More Than Luck Book Launch: 26 November 2010

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CPD supporters looking for new ideas, packed into Berkelouw Books on Friday 26 November to help us launch our first book, More Than Luck: Ideas Australia needs now. The  crowd were treated to reflections on the political year that was from Maxine McKew; John Hewson;  CPD founder, John Menadue and Executive Director, Miriam Lyons.

SUPPORT our appeal to make the ideas in More Than Luck matter – DONATE HERE!

READ highlights from John Menadue, Maxine McKew’s & John Hewson’s speeches below.

LOOK through our book launch gallery here.

Here’s some of what John Menadue and Maxine McKew had to say on the night and how they saw More Than Luck contributing to getting the policy debates back on track:

John Menadue’s comments and reflections on the night:

“I could rest my case by saying that after the last federal election, it is more obvious than ever before that we need more than luck. We need good policies.  Perhaps the deal on the NBN is a harbinger of better things to come!

Ross Gittins described the failure of the government as ‘a lack of values, a lack of courage and a lack of skill in managing its relations with the electorate’. I can’t recall two successive Labor Prime Ministers who have been so little interested in policy.

The coalition treated the electorate as fools with its negativity and hate-filled prejudice ‘reduce the spending, cut the deficit, no new taxes and stop the boats’. They have adopted the US Tea Party rhetoric – say no to everything and wreck as much as you can.

So much of the campaign was about ‘what is in it for me’. As Tony Judt put it recently, ‘we now seem unwilling to ask hard questions. Is what the parties offering good, is it fair, is it just, is it right? Will it bring about a better society and world?’

The media joined in what seemed almost a death-wish by the major parties, by refusing to ask hard questions, personalising and trivialising the campaign and journalists interviewing each other. The Australian moves from one shrill anti-government campaign to another.

Australia has shown in the past that governments can make hard but necessary decisions and explain them successfully to the community. This country is far better than what it was when I was a boy in the country towns of South Australia. We can be optimistic that we can do things better despite the last election and the performance of our major parties and the media since then. What is the best way to take advantage of markets whilst ensuring that the public interest is protected through good public policy? As my father often said to me ‘son, stop complaining and do something about it’. The Centre for Policy Development is doing something about it in More Than Luck.”

Read more comments from John Menadue here.

Highlights from Maxine McKew’s speech on the night:

“Right now the Labor movement is witnessing a familiar ritual. We are cannibalising our own. Too much talking – too much tweeting. Not enough thinking.

On the other side, the man who would be king is already telling his court to cancel Christmas and to continue the miserable fear mongering right through the summer. One of Mr Abbott’s minions was quoted this week as saying – “we’re putting together a media strategy and want to ensure coverage across all portfolios. We are working on sending them some special presents.” Oh goodie!

It can be different, and of course, back in 2007, so many of us thought it would be. I said in my first speech in the Parliament that what we needed was a new imagining, a revived sense of what’s possible. The possibilities still exist.

In essay after essay in CPD’s latest publication ‘More Than Luck’ there are good ideas and policy positions that point the way out of the present quagmire.

In 2007 voters in suburbs like Denistone and Epping and Eastwood were entirely unsentimental about getting rid of a sitting Prime Minister. They voted for change, because we asked them to focus on the future, principally on how we invested the bounty. Bennelong voters believed in 2007 that we had the wit and the collective wisdom to do this.

Three years later many of those same voters abandoned Labor because they could see we lacked two things – courage and creativity.

Voters actually reward gutsy behaviour. Our credibility crashed when we walked away from the CPRS. Not because everyone was wedded to it. They weren’t. The Green vote in Bennelong is not what it is in the inner city.

But the immediate feed-back I got from mainstream voters was along these lines  – if you’re prepared to be so cavalier about something that you said was so important to the survival of the planet, and the future sustainability of Australia, then what else are you prepared to ditch?

Labor lost because there was too great a gap between promise and delivery. We also lost because we were control freaks – and ironically, in the end we lost control of almost everything. Had we had a bit more faith in our individual and collective capacity to transform the debate, we might not have been left clinging to office.

To get that right you have to have clarity about who you are, what you believe in, what you’ll fight for.

It doesn’t require a major re-invention – but it does require an updated version of what Whitlam and Hawke and Keating did – to give modern purpose and relevance to the Labor tradition of fairness and opportunity for all.

The way to get votes back in Bennelong and Macquarie – and in Lindsay and Banks and elsewhere – is to get back to the main story.

The main story is about managing the prosperity for everyone.

For that to happen, Labor needs to prosecute the case around the fundamentals:

  • The need to facilitate a modern Australian economy, the seamless national economy that was the primary goal of the 2020 summit.
  • The need to further internationalise our economy
  • The need to remain open to migration
  • The need to price water and carbon and promote innovation and sustainability in our major cities and regions.”

Read Maxine’s full speech here.

Read what Phillip Coorey wrote up in the Sydney Morning Herald here.

Some short excerpts from John Hewson’s comments on what obstructs policy development:

It [More Than Luck] gives you a good assessment of where we are in policymaking today, the constraints on policy and it is full of some pretty good ideas that will one day hopefully find their way into policy that is implemented by government.

Politics is far more a game, played out in 24 hour media cycles or various cycles within that.

Why policy is as poor as it is today? Politics today is a media and not a policy game. There is a need for political reform before we get policy reform.

Politics is dominated by short termism – the climate change debate is about a medium to long term challenge for this century and it was being fought out scoring points in a 24 hour media cycle.

The standing of our politicians is very poor. The leaders themselves have adopted a small target strategy.. and are risk averse.”

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