As a casual observer of Australian politics I can’t help feeling tired and fed up with the current performance of the ALP at the federal and state levels. This video by Clarke and Dawe had accurately described what’s happening in the Labor government. This is a government that lost its agenda setting ability and is either in denial or lacked ideas to reverse its current position.
I had so much hopes for Australia when the ALP (Australian Labor Party) went through a disciplined and focused campaign to defeat the second longest serving Prime Minister – John Howard and took office. At the start, Rudd looked like a capable PM, financial conservative guy with foreign affairs expertise with Gillard looking liked a capable, strong deputy PM and taking on industrial relations and education portfolio amongst other things. Things looked pretty good and I thought Australia was entering into a golden age of economic and social policy progress. My admiration went to their latest level when a centre-left ALP managed to keep the Australian economy in shape through the darkest times of the 2008 GFC (global financial crisis) by riding on the China boom.
But since then everything seem to fall apart and I had my dose of reality check. This government was unable to defend their policies has gradually lost its support for its programmes and overall support despite a negative and uninspiring opposition. Australians were increasingly more worried for their future despite a blooming economy. The ALP’s internal discipline faltered, the great opportunity to push through difficult reforms despite a federal-state ALP government never came, education review led to more questions about Australia’s research future, national infrastructure investment did not fly, home insulation programme was canned, the mining super profit tax was watered down, climate change agenda captured by the Coalition, refugee issue remained a question mark.
As a Sinophile, I was most disappointed by the dearth of leadership and ideas to engage China in a meaningful and with the forward looking vision to prepare the country for the rise of a new global power and the new opportunities beyond natural resources. Instead I saw policies and behaviours that reflected tints of yellow peril. United States is without a doubt still a global superpower and an important ally, but Australia has to prepare for the new reality.
If the federal ALP government wants to retain the confidence of the Australian public, they better get their act together and stopped repeating that these are difficult times for any government. Stop the denial and take it on the chin! Guess what? That’s why the Australian public voted them into government in the first place.
The US-China Business Council has a useful resource to make sense of the current (2011) structure of the Chinese central government and the (direct and indirect) reporting chain for the major agencies, their work plans and bio to key leaders.
People’s Republic of China Central Government Structure
Berno: The Obama Administration maintains a very difficult hybrid stance towards restoring faith in the US financial industry without much success. America has long championed faith in the hands of the free market. However, the Federal Reserve was repeatedly forced to prop up crippling financial institutions like Citigroup and AIG from collapse with massive public funds injection without outright public ownership (ie nationalisation).
The article below takes a step back and examines the China Government’s direct and forceful approach to support their economy when the invisible hand of markets gives up.
“The visible hand of Beijing might look excessive to people in the West, but many Chinese are pleased to see the government intervene and feel it will win time for China to ride out the global crisis. Elsewhere around the world banks are unwilling to lend and the U.S. Federal Reserve has had to bypass commercial banks to lend directly to corporations. Beijing just needs to send out a few directives and the banks do their bidding — Chinese banks posted a record 1.62 trillion yuan in new loans in January, already one-third of the total extended in 2008. “
Continue reading “When the invisible hand fails, try China’s ‘two hands’“.(Forbes)
Australia’s economic outlook will not improve until the Government “shifts direction” and recognises the current financial crisis was caused by far too much money being loaned irresponsibly.
“The problem is you’ve got to cancel that debt either by abolishing it formally or by trying to refloat the economy and cause inflation and reduce the debt burden, but we’re still at least a year or two away before that realisation will sink in,” he said. – Dr Steve Keen (Australia facing debt-driven depression, ABC News)
Berno: Countries around the world are aggressively trying to “refloat” their economies by both fiscal and monetary policies. These measures include reserves banks interests rate cuts, banks re-capitalisation, special loans scheme to smaller businesses and handouts to boost domestic spending.
I am worried that we are spending too much resource to fight the first symptoms of the global depression. How much debt/ deficit can a country sustain? Federal interest rate is now at 0-0.25%. Debt got us into the current mess, how would more debt get us out of it?
Many in the government are emphasising that we are in unchartered territories. Should the situations worsen, would we be depleted of resources and programs to fight it?
Related links: Rudd’s $42 billion ‘nation building’ plan’ (Sydney Morning Herald)
Today, the Iemma Government commenced talks on the new North West metro link. The north-western suburbs require a reliable train service to connect them to Sydney CBD. But is this another case of hot air and incomplete and expensive plans by Macquarie Street quick fix PR response?
I lived in Sydney from 2006-2007 and parts of 2008 and Sydney’s public transport is woeful. The service is expensive (a 1-2 stops train journey cost A$2.60) and very unreliable (no train service on almost every alternate weekend due to “planned track works” But we still hear train disruptions almost every month.
The State Government is spending large amount of money airing ads public education about the North West line, when the line is only scheduled to run in 2017 (more than 9 years away!). Ads do not resolve transport problems, funded scheduled services do!
This is the same succession of government that failed to deliver an integrated ticketing solution (more than 8 years late and now abandoned) and still running late to deliver the Epping-Chatswood line which new trains cannot run on.
Oh, the Sydney city free wifi project announced in Nov 2006 has just been cancelled too. How many badly initiated public projects does Sydneysiders have to put up? Sometimes I wish there is a “Rudd” guy in the NSW government to demonstrate some leadership.