If you read this blog, you’ve known since November last year what Peter Costello told Parliament yesterday: that Kevin Rudd’s ‘Brutopia’ comes not from the late British conservative intellectual Michael Oakeshott, but from Donald Duck comics. In the Treasurer’s words:

When you ask where he [Rudd] draws his inspiration for his quack economic policy, you find that it comes from a Donald Duck magazine. …This is the evolutionary cycle of the Labor Party. We have moved from Mark Latham’s roosters to Kevin Rudd’s ducks.

The SMH took it one better, labelling Rudd’s views ‘quackonomics’ (in a play on Freakonomics), but they are still buying the Oakeshott line:

Labor’s spin doctors argued that the tactics showed the Government had failed to find any point of substance against Mr Rudd. Yet you can be sure this year he will resist the temptation to intellectualise his subject matter with clever terminology even if it was actually borrowed from British conservative Michael Oakeshott, rather than Donald Duck.

I’ll email the journalist today and ask him to get Labor to provide the exact source of this claimed Oakeshottian term.

7 Responses to “Quackonomics

  • 1
    Club Troppo » Brutopian like you
    February 10th, 2007 08:08

    […] Oakeshott is a fascinating thinker. But nobody in Australia seems too interested in his work. The debate today is over the term ‘brutopia.’ Did Oakeshott really use the term, or was Rudd’s reference just a clumsy use of a secondary source? Andrew Norton finds it hard to believe that Oakeshott ever used the term ‘brutopia’ while the Sydney Morning Herald’s Mark Davis seems happy to take Rudd’s word for it. Surely the more important question is whether Oakeshott’s work really does warn against unchecked market forces in the way that Rudd claims. […]

  • 2
    David Rubie
    February 10th, 2007 13:55

    All this really proves is that (a) Rudd reads more widely than anybody thought (Hayek, Donald Duck comics, possibly even Quadrant you never know) and (b) Costello is a glass-jawed pedant who hasn’t landed a glove on an oponent in 11 years.

    If that’s the best attack the liberal party can come up with, they are doomed.

  • 3
    Andrew Norton
    February 10th, 2007 14:16

    David, It’s just a bit of fun at the expense of someone painting himself as a deep thinker on the basis of cribbed notes (mostly David McKnight, from what others say). It’s the least of the reasons not to vote for Rudd, but a good way to make question time more fun.

  • 4
    David Rubie
    February 10th, 2007 15:30

    …and it has been fun so far, although mostly feinting and dancing with no real blows landed by either side. It’s easy to forget that the coalition struggled to handle Latham in the early days too, but managed to expose his self destructive tendencies in the end.

    I don’t think that will work with Rudd (not that I’m warming much to him). I suspect that, if the past is any measure, the simple fact that I have a healthy disregard for Rudd’s onservative persona means that the rest of Australia will eat him up like a paddle pop on Australia day.

    The real wildcard is that the “steady hands” mantra is looking shaky with a hubris ridden prime minister who is ignoring his own advice on avoiding it.

  • 5
    Edward Cavanagh
    February 10th, 2007 18:06


    I’m not sure if I agree with your concept of fun if you find a parliament question time wasted with over-energetic, not to mention embarrassing, question jumping. It serves well to piss me off, in fact.

    But your ideas are thoughtful enough. Windschuttle, as I’m sure you know, has weighed in on the debate. And so has my blog, strinelife.blogspot.com

    To your likely surprise, I can mostly agree with one and mostly disagree with the other.

  • 6
    Andrew Norton
    February 10th, 2007 18:29

    Edward – Given the dreary propaganda that occupies most of question time Costello’s humour is welcome light relief.

  • 7
    February 11th, 2007 08:02

    There is a small Oakeshott revival under way with an academic cottage industry applied to his works and a website established by admirers. Social engineers, coercive utopians and people in favour of heavily regulated markets will get no joy from his thoughts.