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Jeff Kennett

Jeffrey Gibb Kennett (1946 -), Premier of Victoria from 1992-1999.

Jeffery "Jeff" Kennett was elected in 1992 after disillusionment with the previous Labor government. The Labor government was held responsible (rightly or wrongly) for the bad economic aftermath of the 1980s. (see Joan Kirner).

Kennett responded by instituting one of the most aggressive cost cutting and privatisation programs undertaken by any government. He also diverted money towards projects of civil pride such as restoring Parliament House, building the Melbourne Museum, building the Melbourne Exhibition Centre (commonly known as "Jeff's shed" during his term and as "Bracks' Shack" during that of his immediate successor). Whilst initial plans for a casino were made under the previous Labor government, the tender process (leading to the selection of a consortium with close links to Liberal Party treasurer and close personal friend Ron Walker) and constructed occurred during Kennett's time and the brash, (at the time) commercially successful, centrally located but in many people's eyes socially irresponsible project typified Kennett's time in office.

Some of the privatisation and joint venture projects included:

  • Privatising nearly all government hospital Pathology laboratories.
  • Privatising the public vetinary laboratory system.
  • Privatising (if this is term) building inspections.
  • Privatising prisons.
  • Privatising gas.
  • Privatising Electricity distribution.
  • Privatising Electricity generation.
  • Semi-privatising water services.
  • Various forms of outsourcing services (others will know better than I what he did here).
  • Privatising trams.
  • Privatising buses
  • Privatising trains
  • Privatising traffic fine collection (or was this the Bracks government?)
  • Privatisation of many road building and infra-structure projects.
... probably many more I cant think of at the moment.

  • Radical reforms falling short of privatisation were made to public education (Schools of the Future, which basically gave school councils and school principals more power ... this was well received).

  • Relatively mild reforms were made to public hospitals mainly in terms of attempting to achieve efficiency[?] through funding by case-mix. Attempts to privatise a large teaching hospital failed.

While controversial most of these reforms seemed have an overall positive effect.

A particularly disastrous reform were a massive liberalisation of gambling and allowing poker machines. This has led to both Labor and Liberal governments now relying heavily on state-sponsored gambling for revenue, at great social cost.

Initially the reforms while sometimes harsh were seen as necessary. Over the years, however, Kennett came to be seen as increasingly remote and arrogant, particularlly by those in rural areas who saw his government as a city-centric administration. His electoral defeat, nevertheless, came as shock, particularly to Mr Kennett and the Liberal Party.

Mr Kennett is now involved with "Beyond Blue" an important institution for helping depression and is employed as a radio announcer on Melbourne radio station 1116 3AK.

Preceded by:
Joan Kirner
List of Victorian Premiers Followed by:
Steve Bracks

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