I hope Ruddy isn’t banking too heavily on Queensland parochialism. Sunshine Coast Uni academic Scott Prasser wrote this in The Oz yesterday:
And fix Queensland government in favour of the Labor Party under the mantle of the Fitzgerald reform process the Goss government did. These actions tell us as much about Rudd, as they do about the Goss government.
Certainly there were worthwhile procedural changes, departmental restructurings and overdue electoral reform. However, aided and abetted by partisans such as Rudd and others recruited from academe and elsewhere, the Goss government implemented a new political fix of increased centralised control, partisan appointments across the public service, media management, continued executive dominance of Queensland’s unicameral legislature and skilful containment of Fitzgerald’s anti-corruption watchdogs such as the Criminal Justice Commission.
Prasser probably understates the real achievements of the Goss government, but he’s captured the control freakery governing style of Goss pretty well. He also probably leans a bit too heavily towards the criminological and public admin academic critiques of the implementation of Fitzgerald and downplays the political realities, but the thrust and the detail of his assessment, if not its bias, are pretty much on the money. It’s a moot point of course how much of all this was down to Ruddy, and everyone who was involved with Queensland politics and bureaucracy at the time could name a few more of the usual suspects without thinking too hard.
But Rudd wants to claim his Goss era experience as a substitute for Ministerial experience, so he’s got to wear the record.
A number of then staffers and Ministers would certainly confirm Rudd and other apparatchiks close to Goss were more powerful in the notoriously centralised Goss administration than the Cabinet. Backbench MPs were under no illusion that their place in the pecking order was very low indeed, and Goss’s office micromanaged the work and appointments of Ministerial staffers.
Peter Beattie’s record of parliamentary and public statements at the time would also lend weight to this view. Beattie, to his credit, was prepared to go public with his criticisms, particularly on criminal justice matters and the implementation of the Fitzgerald reforms.
Cabinet was largely sidelined, with Rudd vetting departmental submissions, and sitting on a powerful committee with Goss and Deputy Premier Tom Burns that determined the Cabinet agenda, and some would say, presented decisions to be rubber stamped.
It will be interesting to see whether Wayne Goss himself, a proud man, is comfortable with the elision of his Government with Rudd’s influence. Greg Hunt attempted to lay a pretty silly glove on Rudd with his criticism of the Wolffdene dam cancellation, and reading his article, you’d be surprised to find that Goss had any input into his own administration at all. But there’s probably warrant in the way Rudd’s talked up his role for Goss to take a bit of umbrage.
The politics of Rudd’s record in Queensland will continue to play out in the lead up to the election. It might well be a net plus, but there’s also some danger for the Labor leader in highlighting his previous experience. One thing is certain – there’s a lot more on that record than there was in the case of a certain former Mayor of Liverpool.