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Crikey Says

Nov 29, 2012

Crikey says: critics should worry what the PM's doing now

It's getting hot. Especially if you're in Victoria and SA today. But also in federal Parliament over the AWU scandal. In the Queensland LNP where another MP walks. In Murdoch HQ with Leveson's verdict due tonight. And in the battle between the current and former Qantas chiefs. Remember the sunscreen.

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There might be one argument (and it’s been made by many) that finally draws a line under Julia Gillard and the Slater & Gordon scandal: with so many instances of incompetence as prime minister, why are we more concerned about whether she was an incompetent lawyer almost two decades ago?

The Prime Minister has skillfully and successfully corralled support for important legislation in the term of this Parliament. There have been many wins in an incredibly difficult environment, more than critics and probably voters will ever give her credit for. But there have been plenty of missteps too, instances of bad political judgement and hollow policy follow-through.

It has not been a good week for the government. While Labor delivered most of the recommendations of its independent panel, the asylum seeker debate this week cast nobody in a good light. It presented legislation to enshrine important reforms to the education system without allocating a single dollar or devising any real strategy on how to work with the states to deliver it. Gillard’s Mental Health Commission put out an inaugural report widely condemned by the sector for ignoring recommendations on reform. Today, legislation to establish a national disability insurance scheme goes before Parliament despite no long-term funding commitment and no sign of agreement on delivery.

Meanwhile, Gillard’s slavish devotion to traditional alliances in the Middle East almost resulted in a full-scale party room revolt.

Maybe for the first time, Labor is in serious danger of not delivering on what it promised. As Parliament rises for the summer, critics have plenty to pick apart in the government’s agenda and the performance of the Prime Minister. Which we would have thought is much more important than 20-year-old legal documents.

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