Three days ago it was teacher training. Two days ago, it was media law reform – with a “take it or leave it” offer to the crossbenchers to either pass or reject the bill within a very short space of time. Yesterday it was Creative Australia, the proposed national cultural policy, which proposes substantial reforms to the way that the Australian government enables and assists the arts in Australia. These are important issues. Perhaps not massive vote-shifters, but important, substantial reforms nonetheless.
And yet they’re being placed into the public domain in fairly short order; predictably, the media reforms have generated by far the most media interest, and the others are largely getting lost. One way or another, the compressed timelines for the media law revisions ensures that it will either pass into law, or not, before there’s been time for a proper analysis; other announcement around the same time will go through almost unnoticed outside small communities of interest. For what it’s worth, I’m sure the LP hivemind will try to bring you as much policy analysis as possible, either original or by drawing attention to the work of others.
From a naive policy perspective, clearly, this kind of legislation on fast forward is undesirable. Equally clearly, there’s a political strategy at work here. Presumably, the restriction of debate on the media laws is to limit the amount of time the News Limited outlets can use their massive reach to campaign against it. But what’s going on with all the other announcements in the meantime? Just deck-clearing in the remaining time available before the campaign proper stars, or is there more to it?
Regardless, for once is actively controlling the agenda, it’s talking about policy plans, and it’s getting some air to discuss them. I can’t help but think that whatever the broader strategy, it hasn’t been a bad few days for the government.