Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Most Accountable Executive Since Federation

Yes folks that was John W. Howard's description of his administration in answer to a question from Kim Beazley.

This prompted me to write to Crikey the following letter...

In answer to the first question in Question Time yesterday, the Prime Minister claimed his was "the most accountable executive since Federation". It is worth wondering whether this was merely a rhetorical flourish, or whether the Prime Minister really does believe this. After all he did start in Government with a very robust set of principles about Ministerial accountability, but seemed to change his interpretations as the body count grew. Personally, I can't recall any other Executive using the "no one told me" reason as an acceptable response to questions of Ministerial proprietary. Would it be appropriate to get Crikey's readers to come up with a league table of the top three "most accountable executives since Federation"?

Crikey subsequently ran with the following snippet by Christian Kerr in their "political bite-sized meaty chunks" section;

A whole new level of accountability: “This is the most accountable executive since federation,” the Prime Minister claimed yesterday in response to attacks on changes to the Senate Committee system. Really? It's probably also the first executive since federation to elevate “No one told me” to an acceptable response to questions of Ministerial proprietary. So which executive was the Prime Minister using as a yardstick? We know it's not Australia, but could he have been referring to the 1921-23 administration of Warren Harding? Not Australian, as we said – but it fits the timeframe.

Which is kind of cute, but doesn't really fit Howard's description because he has compared himself to everyone from Barton to Keating, including the PMs who only held the office for days (Frank Forde and Jack McEwan).

Crikey also picked up on Senator Julian McGauran's continual reference to "hyperboll" (meaning hyperbole) in commenting on Beazley's description of the Senate Committee changes as "evil". He is, of corse, right that the Bomber went a bit over the top there - but Julian's line did seem to be "yes these are bad changes, but not so bad as to be evil".

Anyway, we all know that "hyperbowl" is the word that will be used to describe the final when American Football becomes a world game!

(Whoops - did anyone notice - Crikey and I both said "proprietary" when we meant "propriety". "Glasshouses", "stones" and "throwing" are words I should string together.)

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