The ALP is becoming like so many political parties that have just been removed from government – they give a version of their mistakes that masks deeper errors. That’s exactly what the current ALP is doing, and because Tony Abbott has actually crafted policies to correct the real Gillard-Rudd economic and business mistakes, the Coalition could be in power for a long time.
In the battle between Anthony Albanese and Bill Shorten, both have isolated that division was a major factor. But, so far, that’s about as far as they have gone.
Back in April I isolated the major economic mistakes of Julia Gillard and it is these mistakes that were just as important as leadership divisions because they triggered the Gillard demise, which brought the Rudd scheming to the surface (Seven deadly Gillard sins, April 30).
So before we leave the ALP to wallow in its own mire let’s remind ourselves, and anyone in the ALP who is interested, that there was much more than leadership to the ALP mess.
The ALP government mistakes started with its decision (and I think it was a decision) to be completely remote from business. Treasury took the same view. As a result Canberra had no idea what was happening in the business arena (particularly in mining) and most of the treasury’s economic forecasts were completely wrong. Worse still, the government spent the money that they incorrectly anticipated receiving. The budget miscalculations were merely a symptom of business remoteness.
And then combined with business remoteness there was a dedicated and vicious campaign against small business, which is the main private employment creating sector of the economy.
The claims in the election campaign that the ALP supported small business were a sick joke. It will take years for the small business community to forget the carefully coordinated blows that rained down on them by the Gillard government. The Australian Tax Office was vicious in its attacks on small operators and refused to give many ABN numbers. Independent contracting was actively discouraged and the tax office used false definitions to determine whether a person was an independent contractor. Thousands of complex but useless regulations were introduced at the same time as the Gillard government promoted union dominated industrial relations laws that were designed for large business and made staff flexibility in small business much tougher.
Small and medium business employ between 65 per cent and 70 per cent of the Australian work force (A jobs jolt could clinch Abbott's campaign, August 5).
It was this group, including the parents and employees who united to make sure that the ALP had its lowest vote in six years.
While discouraging small business, the previous government actively fanned the greatest government employment binge in Australia’s history. The Institute of Public Affairs estimates that since the global financial crisis public sector industries have lifted their employment by 406,000. In fairness, not all the 406,000 people were employed by Canberra but by increasing regulation, red tape, state government requirements and duplication, the Gillard government was the main driver.
Gillard encouraged the return of cartel-style agreements between big builders and building unions in the commercial building sector sending the cost of building the new mines and government projects up substantially.
Gillard allowed the export of gas from Queensland, which under present extraction rules we did not have. Some of the export gas will now come from gas that was earmarked for Sydney and will help send New South Wales and later Victorian and Queensland domestic gas prices sky-high.
There was no heed to productivity in health. It’s all about handing out money.
Carbon was a Keystone Kops-style fiasco. The Gillard government saddled Australia with an uncompetitive carbon price at the same time as a high dollar and rising electricity prices. They used much of the carbon money for social welfare and then later effectively slashed future carbon revenue, but did not cut back the spending.
Finally Kevin Rudd had no idea how to run a cabinet, and in his election campaign he showed he still had not learned (The old Rudd is back, August 19).
I think in different circumstances Julia Gillard might have been able to run the cabinet but the pressures of minority government meant that she also had problems in this area.
You cannot be a good prime minister unless you can run the cabinet.