Hillary Bray is very excited about the PM’s super backflip…

Now that we’re going to have a parliamentary super scheme fit for
the twenty-first century, a parliamentary super scheme forged in the
white heat of the technological revolution, what about the rest of
government?

Well, political trend watchers, you’ll remember reinventing government.

It was really big about 10 years ago. You know. When Kurt Cobain topped himself.

Back then, if you saw a George Stephanopolous lookalike, odds were that they were right into reinventing government.

Fashion is a funny thing.

They reckon that the Beatles really broke through in America after they appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show.

Reinventing
government, though, never really was the same after Al Gore appeared
with Sullivan’s successor, David Letterman, and demonstrated what it
was all about by dropping Official US Government Issue Ashtrays. Yeah.
You sorta had to have seen it – and even then it didn’t make much
sense.

So, what was reinventing government? Was it like
those skirts for men Jean-Paul Gaultier tried to put blokes into back
in 1984 – something best forgotten at the back of the wardrobe. Or was
it the political equivalent of a Pucci op-art scarf – something that
you can pull out almost anytime and flaunt with pride?

Iron
Mark was into it. This is a bloke who thinks Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of
Hell is pretty damned cool, but here’s hoping he can recognise a
classic when he sees one.

After all, he knew that parliamentary super was a rort.

The
super scheme the PM finally put the lid down on yesterday was
essentially a Victorian codification, a formalisation from the century
before last, of the ancient tradition whereby monarchs granted
annuities or other incomes to their favourites – completely
inde-bl**dy-fensible, in other words.

Yet how much more of
our government is essentially Victorian? Cabinets, ministers,
departments, the string and sealing-wax structures that still exist
within them?

Pluck any character out of Anthony Trollope’s
“The Pallisers” series of Victorian political novels and put them in
any Australian state or federal parliament, and they’d feel at home.
Hell. A couple of members of the Tasmanian Legislative Council probably
think that they’re the Duke of Omnium, anyway.

Iron Mark
used to talk about reinventing government. If you bother to look at
page 1413 of the Reps Hansard from May 27 1996 you’ll see he even
bothered to waste breath on the idiot former Member for Cowan, the
cat-phobic Richard “Dorrie” Evans, over how to correctly pronounced the
name of one of the key proponents of reinventing government, Peter
Drucker. Talk about commitment!

Indeed, more than a
generation ago, a Labour leader rode to power after a speech in which
he declared “We are living in the jet age, but we are governed by an
Edwardian establishment.”

That was Harold Wilson, in Britain, back in 1963.

How
much Edwardian – or older – frippery and flummery still exists in our
system here in Australia, how many outdated and outmoded systems and
structures that frustrates coordination and the more efficient use of
public resources?

Aren’t we lucky to have an opposition
leader who, going by everything he’s said in the past, want to find out
about and fix the problem – and then either hand back the savings he
finds to taxpayers or invest them cheaper yet improved public services.

Why, he almost deserves the chance to be Prime Minister.

Howard’s super stunt explained?

Remember how the second Sealed Section began on February 12?

LABOR’S CABINET LEAK AND THE QUESTION TIME WRAP

Hugo Kelly reports from the floor of Parliament:

The
leak to Labor of a sensitive Cabinet report damning the Howard
Government’s social policy failures was the highlight of today’s final
question time of the week.

And the document is a ripper,
especially given it bears the fingerprints of the PM’s office. Howard
set up the report, and seconded one of his personal staff to it,
according to Wayne Swan and Jenny Macklin, who brandished it gleefully
in QT today.

Howard looked most unimpressed, as he tried to
hide his disappointment by avoiding the criticism from his own report
of the failure of his family policies and quoting positive figures from
Treasury.

What is more significant than the contents of the report is the fact of its leaking.

As
we wrote 10 days ago at resurgent Labor’s National Conference: ‘Public
servants read the papers too. They have been suppressed by Howard’s
attack dogs for seven years now. Will they become emboldened by the
Latham zeitgeist, and start leaking better quality stuff to Labor
frontbenchers?’

The answer, unequivocally, is Yes! Public
servants are p*ssed off and they’re not going to take it any more. And
they’re lining up to leak sensitive documents to their new friends in
Labor.

But has anybody seen anything on this document in
any of the newspapers this morning? Heard anything on the radio? Seen
anything on TV?

Super stunt, Prime Minister! There’s life in the little b*gger yet.

Since no one will report it, you can read all about it at http://www.aph.gov.au/hansard/reps/latesthansard/rhansard.pdf (from page 24463)

Super backflip: supercalifragalisticexpi … expeditious

(Isn’t the Prime Minister as classy as Sid Vicious?)

“Uh-oh!  I’ve lost ‘em…”

Now the Prime Minister knows how Nicolae Ceausescu must have felt that
fateful December day back in 1989 when he suddenly realised he wasn’t
getting through to the Romanian crowd.

John Howard looked very much like the Genius of the Carpathians when he
fronted the meeja to explain his backflip over parliamentary
superannuation yesterday – and the Gallery treated him in very much the
same way as the mob treated old Uncle Nicu back then:

“Prime Minister, is this a flip or a flop?” asked a cheeky Matt Price.

“Prime Minister, would you applaud Mr Latham for tapping into the
public mood or do you think he is like Mr Abbott said, that he was
tapping the politics of envy and cheap populism,” said Matt Price again.

“You’re not tempted to give away some children’s books now,” piped up Michelle Gratttan AO.

Once they scent the blood in the water, there’s no holding back the journos and this was reflected in today’s comment pieces:

So what happens now?  Will the Howard brood be shot in the cellars
of Kirribilli House, a la Romanov?  Will the PM and Hyacinth be
strung up by their heels, like Il Duce and Clara Petacchi?

White Riot?  Stand Down Margaret?  The Revolution Will Not Be Televised – the Revolution Will Be Live?

Well – deep breath, children – let’s all just remember that it’s our
first week back – another deep breath, everyone – and so we’re all
going to be excited – and another – but that it’s a long time until the
election.


Now that we’ve fixed super …

What are we going to do about wider issues of parliamentarians’ pay and conditions, like the outrageous Gold Pass travel rort?

Help – or, at least, a good starting point from just two years ago – is at hand at Andrew Murray’s website.

Don’t panic, Mr Mainwaring, don’t panic …

Don’t panic, Mr Mainwaring, don’t panic – as one old man said to another in the television classic, Dad’s Army.

Another old man – one J W Howard – warned not that long ago that only eight seats stood between his government and oblivion.

This is the same man who, at his presser yesterday on superannuation
said that he wanted “to announce that the Party Room has approved the
Cabinet’s decision to legislate immediately to close down the existing
Commonwealth Parliamentary superannuation scheme to people elected at
the next parliament” and replace it with “a scheme that attracts a
government contribution of nine per cent which is the community
standard”

Why?

Because “the reality…  is that there is a community perception
that this super’s too generous, I think the overall package is not too
generous but people think the super’s generous”.

Ah yes.  Not because there’s anything wrong with it but because people think there’s something wrong with it.

Don’t panic, Mr Howard, don’t panic!

The same old man might not like you to know this, but more than half of
the eight seats at risk have already been clearly identified:

  • Dobell, in New South Wales, held by Liberal Ken Ticehurst on just 0.4 per cent;
  • Hindmarsh, in South Australia, a 1.0 per cent seat being vacated by Liberal Parliamentary Secretary Chris Gallus;
  • Herbert, Peter Lindsay’s 1.5 per cent Liberal seat in Queensland
  • Gippsland, a Victorian Nat seat held by 2.6 per cent by a –
    whoops – Minister Peter McGauran, a bloke who’s in diabolical trouble
    and has no local campaign; and
  • La Trobe, a 3.7 per cent seat in outer Melbourne where Liberal MP Bob Charles is going

He’d better take that advice and stop panicking, or more are bound to follow.

Peter Fray

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