The Rudd Government still holds a commanding lead over the Opposition according to opinion polls and Kevin Rudd himself enjoys a high popularity rating. But what has Rudd and his team actually delivered to the Australian public in terms of completed projects or successful outcomes?
During the 2007 election campaign Kevin Rudd set out to portray himself as a man of action who knew what the people wanted and had the team that would be able to get things done. But the truth is that the Rudd Labor Government has failed to deliver on many of it’s key vote grabbing promises… and yet nobody seems to care. The global economic crisis seems to have provided the perfect cover for a series of poorly managed Government programmes and undelivered election campaign commitments.
Here are some of the major ALP (Australian Labor Party) election promises from 2007 and their current status.
National Broadband Network
Current Status: Broken
The original promise made by “digital” Kev back in 2007 was for the Government to invest up to $4.7 billion to build a national broadband network. But thanks to Senator “let’s filter the internet” Conroy, the original plan fell in a heap and has now been replaced by a more audacious $43 billion dollar plan.
As of today work has just begun in Tasmania which Conroy seems to think is a logical place to test a high speed broadband network. (this actually means he simply found someone ready to string out some optic fibre cables) With the first broadband services not expected to be offered to consumers in Tasmania until the second quarter of 2010 I would suggest that you don’t hold your breath waiting for the NBN to reach you any time soon.
In any case, promising to spend up to $4.7 billion on a project and then having to bail yourself out of trouble by using $43 billion of taxpayers money can not be called a success. The NBN is a mess and is a classic example of why Governments should stay away from consumer focused business ventures.
You can see my other rant about the NBN and the amazingly useless Senator Conroy here: The national broadband network: from debacle to disaster.
Dismantle Work Choices
Current Status: In Progress
I thought that Work Choices was actually a step in the right direction for Australia in terms of making the nation more globally competitive, but most voters thought otherwise and thus the Rudd Government is now working towards unwinding the Work Choices legislation.
Although Work Choices is yet to be completely erased we would have to say that in general the Rudd Government is close to delivering on it’s campaign promises regarding this issue. I am not sure this is a good thing, but probably few people would agree with me.
Computer for every student in Years 9 to 12.
Current Status: Debacle
As part of the Labor Party’s so called “education revolution” (sounds like something out of Mao’s little red book) $1 billion was suppose to be spent on providing every school student in Years 9 to 12 with their own computer.
But it seems Julia Gillard forgot that computers need software applications, have to be connected to power and integrated into a LAN etc. so the cost has now blown out to around $2 billion. The promise has also been watered down to every student will have “access” to a school computer so I guess this means if just a few computers are installed in a school then theoretically this revised part of the “revolution” has been achieved.
The entire programme has been mismanaged from day one and even the State Labor Government’s cried foul when they realised they would have to chip in large sums of money to make up for all the bits (or is that bytes?) Gillard forget to include in her initial $1 billion guesstimate. The true cost of funding this vague election promise may never been known.
Emissions Trading Scheme
Current Status: Stalled
During the 2007 election campaign Rudd committed to cutting Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions by 60% through a national carbon/emissions trading scheme. (ETS)
But so far Senator Penny Wong has been unable to put together either an ETS framework that businesses understand or develop legislation that will get through the Senate. In addition it seems the Government feels it does not need to provide answers to Senator Fielding about the science behind CO2 induced climate change, so it is unlikely he will help them get the legislation over the line in the Senate.
The ETS in my opinion is just another tax and not a very effective way to deal with global warming if in fact, the planet is actually warming at all. In the rush to secure the green vote, Rudd and Co. may have made Al Gore happy but they have put jobs and economic growth at risk without considering what other options may be available to them.
Withdraw Australian Troops from Iraq
Current Status: Completed
The ALP committed to pulling Australian combat troops out of Iraq and this is one promise the Rudd Government has kept. Mind you it seems Australia’s commitment to Afghanistan will probably be ramped up so I am not sure what has actually been achieved.
I am also not entirely sure why Australia is helping to fight the CIA’s old pals the Taliban. I thought originally the U.S. invaded the country to round up those behind the September 11 attack, (which was quite justified) but the operation seems to have morphed into another occupation of a country where many of the people simply want the U.S and her allies to leave.
Reduce waiting lists for elective surgery in Public Hospitals
Current Status: Unknown
During the election campaign of 2007 the ALP and Kevin Rudd made a number of promises related to health, few of which have been delivered in any tangible way. I am unaware for example of any significant reductions in elective surgery waiting times in public hospitals as a result of anything done by the Federal Government. But I might be wrong, so if anyone has some hard data then please share it with me.
Personally I wish all levels of government would commit to reducing accidental and preventable deaths in the public hospital system, but I guess those sorts of objectives that have been placed in the too hard basket.
2008 Tax Cuts
Current Status: Completed
Wayne Swan (also known as the slayer of the inflation genie) did deliver the planned tax cuts although I did write back in early 2008 that these cuts probably should have been cancelled. But to be fair the ALP promised the tax cuts during the 2007 election campaign and they delivered.
However it is sort of ironic now that all the money handed out in tax cuts will be needed by the government again to pay down debt, so I would not get too attached to any extra money you feel you have in your pocket at the moment.
Deliver budget surpluses equivalent to 1% of GDP
Current Status: Broken
There seems to be little chance that Rudd and Swan will be able to deliver on this promise for a long time, and Rudd’s claim to be an economic conservative has to be seen as a bit of a joke.
Kevin Rudd and Wayne Swan can try and blame the global financial crisis for the huge pile of debt they created but the fact is if they had spent more wisely, the debt mountain would be much smaller and it would be easier for some future government to get the budget back in surplus.
Anyway I have written before about Rudd Economics 101 so let me just simply say that any fool can spend money and rack up debt. It isn’t clever economic management to just toss money at problems, it is simply reckless and all of us will end up paying to help Rudd shore up votes in marginal electorates and key demographics.
I have not tried to cover all of Kev07’s election promises but rather my aim was just to focus on some of the major vote grabbers and see what has actually been delivered. I have also left out some other failures like Grocery Watch and Fuel Watch that cost millions and achieved absolutely nothing simply because they were relatively small failures in the overall scheme of things.
But I am no great fan of the Rudd Government so if readers think there are some major promises they have been kept and tangible results delivered then please feel free to leave a comment.
Conversely there might be some other major election promises where the Rudd Government has completely dropped the ball, so if you feel I have missed something then let me know.