Until the unions did their best to sink him, Australia's presumptive next Prime Minister was doing a good job of presenting himself as relatively conservative. The article below by Colebatch the Younger is therefore a useful corrective. Excerpt only: (RTWT)
Australia is a stable, well-governed country, but if Kevin Rudd becomes Prime Minister it may not be possible to go taking this for granted.
In the 11 years since it was elected, the right-of-centre government of John Howard has proved itself Australia's best government ever. That is not to say it has been perfect, just very good indeed. The economy has boomed and gone on booming. Per capita income has soared, inflation, unemployment and interest rates have all been low. More Australians are wealthy and enjoy a higher living-standard than ever before. A number of potentially serious regional foreign crises have been handled effectively. Australia in general is one of the most respected countries in its region and a leading player in south-east Asian international co-operation and diplomacy. It has taken a strong position in the war on terror and supported the U.S. internationally both diplomatically and militarily.
Australia has been well-governed and prosperous for so long that there is a feeling that such is the natural and unchangeable order of things. This could be a dangerous delusion. Kipling once warned of:
Life so long untroubled, that ye who inherit forget.
It was not made with the mountains, it is not one with the Deep.
Men, not gods, devised it; men, not gods, must keep ...
Alvaro Vargas Llosa wrote recently of the "Return of the Idiot" -- of economically illiterate populists like Hugo Chavez fired by anti-Americanism and the ghost of communism: "Today, the species is back in force in the form of populist heads of state who are reenacting the failed policies of the past, opinion leaders from around the world who are lending new credence to them, and supporters who are giving new life to ideas that seemed extinct." There are signs of this attitude re-surfacing on the Left in mainstream Australian politics.
That the opposition Australian Labor Party is now ahead in the opinion polls, with an election a maximum of about seven months away, is ominous, given what it has become. Bob Hawke, Labor prime minister for much of the 1980s, proved a sound, responsible and beneficial economic reformer. But it seems times have changed, and not for the better. The present leader, Kevin Rudd, despite wearing nice suits (he is an ex-diplomat) and projecting innocuousness, seems to have a grasp of economics comparable to that of Hugo Chavez. Indeed a group of Rudd's supporters -- including the national president of the Labor Party and a host of Labor-affiliated union leaders -- signed a letter inviting Chavez to Australia to advise on the governance of the country, claiming:
We have watched developments in Venezuela with great interest. We have been impressed by the great effort that your government has taken to improve the living standards of the majority of Venezuelans. Although we are on the opposite side of the globe, we feel that our shared ideals of social justice and democracy bring us close together ... what Venezuela has been able to achieve in so little time will be a source of inspiration and ideas for many in Australia.
Rudd has condoned this poisonous nonsense and refused to discipline or rebuke those responsible, despite or perhaps because of the fact that apart from anything else it is an obvious insult to Australia's closest ally, the U.S. Rudd himself spouts simplistic anti-market extremism:
Our common enemy is the political project of John Howard which seeks to reconstruct Australian society ... Howard's vision for Australia is Friedrich Hayek's rampant individualism where unfettered free markets determine the value of not only every commodity but of every person and institution.
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