Why economic reform is dead:

Andrew Whiley writes: Re. “Call the undertaker: economic reform is dead” (Wednesday, item 9). Bernard Keane (and Laurie Oakes in the Olle Lecture) are being a little cute in blaming everyone but themselves for the lack of national stomach for “reform”.

Too often our media and individual journalists simply report and regurgitate. Hard questions, the pinning down of the most mendacious of whoppers, asking the difficult questions, again and again, seem to be beyond much of our fourth estate.

Yet there always seems plenty of column space and airtime for the endless, wearyingly cynical cop-out commentary, about the lack of fibre in our pollies, not willing to take long term economic reforms, bear the political pain, they aren’t like the heroic political leaders of yore. Yet the latest whisper of a rumour of a hint of a mention of Kevin changing both his socks and shoelaces is reported with national significance.

And when our pollies try and do some of this serious long term structural reform … e.g. Carbon Tax, Mining Tax, 12% super, a small start on the wind back of costs vis a vis the private health care rebate, it is usually dismissed or downplayed. Or even easier, dealt with by rolling out the easy interview or quote from some whining princess, ignorant gumnut or snivelling bizoid to opine that they will be left in penury and the nation will slide into the sea should (insert latest reform proposal) ever eventuate.

The so called “debate” around the Murray Darling Basin Plan comes to mind. Is it too complex for the media to understand and then relay the simple science from the Wentworth Group and others that any environmental flow figure that does not have t least a 4 in front of the GL, means that we can have any number of rebranded plans for many years to come, just not a healthy functioning river system?

So what government without a 50 seat majority in the reps and numbers in the Senate would want to even contemplate the difficulty around negative gearing, capital gains etc re. housing affordability. Or aged care, or tax reform and simplification, sustainability or some of the other structural reforms we still require in our Paradise of Oceania?

Dodging the rocks thrown from the cheap seats of talkback radio and News Ltd, suffering the sniffy tut tutting or faintest of praise from the dress circle of the ABC and Fairfax. Bubblegum from the most of the rest (honourable exceptions noted). Time to have a good look in the mirror fellas, Tanner is right. It’s not just the pollies and the punters, there’s blame aplenty to go ’round.

Les Heimann writes: The death of economic reform lays at the feet of our weak kneed, spineless, rent seekers masquerading as politicians. They wouldn’t understand economic reform in any event.

Australia, all is lost; we need Gandalf to appear among us spreading the light across the dark and barren plains. We need leaders to follow who believe in something worthwhile. Then we could once again reform.

In the meantime, reflect upon the words of a current senior politician — uttered in a former life: The rich get richer and the poor get the picture.”