Tuesday, March 27, 2007

(some) sanity prevails

Its encouraging to read today's article describing how Labor leader Kevin Rudd has endorsed free trade and economic growth as core principles, much to the disappointment of the Labor Left factions.

The Opposition Leader's proposals, obtained by The Australian, would denounce passive welfare, embrace the casualisation of the workforce, boost business grants and formally bury Mark Latham's disastrous Tasmanian forests policy with support for logging.

The draft platform, which also embraces public-private partnerships to fund roads andother infrastructure, ensures a showdown between Mr Rudd and powerful Left unions at next month's ALP national conference.


"Labor is committed to building a modern economy that competes successfully in global markets for agriculture, resources, manufactures and services," the draft platform says.

"With the economic fundamentals in place, Labor's key priority is to raise the incomes and living standards of the Australian people by building an economic climate of enterprise and innovation."

The policy blueprint - which will be voted on by 400 delegates at the showcase ALP event - rejects the heavy hand of government intervention, or a withdrawal from free trade deals. Instead, the Labor leadership argues that long-term prosperity ensures Australia is "able to sustain high-quality public services and a generous safety net for those in need".

There still remain a few concerns about the Labor party's economic credentials in my mind, but this is a massive improvement and there is very little left to distinguish them from the Liberals at the moment.

Some of the remaining problems with Labor are their opposition to Work Choices, their plan to splurge $4.7bil on broadband and their plan to establish a new bureaucracy to manage national roads, rail and ports. Also Labor has unfortunately thrown their weight behind environmental regulations and might even ratify the Kyoto protocol.

But there is hope that Labor may improve in some areas where the Liberals have been dismal, especially the Howard/Costello support for middle class welfare. Labor are definately more likely than the Liberals to undo the harmful baby bonus and other parenting payments. The Liberals have also made the mistake of endorsing costly environmental policy, such as the moronic light bulb restrictions and pouring billions into inefficient "alternative energy" sources and pursuing clean coal.

The Liberals have a party platform that is purely in favor of free trade. Since they no longer adhere to it, its hard to really differentiate between the two parties. Neither has the strongest economic credentials.

So if you have the chance, vote LDP at the next election.