Rarely does a journalist’s writing so neatly capture the unqualified yet breathtaking self-regard of the Canberra press gallery as does this Thinkpiece from Andrew Probyn, himself far from the worst of the courtiers in Versailles-on-the-Molonglo. How these gossip-mongers became first courtiers, and now often the arbiters of policy is surely THE story of Australian politics in the last five decades.
The weight given to the insights of the likes of Oakes, over that of any subject-matter specialist both flatters his own profession and shows how the political system is failing: decisions being taken and assessed, not on the basis of their long term policy effects, or on any systematic, independent review, but for their immediate impact on the ‘narrative’.
There are many arguments for small government (lately, mostly scorned here by those who think they can master the beast and control the reins) based principle (the maximisation of freedom); pragmatism (the impossibility of the socialist calculation problem); or experience (the poor incentives of politicians). But all have passed out of fashion. It’s time to reset the ‘debate’: the best practical reason for small government is to keep power away from the schoolgirl gossip and voxpopping of a media class as remote from the life of the ruled as were the courts of Louis XVI or Catherine the Great.