Note to readers: I am going to leave this as the front post for a little while before bringing up part two. As I get comments, I will post additions. I am interested in the way comments help me tease out issues.
Tonight a few, not especially profound policy comments. In writing, I was thinking of DG's comments on Wallabies & tie colours. Do Australia's pollies need a good spank? where he listed some coalition policy initiatives that he considered to be important. There he said in part:
I don't think there is any doubt where the Coalition would like to take the country; it wants to wind back some of the daft, lunatic and ruinous policies of the Rudd / Gillard administrations ... ill-conceived policies that seek to destroy the reformist achievements of the Hawke / Keating / Howard years.
Now it would be unfair and inappropriate for me to respond via full post to what DG said. I disagreed in part and responded in comments. But DG did get me thinking, so I thought that I would make some general policy observations here on a number of policy areas. In most cases I haven't done the detailed analysis required for full comment. They are just observations.
Evan agreed with me about the convergence of the main parties. I suppose that's one of the things that i trying to test. Are the Nats different?
National Disability Insurance Scheme
This is an area where Government and Coalition are in agreement. I haven't worked through the detail, but one weakness strikes me. This is an area where action, case management, is increasingly being outsourced. In the funder/provider model, services can be delivered by either not for profits or profit providers. The aim appears to be to create a competitive market place responsive to the needs of clients.
I want to turn this one on its head. In addition to being a social policy, it's actually an industry development policy. The organisations required for delivery at the present time don't exist. They have to be grown. Can this be done in the required policy time horizon? I doubt it. look for vulnerabilities, risks, on both sides.
This is an apparent area of difference between the two. The Government is trying to lock things in. In reality, I actually expect no difference between the two.
Gonski is a funding mechanism. The "policy" content comes from the imposition of standardised national measurements, the NAPLAN tests. These have moved from a narrowly defined performance measure to another control device. The only difference that I can see between the two sides is over money. I see no evidence at this point of different approaches when it comes to questions of control and measurement.
Beyond every increasing controls and measurement, this is so far a policy free zone.
No difference that I can see.
I wrote no difference that I could see. DG suggested two areas of difference, different attitudes towards Israel and Indonesia. I agree on Israel, the Coalition is likely to be more sympathetic than Minister Carr. On Indonesia?
My Abbott has emphasised the Indonesian relationship. But, or so it seems to me, both sides are equally guilty of saying things for domestic consumption (Labor live cattle exports, Liberal on boats are examples) that then have to be recovered, explained.
I understand the framework of current policy towards Indonesia, but I am not sure yet what a Coalition Government would do different.
This area has converged. I stand to be corrected, but I can't see a practical difference.
DG accepted convergence in macro policy, but argued that there were differences in micro policy. I think that's a fair correction and will look at micro policy in my next post.
I don't understand this one properly, but is is an area of difference. The interpretation of Mr Abbott's policies suggest either that he has been very creative within bounds or has simply adopted Labor positions. Expect Mr Abbott to be more flexible.
Stop the Boats
The main difference between the two here is that the Coalition is a lot harsher. From my viewpoint given what happened under Mr Howard, that's a problem. That's a personal perspective. I also think that there a practical risks with the Opposition's policy. Again, that's a personal bias.
I will stop here tonight. However, do let me know where I am wrong.