So much for suggestions of summer slackness. We now know how hitting the ground running really works.

At six in the morning yesterday, Kevin Rudd was visiting flood-ravaged towns in central Queensland. He then crossed the country, ending up at the community cabinet at the Canning Vale College in Perth’s south eastern burbs.

We also know that Kevin Rudd learns. Community cabinet stories are everywhere. There are lots of great shots of the PM and his ministers in shirtsleeves, listening.

Community cabinets were Peter Beattie’s great invention. He saw what happened to the Goss government. He saw how it lost government because it lost touch with voters over a whole range of little, local issues.

Beattie started holding community cabinets to avoid Goss’ fate. It’s fascinating to see the former head of Goss’ public service taking on the idea. It’s also fascinating to see the way he’s using it.

The PM confirmed in a speech just hours ago that he is seeking $18 billion in savings. That’s a lot in anyone’s money.

But look at this morning’s papers. Think of radio you’ve heard or the TV you may have seen.

Talk of “horror budgets” is a journalistic staple, but the Melbourne Herald Sun seems to be the only place where you’ll find the words today. Instead, it’s all community and consultation.

Lindsay Tanner has managed to make the razor gang respectable.

Now, the PM and his Treasurer will be able to point to how they are tackling inflation if Wednesday’s CPI figure is lousy.

And if it all goes bad? If we get caught in a downturn? What will happen at the community cabinets then? Well, again Kevin Rudd has learned from the Queensland experience.

Once the novelty had worn off, the media simply stopped covering them. It was the same thing every time.

Presumably the Canberra lot will get bored too.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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