A worthy successor


Here’s Gillard, in last night’s speech to the Australian Industry Group, presenting the ALP as the defender of liberalism, and herself as Grover Cleveland to (Joe Hockey‘s!) William Jennings Bryan. Stirring stuff! I await Hockey’s retaliatory Cross of Gold address, surely to be included by future ABC Radio National listeners in their lists of most unforgettable speeches. But perhaps the Prime Minister, having perfected Keating’s sour drone, is more to their liking:

Reform is a seamless robe, which cannot be divided to suit sectional interest.


I said recently that minority Government is no excuse to walk away from reform. I mean that.

This country has had a reform agenda for a generation.

At our best…there has been a historic reform project which spans the political divide. A shared understanding between Governments of both persuasions and industry that modernising our economy creates opportunities for all Australians.

That shared understanding should ensure that minority Government does not mean an end to reform.

But I believe the reform consensus is now under serious threat.


In our country we are hearing rising voices against reform.

Not just in the community as a whole, but in major party politics as well.

And strikingly, in the Parliament, in the once reform-advocating Liberal Party.

If a strain of economic Hansonism takes hold on the conservative side of politics in a Parliament which is so finely balanced, our long-term prosperity is at real risk.

Without the legacy of reform, our economy could never have resisted recession through two decades and three global shocks.

And at this time, with global uncertainty over growth and domestic uncertainty over carbon pricing, the reform consensus is as important as ever before.

Everyone who is committed to economic reform now has a job to do.

Simplistic solutions abound.

The risk of a return to economic populism is real.

The reform conversation needs many voices.

Leaders must lead, and my voice will be loudly heard.

Industry has a stake in the reform project – in opportunity, in prosperity, in growth – so you must have a strong voice in the reform conversation too.

My Government has an ambitious reform agenda: financial [sic?] consolidation; building capacity on the supply side with tax, superannuation, infrastructure and skills; extending market-based reforms to health and education, carbon and water. We will pursue it with discipline and rigour.

As Prime Minister and Leader of the Labor Party I can guarantee we will not unilaterally withdraw from the post-1983 reform consensus.

Others must speak for themselves.


Update: Some clues to the  substance of this “reform” agenda can be found in advice to incoming ministers by the departments of Treasury and Finance.


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