Dec 7, 2012

Brumby as COAG reformer? The last person you’d want

John Brumby's appointment to the COAG Reform Council is shabby and undeserved for a man of his parochial, protectionist record as premier of Victoria.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

As leaders met in Canberra this morning for the Council of Australian Governments gabfest, the Prime Minister announced John Brumby will replace Paul McClintock as chair of the COAG Reform Council, the body charged with reporting on and driving COAG's reform agenda. It's a shabby, jobs-for-the-boys appointment from a government that has been better than most when it comes to putting people of merit into positions regardless of partisan background. Based on his performance as premier, Brumby shouldn't be allowed anywhere near the one mechanism associated with COAG that actually does the job of driving reform. Brumby was a key impediment to the Rudd government's efforts to save the lower reaches of the Murray-Darling in 2008, with his stubborn commitment to protecting Victoria's outrageous, anti-competitive caps on water trading, caps explicitly designed to prevent water from being moved to where it can be used most efficiently. To this day, Brumby's iniquitous legacy continues to blight the water market. Brumby also manufactured a fight in 2010 over Kevin Rudd's hospital funding reforms as a distraction from his own political problems in Victoria, going to the National Press Club in Canberra to parade as the leader of state resistance against the reform proposals. Nor is Brumby's record on economic reform too flash. In 2008, he announced a local preference deal for Victorian government procurement that breached the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement and committed Victorian taxpayers to paying up to 10% more than they should have in heavy manufacturing procurement. Brumby as premier also refused the reveal the huge subsidies being paid to Alcoa to run its Victorian aluminium smelters. And it was Brumby who prepared the recent report into dumping (that is, selling goods cheaply to consumers and businesses) that recommended a new bureaucracy to more aggressively implement the pseudo-protectionist policy of anti-dumping. In short, with his record of parochialism and protectionism, Brumby is pretty much the last person you'd want overseeing the one independent mechanism capable of holding governments to account on their foot-dragging and recalcitrance over economic reform. Perhaps Brumby will undergo an ideological transformation once he takes over the role?

Free Trial

You've hit members-only content.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions


Leave a comment

5 thoughts on “Brumby as COAG reformer? The last person you’d want

  1. Dion Giles

    PROTECTIONISM !!! Australians working for Australians!! Australian economy governed by Australians!! Shock Horror! And Murray Darling Basin managed so we’ll still have a Murray Darling Basin in a decade’s time – one with water in it! Dunno much about this Bracks character, but I’m starting to like him.

  2. Peter Logan

    It was Brumby who ignored the Victorian Auditor-General’s advice that the grand prix failed a cost benefit analysis and future events should be subjected to an update of the orignal peer reviewed study.
    Instead, Brumby committed Victoria to five more years and a quarter of a billion dollars in public subsidies, with no justification, apart from discredited attendance, tv ratings, etc, all grossly exaggerated.

  3. geomac62

    I found the obsession with PPPs the worst part of Brumby as premier . As journo Kenneth Davidson has regularly shown they don,t deliver value for taxpayers money and contract details are too heavily in favour of private as against public .
    Bolte wasn,t my favourite person but he put Victoria deep in the red to build major infrastructure that benefited Victorians rather than consortiums . Two reasons Bolte blotted his career : hanging Ryan for political reasons and being the only Victorian to have his blood sample lost after a drink accident .
    One thing I will give Brumby is when he broadcast very clearly the coming danger that led to black Saturday . I have never seen a polly put it out there so starkly and without spin . Other than that he was a competent premier who kept the obsession of being in the black while delivering a reasonable service to the public , a B or C+ .

  4. pritu

    Didn’t he squander most of the goodwill built up by Bracks in one short term?

  5. geomac62

    He didn,t have the same presence as Bracks . Brumby was credited with building up the regional vote while treasurer for Bracks by the media . Having both the pipeline thing and the desal plant annoyed rural voters on either side of the state . I could never understand why they undertook both projects instead of just one . The desal plant was overkill , too big and a panic decision because of the conditions after a decade of drought .
    Ballyhoo surprisingly has lost his shine by mid term . Probably more because of Ryan and ministers like Guy , Davis and Wells than the perception of do nothing Ted .

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details