Tim, IMO if the government changes so does the country.
My reasons are:
- Govts set and control the legislative agenda
- They can make changes in response to fluctuations in opinion polls etc
- They generally set media agenda: a few commentators may challenge them, but rarely have any lasting effect
- Control of purse strings gives power.
Consider Therese Rein's position. She is a beneficiary of the Howard govt's changes to employment services, ie
(1) dismantling CES and outsourcing its activities, thereby creating a government funded "market" in employment services (which Ms Rein and her companies have entered and, it seems, flourished in)
(2) changing definition of "employment" (now one hour working a fortnight) and shift many people to disability support
(3) claiming credit for reduction in employment.
In its 11 years in opposition the ALP has never, as far as I know, stated that it will revert to the old system, nor has it come up with an alternative system.