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Monday, 20 November 2006
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Experience the Only Weapon
This morning Kim Beazley turned to his one undoubted asset in his attempt to dispel again the stories that he would be replaced as Labor Leader before the next election. Experience, he told the morning press scramble , is what the Australian people wanted in a leader and that is why he would take his party to the next federal election. No great vision of what he would do with the job of Prime Minister if he got it, just the bland assertion that the talk of a leadership challenge was speculation.
According to Beazley the years are on his side while being a handicap for Kevin Rudd, the Opposition Foreign Affairs spokesman who has emerged as the one credible leadership alternative. The past record of the nation's Prime Ministers shows why:
Since the foundation of Federation Australians normally have chosen men of maturity and experience to be their leader. Only Stanley Bruce and Bob Hawke stand out as exceptions and they were remarkable men. Bruce became PM before facing an election as leader and was a war hero to boot. Hawke might not have been long in parliament but he had a lengthy spell in public life behind him.
With the failure of a comparatively youthful Mark Latham fresh in their minds the members of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party are naturally wary of taking a risk again with inexperience. Kim Beazley can be thankful that there is no would be challenger of more experience than Kevin Rudd.
Peter Costello Can Take Heart Too
Peter Costello can take heart from the table too. The two other potential successors to John Howard might be approaching the right age for leadership but both fall short on parliamentary experience.
Resisting the Big Noting Urge
The lobbying firm Hawker Britton is getting the kind of publicity a good lobbyist can do without during this Victorian election campaign and largely because it cannot resist an opportunity to tout its own wares. The Melbourne Herald Sun reported this morning that Hawker Britton claimed on its website to be working “in a senior strategic capacity” on the State Labor Party campaign although I could not find the reference when I looked. The paper asked Premier Steve Bracks if he was aware of the involvement which produced this comment: “"No, not that I'm aware of. We're standing on our own record of what we're doing."
That Mr Bracks wants to distance himself from Hawker Britton is understandable given the publicity surrounding the firm's senior partner, David White, who is a former State Labor Cabinet Minister and current president of the ALP agenda committee. Mr White has been working for Tattersalls which is trying to retain its share of the profitable duopoly which controls Victorian poker machines. The Herald Sun report said secret documents seen by the paper reveal how Mr White told Tattersall's chiefs the Bracks Government favoured a deal to extend its control of Victoria's $2.5 billion-a-year pokies industry with Mr White telling Tatts it would be given preferential treatment when tendering for new lucrative gaming licences.
Pretty standard fare for a lobbyist trying to justify a large fee although when I was in the business I used to favour not putting things like that in writing. I found it had far more impact on chief executives to tell them something was too secret, and thus dangerous, to be spelled out. A lobbyist who goes in to too much detail about his activities runs the risk of being discovered to be a person who doesn't actually do much at all.
Decisions like those awarding pokies licences are only nominally made by ministers. It would be a very courageous Cabinet that went against the advice of its public servants as to which bids made most economic sense. The real work for companies like Tatts is preparing the case that its proposal offers the best deal to the taxpayers of the State not in pretending to glad hand a few people in ministerial offices.
The Crikey and Glug
Victorian Election Contest