Political Chronicles: Commonwealth of Australia July to December 2009
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd began the period under intense pressure from the Godwin Grech “Oz-Car” fake email scandal and ended it in a commanding position facing a new, almost accidental, opposition leader, Tony Abbott. Polls continued to favour the Labor government convincingly, despite the fact that the Rudd government was unable to hammer out an agreement on a global carbon reduction scheme at the Copenhagen conference in December. Throughout much of the period, the merits and wisdom (or otherwise) of the government’s economic stimulus package were vehemently debated by politicians and pundits, especially in relation to the amounts of additional spending involved and the escalating public debt levels. In addition, a number of problems began to emerge with Commonwealth programs associated with these stimulus measures, such as the home insulation program and the “building an educational revolution” program designed to give schools additional facilities. The Auditor-General’s report into the Oz-Car affair was tabled in August 2009 (ANAO Report No 1, 2009-10). The Auditor-General had used his statutory powers to interview both the Prime Minister and Treasurer, and their staff in their private offices (as well as relevant departmental officials). Both ministers and their staff were exonerated of any wrongdoing, but the Treasury official responsible for the program, Godwin Grech, was found to have acted inappropriately and improperly. The Auditor-General also identified a number of shortcomings in Treasury’s implementation phase of the policy. The report effectively ended the matter for the government, while still raising issues of how the Opposition conducted itself during the affair.
Australian Journal of Politics and History
Australian Government and Politics