This is the election editorial from Melbourne’s Sunday Herald-Sun.
The Sunday Herald-Sun is a News Limited publication.
Editorial from the Sunday Herald-Sun.
It’s Time, But Not For Labor
It is time. Not to change governments, but to resist temptation. It is time to acknowledge that the Coalition is the safe bet in a political contest in which the new, despite its superficial allure, offers less than the familiar.
It is difficult to imagine Kevin Rudd’s team, despite its unhealthy trade union weighting, being cavalier with our prosperity.
But why take the chance? Why change horses when Australia is galloping strongly ahead with the lowest unemployment in a generation? Why take risks when the International Monetary Fund describes Australia’s economic management as at the forefront of world’s best practice?
Mr Rudd has made a case for being taken seriously, but not for unseating John Howard. Yes, he has been impressive. Labor’s pitch has put the Coalition’s to shame in terms of style. But an election is not a marketing campaign for consumer goods. It is a test of ideas and credentials.
For the most part, Labor’s policies are the Coalition’s with a slight twist. Its platform is not sufficiently different to make us jump to attention. Mr Rudd’s front bench is untried in the crucible of economic management. Labor’s ability to keep inflation in check also depends to a large extent on IOUs held by the unions.
We like what we have seen of Mr Rudd. But we probably need to see more of Mr Rudd’s teammates before trusting them with our future.
Labor’s campaign has been a little too cynical for its own good. For a party championing freshness and new directions, it has been at pains to appear more conservative than the Conservatives. Mr Rudd has stalked Mr Howard with a banner that reads: Me, too!
Labor is also wrong when it talks of an economy in autodrive because of China’s demand for our natural resources. The OECD annual economic survey of Australia attributes our success to a judicious mix of sound macroeconomic and structural policies.
The international plaudits suggest Peter Costello has been a fine Treasurer. We are left asking what might have been if he had succeeded Mr Howard a year ago. Instead of dipping into the pork barrel, as Mr Howard has done with abandon this election, we might have seen inspiring responses on climate change and infrastructure bottlenecks.
Nevertheless, Australians should stick with Mr Howard. Mr Rudd should ready himself to challenge Mr Costello in three years, when it may be time.