Saturday, June 14, 2008

At Core Rudd is No Conservative

Kevin Rudd may not be overtly leftist and yet, contrary to the eloquence of his ’07 pitch, he is at best a conservative of convenience, happy only to assert a conservative streak to mainstream Australia.

Last years shrewd sell may have worked but the Governments quest of appearing to be all things to both people and business is looking shaky. The reverberations caused by the clash of symbols, more precisely, signing Kyoto, saying sorry and courting like-minded elites to a Canberra summit have all but died down.

Working families are working harder and doing it at least as tough as they were during the height of Keating’s engineered recession. Oh, but we were talking about conservatism were we not. Here the Iemma Governments plan to privatize electricity has clearly exposed the Prime Minister’s shortcomings or should I say limitations. Recall he was never going to be bullied by unions! That was in ’07, fast forward February ’08, impressively he re-stated his total support to privatize but come May, he advises Iemma to seek compromise with those opposing the privatization process, namely unions. Interestingly, the current price of NSW’s electricity assets stands at around $15 billion or $9 billion less than Victoria’s grid when it was privatized in the 1990’s. Pity unions killed off Bob Carr’s attempt to privatize when it was valued at $35 billion! It now appears as though they cost NSW working families around $20 billion that is, 20 billion that would have proved useful for much need infrastructure expenditure.

Not surprisingly, matters of political convenience also drive Prime Minister Rudd’s self-hailed social conservative qualities. We understand and appreciate the Governments rejection of gay marriage but unlike John Howard, you would be hard pressed to have the normally articulate Mr. Rudd provide a convincing argument as to exactly why they reject it, suffice to add, it’s “our party’s policy”. Ok, we know, but why? Because it’s “our party’s policy’ stupid! Howard on the other hand routinely outlined his reasons. Referring to marriage he once said, “Marriage, as we understand it in our society, is about children, having children, raising them, providing for the survival of the species, and I think if the same status is given in our society to gay unions as are given to traditional marriage we will weaken that bedrock institution.” This is an example of how our former prime minister put his innermost convictions above politics, a fact that revealed much. Expect no such integrity from Kevin Rudd.

Rudd is an economic and social conservative all right, in as much as he wishes to conserve his place in Australian political history.