Even before he’s been sworn in, Kevin Rudd has had a major win – convincing the media that he has beaten the factions and accrued unprecedented power to himself.
Look at the list of his ministry. A front bench selected on merit seems to have given us most of the same power players who profited from the factional choices of the past. It can’t be a coincidence that the best credentialed loser, Bob McMullan, isn’t factionally aligned.
Then there’s the matter of all those “Gillard to drive Rudd agenda” headlines, too. Catchier, we guess, than “Rudd makes sure Gillard is too busy to do the numbers.”
Meanwhile, in his first major interview in his new job, Lindsay Tanner has got us shaking our heads and saying “We knew Peter Walsh, Minister, and you’re no Peter Walsh”:
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ALI MOORE: We are running out of time. Can we look at a couple of the issues: public service, for example, there’s nervousness there after Kevin Rudd’s comments about taking a meat axe to the fat cats in Canberra. Are quite a few public servants about to be out of a job?
LINDSAY TANNER: I don’t believe so. What we anticipate is reining in growth a bit. Because the growth in the public service has been running ahead of growth in employment and too much has been at the top level. SES level or the genuine top level fat cat level has grown at 44 per cent over the past six or seven years when overall employment in the economy has grown by 15 or 20.
ALI MOORE: No sackings, no cuts, just reining in growth?
LINDSAY TANNER: I don’t believe there’ll be need for redundancies. There may well be some need for movement of people and resources around from one part of an agency to another or one agency to another, those things are the normal part of government, normal government business. But it’s essentially just reining things in and ensuring that we get resources dedicated to where the Australian taxpayer and the Australian community are going to get the best value. That’s been our big criticism of our predecessors. That’s the thing we want to change.
That’s code for no actual job cuts. The CPSU has nothing to fear.
ALI MOORE: A couple of other things: baby bonus, will you keep it?
LINDSAY TANNER: Yes.
ALI MOORE: At what rate? The Government moved it to $5,000 from the middle of next year?
LINDSAY TANNER: We have made no commitment to anything other than continuing with that program. That’s what I’d expect would be upheld.
What’s wrong with non-means tested middle class welfare?
ALI MOORE: [I]f Ken Henry looks at one of your policies and says, “Not good on the spending front”, you won’t do it?
LINDSAY TANNER: We’ll take his views seriously into account, but they won’t be the only views, but we certainly won’t blatantly ignore them like the previous government did, for example, announcing a $10 billion water program written on the back of a serviette yet after a long lunch without being adequately costed or assessed by Treasury or finance and without even being taken to Cabinet. We won’t do that sort of thing, I can assure you.
ALI MOORE: On the water program, will you keep it?
LINDSAY TANNER: Yes, but obviously we’ve got a long-term discussion with the states to pursue. The Federal Government previously was not able to get the States all together. Kevin Rudd’s committed to ensuring we get a consensus outcome. We didn’t quibble with the idea, we didn’t quibble with the amount of money, we didn’t quibble with the objective, we just thought it was done in a slap dash and obviously political way. It’s got to be done seriously.
We complain that Treasury didn’t look at it and we complain that it’s a lot of money, but we won’t actually be chopping it. The difference is we want it for our mob in the state, not the Nats.