Sounds good, but…

The cur­rent Labor gov­ern­ment, unlike the Hawke gov­ern­ments, seems bent on announc­ing major pub­lic poli­cies as faits accom­plis and con­sult­ing on the ratio­nale and imple­men­ta­tion only afterwards…if at all.

Trade Min­is­ter Craig Emer­son, who was Bob Hawke’s eco­nom­ic advis­er, will announce the new [trade] pol­i­cy today. It fol­lows debate with­in Labor about how to tack­le pro­duc­tiv­i­ty reform with­out alien­at­ing vot­ers or busi­ness. Some min­is­ters have pressed hard for reform while oth­ers, includ­ing Wayne Swan, are under­stood to have called for polit­i­cal cau­tion.” Extract from Julia Gillard com­mits to free trade path | The Aus­tralian

In Decem­ber last year, Dr Emer­son promised a review of cur­rent poli­cies and the ideas that have appar­ent­ly been retained in this pol­i­cy state­ment. It seems he con­duct­ed his own pri­vate review. But his ideas were con­demned as “divi­sive” by some Unions and the Labor left and crit­i­cised by the National’s pop­ulist-in-chief, Ban­a­by Joyce. Although the Australian’s report of Emerson’s pro­pos­als sounds like the sort of thing that I would prob­a­bly endorse, an “NBN-style”, “take-it-or-leave-it”, Gough Whit­lam-esque pre­scrip­tion doesn’t work in redis­trib­u­tive pol­i­cy domains like tax and trade (absent a “cri­sis”). Update: I need not have been con­cerned.

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