Dec 20, 2013

Keane’s 2013 in review: on trust, narratives and secrets

The failure of governments to earn the trust of voters was a major theme in 2013. This will make governing difficult until -- if ever -- governments regain that trust.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

Tony Abbott

Back before the financial crisis really hit, in 2008, one of the favourite games of the press gallery was to stroke its collective chin about the Rudd government’s “lack of narrative”. Crikey wasn’t immune from such behaviour. “Rudd needs a narrative,” I pompously intoned in August that year. “Otherwise the media will create one for him.” Hmmm. Serious stuff. Although, it was, in reality, nostalgia for the Hawke-Keating era, which was an adventure story of (pace Paul Keating) thrills’n’spills, and quite a few bellyaches as well, as that government undertook a huge economic reform program.

Since 1996, narratives have been thinner on the ground. John Howard won office promising a complete lack of adventures, claiming he’d keep everyone “comfortable and relaxed” after the tumult of the Labor years (he broke his promise on that with the GST, and came within a handful of votes of being a one-termer because of it).

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23 thoughts on “Keane’s 2013 in review: on trust, narratives and secrets

  1. mikeb

    Great article BK. Lots of common sense and analysis sadly lacking in the “free” press.

  2. paddy

    On target as ever, when it comes to the subject of the surveillance state Bernard.
    Good stuff.

  3. Grumpy Old Sod

    Agree totally with your observations re the surveillance state. It really is a very simple equation: more surveillance means less democracy. The trick will be to prise the governments of the so called democracies away from their pathological distrust of their citizens so the citizens can once again trust their governments and that most certainly won’t be achieved by spying on us.

  4. AR

    Spot on – “the party itself remained profoundly traumatised by what Howard had done to them time and again in wedging them, outflanking them, undermining their confidence in their own ideas.“.
    Krudd promised/threatened that he would be Howard-lite, slightly more hair and a generation fewer years.
    Mr & Mrs Pooter thought that OK, as long as he didn’t scare the horses or sup with socialists.
    Why Labor’s world beating response to the GFC (look at Euroland & elsewhere for real “smoking ruins” – Sloppy’s too-oft repeated mendacious mantra)make it the natural party of government and obliterate the tories & their ilk forever is beyond my ken.
    The greater mystery is why Julia Gillard, whom everyone surely regarded as the next PM, turned out to be so excellent at legislation yet woeful & tin eared in selling success. her leaden speechifying was a total contrast to her natural style & wit, it was as if someone was force feeding her Mogadon sandwichs.

  5. bushby jane

    Seems Julia might have suffered from having a dud Scottish adviser!
    Good article about trust and lack of, clearly Abbott’s govt losing it by the day by pulling more tricks like today’s revelation of changing regulation of financial planners. Abbott really has surrounded himself with a bunch of Right wing zealots, scary. Will he have the courage to have a double dissolution, doubtful.
    I have an issue with Bernard is his assertion that Labor did the right thing by not helping trade exposed industries from the effects of the high dollar-at least one country (was it Brazil?) introduced temporary tarrifs to help them. Better than closing the manufacturing or whatever of the whole country down.

  6. Cameron Foster

    I’d like to also add Japan’s dangerous new laws for whistle blowers. Japan’s democracy is less vigorous than Australia’s in terms of engagement and consequence but this is a huge retreat from an open and informed democratic citizenry.

  7. Paris Lord

    Great read, BK. More power to your keyboard.

  8. wbddrss

    I enjoyed this analysis thoroughly. It makes my subscription totally worth it. thanks Bernard.

  9. MJPC

    BK, excellent article, you analyses of the “intelligence” services first rate, they an;t be trusted. What’s frightening is they are now divulged as being used to further the aims and objectives of corporation (but didn’t they do that always) as in East Timor oil negotiations ably assisted by the then minister and political lobbyist (one and the same at the same time it would appear). Is there any reason there is little trust, but then again as long as the populace is having its bread and circuses who is working to improve this situation? Revolution now!

  10. AR

    It is impossible to uninvent the surveillance state – too interconnected throughout society, too many jobs/careers & dunghill empires to protect, not to mention the self esteem of the sekretted skwirrels unemployable elsewhere.
    the only way to adjust the balance is to enable – by Constitutional L-A-W – the right of citizens to have full access to their own files, at all times, unredacted in general and when the “black ink” appears to have the right to query it in the normal way of due process & habeus corpus.
    At the moment we can’t even do that with commercial credit blacklists so let’s make this concept of the “informed aware” citizen as normal as ..errr.. oh.

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