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A 21st century Labor Party – our future depends on it

The Labor Party - our future depends on them (image by nla.gov.au)

The Labor Party – our future depends on them (image by nla.gov.au)

Another guest post from Stuart Whitman. National Convener of Local Labor.

It is possible to argue a similar case for acting on Labor Party reform as the former federal Labor government argued for pricing carbon and addressing climate change, there is no time to lose and that it is better to make small sacrifices now than painful ones later.

As noted in a recent Cosmos Magazine article IPCC reporting suggests we may have as little as 30 years left to get carbon emissions to a level where we have a chance to slow down, mitigate or adapt to global warming.

The alternative is a rapid spiral into catastrophic and potentially civilization-ending climate change.

Every term of an Abbott government is another 3 years robbed from that critical 30 years for Australia to work with the international community and perhaps take a lead in helping prepare for the transformational changes ahead.

The CSIRO has indicated that Australia will be one of the countries most at risk from climate change. However, by harnessing our great wealth and the talent of our people, we have the potential to become the model nation to show the world how to adapt.

Yet to be ready for the revolutionary transformation of economics and governance that will be required, we need a transformed Labor Party. This is ultimately what I believe the ALP reform campaign is about – building a Labor Party with the capacity not just to win elections but to reflect, help prepare for and equitably guide Australia through the massive economic, environmental and social shifts ahead.

We must reform and renew our political movement now to be able to ride the coming wave of 21st century politics and provide the good governance and leadership our country, and the world, deserves. And we need to have an honest conversation with our members, supporters and voters to achieve it, including articulating the stark realities facing us all many election cycles ahead.

This new politics employs pervasive technology tools to maximise the participation of individuals and communities in economic and government decision-making resulting in the widest distribution of economic and political power. The old adages of “think globally and act locally” and “all politics is local” rings true more than ever. It is the only solution to address the abuses of a corporate ideology that is wreaking havoc on our ecosystem and social equity.

The corporatisation of economic and political power has brought us to the precipice on which we now stand. Society and political parties should not be run like corporations with power and information vested in the hands of an elite board of directors.

Corporate models of power that concentrate decision-making in the hands of a few tends to stifle the possibility of a fair contest of ideas and a fair system of representation based on merit rather than just patronage. Corporatism disconnects decision-makers from those for whom the decisions are made and risks our being held hostage by short-term sectional interests.

The ALP was always intended to be a member-based organisation and a member-driven political movement. We are at our best when we are open and connected and brave. This will require re-organising the party so that Labor values, ennobling policy goals and diversity of experience is embraced and opinions, and at times dissent, arising from a broad membership representative of the broader Australian community is welcome.

This new broad-based and open ALP culture will succeed if it is founded on genuinely democratic processes that work towards reaching consensus alongside a system of governance that ensures the rule of law rather than the law of the jungle applies.

Corporate style politics in the Labor Party will become increasingly unworkable as the nature of politics itself shifts to more flexible, participatory models of governance while the electorate grows more volatile.

Genuine dialogue between communities and Labor policy-makers and members helps us avoid the trap of groupthink that would constrain the ability of our party leaders to respond to and accurately interpret real-time accurate quantitative and qualitative data that pervasive intelligent technology systems will generate. And decisions based on that stream of information must be framed by our Labor values and wide consultation as much as scientific rationale.

If we fail to become more sincere about internal and external dialogue and transparency in decision-making the ALP will be tarnished in the minds of electors as merely a machine that manufactures banal corporate marketing slogans. Sending signals to our members and to the electorate that our board of directors “knows what’s best for you” only contributes to growing disenchantment with the political process and infects society with a sense of frustration and powerlessness to all of our detriment.

The decades ahead may be a grave story of the unravelling of social order and harmony across the world arising from the greater frequency and intensity of natural disasters; diminishing financial capacity of even developed societies to rebuild following these disasters; conflict over rapidly depleting energy resources and arable land and clean water; unrest from lack of opportunity, growing inequality and the displacement of large populations. This pain will be felt most acutely at the personal and community levels.

On the contrary, it may also be a triumphant story of the resilience and capacity of human beings to adapt to meet those challenges with historic international cooperation, and the application of our ingenuity and new technological tools to finds solutions also at the personal and community level.

Either way, it is a choice we need to make now.

To attain the latter scenario will require a post-ideological politics where political parties are organised around common values, and decision-making depends on scientifically obtained and critically analysed evidence not old ideological dogmas or personality cults.

Effective political parties will be those that encourage an independence of thought within the party’s membership and openness to sharing ideas and information to sustain ongoing engagement between the party’s members with their communities.

The Australian Labor Party already has those critical values of fairness, justice, compassion and equity relevant to the new politics. We already have the talent to optimise and apply new technologies to more frequently and deeply involve our members in the development of the necessary policies. We have the resolve and hunger among our members and branches to more actively and meaningfully engage with our communities.

But we need an ALP organisation that does not lock us into outdated modes of thinking, or to corporate paradigms of concentrated top-down power. We must seize the coming year to implement reforms that empower our members’ ability to obtain information and evidence, think more critically, speak more openly and act more locally.

We need an ALP that is transparent, accountable and responsive to its members and upholds Labor values and encourages the fullest participation of members in party decision-making.

If we want Labor governments back in power soon so that the next 30 years are not wasted, and so that Australia can be a model country to help guide the world through the upheavals of climate change to come, we must become the party that embodies the participatory politics of the 21st century.

By mobilising the capabilities of as many of our fellow Australians as possible and engaging their trust and involvement in the political process through Labor membership and support we can rise to meet the unprecedented challenges ahead.

These challenges present us with the prospect of a world with increasing demand colliding with increasing scarcity, that can only result in inequality and conflict. It is the defining moment for our Labor Party that is dedicated to increasing equality, abundance and social cohesion, and we really do have no time to lose to prepare ourselves to lead Australia safely through.

Stuart Whitman, National Convenor of Local Laborimg-profile-stuart

Local Labor https://www.facebook.com/groups/locallabor/

Local Labor http://local-labor.org/

 

 

 

 

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  1. hilderombout

    If the Labor Party could indeed reform it self like Stuart hopes, then i’ll become a member for sure. As it is now i am sympathetic but not involved yet. I agree with the values proposed in this article one hundred procent. Thank you Stuart.

  2. Vera

    I am a Labor member…looking forward to changes recommended here. Especially ‘We must seize the coming year to implement reforms that empower our members’ ability to obtain information and evidence, think more critically, speak more openly and act more locally. ‘
    There is no time to lose; it is a long time to Parliament opening again (Feb). I am hoping the haze of the Summer holiday season does not allow a lapse of memory re the chaotic and terrible first 100 days of this Abbott govt.

  3. John Fraser

    <

    My problem, as a Queenslander, is seeing Peter Beattie in this organisation.

    Add his mate, the septuagenarian Ludwig into the mix and this article becomes a grandiose dream.

    Just take a look at his idiotic joining Rudd at the 2013 election.

    Time is long overdue for the above 2 mentioned (and I know people here will add a couple more) to get out of the way of the younger generation.

    Beattie has already joined Richardson at Murdoch table and that where he should stay.

  4. John Fraser

    <

    @Kaye Lee

    Exactly.

    The old guard (losers) have to get out of the way of the younger generation.

    Just have a look at the damage Conroy is doing in Victoria.

  5. diannaart

    Kaye Lee

    I would have had more respect for Joel Fitzgibbon and Doug Cameron if they had discussed their concerns about this in the party room rather than on national TV.

    Exactly.

    Time for Labor to walk the talk.

  6. mikestasse

    As noted in a recent Cosmos Magazine article IPCC reporting suggests we may have as little as 30 years left to get carbon emissions to a level where we have a chance to slow down, mitigate or adapt to global warming.

    The IPCC is way too conservative. Plenty of scientists are now shit scared that it may be all too late. You should see what’s going on in the Arctic…… http://damnthematrix.wordpress.com/2013/11/18/arctic-death-spiral-and-the-methane-time-bomb/

    We need more than a new Labor Party, we need a party that will take the bull by the horns and cancel debts, turn off growth, close all the car factories down and replace them withwindfarm/solar power maufacturing and teach the people to get off the consumption treadmill and switch to self sufficiency.

    We also need a new governing system where there are no parties and the people elected understand what the true meaning of sustainability is, people who put living above the economy and are not owned by the Oligarchy who couldn’t give a flying you know what about us.
    Every Time History Repeats Itself… The Price Goes Up….

  7. Kaye Lee

    One thing that we seem to forget in all this discussion about the reformation of the Labor Party is that they actually just lost an election when their policies were superior and their legislative performance was impressive.

    So what went wrong? They lost control of the message, went on the defensive, and then tried to use the same advertising imagery and spin that was so successful for Tony. He might be able to get away with BS but it just looked silly when Gillard’s media advisors decided we needed photos of her knitting, or worse still, when they fed scripted cheat sheets to MPs – “when they say this you say that”. I would have had more respect for Joel Fitzgibbon and Doug Cameron if they had discussed their concerns about this in the party room rather than on national TV. What’s with you guys? Would you use Jerry Springer to tell your family that you have a problem?

    If you understand the issues you are discussing, if you firmly believe in your policies, you shouldn’t need some advertising guru telling you what to say and how to say it. Spontaneity and the ability to think on your feet are being killed by prepared tactics like “We need a slogan so let’s finish every question in QT with the phrase the Abbott Axe”. Where is the charisma that comes from passionate belief in your cause?

    You also need the courage to be able to stand up to the corporations. It is only the government who can protect the interests of the people from corporate greed. I fully understand that maintaining a vibrant economy is a large part of your job but short-term profits must always be gauged against long-term cost to society and big business is never going to do that.

    Having said all this, I don’t know how to combat the hatred and bloodlust that people like Larry Pickering stir up. It seems there is a significant portion of our society who thrive on vitriole and gossip and would much prefer to listen to the lurid details of rumours than to evaluate policies or performance. A quick look at his facebook page shows a very ugly side of Australia.

    A lot of people on sites like this one are doing our best to get the truth out there. It would help if our politicians dumped the spin and showed some of the same passion. Don’t play the Credlin game – be different – know your stuff and tell the truth rather than taking potshots at individuals. I rue the day that sledging became the main game.

  8. kathysutherland2013

    A message the Labor Party needs to get out is that all debt is not necessarily bad. We have to spend money to get the services/ resources/ etc that we need – you know, trivialities like hospitals, schools, roads… And that means taxes. We just can’t let the Coalition get away with its “Labor can’t manage the economy” mantra. We need a different message – taxpayers’ money is used to better the taxpayers’ lives.

    Incidentally, I know many people who turned away from Labor solely because of its cruel asylum-seeker policy. I almost did! I think a 21st century Labor Party must indeed get back to its values, a key one of which is fairness and compassion.

  9. mikestasse

    The problem with ANY debt is interest, no matter whether it’s good debt or bad debt. Because ALL money is created as debt https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rC720Cl3N-0 the money needed to pay the interest on your good debt does not yet exist. It has to be created as ANOTHER debt. Will it be a good debt?

    This continuous debt/money creation is called growth. And infinite growth on a finite planet is not only unsustainable, like an out of control cancer it will kill its host.

    Until we admit to ourselves we are hooked on this growth, and wake up to the fact we have to kick the habit, we will be heading headlong over the cliff, and ” trivialities like hospitals, schools, roads” will mean nothing, because there won’t be any civilisation left to care………

    We need a reboot, and we have to change the way we do EVERYTHING.

    Vive la revolution.

  10. mikestasse

    UNLESS you reach out and learn how the FUNDAMENTALS of money, where it comes from, how it’s created, WHO creates it, who runs the world, then the gobsmacking revelations of WHY what we are doing not only does not work now will become obvious, but also reveal why continuing on the same suppositions that are used today will fix NOTHING……

    Moving the deck chairs on the Titanic does not stop it from sinking…….

  11. Andrew Elder

    “If we fail to become more sincere about internal and external dialogue and transparency in decision-making the ALP will be tarnished in the minds of electors as merely a machine that manufactures banal corporate marketing slogans”. This is a bit like sincere, well-meaning Catholics who fear their church might become tarnished by allegations of child abuse. It’s way too late for that mate.

    The cynical mode of politics has been electorally successful. It provides career paths into lobbying, as though representing general interests is a training ground for representing narrow interests. Your challenge is to prove that open and well-informed consultation will be more successful for both the ALP and its savviest operators than institutionalised cynicism: good luck with that.

  12. Martin Connolly

    I’m in my 60s. I’ve voted Labor all my life, but only joined the party in the leadup to the election this year.
    The reason I chose that time to join was that I saw the Abbott/LNP approach was the antithesis is of “fairness, justice, compassion and equity” that Stuart mentioned.
    These have always been what I saw as the guiding lights of running a country, a business or anything.
    I hoped that supporting the party might help stem the LNP tide. Now we see the absolute embodiment of my reasons manifest in the worst possible manner.
    Labor does need to build strong policies around “fairness, justice, compassion and equity” in a way that can be clearly seen to be sustainable, otherwise it will be seen, or at least painted by the Murdoch media, as being like the Greens – nice ideas but not affordable.
    We also have to realise that a sizable portion of Australians do not share the vision of “fairness, justice, compassion and equity”. They look for benefit for themselves, they accept rough justice and appear to condone cruelty as long as it is done to others, not themselves.
    I don’t know what the answers are but I am willing to help in finding a way to ensure that Labor is a lasting, longterm candidate for government in Australia

  13. mikestasse

    You have to realise that even if the ALP wins the next election………………. they will NOT be in charge.

  14. Kaye Lee

    I agree about the asylum seeker policy. It cost a lot of votes. Tony mobilised the rabid racists. Instead of offering an alternative, Labor thought there are votes in this. Saying we want to stop the boats shows a total lack of understanding of the problem. These people are facing such horror at home that they would rather risk drowning. If you truly want to stop the boats increase foreign aid, stand up against human rights abuses, stop invading other countries, go to the refugee camps offering assistance, set up processing centres in transit countries, use Qantas to fly in successful applicants, and those that DO come by boat, process them quickly onshore then offer help to make them productive members of our community. Sadly it appears we have many ill-informed selfish people in this country – don’t pander to them – there are lots of us who don’t care what the Telegraph says.

  15. Kaye Lee

    Oh and increase the humanitarian intake.

    And while you are at it increase Newstart and pensions at the same time. To pay for this could I suggest closing tax loopholes (where does Gina live and why?), tax the banks and mining companies on their superprofits, cut politicians’ rorting of entitlements, stop giving money to people who don’t need it (I know Cadbury sponsors the polly pedal ride but how do you justify giving them $16 million of taxpayers money to say thanks Tony). Only offer negative gearing on new properties so we get the investors to stimulate the construction industry and get them out of the rest of the property market so we get some sanity back into affordable housing.

    I am not an expert on anything so no doubt I am giving a simplistic view but I would sure like to debate it with someone and find out the pitfalls so I can refine my argument.

  16. Anon E Mouse

    I can’t help shake the feeling that some powerbrokers in the ALP were paid to take a dive this last election.

    I like the changes to the party rules, but it would have to go further and become entrenched so that the likes of Arbib, Bitar, Howes etc etc aren’t able to wield such power. Gillard was so right winged in her actions, only remembering the Left of Labor just enough to keep her support.

    Shorten has been underwhelming as leader of the party, barely being seen or heard of.

    The Labor party needs to really look at its values and principles.

    The distasteful way that Arbib and Bitar moved over to extreme right employment after leaving politics surely says a lot about how far the right of the party has moved from Labor’s values and principles.

    Labor has to choose quality candidates, not give cushy jobs for mates. People like Roxon who was unable to hold herself together in her spiteful and narcissistic rant against Rudd, should never be put up for preselection. Surely there is some code of conduct that the likes of Swan, Roxon, Crean etc broke when they attacked Rudd so viciously. This kind of public attack on one of their own should never be allowed – sure say it to someone’s face if you don’t like them, talk about it in the party room, but keep conversations about colleagues civil. Surprisingly Rudd has always been civil towards his colleagues, even after all of the issues raised above.

    Labor needs to set boundaries on expected behaviour, and stick to it.

    I wish Labor well, and I hope they hurry up because anything is possible, and I tip an election soon in Qld.

  17. Martin Connolly

    I’ve wondered for a while if it will take someone like Tanya Plibersek to lead them,/us to somewhere better.

  18. kathysutherland2013

    Mikestasse, I’m not an economics expert, by any stretch of the imagination, as I’ve just proven to you! But my point still stands – we HAVE to educate out kids (who knows, one of them might come up with a better way of running the planet!), we HAVE to look after our sick people, we HAVE to provide services and resources and opportunities! That’s what makes Australia worth living in, that’s what makes a civilisation.

    Yes,I was far too light-hearted about the debt issue. I know it’s important. But I do wish people wouldn’t turn it into
    the only issue.

    Labor has traditionally looked after people. Let’s keep it that way.

  19. mikestasse

    When it comes to modern economics, debt IS the issue……. because it’s what the economy runs on. no debt, no economy. If you, or the government, or the unions, or the teachers, or the nurses, want growth, then they’ll have to put up with debt. Because that’s where ALL the money comes from. On the rare occasions when debts are repaid, money simply vanishes……. And debt grows faster than GDP, because of the interest owed on it. So we’re all running faster and faster….. and going backwards. I know it’s hard to believe, but as that video states, the system is actually so simple, the mind is repelled.

    And WHO hands out the debts? BANKS. The most powerful men in the world are bankers. They run the world. They tell the LNP and the ALP what they want done, and if someone like Whitlam (or JFK who wanted to abolish the Fed) gets in the way…… they get rid of him!

    I totally agree we need to educate our kids. Ours are very well educated…… but ask my son who has two science degrees and a Masters in Medical Physics what most people do at Uni? BUSINESS STUDIES!

    He is scathing at how Universities are just turning out bean counters…….. the whole world is run by bean counters…. and it’s because nothing matters anymore except MONEY. And that has to change.

    Did you look at that video I linked to? Michael Hudson used to be a Wall Street Bean Counter. And then he woke up one day and realised everything he was doing was WRONG…… and now he’s spilling the beans, and he says every civilisation that hasn’t cancelled debts has collapsed……..

    take another look…… http://damnthematrix.wordpress.com/2013/12/05/every-time-history-repeats-itself-the-price-goes-up/

  20. Bacchus

    UNLESS you reach out and learn how the FUNDAMENTALS of money, where it comes from, how it’s created

    Well it’s about time you stopped sprouting your BS for long enough to find out 🙄

    You could do much worse than starting here and NOW: http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=14620

  21. kathysutherland2013

    Yes, I looked at your videos. Interesting. I’ve heard of Michael Hudson, but whose name is behind the “Outside the BluePill Cave” blog.

    Maybe we need to find a way of reforming the banking system so that it doesn’t control us? Cue our educated kids and funding for research.

    I still insist that we must provide services. It’s not only false economy, but it’s inhumane not to pay childcare workers a decent wage, for example.

  22. Bacchus

    kathysutherland2013,

    Whatever you do, don’t accept the neo-classical economic views spouted by mikestasse as gospel. His explanations are almost opposite to the facts in a fiat monetary system.

    A couple of teasers to get you started:
    * Money is created by currency issuing governments.
    * Governments do not need to collect taxes in order to spend – that’s not the real role of taxes in the system.
    * For governments, issuing debt is not necessary for spending.

    More reading here: http://neweconomicperspectives.org/2013/04/modern-monetary-theory-overview-part-3.html
    and at links to prof Bill Mitchell’s blog earlier…

  23. kathysutherland2013

    I don’t know enough to argue with anybody!

    What IS the real role of taxes in the system? I’ve always – naively, it seems – that if you want good hospitals, you gotta pay your taxes.

  24. kathysutherland2013

    believed, that is!

  25. Bacchus

    More reading required kathy 😉 From the link in my last comment (bold mine):

    Since its spending is by fiat, the U.S. government doesn’t have to collect taxes or borrow from the Chinese to get money to spend. The function and true effect of taxation in a fiat money economy is to regulate aggregate demand. (the bonds are for interest-rate management). Taxes destroy some of the fiat dollars the federal government creates when it spends. They don’t “go” anywhere. They just disappear from private bank accounts. When we pay our taxes, there are a few fewer zeros and a few fewer ones in our particular spreadsheet cell in our bank’s computer. That’s all. The rest – the receipt, essentially – is a formality. The U.S. government is not more able to spend another dollar after we have been debited a dollar. It is not less able to spend after someone is credited one. And this account of the matter is not theoretical or, to the operatives who actually run the banks, in any way controversial. This is just the way the banking and central banking system works every day. Completely routine.

  26. JohnB

    The Labor party has a ready made issue available to be exploited, Abbott’s adoption of ‘trickle down’ corporate friendly economic policies.
    These are the same policy settings that have destroyed the US middle class over the last few decades, and allowed the top 1% to accumulate an obscene share of national wealth.

    There is an immense amount of information available describing the irreversible damage inflicted on the US nations economy by the very same policies that Abbott/Hockey are now implementing in Australia.
    The ALP needs to pursue the LNP on this issue of ‘trickle down’ and demand to know why their insistence on implementation of such irresponsible discredited economic policies won’t have the same effect here in Australia as it has already done in the US.
    There is plenty of data available that should be used to awaken Australia’s working and middle class to the immense threat that ‘trickle down’ is to their livelihood. A scare campaign should be waged to ensure no-one is unaware that widespread poverty and hardship will be the result.

    Addressing climate change should also be a cornerstone ALP issue, the science is quite clear and the threat is real and immense.
    LNP policy re AGW is proof that denial is a product of lucrative corporate sponsorship – as it is ludicrously anti-science; natural events will inevitably overtake and discredit their stance.

  27. Martin Connolly

    Good points JohnB: it would still need to be sold well. It won’t get any traction in Murdoch’s press so it has to look good on talkback radio and commercial TV. That’s as far as most Australians go for news and politics I’m afraid. But the truth about trickle-down not trickling IS a good one I was actually thinking about that earlier today.

  28. kathysutherland2013

    Bacchus, thanks for the continuing education – all learning gratefully accepted.

  29. bighead1883

    Tarnished Stuart? For us Lefties of Labor this recent “Rudd`s Rule” allowing the rank and file a vote in the choice of leadership has shown that the Right Faction will do and does anything to get their “man” in.
    What is Labor going to do about the revelations of bullshit union member numbers recently helping the Right to get their “man ” in.
    This goes far beyond branch stacking,these are lies that cut to the core of Labor members and supporters.
    Please do write an article about how this is being corrected and people like myself will join again.
    Bill Shorten is a wet,limp lettuce leaf who has the blood of two PM`s on his hand and should have been expelled from the Labor Party for this alone.

  30. mikestasse

    @Bacchus………

    I couldn’t understand it…. Is MMT the same thing as Austrian economics, or is it slightly different, or fundamentally different ?

    It is certainly not true that governments create money – central banks do, and commercial banks do by virtue of fractional reserve banking. Governments have balance sheets just like everyone else.

    Whatever it is that they are describing, this way of describing it doesn’t shed any light for me. At the start of Part 1 he says it he will be “keeping the logic as step-by-step as possible”.

    I could not recognise any logic in it at all. In fact I think the whole idea of that article is to confuse already confused people by turning a reasonably simple concept into one nobody can understand……

  31. mikestasse

    It’s easier to fool people that to convince them they have been fooled.
    Mark Twain.

  32. Gail T

    it must never be forgotten that UNDERLYING what you call old IDEALOGICAL DOGMAS are the core values on which LABOR is based.
    THOSE core values are the foundation stone of the party and the reason why Labor is supported by the electorate.
    The transformational change that is required from my point of view involves the LABORISING of the UNIONS.
    WHY is there such a low number of LABOR members in the strong unions?I do recognise that there are other left leaning parties but there are huge numbers of union members who vote Labor most of the time who are not members. They NEE TO BE.
    GRASS ROOTS and rank and file dialogue and participation in key decision making.
    Streamlining of the cumbersome organisation and proxy vote system,
    If the membership votes on key issues then the PROXY vote is not necessary. In the computer age computer voting is not expensive and is possible.
    Mobilisation of the rank and file in a more organised way to work in a more organised way for Labor goals
    It is a mistake to believe that Labor should become more right wing to engage the conservative vote. That is a fundamental logical flaw.
    Labor must retain its left leaning stance and represent Labor voters first and foremost from within the unions and traditional labor support and add to those at times such as these where the STRUGGLE against corruption and adversity and the destruction of AUstralia is at hand.

  33. Gail T

    I would like to add that in order for Labor to grow and transform the UNIONS must also accept the need for transformational change.
    I belong to a union which has a very large membership in NSW which states that it is not politically aligned.

  34. bighead1883

    @Gail T
    Stuart Whitman as National Convenor of Labor writes a flowery piece that goes nowhere to those in the know of factional skullduggery.
    Right faction Laborites will say stop all this factional infighting when it is they who are doing all the wrong things,then we get flowery writings and begging for money emails from the national Executive to fight Tories.
    The Tories in Labor want our money to fight the Tories in the LNP,frack off I say.
    Just like no one voted for Peta Credlin to run the country,no one voted for privatisation either,but Credlin runs the LNP for the IPA and Keating started privatisation that has led to corporate governance by the unelected and spiralling cost increases and outsourcing..
    I say to you Stuart Whitman show some balls and address the crap that the TWU did,show us why Williamson who is involved with Jacksonville still goes from strength to strength and by what right do the Right Faction believe that they can use union proxies to further their own agenda.
    The majority of union members are social in nature because they see the benefit of strength in a unionised workforce and in reality their leanings are more to the left than to the right.
    Start telling some things to us Stuart that really hit home with the faithful instead of putting a good dressing on a rotten limp lettuce leaf salad.

  35. Richard Ure

    Shedding crocodile tears over Holden’s departure does not give confidence Keating’s reforming zeal has taken root.

  36. bighead1883

    @kathysutherland2013
    December 14, 2013 • 9:13 pm.
    The real role of taxes is to give corporate welfare first then charge on the credit card social welfare Kathy
    That way RWNJ`s can say look at the debt but won`t complain when corporations evade their tax obligations by phoney overseas companies.
    RWNJ`s call tax evasion smart business.

  37. kathysutherland2013

    Thumbs down to corporate welfare. Welfare must be for those who need it.

    I’m sounding more and more like a naive idealist!

  38. bighead1883

    @kathysutherland2013
    December 15, 2013 • 12:41 pm
    Now Kathy we subsidise the miners over $5 billion a year in fuel subsidies.
    The corporate trucking Industry ie: Toll I don`t know nor do I know how much corporate farmers fuel subsidies we pay for either by allowing them this welfare.
    The tax breaks given to corporations is heavy also and on top of that they set up multiple phoney companies that supposedly trade with each other and they then use Irish Banks to launder their hidden taxes,or the Caymans etc.
    Australia could be losing out $25-$50 billion per year because of legislated loopholes and corporate welfare,how can we afford that because of privatisation tax receipts are down due to outsourcing what once was made here by us.
    Privatising our assets and services has seen government revenue fall significantly and either gold plated infrastructure spending [electricity co`s] or total collapse as in the case of Telstra[copper network]
    Now we are to subsidise Telstra and Foxtel via the LNP`s #Fraudband.
    The right faction did not support RUDD on the MRRT that he introduced,c`mon Stuart,tell us all about this one.

  39. bighead1883

    When are you going to reply to some of your commenters Stuart?.
    Or are you doing a Peter Reith like he does on the ABC`s the DRUM?
    We`ve been waiting for Labor to give opinion pieces,and now you`re here why not answer a few questions?.
    It`s OK I`m a true Socialist of the Hard Left {Albo`s faction} you can talk,can`t you?

  40. Gail T

    @bighead, HEAR HEAR.
    Progress toward the real reckoning of righting the RIGHT FACTION wrongs(s,s,s,s) Is taking TOO long. This article is yet another weak RATIONALISATION for right moderate LABOR.
    RIght moderate Labor is not LAbor.
    It might as well change its name to a slightly left SUB-branch of LNP!
    Yes of course discourse and negotiate with corporations and big business BUT on terms which BENEFIT all AUSTRALIANS the majority of whom are working class and working middle class people

  41. bighead1883

    There`s no debating with right wingers Gail T.
    It`s their opinion and that`s all they care for.
    A Convener in current day Labor could well be just a function organiser,at least he writes like a functionary.
    They don`t want to hear it,because they now know we are ALL onto them and their crooked gamesmanship.
    That is why no one can get a reply from George Wright,and FFS,he`s the President.
    Barry Jones was far more accessible and would espouse reasoning and ideals into the public forum.
    Right wingers do not do this as can be seen by the LNP.
    Labor`s right wingers are secretive as well,they have come so close to destroying the party altogether,and this may yet be the case.
    I liked your slightly to a left SUB-branch of the LNP Gail,so apt in the current climate.
    Stuart writing of the need for AGW response on a left of centre publication in his opinion piece is like telling the students of Copernicus that the Earth revolves around the Sun.

  42. bighead1883

    OH by the way Gail T,there is also a reason why Labor wants to see the Greens dead and buried,the same reason as the LNP.

  43. Bacchus

    I couldn’t understand it

    That’s not at all surprising mikestasse – a closed mind mired in neo-classical economic mumbo jumbo will never understand MMT 😉 And no, MMT and the Austrian school are two different animals…

    Let’s try something simple to demonstrate the fallacy of neo-classical economics (Chicago school). This school of thought says that,

    crowding out occurs if government financing of projects with deficit spending through the use of borrowed money. Because the government borrows such large amounts of capital, its activities can increase interest rates. Higher interest rates discourage individuals and businesses from borrowing money, which reduces their spending and investment activities.

    Compare and contrast that with what actually happened in various economies over the last decade. What’s the US government debt? What is their offficial interest rate? What has happened to interest rates as government has increased their debt? What was our interest rate when we had very small gross government debt? How does that compare with government debt and interest rates now? You could say the concept of “crowding out” is BS then, no?

    Similarly, the concept of “fractional reserve banking” is crap! The net result of “horizontal” transactions in a fiat monetary system is zero. Perhaps this from a US perspective might make it clearer. Note that it’s US economists who have been teaching the flawed “money multiplier” rubbish, the British had it right all along 😉

    Who benefits from this flawed ideology? Who is that flogging the gold standard, and why? Time to let go of your misconceptions mikestasse – open the mind and find out the truth 😉

  44. bighead1883

    Exactly the correct analysis Bacchus,go to the top of the class.

  45. Gail T

    I do support the concept of subsidy to large corporations like Holden and to the miners Tx offsets for capital development etc OK.
    However there has to be a return which is FAR greater than the employment of many workers, maintaining industries in Australia and contributing by paying some taxes.
    It greatly concerns me that multinational corporations trading in Australia can avoid through complex accounting paying tax.If a multinational corporation in Australia is not paying tax I believe the government should ask for pro rata share of their business or shares in lieu of tax.
    As for the miners- the failure to recognise their responsibility to pay the super tax in exchange for the right to mine our AUSTRALIAN RESOURCES is WOEFUL and DISGRACEFUL and SCURRILOUS and has to be fixed when next Labor is in government.
    It should be fixed by the LNP but it will not be.
    THE CONTRADICTION IN TERMS in DECRYING THE STATE OF THE NATIONAL DEBT and then the failure to COLLECT THE TAXES for mining superprofits is MINDBOGGLING.
    The argument that the infrastructure to collect the taxes cost more than the taxes would yield is gobblygook.In the short term that may be the case but this is a long term project.
    Our mineral resources to my understanding are so vast that they will last possibly to the end of the century.
    The realisation that ALL AUSTRALIANS own those resources and have to right to richly benefit from the mining which is DAMAGING and RAPING our landscape has to DAWN on government.
    We should not have to SACRIFICE our standard of living or wages because we have accrued a national debt.Social Welfare is necessary. The school kids bonus is necessary.Hospital improvement is necessary.
    These very large businesses should respect the AUstralian people and generously support our nation through paying TAX.

  46. diannaart

    GailT

    THE CONTRADICTION IN TERMS in DECRYING THE STATE OF THE NATIONAL DEBT and then the failure to COLLECT THE TAXES for mining superprofits is MINDBOGGLING.

    I am in full bogglement with you, Gail, how can the LNP carp on about the “big black hole of debt” – when it does nothing to support the collection of tax rightly owed to the Australian people?

  47. bighead1883

    Thank you Stuart,your replies were far better than your article and in discoursing with us shows temerity on your part to do this.
    I was sincerely goading you to reply and I am happy you did with such intelligence as to understanding what Labor supporters feel.
    I know of Labor`s history and of the factional infighting right back to 1899 and party splits.
    The point you have not addressed is corporatocracy,or global corporatism.
    The TPP loaded with ISDS offends us all and will see our Sovereignty lost.
    Acknowledgement of the mass privatisation of our assets to the Investment Banker owned Multinationals also has not been addressed by Labor even when in power.
    To many back room FTA`s that see Australia losing out and having high energy prices and unemployment as payment hurts us all no end,and we need to see proper leadership with rhetoric to us,your supporters.
    Good on you Stuart and get more Labor executive to talk to us because we`re waiting.Cheers.

  48. Gail T

    Thank you Stuart. I do believe that you have genuine convictions. I do agree that conferencing with the grass roots is called for on a much greaTer level.I hope you are a genuine reformer.
    Secondly I believe Labor should be able to to a certain extent govern the unions rather than the other way around. It is essential the the Unions develop the Labor membership and increase the membership.
    THe union to which I belong is not politically aligned so called but it has 60,000 members!!!! Membership of politcal parties should be one of the AIMS of unions for their membership. My particular union the NSWT FED prints a large newspaper which does address the politics applicable to education but the entire 24 or more page publications should address political issues for ALL particularly when Murdoch DOMINATEs commercial print and TV media. Their website does target political issues but waht a waste that paper is!!!
    Lets face it unions by themselves do not have much power operating Autonomously.They NEED Labor to have political representation.
    Labor needs to govern unions, audit unions
    Labor also needs to recognise that there are also many whon are not party members for various reasons who ardently VOTE Labor.
    Those community members are also a considerable resource to be mobilised. MEmbers or not..

  49. bighead1883

    PS Stuart,what`s Labor doing about Shortens bullshit numbers that got him in?
    We won`t let this rest.

  50. Stuart Whitman

    It’s great to see a lot of passionate discussion in response on here. Thanks everyone.

    Martin Connolly – your comments in particular get the point of this article particularly on us being true to Labor values as our yardstick for measuring policy, action and the way we treat our own members. So thanks for that contribution Martin.

    Gail T – you have missed the point if you think I am trying to rationalise or excuse any of the bad machine behaviour in the ALP, in fact the very opposite. I am saying the machine stinks and has been abused by a handful of people on Right and Left (who often collude and carve up deals behind closed doors) to further their owns ends without really helping prepare the Labor Party for what needs to be done. As you say yourself, “Mobilisation of the rank and file in a more organised way to work in a more organised way for Labor goals” is needed. That is the whole point of what Local Labor, and party reform groups like ours have been doing for the past few years i.e. trying to wake the grassroots broad membership up and getting them organised. My comments are not at all suggesting that the ALP should become more right wing. I am suggesting that the way we understand right v left issues within the party is becoming problematic because society itself will move away from those paradigms in the next few decades when we confront the breakdown of the social and economic order as a result of climate change. Reaching for 19th century Karl Marx or 18th century Adam Smith will become irrelevant in 21st century world approaching 9 billion people and depleting resources and global warming. Our only way to make sense of what is happening and try to deal with it is through a scientific approach. And science works best when we keep an open mind and test hypotheses by seeking evidence to prove our beliefs or assumptions them wrong and not blindly following what authorities tell us. The approach needed to help save civilisation goes completely against treating an ideology as a religion, and believing our way is the only way and has all the answers. Anyway, there are few philosophical policy debates within Labor these days and the party has become far too obsessed with personalities and their individual agendas. I am saying we need more values based policy development framed around our Labor heart of “fairness, justice, compassion and equity” alongside a scientific, evidence-based approach design of the policies. Constantly fighting old ideological wars or sinking into extremist nonsensical views from last century is pointless and a distraction and only plays into the hands of factional warlords whose very power is based on keeping those internal civil wars going.

    Bighead1883 – I take your points but if you want to be really honest about political skulduggery you will admit it is not only the domain of the Labor Right. Race Mathews who founded Local Labor, was a member of a group of Victorian Labor members in the late 1960s who worked with Gough Whitlam to confront Labor Left skulduggery that was suffocating Labor in Victoria and federally at the time through corrupt practices that had the ALP nicknamed with the label “POP – permanent opposition party” and resulted in national intervention in the Vic ALP. The Labor Right and Left when given the chance (i.e. no resistance from rank and file) will pursue power through non-democratic and secretive means, as we can see in the recent collusion between Right and Left leaders in Victoria to deny Victorian members a say in their upper house preselections and to not comply with our affirmative action rules. That says to me that there is something fundamentally wrong and dysfunctional about the party machine when no side trusts they will get a fair contest so they need to subvert our own party’s rules. If we can build a transparent and accountable system where the rule of law came first we could end this. There are many members on Left and Right who genuinely want what’s best for the ALP and are sick of being taken for granted or having their views ignored and run roughshod over. If you find my words in this article too flowery, let me summarise for you: The world is changing physically in an unprecedented and negative way that threatens the existence of civilisation, and in the short term the economy will collapse when the idea of unlimited growth collides with reality of limited resources. Technology and science is progressing rapidly in a positive way that gives us the tools we need to deal with the problems but only if we do it in time. Socially old 20th century ways of looking at the world, at communities at ourselves as individuals are changing radically and we are caught between the forces of growing inequality and environmental degradation on the one hand and greater access to information and technology on the other. And when you put these three forces together Economy/Environment + Technology + Society = Politics changes. The previous federal Labor government got this, that’s why we had reforms like carbon pricing, the NBN, NDIS etc. But there was a disconnection between what we were saying to Australians about reform, and what we were doing in practice ourselves inside the party. So all the good we did is now being destroyed by Abbott because we couldn’t get our act together and reform the way we operate as a political organisation to connect with and win over the electors. And now we have a chance to, people want to distract us with old battles or make excuses or delay. Let’s just get these reforms done as soon as we can.

  51. bighead1883

    Good answer Gail T,keep the questions and lines open M8.

  52. Gail T

    Thanks Biggie. I am personally very impressed that Stuart has responded.
    Thanks again Stuart!

  53. Gail T

    Stuart if you are still listening.
    I personally believe that the great strength of the Labor party has always been the ability to funnel disparate and often conflicting viewpoints successfully toward a common goal.
    i believe that the right wing and left wing labor are part of its strengths as are all the versions of left.
    However the role of the party is to weigh the correct path through research in my opinion with the membership at all levels.Membership at all levels should be canvassed issue by issue.
    Spirited debate and finding the solution through debate and numbers is the WAY.
    It should not be appropriate for the loudest lobby group to seize power and it should not be lawful for caucus to vote in blocks.
    That should be outlawed because it IS FUNDAMENTALLY CORRUPT.Voting in blocks is SLAVISH.
    SECONDly you cannot represent your electorate or union membership with intelligence and transparency if you slavishly vote for a block right or left.
    It has to be issue by issue and based on your viewpoin t and the views of the members that each caucus member has canvassed.
    I personally cannot RESPECT a politician who votes in BLOCKS>
    I also agree with you that climate change is the greatest issue of this time in fact. IT IS TIME THAT LABOR actually adressed it and have the GUTS to organise and ENSURE That real action takes place within AUstralia.So much of Australia is already marginal and water is such an issue already.
    Climate change will make many of those marginal areas such as Central Australia and WEstern AUstralia UNLIVEABLE.
    We need to GET REAL FACE UP and FIX it. EMISSIONS HAVE TO BE ELIMINATED as fast as POSSIBLE.Our solar future has to be embraced,
    ALso at the present time there is an appearance that Labor is simply FRAIL. More energetic and targetted oratory is called for in parliament presented in a spirited and adversarial way. We are in opposition.!!!!!!!!
    IF I hear team Australia moment again I will puke and if I hear I am a moderate again I Will puke.
    Shorten is the Leader of a Party that is NOT MODERATE,He has no right to be moderate EVER>HE is NOT the PARTY. He is a representative of the party which IS NOT MODERATE.
    MODERATE means conservative. LEts leave that to the LNP
    Labor can never be CONSERVATIVE> that is anathema.

  54. bighead1883

    Brilliant,game set and march with that logic GT.

  55. Gail T

    Stuart if you are still listening. It is time NOW for Labor to commence advertising in a multitude of ways across the wider community.
    I do not mean with ads on Tv or in papers. I mean with car stickers, use of advertising on billboards and in other places such as Union newspapers and on union sites.This advertising should be targetted to include the loss of Holden, climate change, Gonski and what it means( maybe the educational unions will do it)School kids bonus. +++=
    It is time for ads about the MYEFO when it is released.( TARGETTING the increases from where it was and Why it has grown so much.) A TV ad might be called for for that.
    ALso what is also needed is a campaign what reinforces what Labor did in 6 years and what LNP has achieved.In union newspapers and on union sites.
    I realise that all of this is going to cost money.
    It is a mistake to believe that Labor should only have been ADVERTISING in the election campaign period. They need to advertise all the time.Even the old trailer with 2 sided ad billboard on the back next to major roads is incredibly useful.These are small things that do not cost a lot but which pay huge dividends if used properly across Australia.
    Perhaps Labor could pay to advertise on the side of large trucks if it is legal.Four -6 billboards in Sydney is probably all that is needed etc.
    Low key advertising pays.It keeps Labor brand in the public mind. A reminder.
    On Independent Australia the wrecking ball cartoon MIGHT be a great ad!!!!!!if it is available.
    Labor wOULD NOT HAVE LOST HOLDEN.
    Labor supports GONSKI REFORMs.
    LABOR ACTED ON CLIMATE CHANGE.
    Labor LOWEREd YOUR TAX and RAISED YOUR REAL INCOME.
    LABOR INCREASED YOUR REAL WEALTH
    LABOR KEPT GFC OUT
    LABOR CREATED 1 MILLION JOBS
    LABOR GREW THE ECONOMY BY…ETC
    THese need to be SLOGANS that PEOPLE SEE EVERYWHERE and more.
    CAR STICKERS< POSTERS IN WORKPLACES AND ON BILLBOARDS ETC

  56. doctorrob54

    I agree with everything Kaye Lee posted.The Labor Party must change direction,swing back to the left,and continue but more openly batting for the working class and ignore and/or fight loud and hard when big business tries to drive over the top.Strive for a high emission reduction rate and do a complete about face on the refugee/asylum issue.Much like the Greens policy.

  57. kathysutherland2013

    Why did Labor support the Coalition to get rid of the anti-porkies reforms Labor introduced?

  58. kathysutherland2013

    Oops! Anti-pokies!

  59. doctorrob54

    They are till running around falling for perceived public opinion,The pubs and clubs played hard and dirty,even barring The Salvation Army from their premises if they continued to support the cause.Same as the mining industry did.Stupid thing is,most people still support both issues.In every interview they are asked about the CT they must state loud and clear’WE SAID WE WOULD REMOVE THE CT AND INTRODUCE AN ETS”Labour must stand up for them selves.In no interview lately have they thrown ETS back at them.
    Throw it back soon as Libs.blame Lab.for debt and keep saying loud and clear,all the way through the interview,if in that situation,but where ever that,there would be no debt if howard and costello hadn’t spent the mining revenue,proof is that in relation to GDP they spent more than any Gov.since Federation.Not sure about the war years.

  60. Anon E Mouse

    What is with Shorten? He is a quiet as a mouse.
    Surely he is not taking a dive – but that is what it seems like. He seems to be throwing the game, Or is Shorten whipped?

    Labor has to take the fight up to Abbott and co – there is lots to criticise and argue against.

  61. martin connolly

    I’ve just re-read all the comments and am left wondering – so what do we DO?

    Personally I don’t know how much longer I can put up with having to watch Abbott etc screw up the country and get away with it.

    Where do we all go and come up with the plan, the policies and the people that will properly hold Abbott etc to account?
    How do we get the message to cut through with media?
    How do we make sure the truth is told and people get it?

    I agree with most of the comment but I think Labor has to embrace some different core policies. When the party was formed there WAS an adversorial situation between labour and capital. Even though that is truer today, most people don’t see it (why the hell would any non-mine-owner vote against a hefty mining tax??)

    Politically the Greens obviously occupy a place that Labor could have owned, and should have IMHO (with a bit more reality and wiggle-room)
    So it will be difficult to carve out the position based on the “fairness, justice, compassion and equity” I mentioned above, but IT HAS TO BE DONE. The Greens would not join the Labor party but maybe a closer alliance could be formed?

    Oh and “fairness, justice, compassion and equity” has to be for all – workers, the environment current and future, asylum seekers, young mothers and pensioners, even mine owners and Liberals.

    GailT’s point about voting blocks is well made and very important – I don’t know how this could be controlled but both factions and lobbying are blatant crucibles of graft and corruption. Politics may be the art of compromise but it shouldn’t be the public interest or the public money that is comprmoised. Close public scrutiny is the only way to deal with this, after removing legalised lobbying and donations to parties and candidates. Harder to remove are the secret movements of money in real or virtual brown paper bags or the exchange of sinecures (or titles!) for past or future ‘favours’ (sorry, my cynicism and naivety is showing!)

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