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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Overall positives for Rudd after one year, but stiil some biggies to deliver.

Plenty of assessments- universally overall positive- on the occassion of the first anniversary tomorrow of the election of the Rudd Government. The thrust of many is that the Government has successfully avoided major disasters, and after many months of looking very cautious and obsessed with process and inquiries, has been transformed into action-oriented by quick(maybe too quick in some respects) responses to the economic and financial markets crises.A couple of examples from Paul Kelly and Michelle Grattan.

The Weekend Australian included a scorecard for many ministers ranging from 9/10 for Julia Gillard and Lindsay Tanner to 5/10 for Steve Conroy but didn't even bother to assess John Faulkner the minister responsible for integrity issues.We've said it before Faulkner has some runs on the board, but no there is no excuse for the pathetically slow pace of Freedom of Information reform which is still to get to first base. Even if we accept the proposed two stage reform process, just what is the hard part associated with abolishing conclusive certificates that means 12 months on, no legislation to achieve this has found its way into Parliament? As to the "changing the culture" intentions, don't start me....

My assessment for Faulkner overall would be 7/10 but on the FOI front nothing to justify a pass and "needs to do much better."

There have been a couple of observations in the media about form regarding openness and transparency, generally along the lines of an opinion piece in the Australian Financial Review last Thursday by Sophie Morris(no link available) who commented that" The Rudd Government is an avid practitioner of the dark art of managing the news, despite its commitment to end the practices of its predecessor." Morris said "Faulkner's efforts to remove some of the systemic barriers to transparency have been thwarted by a media strategy that seems designed to manage the message so closely that public oversight suffers."

Morris quoted John Warhurst of ANU saying the Rudd Government ' is not any more open than the previous mob for all their efforts to say they would be." On the money for mine.

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