Saturday 18 Aug 2018 | 20:04 | SYDNEY
Saturday 18 Aug 2018 | 20:04 | SYDNEY

Oh! What a lovely crisis!


Graeme Dobell

6 October 2009 14:32

The Kevin has been having a good crisis. So good, in fact, that he is having trouble adjusting to the good news in the domestic economy. As the economic figures keep popping up like the rest of Spring's fresh growth, the Prime Minister quite can't abandon the burning-deck-we'll-all-be-rooooned persona. You can see why he doesn't want to shift gears just yet.

For the all sniping at Kevin 747, wins on the global stage show on the domestic scroreboard. Take as a for instance today's Punters Poll by Peter Lewis which judged that The Kevin 'is broadly popular and people think he's the smartest kid in the class. That's probably what happens when you beat the GFC, reorganise global diplomatic structures and can explain all it in Mandarin.' The piece goes on to bag Rudd for lacking vision and passion! Ah, well, the Presidential suite at the rear of Parliament will pocket that happily as the best they can hope for from the Murdoch Empire.

The sense of crisis got Australia over the line with the G20. In fact, it has taken two crises to give birth to the G20 and then take it to the head of the class (where the smartest kid resides). Peter Costello grasped the potential from the very beginning as the G20 Finance Ministers first gathered to confront Asia's financial meltdown a decade ago. The G20 will stand as part of Costello's building work for Australia, just as the John Dawkins pushed the Cairns group and Hawke and Keating piled on for APEC.

The sense of new games afoot and power shifting is nicely conveyed in a piece by Gideon Rachman in the Financial Times saying — a bit tongue in cheek — that the G20 is a cunning step in Europe's plot to take over the world. The white guys can't just rely on the IMF, World Bank, G8 and 80 per cent of the veto on the Security Council. They'll now have to work harder to steer a bigger multilateral ship with more potential captains on the bridge.

Is there still enough sense of crisis around for Rudd to be able to do the G20 trick with his Asia Pacific Community? Having signed the ASEAN Treaty of Amity, is the US yet ready to support a structure based on the East Asia Summit to crown the regional architecture? If bad times make for good policy, maybe Asia is seeing enough blue sky ahead at the moment that further changes don't seem necessary. The crisis imperative is starting to recede. China's leaders are having an even better crisis than Australia's leader, and Japan seems more concerned with having new thoughts about itself.

Rudd has three steps in the process before the end of the year: the East Asia Summit, the APEC summit and the second-track conference to be hosted by Australia on regional architecture. After those three steps, the Australian vision of the Asia Pacific Community will go onto automatic pilot for a while. New Year's day will be when Team Rudd start to drill down even more narrowly towards the fundamental objective: winning the federal election at the end of 2010.

Photo by Flickr user nettsu, used under a Creative Commons license.