Another example this week of the dangers which come from writing things down. A briefing paper prepared for Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd as a child’s guide to productivity gets left behind on a cafeteria table and is then used to embarrass him.
The embarrassment is a repeat of the ACTU campaign masterplan from last week and all so unnecessary. Instead of disparaging Paul Keating this current Labor lot should follow his example.
A dislike of reading caused by a dry eye ailment meant Mr Keating preferred to receive his tuition from a tutor on a whiteboard rather than on paper. And back in opposition as a new boy Treasury spokesman, I recall, he was not too concerned about what the tutors predicted would happen in a Labor run economy.
The big thing back in those days of 1983 was not productivity but unemployment and a keen and no doubt very knowledgeable Labor researcher went to great pains to predict how many jobs Labor would create in its first term in office.
Given the task of putting such dry policies into words that might actually appeal to voters I was unimpressed by the prediction because it did not sound high enough. My memory fails me as to exact numbers but the following proportions are right. Instead of 325,000 predicted new jobs Mr Keating was quite happy to take my assessment that the much better sounding figure of 500,000 was what would actually happen.
I recall with great pride when, without batting an eye in embarrassment, Mr Keating was able to point to achieving the predicted figure as one of his great economic achievements.