Topic: aust govt
The Rudd led Govt made it pretty clear they wanted an injection of real talent when they threw open their own staffing to advertising in the national press late 2007. Here's one rare reference in crikey.com.au despite lots of googling which suggests serious lack of Big media coverage:
Pre-empting the weekend job ads Friday, 30 November 2007
These ALP staffers are now washing into Canberra apparently.
A sound approach reinforced by Rudd himself getting a job with Premier Goss via a newspaper advert in 1989. Rudd seems to be very catholic about these things annexing the talent, including a country music singer for Australian of the Year seemingly from another constituency.
So what did that approach late 2007 say about the federal ALP machine? That they are big and mature enough to know they have a problem and go poaching new talent a bit like brilliant thinker Ainsley Hayes in the West Wing tv show?
Or simply that they are desperate to avoid the stodgy result of nepotism and tribalism in their own ranks? That they really do believe in meritocracy?
Now we hear PM Rudd has called a summit in April for 1000 dinkum smarties with a catchy '2020' PR tag on the front page of both broadsheets today, described on AM here. Opposition Leader Nelson is quick to agree with the idea perhaps for getting in trouble for being too contrarian over Indigenous matters.
(Maybe Mr Nelson got too carried away with friendly obituaries for (in)famous curmudgeon PP McGuiness? Secular saint of scepticism | The Australian).
Kerry Packer's corporate lieutenant Sam Chisholm famously stated "Losers have meetings ..." which might have been more a comment on the ultra hierarchical PBL world - Big Kerry throwing a cricket ball full force at a lackey from the behind the desk is one way to 'meet' I suppose.
But there is an element of losers all the same: The ALP in NSW are f*cked morally having so compromised themselves on donations, reviled by their own union base for flogging the family silver in terms of public assets, and in the target sights of every press baron in town. And the WA Labor Party are in trouble too. No wonder Rudd feels the need to run interference on the PR train wreck damaging his own brand with a circus style 'look over here'. A vaudeville involving intellectuals, and an event arguably of real merit, but the controlled timing is there all the same.
Many questions arise re this 1,000 best and brightest, which itself is a problemmatic criterion. The Govt panel decides. It is already a broadsheet kind of thing and hardly a mention in the Sydney Daily Telegraph today. Even chattering natural constituency ABC 702 jockey Cameron asks today 'why so soon after the federal election which promised new leadership? Exactly.
Sure it could be a Hawke style consensus building exercise as per the subdued Party Liners segment on 702 today. Not just a smart arse diversionary PR gambit which it has genuninely achieved already. It could be about consensus and injection of new talent. But 1983 was a very differen time, being the first ALP team back after the corrosive 1975 dismissal 8 years before. People still felt aggrieved about their democracy getting done over. Nothing like that here. It was the me too election after all.
Labor leader Kevin Rudd also promised to keep most of the Government's $34 billion worth of tax cuts outlined on Monday, except he would defer some of the $3 billion tax cut for people earning over $180,000, who would receive a reduced amount. In Rudd outlines tax vision Phillip Hudson October 19, 2007 - 4:36PM
It could be a natural flow on of those new ALP staffers wanting some serious intellectualism to engage with beyond the loyal stodge: The boredom factor. It could be.
But the PM's imprimatur just smells of real politiking, of pants on fire trickery:
1. As above the immediate benefit of diversion from very big brand ALP financial governance woes like this $15B doozy. My corner shopkeeper asked me today whether she ought to fix the interest on her mortgage today before the deadline. That question is so revealing of the very real troubles people are experiencing and the anger and blame they may be looking to apportion the government's way. [Our answer was 'not a financial adviser ... US recession possible ... inflation rising ... Rory Robertson ... very awkward juncture ...50:50 ...ACTU caution to Reserve Bank ...lots are fixing today ....yeah probably should!] Then there is inflation threat up another .2% in a month;
2. the immediate reaction of most public intellectuals including this pseudo one is 'do I make the grade?'. This is a favoured cynical dynamic created by Big Parties leveraging flattery, access, status that goes with incumbency. It's essentially a form of disempowerment on robust critics with a 2 month burn time just when the ALP need it to obscure other troubles. In this sense the SAM micro news blog accepts the challenge. We wouldn't expect to be invited and would have a real quandary even if we were in case we also found our pants on fire trying to report it:
3. Will there be genuine indy community media reportage at this event? I don't think so. For all the talk by ex WA premier Geof Gallup about new technology, and Glyn Davis of Melb Uni saying 'contrary thinkers are included', we just can't see it happening. Which raises the real agenda here ....
4. The federal ALP need to regain the intellectual initiative they and any government are increasingly losing to ... the uncontrolled blogosphere. The 'interwebby' thingy. Web 2.0. Indeed the intricate control and patronage machine and revolving door between Big Politics and Big Media is being seriously diluted now. (We recently watched Sean Penn in All the Kings Men (2006) reflecting the real life and death of Huey Long, Governor then Senator for Louisiana 1928-1937: A great parable amongst other things about the crossover between Big Media staff to Big Politics. )
We say the 'best and brightest' are already in effect summiting in cyberspace. And crucially are not branded by the incumbent ALP. What those who attend this Rudd summit risk for themselves is becoming not the best and brightest but the luckiest and vainest: It's the siren call of status and access for the rich and privileged. Indeed the Think Tanks are keen with all their vested interests and hackneyed rhetoric:
5. Indeed this phenomenon of unaligned blogopshere is underlined by the diminished role of an aligned 'left wing' Get Up cyber network post federal election, which is widely viewed as having lost its raison d'etre of removal of the Howard Govt. Get Up have now effectively lost it's contrarian traction and been left to echo the Govt publicity. Worthy or not. Why bother? But the bloggers and crikey.com.au etc do not reheat their editorial. So how does the ALP get control of this burgeoning unaligned sector which is the defacto tendency of all Big Parties? The potential post Rudd election 'Get Up alter ego' which itself might yet turn on the Rudd ALP? A conference of knobs and those jealous wannabe knobs is a reasonable start to annexe the unaligned sector.
6. Which calls up our own view of meetings with, and organised by, politicians. They want to pick your brains, maybe recruit you, definitely control you. The unaligned blogosphere can be annexed as much as anyone if they take the bait with all the flattery and what is known in the trade as 'pissing in your pocket' - a warm feeling that turns decidely cold and unhygienic after a short time.
7. The ALP are in reality a struggling outfit when it comes to genuinely intractable problems - ignorant materialistic growth economics just won't cut it anymore as ecological oblivion bears down via dangerous climate change. The intrinsic contradiction in their soul is there, promoting biggest container ship access to shallow ports in Sydney and Melbourne, more tollway roads, and promoting forest destruction. Grist, a high level environmental news site in the US is already reporting we stuffed it as a human project. In this light a summit meeting of 1,000 will hardly change anything except to quieten the voices of dissent or intelligent public critique. Just as the Bali conference achieved no change for the better as such but was a great hand wringing voyeuristic face saver for doing nothing.
It may be apparent we don't really believe in meeting process anymore.
Postscript #1 5th Feb 08
On one view it appeared PM K Rudd confirmed the attempt by the ALP to subborn public intellectual life with an on air invitation to ABC 7.30 Report's Kerry O'Brien 'to attend and report or participate'. It's all in the invitation. An amused KB mumbled a post script about conflict of interest participating and reporting - all on air. But he'd been flattered so the objective was achieved, 'one of the 1,000' by implication. This is the sleazy flattery that goes with Big Politics. Been there done that. KB has been there too. Take note 5th Estate and honest brokers everywhere that politics and idealism are only vaguely related. This is what Rudd is really worried about as the Reserve Bank considers interest rate rise today
Of course the riposte is that this is all too jaundiced and cynical. But is it? Willy Stark in All The Kings Men suggests not possible.
Postscript #2 6th Feb 08
We keep recalling a brazen summer clerk at litigation firm Baker & McKenzie in 1990, much more assimilated in that culture than we ever were, sparring with the supervising partner about her "experience" in relation to some work matter. I was impressed and shocked with her quick fire comment "our experience is our experience". In other words, it's not for free and I don't give such away for nothing. A very precocious attitude but she was on the mark for an advice based industry. A very acquisitive Ayn Rand style of philosophy that underpins why lawyers get rich, but a summit of free ideas for brand ALP seems to me to the other extreme akin to the tragedy of the commons where pearls will either be cast into the mud, or creator totally gazumped.
For instance we recall apocraphyl stories of entrepeneurs (Dick Smith? Macquarie Bank as per Stateline Fri 1 Feb 08 transcript in due course? ] 'stealing' good ideas rather than 'supporting' the originator. A cynical way to get rich. Or in this case build political capital with minimal respect for the founder? Compare Stephen Mayne - still acknowledged as "founder" of Crikey.com.au, a serious media outlet, though onsold and no longer a controlling influence for a good 2 years. But there he is still the "founder" as per ABC slots and fair enough to. Hard to imagine brand ALP leaving that kind of space. Goodbye creative recognition?
We are talking intellectual property here. But also who gets the due status and brand control. The creator or the financier? Or both?
Of course balanced against this is the patriotic motive to serve our country for the common good and share but it seems very naive to serve the systemically corrupt ALP not least in NSW. Much better to build an alternative conceptual framework in genuine creative competition that can't be annexed with the tribal ALP brand burned on (or Coalition for that matter) with their fat wages and cronyism and dishonesty. Indeed as here just give destabilising ideas on a blog for instance to everyone before it can be hidden away in a box by Party or business cynics.
Postscript #3 8th Feb 2008
Resident 7.30 Report satirists have also cut loose last night with a quite cutting and jaundiced piece on the big 2020 event We feel that this was always likely to happen because it defied credulity to think that sooner or later someone (like SAM here) would call the ALP spinmeister's bluff and decide they didn't need or want the flattery of an invitation to feel good about oneself.
Indeed once a few trendsetters in public intellectual life expressed this sincerely it was always likely that roughly 20M less the actual 1000 would be offended either for 1. not being chosen or 2. being manipulated emotionally to be 'nice' for 2 months of critical real politik while waiting for same invite:
We submit the underlying lesson for students of political communication from the amusing scorn of the inimitable duo (best viewed on the tape rather than transcript) is this: Don't do emotional manipulation, it's not nice between friends, and ditto government to citizens.