Friday, 20th December 2013

SIGNING OFF

It's the end of the political year, and this is our last 2013 dispatch. We'll leave it to others to make sense of the dramas of the year – and wish them luck, for theirs is no simple task.

Instead we'll present some final, forward-looking observations. Not ours, but from the infinitely more qualified Ross Garnaut, whose Dog Days thesis has come to permeate Australia's political culture since the book was published last month.

The boom is ending, he says. What lies ahead? Dog Days.

"Excellent economic policy will look ordinary, and ordinary policy abominable. Good policy has to begin with a huge readjustment of community expectations."

But a changed political culture presents political leaders with an awful choice, he says: between easy short-term political gains and the risk inherent in explaining and seeking to advance the difficult solutions the nation requires.

The government has the opportunity "to occupy the centre ground" and govern in the public interest. If it does so, it may conserve most of the gains of the past 22 years of growth.

Alternatively (and we paraphrase), "If it seeks to govern in the interests of its most powerful supporters, it will not be able to lead Australia away from rising unemployment, large falls in living standards, social tension and growing dissatisfaction with our institutions."

Our apologies, reader, for ending on such a note. Like Garnaut, we offer it in a spirit of constructive criticism.

Seasons greetings, and many thanks for your attention. May everyone, especially our political leaders, benefit from the break. See you in 2014.

Nick Feik
Politicoz Editor

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