26 November 2007

"A new page in our nation's history"

Thus did Mr Rudd modestly describe his and the ALP's success in Saturday's election. I'd have not raised even an eyebrow if, given the scale of the victory, he'd used the word "chapter" instead of "page". His speech acknowledging ("claiming" seems too strong a word) victory was relatively low key: it took the cheers of his audience to remind me that I was witnessing what I hope will turn out to be a significant moment in Australian history.

Despite my tentative prediction about the outcome, it was a landslide in anyone's terms, and I congratulate all those who contributed to the victory.

Special thanks are due to those who developed or modified the policies which look like pointing the nation in a more equitable direction. Given the middle ground over which the ALP and the Coalition fought, or, in some respects merely quibbled, the ALP's strategy of emphasising a few key points of differentiation, eg Workchoices, worked well. The party also maintained a much tighter discipline than the Coalition throughout the campaign: in the past it's often been the other way round.

Naturally the media (mainstream and other) have had plenty to say: take your pick. To choose just one (not entirely at random) Crikey has its customary range of opinion embracing various permutations of the considered, the quirky and the ratbag (this one caught my eye).

Unlike Mr Costello who referred to neither Mr Howard nor Mr Rudd by name during his speech on Saturday night, I thought that Mr Howard conceded defeat graciously. Given recent and current events in Pakistan, Burma and many other countries it's good to see a smooth acknowledgment of a change of government.

Mr Howard held power for so long partly (not entirely) by massaging the underbelly of the Australian character, eg materialism, racism. I hope that Mr Rudd, for all the "me-too" propensities he displayed during the campaign, is less inclined to follow suit. His victory speech may have been short on visionary rhetoric but he did mention Bernie Banton , someone whose case was taken up by the (to the Coalition) much maligned union movement.

I wish Mr Rudd and his government well, and more than one term in office unless they prove exceedingly incompetent, but expect to offer constructive criticism from time to time.

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