Tuesday, 7 July 2009

A silly political error

Victorian Premier John Brumby should not have been surprised that he received a minor clip round the ears from the Royal Commission on bushfires for announcing new fire fighting policies before receiving the Commission's interim report. Lawyers, whatever their political disposition, are always sticklers for propriety on matters like that. It is because Mr Brumby knew that he would be criticised for his statement but was prepared to wear it, that the only conclusion that can be reached is that he broke a paramount rule of politics when he set up this Royal Commission in the first place: never had an inquiry unless you are certain you know what the outcome will be.
The Premier no doubt began to get uneasy when Counsel assisting the Commission was critical of public servants that he the Premier had praised. As the proceedings went on there were signs that the Government itself might not escape unscathed. Moving to act early and unilaterally is the kind of damage control decision so favoured by spin doctors.
This week's little confrontation between Commission and Premier is unlikely to be the last.
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