One hundred days

Monday marked one hundred days since the Abbott Government was elected by the Australian people. To commemorate this profoundly moving and meaningful anniversary, the Prime Minister’s Office has issued The First 100 Days of Government [PDF] and an accompanying press release summarising the Coalition’s progress on the actions it promised to undertake within this timeframe if elected.

This is, well, an unsurprising development. The Rudd Government undertook a similar exercise [PDF] after winning office in 2007, no doubt designed in Opposition primarily to help convey the urgency and energy the incoming government would bring to the table if elected. 100 is a nice round, memorable number: a century, a ton, just a touch over fourteen weeks, around a week over three months. Sure, it doesn’t mean a damn thing chronologically to any of us, and it typically means little in legislative terms, because the Senate and House of Representatives terms do not align, but it’s a nice shiny round number that newspapers can splash in a large font across their front pages and television news presenters can read off their autocues with effortless gravitas. Today marks one hundred days of the Abbott Government, viewers! One hundred days. Wow.

Leaving aside for a moment the sophistry of the number, it is hard not to contrast the upbeat, sanitised fluff of the Abbott Government’s report with reality. Yes, pre-election promises were made, but nobody actually cares all that much about most of the actions listed in the document or whether they were undertaken with the first hundred days. Few will sleep better than they have for six years knowing that Tony Abbott’s first overseas trip as Prime Minister was to Indonesia. The life expectancy of people living in Kellyville will not have climbed during the last few weeks as the Coalition dramatically and unprecedentedly ensured that Bruce Billson was sworn in as a Minister for Small Business in Cabinet.

What people do care about is that so far, the Coalition has governed amateurishly; they have had a stinker. Tony Abbott and Alastair Cook are basically interchangeable at this point. As the Poll Bludger notes, opinion polls incredibly have Labor ahead of the Coalition by 4 to 5 percentage points, just *cough* one-hundred days after the Coalition’s comfortable election victory. Gaffe has followed gaffe. There has been an embarrassing backflip (followed by a front flip) on the promise to honour the Gillard Government’s Gonski schools funding agreements with the states. After campaigning rabidly against Labor on the dangers of debt, Treasurer Joe Hockey has moved quickly to scrap the debt ceiling completely, leaving the door open for profligate public spending in the next couple of years. The ham-fistedness of the government’s communications with the Indonesian government and more recently with Holden Australia have left a lot to be desired, threatening to make difficult situations even worse for the country. The traditional, dozy Australian holiday period can just not come quick enough for this government.

Any gaggle of muppets can argue that they are performing admirably according to their own arbitrary timeline and carefully curated handful of meaningless metrics. Tony Abbott might not have much to learn from the English cricket captain at the moment, but Alastair Cook should probably have considered taking a leaf from the Prime Minister’s book: instead of promising to retain the urn, he could have instead just promised to keep a first slip in position when in the field during the first four days of the First Test.

I am sure then that the English public would have been satisfied that their cricket team’s performance targets had then been met.

One hundred days of Rudd Labor

Time flies, as they say, when you are having fun. I am not sure the Rudd Labor Government has been having fun in office, but the consensus seems to be that they have done an excellent job so far. The “hundred days in office” narrative has already attracted quite a good deal of commentary and analysis in the mainstream media, which I’ve decided to summarise below. To be honest I think the government’s achievements speak for themselves [PDF], and Australia can, at least thus far, feel quite proud about the decision it made last November.

The AgeEditorial
Quite effusive in its praise.

The AgeJaspan and Grattan, A Long March
You can certainly tell whose camp The Age is in, not unjustifiably. To be quite honest I am a bit over the thinly veiled and pointless Chinese communism references, however.

The AgeGrattan, Rudd delivers progress report
A fairly fact-oriented report on the release of the government’s First 100 Days document.

The AustralianFranklin, Rudd says no to Left agenda
Tries quite hard to turn Federal Labor’s commitment to actually delivering on what it promised as a repudiation of “leftism”. Err, no, that’s just called ethical governance in a democratic society.

The AustralianShanahan, Kevin’s three pillars challenge for next 1000 days
Does not really add much to the debate, I’m sorry to say.

The AustralianKelly, Brace for it
Focuses quite squarely on the inflation bogey currently dominating political debate in Australia. Quite positive all in all about the way the government has taken to the job at hand like ducks to water.

SMHCrabb, Softer side of Rudd begins to emerge
One of the best pieces from Crabb that I have read for some time. The silly hat is flung to the side for a moment, and we get to consider a few slightly fluffy although insightful aspects of Rudd’s character. The touching Nguyen vignette is a must-read.

Courier MailPorteous, Here’s a list of my achievements, boasts PM
This being a paper from up north, Porteous can’t resist throwing in a reference to Rudd’s apparent weight gain since becoming Prime Minister. Nevertheless a reasonable summary of reactions to the publication of the booklet.

Herald SunBolt, One word from Rudd makes all better
Bolt does his usual gross simplification of things, still stung it seems by the majority of the nation’s gracious embrace of the apology to the stolen generations. Get over it, Andrew.

BlogocracyBad move, Kev
I think Tim’s overstating the danger here for the government in releasing this self-celebratory booklet. This could of course backfire a little bit, but in general I think that the Rudd Government has done a good job, most people accept that, and that therefore this piece of slight self-congratulation is not out of order. Particularly if funded by the party and not the taxpayer.