The record of the Rudd and Gillard Labor governments

The Rudd Labor government 2007-10 was a hugely welcome change from the Howard Coalition government. We list here the achievements of this government:

  • Amended Work Choices to eliminated individual contracts, recognise collective bargaining as a basic right, restore workers right to object to unfair dismissal, and made new equal pay claims by women workers possible.
  • Made the national apology to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people because of the suffering imposed on the Stolen Generations.
  • Abolished the ‘Pacific Solution’ for asylum seekers by closing down Nauru and Manus Island detention centres, and abolishing Temporary Protection Visas.
  • Saved jobs and incomes on a huge scale when the Global Capitalist Crisis hit in 2008 by providing cash to households, guaranteeing the banking system, and providing stimulus spending for the construction industry in schools, hospitals, public housing and home insulation.
  • Increased spending on education and started work on a National Curriculum.
  • Made climate change a high priority and tried to introduce the carbon trading scheme.
  • Worked to have the federal government take over the primary funding of public hospitals and primary health care.

Also, the Gillard Labor government has:

  • Negotiated a genuine political agreement with the Greens and Independents to have a successful minority government and productive parliament
  • Legislated to put a price on carbon emissions and thus boost renewable energy sources
  • Legislated a modified Minerals Resource Rental Tax to better share the benefits of the current mining boom
  • Imposed a means test on the 30% Private Health Insurance Rebate to reduce subsidies to the rich and to the private hospital system
  • Set up the Gonski Review into schools funding, the first major review in 40 years.
  • Supported the Expert Panel on how to provide Constitutional Recognition to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
  • Adopted a Trade Policy which protects the Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme from US demands for higher prices for medicines, and protects Australian media and libraries from higher copyright charges by US companies.
  • Amending Australian Building and Construction Commission to move this to Fair Work Act and reduce penalties. However, we reject the current legislation as it still retains some penalties.

There are many shortcomings in the Federal Labor governments of Rudd and Gillard that should not be ignored. Both have been very good governments. But the gains to the Australian people from these two Labor governments, compared with the record of exploitation and unfairness from the Howard Coalition, cannot be doubted.

The conflict between the Gillard camp and the Rudd camp for the Prime Ministership, malevolently promoted by enemies of labor including the right wing media, is going to destroy the government itself, unless it is stopped. This will be a disaster for the Australian people, who then face an Abbott Coalition government that would be even worse than the Howard years.

Both Rudd and Gillard apparently used polling figures to attack each other – the claim that the other will lose the next election. What would work best now is for the two sides to stop fighting, to declare their differences to be small compared to Labor’s overall differences with the Abbott Coalition.

CRUMA calls on the Labor federal leaders to end the conflict publicly for the good of the Australian people.