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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