Rudd’s new political class

Monday, 4 February 2008 

Wow. This guy moves fast.

Rudd’s announcement that 1,000 of the ‘best and brightest’ will come together in Parliament House to discuss and set out concrete proposals for key areas of national policy comes just two months after the nation may have been under the impression it sent 150 men and women to the same building to do exactly the same thing.

Clearly not. Leaving aside whether the 150 MPs elected on 24 November constitute the nation’s ‘best and brightest’, Rudd reiterated what he has been making clear all along, that the entire political process is inadequate for making major policy decisions:

For too long Australian policymaking has been focused on short-term outcomes dictated by the electoral cycle. If Australia is to effectively confront the challenges of the future, we need to develop an agreed national direction that looks at the next 10 years and beyond.

It would be fairly easy to point out anti-democratic elements of this. Why, for example, 1,000 people hand-picked by Rudd and Glyn Davis should have more say over national policy than those elected by 13m voters. But it would be a sterile debating point. All Rudd has done is highlight the hollowing out of the political process that has already happened.

There will be those who will dismiss this as a stunt. But the stunt element will lie in the fact that the 1,000 chosen will represent nothing more than themselves, and so have no social weight to push their agenda through. However, it certainly sends a message to the political parties who like to think that they do.

It would be interesting to know what those ALP activists who hurl themselves into the party’s National Conference believing it to be a serious policy-making body think of this move, especially those who might have thought that Rudd’s victory would translate to the party itself gaining power. They might now be waking up to the reality that Rudd’s ascension has in fact reduced the party’s influence.

It also opens an excruciating dilemma for the Liberal opposition leaders who have been invited. By accepting, they will be admitting they have no greater right to have an influence over policy-making than a Sociology Professor from Fremantle at the same meeting. However, given what Rudd thinks about the political process that put them there, they should consider themselves lucky to be there at all.

Posted by The Piping Shrike on Monday, 4 February 2008.

Filed under State of the parties

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