Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

The path not followed

Posted by Dave Bath on 2008-02-19

ABC Four Corners’ "Howard’s End" was somewhat disappointing, and perhaps negligent, because of the followup questions that either were not asked, or not broadcast: too much focus on the "celebrity gossip" of party leadership, and not enough on the admissions of policy failures.

I’ll cover two lines of questioning I would like to see answered, by Costello and Hockey.

When Costello admitted that Kyoto should have been ratified years ago, he should have been asked the following:

  • When did you reach that conclusion?
  • Either you took longer than everybody else did to realize the dangers of climate change, or you preferred to avoid political red faces rather than implement good policy: Which sin did you commit?
  • Without needing to name names, how many current Liberal Party parliamentarians who were in cabinet were just as stupid or just as willing to prefer party politics over policy?
  • Can you name any other policies where political expediency trumped intelligence and good policy?
  • Is this common in Australian politics, regardless of political party, and how damaging is this to the country?

Joe Hockey’s admissions that he had to inform some cabinet colleagues that Work Choices would lead to disadvantage should have led to the following lines of questioning:

  • So, some cabinet ministers realized the problems, and the fact that the Australian people were told counterfactuals. This calls into question the functioning of the cabinet:
    • How common is it for cabinet members (and backbenchers) to be unable to think through the obvious implications of government policy?
    • Why were these implications not discussed openly in cabinet before you were made the responsible minister?
  • Do any statements in parliament that Work Choices would not lead to disadvantage, before the fairness test was introduced, constitute contempt?
  • Can you name any other government initiatives were similar failures became evident?
  • What can be done procedurally to avoid similar failures, by any government, in the future?

Too me, Liz Jackson’s report would have been more useful to the country if it spent less time titillating viewers with intra-party disputes of the past, and more on the future implications for the country of functional failures of our political system.

Unless there is a followup report exploring the more important issues raised by last night’s revelations, the ABC will be failing to meet its community obligations.

See Also:

  • Open Liberal Knife-a-thon Thread – Larvatus Prodeo (2008-02-18)
  • Howard’s End – Public Opinion (2008-02-18)
  • When narcissism collides with entitlement – Possum’s Pollytics (2008-02-19)
  • Senator Andrew Bartlett discusses Hockey’s admissions in a wider context (2008-02-18)

    I saw this occur not only on Work Choices, but also on many other major issues such as the so-called Welfare to Work measures, the propaganda driven defence of the Northern Territory intervention and the flagrantly misleading justifications for the brutalisation of refugees.
    It is always a dispiriting feeling to be engaging in debate on an important piece of legislation in the Senate when the realisation hits you that the person you are debating doesn’t really have the first idea what they are talking about, and even worse doesn’t care.  It’s not a matter of who is right and who is wrong – it is when things degrade to such an extent that there is no longer any interest in the facts, only the spin and the talking points.


2 Responses to “The path not followed”

  1. zombinol said

    Was that 4 Corners or Behind The News?

    Has the ABC’s estimation of the Australian public slipped too much?

    I was underwhelmed to the extreme but held in a continuum of suspense, it was vacuous, each time it seemed as though the subject was giving some insight, we moved on to contrast with another subject.

    The veneer depth of interview was a real let down. Dave, I couldn’t agree with you more and your additional questions would have seemed natural for the interviewer.

    Were the responses impromptu or was it all pre scripted? How much notice did each subject get of each exact question?

  2. Dave Bath said

    You say:

    How much notice did each subject get of each exact question?

    Good point! Perhaps the intervieweesevaders demanded an “approved questions list” before agreeing to see the reporter.

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