By Rama Gaind
PS News Books
A Premierís State
By Steve Bracks with Ellen Whinnett (Melbourne University Press, $34.99, softcover, 296 pages)
The former Victorian Premier is a man of disciple, determination and commitment who won three elections for Labor before retiring five years ago.
Steve Bracks is also a man with insights into how to run a successful government, manage the factions and discusses everything from the impact of public life on his family to forming minority government with independents.
In fact, he is so resolute that in 1994, at 39 years of age, he had committed his goals to paper.
By the time he was forty-eight, Bracks had achieved the ambition he’d set himself nine years earlier—to become premier of Victoria!
A year after his third election victory he announced his retirement and recalls the “momentous press conference” when people were going to hang on “my every word”.
He puts himself at the centre of the big picture where the chapter titles are a self-confident giveaway: ‘Note to Self’, ‘Victory by Design’, ‘Leading by Example’ and ‘Thinking Big’.
He even takes issue with a “tag” calling him the “Accidental Premier” after the 1999 Labor win in Victoria. “…rubbish, absolute rubbish … there was nothing accidental about it”.
Nevertheless, this part-biography, part-political handbook sets out some of the key basics of what makes for a good government including discipline, unity and an aptitude to educate the electorate about policies and consulting stakeholders on policy change.
A Premier’s State contains education in abundance. His ruminations, after eight years at Victoria’s helm, should become a set text for ALP leaders.
“I think Labor really needs to revisit its core values: a better standard of living and better opportunities for all Australians. We need to rely less on populist, day-by-day politics and instead tell people exactly what we stand for, re-establishing the case for why Labor is still important in the 21st century.”
Edition 406, 22 April 2014
To find out more about Rama Gaind click here.