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The final betrayal

Recently, I was greeted with the wonderful news that Bracks is going. As Krusty was once asked, "Why now? Why not 20 years ago?". I will confess, I shed no tears when Kennett went. I respected the difficult decisions he made, even if I disagreed with them, I disliked the arrogance and I was disgusted by the contempt he showed the democratic institutions.

Seizing on similar sentiments, Bracks campaigned on a platform of not being Kennett. To avoid any temptations for revisionism on what actually happenned, let's remember: Kennett didn't actually lose to Bracks. It was some where between a draw and a slight win. Unfortunately for Kennett, he needed the support of independents to break the deadlock. Further, he had successfully alienated those who may have voted for him, and suddenly we had Bracks.

He came on the back of some nice, populist policies aiming to win back people who had been disenfranchised by Kennett's economic reforms. These sounded wonderful in principle, and if I was happy to be purchased, I may even have voted for him. As it is, I have a very good record of voting against the eventual winner in elections.

Bracks then spent the next several years doing very little. All those promises he made: neglected, watered-down or forgotten. All those things he campaigned against in opposition? Ignored.

Now, I don't demand economic accountability of Labor Governments. I am prepared for them to run up small deficits if it means building infrastructure or improving society. If it means making long-term decisions.

I am not so happy when, in the name of "good management" we have surplus at all costs and no infrastructure spending. As the state dried, we had, not leadership, but vague, hand-wavy suggestions. As the privatised transport returned to state hands, we had it reprivatised. Instead of Kennett's overt privatisation, we now have Public-Private Partnerships, where we privatise profits and nationalise (or whatever the word is when it is a state Government) losses; where the Government trades short term political expediency for long term common-sense (note for all politicians: you ain't gonna beat Mac Bank. Don't try).

And then there are Bracks' abuses of the democratic process. I believe Orwell would have said something like, "and they looked from Jeff to Bracks and from Bracks to Jeff..."

So how fitting a way for Bracks to go out: after leaving a trail of broken promises, squandering of economic good fortune, and democratic abuses behind him, how fitting that he finally goes less than a year after the election. Having campaigned on a platform of Baillieu being Kennett (and Bracks not being Kennett), and having made promises that he would do something or other in the up-coming term, he nicks off. I can accept quitting with enough time that your successor can establish his own leadership - say halfway through the term, but quitting this early simply means that anything done in the recent campaign was done in someone else's, probably Brumby's, name without even the honesty that it would be Brumby officially running the show.

A final betrayal to those people who voted for him.

But a nice, albeit belated, present for Victoria


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