Political Report Card28 February 2013
Christine Todd grades our political parties.
> Introduced Clean Energy Bill with the support of Greens and several independents, carbon-pricing scheme implemented.
> Implemented plain cigarette packaging laws, fought off a constitutional challenge from the Big Tobacco companies.
> Maintained the health of the economy during the GFC.
> Introduced Minerals Resources Rent Tax.
Doesn’t complete assignments fully or on time:
Long list of policy promises should be congratulated, but comes with great risk if not followed through.
Broken promises on the carbon-pricing scheme, pokies reform, the budget surplus, and the government’s backflip on asylum seeker policy have exposed the PM to the very real accusation that she lacks poitical conviction. Incomplete projects prove just as damaging to credibility. Some education initiatives off course from their original strategic map, Labor has withdrawn substantially from its Education Revolution roadmap.
Doesn’t play well with others:
The party has been riddled with leadership speculation and challenges since it came to power under Kevin Rudd. This has proven an easy target for Coalition ridicule, while also weakening faith of the voting public.
While facing an uphill battle internally, the ALP are presently operating under what is arguably the first frontbench to make sense in political history. They have someone called Penny doing their finances, which can only be a good thing.
A quiet achiever, but must learn to play nice. Has a tendency to make promises it can’t feasibly keep, while refusing to make promises in key areas on the basis of sticking to its political guns. Viewed hypocritical by peers.
> Promised to rescind the carbon-pricing scheme if successful at next election.
> Tougher policies on border security and asylum seekers.
> Believes it can return the budget to surplus & handle the economy better than the ALP.
> Argued the National Broadband Network was ‘money wasting’.
While loudly bragging about its economically capabilities, the Coalition has failed to express any measure of economic know-how since 2010. The hesitation to provide figures costed by treasury doesn’t help us believe the bold assertion that they can bring the budget back to surplus.
An unusual, incredibly conservative array of ministers occupies shadow cabinet. Some portfolios make little sense. Malcolm Turnbull is under-utilised given his popularity with the public.
The frontbench has only two women out of a potential 20 ministers. The Coalition website boasts that sixteen members of its Shadow Cabinet were ministers under the Howard Government ‘96 to ‘07. This, perhaps, says more about the freshness of political stock in the party, than it does its political experience.
Successful in cornering Labor into adopting an imperfect offshore processing option during an emotional asylum seeker debate. This concession now means that whenever a new wave of asylum seekers reaches Australian waters, the Coalition can openly criticise the government for its ill-fitting asylum seeker policy without necessarily addressing their hand in implementing it.
A committed and enthusiastic student, but doesn’t play well with others. At times fails to choose words with due care.
> Promoted adoption of renewable energy sources and overall energy efficiency.
> Opposed reliance on uranium mining and nuclear power.
> Continued to oppose the war in Afghanistan, however supported the 2011 military intervention in Libya.
> Opposed mandatory detention of asylum seekers.
> Continued to support same-sex marriage.
The retirement of leader Bob Brown left a gaping hole for leadership. Respect for Brown was inexorably linked to the success and growing affection for the Greens. His replacement, Christine Milne, bears little of the same energetic charm of which the party so desperately feeds off.
An absence of government experience means much of their policy is grounded in idealism. Policy initiatives are never costed, nor supplied to the media in full. With an incredibly fickle voter base, the Greens should be doing more foundation work to ensure their place as an alternative to the major parties.
Gained 13% of the vote in the Senate in 2010, providing the party nine senators and the balance of power. Following the announcement of a hung parliament, the party signed a formal document with the ALP, declaring support in trade for active consultation in the formulation of policy. They’ve since enjoyed a greater degree of leverage in negotiations, the highlight being their participation in developing the carbon-pricing scheme.
Will soon progress from Grade 1 to Grade 2, having successfully figured out how to take their finger out of their nose. Their policies leave a lot to be desired and this will need to be addressed to maintain electoral relevancy.