I’m surprised by former Treasurer Keith De Lacy’s comments on the Opposition’s readiness to govern reported by the Brisbane Times this morning (Labor had ‘secret’ plan to govern). It seems a little unfair given I doubt any Opposition in Australian political history was fully prepared for the challenges of Government. Luckily, however, there is a huge bureaucracy, generally with very good people at the top, who will have an incoming Government brief ready for their first meeting with the leadership team. This will set out the economic and budgetary state of play, any important urgent business, and an assessment of how the new Government’s policy agenda can be implemented. It will, of course, note the policy measures that cannot be implemented or are truly silly.
I have no doubt that the new Government will need to change some of the policies it put forward before the election – e.g. its plan to prop up TAFE seems overdone and “back to the future.” But all new Governments change their plans. I remember once asking a (very) senior Treasury official in Canberra whether we should have been worried about some of the plans that were being presented by the Opposition led by Kevin Rudd prior to the 2007 election – e.g. Grocerywatch, Fuelwatch. The official replied that you need to be forgiving of Oppositions because they don’t have the resources that Governments do, and all Oppositions end up putting forward a few silly policies. That was the voice of experience. No Opposition is truly ready for Government, in a sense, which is why I find Mr De Lacy’s criticism a little unfair.