Another ex-GG columnist who is struggling to get the election result is Dennis Shanahan:
A non-threatening Opposition leader was able to effect a benign dismissal of a competent government during a period of unprecedented economic growth…
Using a prosperous economy, a China-led mining boom that will persist for years, fresh and talented personnel, a thumping mandate and essentially a clean policy slate, Rudd doesn’t have to rebuild an economy as Malcolm Fraser, Bob Hawke and John Howard had to after coming from Opposition.
He can truly set a new course for the nation.
Le Roi Soleil est morte! Vive le Roi Soleil!
I’m not sure where Dennis gets the idea that the Howard Government was competent, but given those remarks on the economy, I guess competent means something like “avoided stuffing up the economy so completely that I had to sell the family McMansion and move into a Hungry Jack’s Maisonette”. That’s a pretty narrow understanding of competence in government.
I’ll leave the question of the Howard Government’s economic competence to another day, and other writers, for the most part. It’s enough for now to note that frequent Costello warning that “Australia’s trillion-dollar economy” could be jeopardised under Labor – as incompetent a statement about the econoy as I’ve ever heard. That “trillion dollars” was a total asset valuation for all the economic assets in the country – the notional price of buying up the country at present market prices: totally meaningless as a measure of economic performance. What Costello and Howard were actually good at wasn’t economic management – it was big-noting themselves.
Even if later events show that the Howard Government hasn’t left us some serious economic problems – such as too many Australian home-loans financed out of the US sub-prime lending sector – there are several areas where they proved signally incompetent. Kevin Rudd may not have an economy to rebuild, but there is a body politic to be mended, thanks to the wilful incompetence of the Howard Government in fostering division for its own political advantage.
Let’s recall too, the wilful incompetence of the Howard approach to Ministerial and Prime-Ministerial responsibility – the code of selective ignorance first used to shore up the myth of John Howard’s honesty in the wake of the Tampa Affair. John Howard did not mislead the Australian people, he did not, because he made damn sure that the truth of the matter never reached his ears. That little ploy proved so successful that it was trotted out whenever a Minister was caught onthe hop over events in his portfolio. Before Howard, a government Minister who didn’t know what was going on in his department would have been deemed incompetent; it will be interesting to see if Kevin Rudd abandons the new Howard standard of “competent until proven knowledgeable”.
This could get to be a very long post if I set out to catalogue all the Howard government’s manifest incompetencies. I think it might be more interesting to throw the task over to youse LP commenters.