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Thursday, January 31, 2013

PM pre-occupied with governing, but not with the how
The Prime Minister at the National Press Club yesterday frequently referred to "governing" but in the speech and later questions had nothing to say about her governance agenda. So
 "Today, I will outline my approach to this work of governing .........This is the plan for 2013. A plan to govern.....We must get on with the business of governing.....  Governing first, electioneering second..... There’s plenty for this Government to be getting on with – plenty of work to do for our nation. I will devote the days of governing to that work and then, at the time now fixed, to asking the Australian people to endorse my plan to keep building a strong, fair, smart nation.
The PM kept it going during the Q&A that followed:
So for me this is about governing and getting the job done and that's what you will see me doing.
Getting the job done is well and good. In a democracy how, is equally important.

 Plans for improving democratic practices didn't rate a mention.

In response to a question about the low level of public confidence in our institutions, and whether parliamentary reform was part of the agenda, the PM simply blamed the opposition for the chaos and left it to Minister Albanese to deal with Christopher Pyne's new found interest in improving things. Two of many issues still in the in-tray are a Code of Conduct for parliamentarians and action on many Belcher Committee recommendations regarding parliamentary entitlements that have been gathering dust for years.

No grand statement of intention from the PM that "My government will govern in ways that seek to engage and encourage public participation in a new spirit in a tried and true democracy." 

Or lowering the sights just a little, "My government will govern in  accordance with the highest standards of integrity, transparency and accountability" followed by specific references to a national anti corruption plan, a national version of the state corruption investigations bodies, whistleblower protection legislation, electoral funding and lobbying reform. No follow on from her 2010 commitment to "let the sunshine in" or a flicker of interest in lining up with G20 friends in the Open Government Partnership "a global effort to make governments better... (for) more transparent, effective and accountable governments -- with institutions that empower citizens and are responsive to their aspirations."

No mention of that ALRC 2008 recommendation that the exemption enjoyed by political parties from the Privacy Act should be removed. Let alone opening up another front by taking on most media organisations over Finkelstein, the related parts of the Convergence Review, and the privacy cause of action for a serious and unwarranted invasion of privacy. Submissions in response to an issues paper on the latter closed 14 months ago. Not a peep since.)

Every big government decision in 2013 and many smaller ones as well were always going to be made with one eye on the Opposition and the other on the media to see how it might play in voter-land. As a result of yesterday this hasn't changed. Both eyes will be fixed on the calendar at 14 September while counting from here on.

The Opposition are mainly silent or against just about everything mentioned above. Both government and opposition keep saying 'who can you trust' without engendering any.
The Greens and the independents have good government agendas, but what leverage in this long, long year remains to be seen.

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