Sunday, May 18, 2008

What is wrong with passing the buck?

Let me start this off by saying that I live in the Liberal stronghold of Curtin. I am also damned glad that John Howard didn't get in at the last general election, but during the course of about three months I've become skeptical of the Rudd government.

Some of you may know that I've been writing for the Third Degree, the ECU journalism student run publication. During the course of my experience, I've written on a wide range of subjects that I know nothing about.

I've written on security cameras, obscure pub bands, AFMA regulations and Net Neutrality.

During the research period, I've been offered a glimpse into how government departments are operating under the new government. During my story on Net Neutrality, I searched high and low for regulation concerning the matter from the Communications ministry.

Of course, we're about to get a spanking-new network, so this was an important issue. I found no regulation, but what I did find irked me a bit. I found that the ministry was putting out an invitation for all concerned parties to submit their ideas about regulation of the new network, to be judged by a panel of experts.

Now, I'm not so naive that I don't expect government to consult with outside groups, but you can bet your bottom dollar that if the shit hits the fan, the government will be telling us that it's not their fault, it was the fault of the panel. Then of course, they'll launch an inquiry into it to be headed up by a panel of experts.

I'm currently researching for a piece on the regulation surrounding carbon trading. Since we've signed Kyoto, this is a brand new industry. The ACCC, at the moment, has no regulation surrounding the practice, apart from the loose guidelines set out in the Trade Practices Act concerning false advertising.

Guess what the ACCC has done then?

You guessed it, they've put out a request for all people to give their two cents about how the practice should be monitored and regulated.

Now I realise the ACCC isn't technically under the government's jurisdiction, but does this sort of practice reflect a changing practice in Australia?

I know bodies like to consult with outside bodies on pieces of legislation, but before KRudd, this was an internal process. I commend the government for making this process transparent to the public, but what sort of message does this send out to the community?

Take the 2020 summit for example. The government lauded it as a bold, new move in the direction of policy, but the skeptical took it as a statement 'Well, we're out of ideas already. We've apologised, signed Kyoto, what else can we do?'

In other words, the buck stops with the committee.

The Rudd Government does seem to take ideas from outside it's own party (Howard's Battlers= Rudd's Working Families), but has the time for generating ideas come to an end. Is there a desire to see the government take action instead of consult with special interest groups?

At the moment, there seems to be a focus on symbolism rather than legislation, and sooner or later, the buck will stop with KRudd.

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