Rudd’s recent accusation that the other side of politics dropped the ball on reform, and of being ‘indolent’, has been rebutted from Howard ‘Stirred from his sick bed’:
His analysis of the economic reform process in Australia since 1980 was partisan, inaccurate and lacked any semblance of objectivity.
Which is to be expected from Rudd, a PM that seems to have been asleep over the last 30 years.
LET’S start with some facts. As the 1980s began Australia needed five major economic reforms to ensure success in a rapidly globalising world economy.
They were financial deregulation (LIB/ALP), fundamental taxation reform (LIB), dismantling of high tariff protection (ALP), privatisation of government-owned commercial bodies (ALP/LIB) and a freer labour market (LIB).
My notations above.
The blueprint for financial reform came from the Campbell inquiry, set up by me, as treasurer. The reform process here started with the Fraser government, through the introduction of a tender system for the sale of Treasury notes and Treasury bonds, described by the former Reserve Bank Governor Ian Macfarlane, in his 2006 Boyer lectures, as “second only in importance to the float of the Australian dollar in 1983”.
The Fraser government also began the politically difficult task of deregulating interest rates, by removing all interest-rate ceilings on bank deposits.
Howard notes that Treasury – i.e. the public sector world that Rudd comes from – opposed these initial financial reforms. Howard also points out that something happened to the ALP when they went into opposition. They basically turned their backs on the Hawke/Keating economic legacy by opposing continued financial deregulation, tax reform and the privatisationagenda. (Hint to left-wingers in the Coalition that turn their back on the Howard legacy). Rudd is a product of the ALP’s strange days in opposition.
Labor negativity in opposition was not confined to the five major reforms I have cited. It also tried to thwart the fiscal consolidation process, commenced in Peter Costello’s first budget in 1996.
The ALP basically opposed anything and everything. But of course today when the Coalition try to make amendments to government legislation they are mostly de-rided by the Canberra press gallery. And compare the achievements of the last governments with Rudd’s. What exactly has he achieved? Money spent on classrooms schools don’t want, billions sent to China to make ceiling insulation, back to the future employment legislation a couple of essays and a number of incomprehensible and ill-informed speeches.