There’s been some discussion on PM Julia Gillard’s inaugural Gough Whitlam Oration at the Whitlam Institute in the University of Western Sydney last night on another post, where it’s arguably off topic. But it probably does deserve a post of its own.
The full text is at Richard Farmer’s blog.
A few quick thoughts:
1. Given that the speech promises helpful little cuts to avoid deep cuts down the track, we really need to query the fetishisation of the Budget Surplus By Next Year Or Bust narrative. I suppose it’s been woven into the whole avoid another broken promise thing by now, but how rational is it to do this? Gillard goes on about the mining boom, but her praise for its employment record appears contradictory when set against her other comments about mining companies preferring to import labour rather than provide training, and, for that matter, to Wayne Swan’s point in the mining tax debate last year that the resources industry employs comparatively few people, and went madly shedding labour during the GFC while still wracking up massive profits. I’m not at all convinced that now is the time for “government to get out of the way” – I thought that private sector demand and employment growth was still sluggish.
I’d have also thought that natural disaster spending would reasonably excuse a continued deficit.
But I imagine that the “cuts” thing is a political maneouvre to show the government muscling up, and to wedge the Liberals. Well and good, but how good for the people of Australia will such a program be?
2. A lot of attention has revolved around this bit:
And the Greens will never embrace Labor’s delight at sharing the values of every day Australians, in our cities, suburbs, towns and bush, who day after day do the right thing, leading purposeful and dignified lives, driven by love of family and nation.
3. Gillard’s talk of fairness and opportunity seems blind to any notion that the ongoing structural conditions which shape unequal access to opportunity have to be challenged. Her vision is still a narrow social liberalism Mark well identified in this post on Gillardism during the election campaign last year. It repays rereading.
Elsewhere: Jonathan Green.
Elsewhere [by MB]: Trevor Cook:
Gillard uses opportunity 12 times in her speech, and never mentions equality or inequality.
Concerns about inequality have been air-brushed out of the rhetoric of today’s ALP.
Update: John Quiggin.
Update: Bernard Keane.