Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Brutal political tactics

Kevin Rudd’s popularity is soaring just 11 weeks into his Prime Ministership. Opposition claim his actions thus far have been merely symbolic, which is true in a sense, but of course many acts of government and community are symbolic.

Australia’s ANZAC Day or the Veteran’s Day in the US are purely symbolic but enormously important, even to those of us who deplore war. The Sorry Day resonated through the community here with a promise of new beginnings; symbolic yes, but concrete.

Rudd has also set the path for major legislative changes, despite the opposition still controlling the Senate. The strategies and tactics have been mind-blowing. Again the Sorry Day, where Rudd claimed in parliament;

“We started acting on this in the first 11 minutes of our government. In 11 weeks we have bought it to a reality. The Howard government did nothing for 11 years.

On Howard’s draconian workplace laws which Rudd is determined to roll back, despite threats from the opposition, the light has turned green. The conservatives have vowed not to fight the dismantling of the laws. Why, when they have the numbers to block it in the Senate?

There is a mechanism in this country whereby if the Senate stalls or rejects legislation three times the government can trigger a double dissolution. That means the House of Reps and the full Senate would face a fresh election; an election triggered on an issue that lost Howard the government in the first place.

Rudd is also scoring big points on his inclusive bi-partisan approach. It’s a double bind for the conservatives:

If they reject the opportunity to work positively for solutions the electorate sees them as mindless obstruction.

If they join the government in taking on the country’s problems the conservatives risk losing any real distinction as parties or a distinctive movement.

The truth is, from the day Rudd knew he had won government he began campaigning for the next election. True there are going to be some hard economic times ahead. Most know that the mess is inherited, and I expect Rudd’s tactics might just mitigate any other fallout.

4 comments:

TomCat said...

Here in the US, once a Senator is elected, he stays for six years. Getting rid of incumbents is extremely difficult. If you planned to try to unseat an incumbent Senator, starting on the day he took office, you would need to raise $8,000 per day, every day, 24/7/365 for the entire six years to have a 50/50 chance of defeating him.

Cart said...

The senate is largely a gift of the major parties here. The way they have rigged the process there are only ever a half dozen non party seats, when we are lucky.

enigma4ever said...

very exciting post....and hopeful...that integrity can happen...eh?

Cart said...

enigma, my only real concern is that an effective opposition is essential to maintain good government.
The integrity is there now, and I hope the opposition develops some too before things go wrong.