Many conservative commentators have described the Gillard Government as ‘the worst in history’. This is a ludicrous assessment and the list of achievements should never be forgotten. Here are only three examples:
- The National Disability Insurance Scheme is a generational;
- The National Broadband Network is a nation building exercise at a time when governments, both federal and state, have neglected infrastructure; and,
- Finally acting on climate change by placing a price on carbon.
As you can see, I have met the Prime Minister and respect her a great deal. In saying that, there is no denying that her Government has also made some fundamental errors. For example, the Mining Super-Profits Tax was a poor application of an important initiative.
Unfortunately, two things have haunted the current Prime Minister.
The first is an inability to shake off the way that Kevin Rudd was replaced. It was unprecedented that a first term prime minister would be treated this way – and though the caucus may well have felt justified, the Australian public has felt cheated. This has led to leadership speculation for years, leading to a absurd non-challenge last week which I wrote about here for The Conversation.
The second is the inability of the Government to sell its message. Sure, the Opposition has repeatedly undertaken personal attacks that have not only undermined the Prime Minister, but the office more generally. The conservative media have also thrown mud at ms. Gillard with no evidence and she has faced attacks that are simply based on her gender. They have both been guilty of damaging Australia’s democracy by undermining our ‘trust’ and respect in governments: something that was the focus of a discussion I had on Radio National’s Life Matters with the amazing Associate Professor Sarah Maddison (UNSW) and hosted by Natasha Mitchell: you can here the podcast here.
In saying that, the Government has done itself no favors as was recently evident in ms. Gillard’s recent trip to Western Sydney. It is here that we saw the good, bad and the ungly of the current government – something which I wrote about for The Conversation and available here.
This is not a perfect government, but I certainly think it has achieved more than most have given it credit for… and its a shame that it has been encased in a controversy that is often of its own making.