Federal Labor Leader Kevin Rudd clearly has a soulmate in South Australian Premier Mike Rann.

In announcing yesterday that Sir Rod Eddington would chair a council of business advisers for a future Labor Government, Rudd is following down the path pioneered by Rann, who gave Robert Champion de Crespigny the title of chair of his state’s Economic Development Board and started inviting him to Cabinet meetings.

Speaking yesterday to the Business Council of Australia, the would-be Prime Minister suggested that the former boss of Ansett and British Airways and current News Corp director Eddington would have similar privileged access to decision making.

“From time to time, I plan to bring members of the Council of Business Advisers into the cabinet room,” Rudd said. He described the role of the Council as providing “a sounding board to improve the quality of policy making.”

What he could have added is that Labor hopes giving a well respected businessman a fancy title will help make him look fit to govern. Third party endorsements are keenly sought after in election years.

Not that there is anything new about that. Back in 1983 Bob Hawke actually went so far as to have then business hotshot Alan Jackson, at the time head of rubber products company BTR Hopkins, appear in a pre-recorded spot in his Peter Faiman produced policy speech.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey