Federal

Dec 18, 2012

2012 Crikeys: best and worst policy achievements

It was a transitional year in policy, with the government bedding down its carbon price while establishing its big picture strategy. Crikey hands out its policy gongs.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

We handed out the political gongs yesterday, but let’s get down to some harder policy questions. Amid the noise of Parliament, what actually got done? And what were the biggest missed opportunities and dumbest contributions on the reform front? The 2012 Crikeys go to …

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6 thoughts on “2012 Crikeys: best and worst policy achievements

  1. Chess C

    This line makes me angry:
    “… particularly of illegal economic immigrants from Sri Lanka.”
    Didn’t realise you had become Tony Abbott/Scott Morrison’s speech writer. My understanding is that most refugees coming from Sri Lanka are Tamils. Tamils are being oppressed in Sri Lanka. There was a horrific documentary on 4Corners last year with graphic footage from the closing stages of the Sri Lankan civil war.

  2. JackAubrey

    Thanks for this Bernard, but I think your environment policy blind-spot is showing. The Murray-Darling Plan, Tas Forests Agreement and 2.1 Million square kilometres of new Marine Reserves were pretty big outcomes this year and Tony Burke deserves some acknowledgement for a pretty big year of delivery. Carbon-pricing was indeed the biggest achievement of the year but Burke seems to be bringing a lot of commitments home this year.

  3. zut alors

    The expansion of marine parks should get an honourable mention for best policy.

  4. Phen

    The carbon tax as amongst the best policies?? What’s most telling is that its defended primarily in terms of its impact not being as bad as predicted.

  5. Hunt Ian

    More than a few blind spots are showing, but we should not condemn Bernard for talking about “illegal economic migrants” from Sri Lanka. About a hundred accepted a flight home, which they would hardly do if they were Tamil refugees. The worst thing about policy on Tamil refugees is that the Govt has to be dragged into recognising that it did not have to subject them to indefinite detention if they failed their ASIO test. Bernard is right about the rest: the expense of the “Pacific solution” is just one problem though: the lack of opportunities as people wait as long as those in Indonesia and Malaysia should not make them significantly worse off than if they kept of unsafe boats- the rights of refugees demand at most that they be no better off than those who stay on land. Punishing refugee claimants IS a clear breach of our commitments under the refugee convention and the govt should not slip into that.

    The sad and sorry story of neo-liberal economics is what casts a pall over Australia and the govt deserves brick-bats for its capitulation to the basic line, which is not only mouthed in its extreme form by the Ergas’s of this world but also by Treasury and thus by government. Poor old Simon Crean can’t help himself but he is not the only one in the govt to doff their cap at it to appease Rupert who, of course, will not be appeased.The govt should try to read up on the Joseph Stiglitz’s of the world and stop assuming that abstract economics is somehow the basis for “evidence” in support of many wondrous policies. Bernard sadly joins in the pall with his dishonourable mention for anti-dumping measures, which are quite OK given the currency wars raging around us in this world far, far away from neo-classical general equilibrium.

  6. Garmonbozia

    Well, while we’re attributing blame for the sorry state of refugee policy, let’s not forget to mention the questionable contribution of media commentary like that showcased right here by our own Bernard Keane. Blame everyone! Caricature them where at all possible (Coalition bigots, Green zealots)! Lament the failure of these failures to reach a compromise! And thereby contribute nothing more productive than world-wearier-than-thou, all-sides-are-bad platitudes, the likes of which are more commonly encountered in modern American faux-libertarianism.

    It seems ironic that Keane, who so often mocks supposed “postmodernist” commentators who don’t believe in fixed truths, would suggest refugee advocates are as to blame for the new Pacific Solution II as its actual architects and defenders. Ironic because in so doing, he refuses to allow that there may well be a moral imperative to resist legislation that blatantly runs counter (or at least obliquely) to our humanitarian obligations. He treats as so much naivety the belief that this is the only way to reach the better solution, that in these cynical half-measures the lives and rights of these people are precisely not what are being accounted for: in short, the painfully antiquated belief in the good. The easy rejoinder to such belief is to insist that the Malaysian solution would have saved lives that have otherwise been lost. Easy and empty: how would Malaysia have resolved our moral stain, and not just offered a more palatable way of sweeping the skeletons under the rug?

    The moralising pragmatist seems disinterested in those questions; they’re busy holding everyone accountable, and thereby committing the fashionable crime of seeing moral righteousness and inflexibility in everyone but themselves. Of course this comment is so much self-righteous purity. I get it. But to play “both sides are responsible” remains the laziest and least useful contribution to Australia’s most serious moral issue.

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