27 June 2010
Elected in a massive wave of anti-WorkChoices sentiment, the new Labor Government showed much potential with the immediate signing of the Kyoto Protocol and the apology to the Stolen Generations. Although some saw these moves as merely symbolic, they did, however, send an important message that this was a very different government to the one it had replaced.
More than just symbolic was the winding back of some of the harshest elements of the Howard Government’s WorkChoices laws. The Rudd Government restored workers' rights, making a difference to the lives of Australian workers and their families.
After 11 years of Howard Government neglect, thousands of schools now have extra buildings and information technology, significantly improving the educational opportunities for Australian kids for many years to come.
Then there was the Global Financial Crisis. Unlike the Opposition which counselled against any serious action, the Federal Government understood immediately the severity of the problem and acted accordingly with its fiscal stimulus package. So much so, that it must be credited with helping to save the Australian economy from deep recession and in turn save almost 250,000 jobs.
Significantly, the Rudd Government increased pensions by up to $30 a week - a permanent increase in the base rate, making a substantial difference to the lives of elderly Australians.
The Government also properly identified the need for an overhaul of our health system. This has resulted in most states signing up to a healthcare agreement which will see our future needs better funded. The reforms aim to reduce waiting lists and deliver better value for patients.
Thanks to the Rudd Labor Government, Australia now has a universal paid parental scheme. This long overdue move will make a huge difference the lives of tens of thousands of Australian families who do not have the benefit of working for organisations that fund their own schemes.
Of course, the Rudd Government had its share of critics, as all governments do. No government is perfect. And although it is certainly acknowledged that the policies and programs of the Federal Government are those of the Australian Labor Party and not of an individual, it is pertinent to remember that Kevin Rudd was still ultimately responsible. As he often said, the ‘buck stops with me’. As some have placed blame at his feet for the failings of the Government, we must also give credit for the long list of successes. For this, we must say ‘thanks Kevin’.