FDR saved America’s financial system, provided relief for the unemployed masses and launched a giant public works program.
Bob Hawke held an economic summit, released a major economic statement, hosted the first Chinese Premier to visit Australia, and had his own world tour.
Kevin Rudd has … mission statements, challenge areas – and loads of inquiries.
We assembled for the Prime Minister’s slightly premature 100 Days announcement this morning, receiving a glossy
Achievements of the Rudd Government
brochure and sitting in those lecture room chairs with the arm-mounted deskettes. The glossy had one of those nebulous wavy designs beloved of annual report and corporate plan designers, but it floated over a grid. Subtle design message: Excel sheet rigour is more fundamental than warm and fuzzy for this mob.
The atmosphere was not so much uni tutorial as management seminar, with consultant Kevin coming in to take us through the national SWOT analysis and his government’s KPIs. And, in case there was anyone left who didn’t realise it, the Prime Minister is a details man. “Go to page 51,” he urged us. Whilst looking through the draft – apparently the Prime Minister spent quite a bit of time on this document – he’d asked what was happening with the commitment to the World Heritage listing of Ningaloo Reef, and found out the answer was “not much”. One of Peter Garrett’s senior bureaucrats is doubtless being carpeted at this very moment.
Ningaloo Reef would be one the few areas where some kind of review isn’t underway. Accusations of reviewitis have been building for several days and Rudd had to deal with it again this morning. The previous Government set up plenty of reviews, he declared – 495 of them. And major reforms require consultation with stakeholders. That’s a fair enough call for a new government, but it can make for uncomfortable reading – in the “Making Ends Meet” section of the glossy, six of the nine achievements are about reviews, papers, new working groups, units or commissions.
And another thing that’s missing from the glossy is anything on governance and accountability. The promised ministerial staff code of conduct and the Register of Lobbyists are yet to appear. Crikey understands that the Register will shortly be announced but that the Prime Minister and Cabinet bureaucrats developing the Register have encountered software problems – which, given the public sector’s IT expertise, sounds all too likely.
The whole “100 days” business can be a millstone round the necks of new governments, which are expected to change the world within a couple of months of taking office. Then again, what has changed in Australia isn’t something that can be summed up in a bullet point or performance indicator. The Prime Minister was asked if someone returning to Australia after three months away would think it was a different country. Rudd sensibly pointed to the apology and Bali and suggested that, yep, it probably was. He has a point.
The 100 Days brochure might be a bit light-on for hard achievements, but the Howard era seems an eternity ago.