Spot the Liberal

Friday, 3 October 2008 

r298788_12915371Look very carefully at the photo of government heads taken at yesterday’s COAG meeting. One of them is a Liberal. Can you guess which? (Hint: He is sitting on Rudd’s right.)

So much for the election of a Liberal Premier shaking up Rudd’s federalism. In fact, when it came down to COAG being criticised by a spokesman from his own party in Canberra, Barnett preferred to take Rudd’s side.

Rudd’s call to ‘end the blame game’ worked as a tactic not because there were Labor Premiers in every state (in fact that made it look more like a politically expedient stunt) but because arguments between the political parties in the different tiers of government had lost their meaning. Howard’s attempts last year to make something out of hospital management in a Tasmanian town proved the point.

State governments are at the forefront of a state trying to justify itself and are willing to go along with Canberra’s bear hug if it will offload responsibility, such as yesterday’s decision to centralise credit protection. Other than that, they are all wholy reliant on spending to justify their governments’ existence and Canberra holds the purse strings. Barnett, who is still sounding surprised to be in the Premier’s seat and whose hold on power relies on meeting the Nationals’ spending demands, hardly has a plan to change that.

With no real political difference to Labor it will be interesting to see why he will be any better at managing the state’s services. It will just increase his reliance on Rudd’s federalist agenda. If the WA Nationals balked at the final hurdle to an alliance with Labor, Barnett may take them there anyway.

Posted by The Piping Shrike on Friday, 3 October 2008.

Filed under State and federal politics

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