There has been a mountain of articles, opinion pieces and blog posts about the one year anniversary of the election of the Rudd government, and the end of the Howard government. I think the jury is still very much out on how substantive the Rudd government will turn out to be, although I have to note and praise a few of the reforms in the immigration area – particularly the scrapping of Temporary Protection Visas, which should be a permanent reform.
Many people are probably taking more enjoyment out of marking the anniversary of the end of the Howard government, than the rise of Kevin Rudd. I’d probably count myself among those, although I am probably one of the few people in the country whose thoughts have dwelt more on the fact that it marks a year since the final deathknell for the Democrats was delivered at a national level.
Perhaps it was apt that the episode of the Howard Years which screened on the anniversary detailed the event and the mindset which did more than anything else to bring that about. The thrill of being allowed into the ‘inner sanctum’ of the Cabinet room during the GST negotiations and having senior government staff run around late at night trying to fulfil a request for a herbal teabag obviously went to a few peoples’ heads. Talk about being played for a sucker.
However, despite the Democrats being no more, much of the legacy of reform lives on. It was also apt, in a much more positive way, that this was also the day when the Senate finally passed legislation removing discrimination against same sex couples in a wide area of federal law, including superannuation, taxation, health, social security and employment.
It is a real tribute especially to the late former Senator, Sid Spindler, who first introduced legislation that would have achieved this back in 1995, and initiated a Senate inquiry into the issue. Recognition should also go to former WA Democrat Senator Brian Grieg, who pursued this with dogged determination during his six years in the Senate until 2004.