacco, utilities, clothing retailers, petrol companies….

    “And compulsory superannuation has been a fantastic way of further entrenching corporate power – the executive class uses our money to make sure that the dominant shareholders in every company are other companies controlled by boards with, for example, a strong self-interest in ensuring that the “market rate” for executive remuneration grows ever more obscene.”

    Executives salaries are in my opinion clearly overvalued, although in Australia they’re actually low by Western standards, which is the first red flag that the “super has made things a lot worse” notion is spurious.

    Having more household capital readily available to public corporations in no way ensures that management can or will take a disproportionately larger portion of corporate income; in fact there really doesn’t seem to be much of a logical connection between the two at all. If anyone has benefited financially at the expense of the public from compulsory super, it its the fund managers, who have extracted substantial fees in an undercompetitive environment.

    Superannuation definitely needs reform – a default fund that is geared towards a less risky profile than the current median (more bonds, fewer shares), substantially reduced barriers to aggregating accounts and switching funds, more freedom to select alternative investment vehicles for those who know what they’re doing – these and other necessary improvements to the system will be healthy, and thankfully some are already underway.

    However, the fundamental idea is thoroughly sound. The structure of the economy needs to adjust to an ageing population. Having compulsory savings works better than a purely tax-and-pension system of social security, because the elderly are not left dependent on the vagaries of the political cycle for their incomes – government no longer gets the option to turn around and decide there are more votes in an income tax cut or new sports stadium than a cost of living pension increase.

    “You’re not seriously denying that the ALP lunged to the right in the 1980s, are you?”

    Except for the word lunge, no, I don’t dispute that ALP micro-economic policy could be characterised as more right wing since the Hawke-Keating era. However I think its tiresome, and symptomatic of lazy partisan thinking, to attack thoroughly intelligent and beneficial policies as flawed purely on the basis of where they fall on the grossly over simplified one dimensional view, that treats every issue as merely a battle front between these strangely fetishised notions of Left and Right wings politics. I prefer it when ideas are considered on their individual merits, not the categories groupthink cheersquads choose to assign them to.

    And I find your summary of a selected set of my more recent posts, ah, interesting.

    Its a selective set because I’m not trying to claim all your recent posts are more politics than policy; only that the proportion has increased lately.

    Go and do a count of how many are primarily focused on criticising (or defending) a party, and are only superficially concerned with discussing some actual aspect of their platform. Look at the proportion of what you’ve been writing that is concerned with how the media is covering a politician’s stance on an issue, which is not one but two steps removed from actually engaging in any detail with the issue itself.

    My point here is that of course the Liberals were able to vote for the sort of policies the ALP proposed during its 1980s lunge to the right – claiming that it was because they were being “balanced” or “fair” or “open minded” is absurd.

    They could have acted like many other oppositions and made plenty of obstructionist and populist noise for political gain regardless of their actual views on the issues; it is somewhat to their credit that they didn’t. For the contrasting approach, see Hockey re interest rates, Abbott re government action over a market solution for climate change, or O’Farrell on electricity privatisation.

    Of course the main credit goes to the ALP for making the changes. Not to mention that a lot of what Howard would bill as his reforms that the ALP impeded was actually regressive policy – e.g. some of the WorkChoices changes were reasonable but the package as a whole was grossly excessive.

    But really, who cares? He’s an ex-PM trying to paint his legacy in the best possible light. Hardly surprising, or worth writing home about.

    And I find your summary of a selected set of my more recent posts, ah, interesting.

    I don’t think I’m being unfair in my assessment – it is intended as honest constructive criticism. In the end, you have to be the judge of that, but I hope you’ll take it on board because I like your blog, and wouldn’t like it to get to the stage where I consider it a rare event to find one of your posts thought provoking.

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