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“Insiders see problems with insiders’ eyes” – my review of the Labor review

In 2012, anti-corruption watchdog Tony Fitzgerald published an article titled The body politic is rotten. It is a must read from the man who exposed police corruption in Queensland and led to the end of the dictatorial reign of Joh.

One paragraph of it I found particularly relevant to my opinion of the Labor review into why it lost the 2019 election:

insiders see problems with insiders’ eyes, recognise only some of the problems and few of the causes and suggest insiders’ solutions with voters as mere bystanders. The usual, and sometimes intended, outcome is a flurry of superficial activity, appointment of a suitable group of other insiders to report, lengthy discussion of their report, considerable navel-gazing, a feel-good pronouncement and business as usual.

Then I read a comment by AIMN author George Theodoridis which resonated with me far more than anything I read in Labor’s review.

the people were waiting for some Whitlamesque inspiration, like Medibank for example, like free education, like less militarism, like less obsequy to the Americans, like the closing down of the offshore torture tents, like some statement against the savagery of zionism, like a decent policy on reduction and or elimination of the mountains of pollution that is suffocating the planet. That’s what was in their minds when the campaigns began. Instead, they heard mealy mouthed waffle about a thousand and one things none of which had much to do with them. Some house keeping chores would be done but the huge lumps of dung in the middle of the lounge room, the kitchen the bedrooms were not even mentioned.

It is often said that facts are hard to get across to a disengaged public, that elections are won on emotion.

If you want to talk about stirring emotions, those of us around for the time of Whitlam know what that truly feels like.

He made us feel proud of ourselves, not of our alliance to anyone else. We stood up as Australians with an ancient history and unique culture. We would engage with the world as equals, not vassals.

Universal health and education were, not only our right, but an investment in our future.

Labor’s review says they were unable to react/innovate to respond to twists and turns in the campaign.

We want inspiration, not political manoeuvering.

If anyone asks how you are going to pay for something we need to do, like raise Newstart (for pity’s sake, just do it), answer that, if we can afford to spend $20 billion a year on new weapons of mass destruction, we can afford to look after our most vulnerable citizens and assist them to be contributing members of our society. Put emotion/empathy in your answer – not tables of figures.

Simply point out the actual dollar return of investments in health and education. Stress the rapidly rising economic cost of inaction on climate change.

Get real about jobs and stop pretending they will come from new coal mines. Have each local member/candidate draw up a list of sustainable job options for their area and what assistance they think might grow employment in their electorate. Instead of issuing talking points for media appearances, have your members do some work in their electorates and report back.

Policy should be informed by what experts and stakeholders say rather than in response to what focus groups or shock jocks say. I may be biased in this, but I think teachers would be able to better advise you on how to simplify your policy objective into a message that is understandable to the public (that is our job) than young marketing/advertising gurus offering image advice and competing slogans. It’s not about selling it – it’s about simplifying it and making it relevant.

Polls mean nothing as shown by the last election. Stop worrying about who is friggin’ leader and just do the job. Personally, I would rather see some courage and conviction than ‘adaptability’ and some sort of Survivor leadership blame game.

But I think George hit the nail on the head – fear and hate is exhausting, we crave inspiration.


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  1. George Theodoridis

    “…fear and hate is exhausting, we crave inspiration.”

    Quite so, Kaye, quite so. Inspire and do the work!
    Many thanks.

  2. paul walter

    I can’t comment because I can’t find much to argue with. Expediency and the expediency mindset bring about their own pitfalls and explains why assumptions remain unquestioned and no contestation occurs. So the public thinks they have endorsed the government on the basis that if it is all to be the basically the same and righteous any way, why change the government.

    It goes back a long time, the damage was done a long time when they wouldnt or couldnt contest enviro, then asylum seeker and foreign affairs and from there all neolib policy. Had Beazley conducted a robust opposition to Howard in 2001 or stopped peddling the job v v enviro false dichotomy out of hierarchic self interest as occurred in 2004 over logging, it could have looked so different.

  3. Kaye Lee


    I was uncomfortable with the review and often go back to Fitzgerald’s articles for quotes but it was your comment that really nailed how I felt. We don’t want our leaders to respond to angry focus groups who are influenced by an angry media – we want them to LEAD.

    Thank YOU for your inspiration.

  4. George Theodoridis

    You’re most welcome Kaye.
    Fitzgerald was a flickering light in a very dark place.

    And you were right to see the pertinent bit about “insiders” checking the insider group, all seated comfortably in a mountain cave away from the light and from what that light shows.

    And you’re also right about those insiders asking teachers to help them, not only articulate the problems but also how they intent to solve them.

    At the moment I see little reason for optimism and desperately cling to a vague hope that the new media, the AIMNs and suchlike will create some, even slight, turn to this path to political oblivion.

  5. Keitha Granville

    The consultants, the advisors, the media liaison – and the interminable focus on the Leader, USA style.

    Get back to work, use people in the workplace to inform, use the money you have to better the lives of those you SERVE., and stop using your mouths on TV and in the press every frickin day !!!!

  6. Ill fares the land

    Fear and hate may be exhausting for us, but when it comes to those things, along with an unyielding obsession with tribalism, Morrison is indefatigable. Those things are his tools for building his power base.

    The reality for way, way too many Australians is that the merest hint of something they disagree with, they are off on some irrational, bilious rant and given Morrison the Grand Poobah of tribalism is a failed marketing hack, he understands how little we really think about our football teams and our politicians. As a collective, our national stupidity is boundless and he tapped into that in a way that Labor and Shorten could not. Shorten was convinced that he and Labor offered a way forward, and arguably that is true, even if , but they failed to tap into our gravest failing, which is that in spite of Morrison being a bare-faced liar with no policies who was unchallenged by any of the mainstream media, he was still able to convince just enough people to vote for him, by donning a baseball cap and pretending to be a “regular guy”. No-one seems to mention the disgraceful act by Morrison in the second debate with Shorten where he very, very deliberately got aggressively close to Shorten with the aim of showing that Morrison is strong and Shorten is weak (a page out of the risible Trump’s debate playbook – he did exactly that to Clinton. In fact, I believe that even Sammy J was far more vicious towards Shorten prior to the election than he was to Morrison. I wondered if I might have been imagining it, but post-election, the tables have turned and his target is much more Morrison and his band of merry nitwits, rogues and charlatans.

    Labor was plastered in Queensland and that can be sheeted home to the corpulent Palmer and his massive budget and the fact that whatever they could have tried, Labor was between a rock and a hard place in Queensland. If they had unequivocally supported Adani, they would have seemed even worse on their climate policy and lost votes in the urban electorates (where they did outpoll ther LNP). If they had unequivocally opposed Adani, which would have caused electoral issues for the incompetent and lightweight Palaszczuk, Morrison and Palmer would have even more they could play with to attack Labor. I am unsure how any party could tread that fine line without appearing a bit “wishy-washy”. Yes Labor attacked the”big end of town” and were vilified, but the LNP attack the “small end of town” and do so with impunity. Moreover, Morrison continues to lie and “play to his tribe” (or cult, if you will) on a regular basis and that gets little attention in the mainstream media, but Albanese has his leadership and political ability questioned, if not denigrated in the press on a daily basis!

    Instead of looking at Albanese and what he might be like as a PM, how about looking at Morrison’s suitability instead – surely on just about every possible metric he would score an “F”.


    The error in waiting for “Them to lead” or “inspiration” is that we have become convinced that the pre-selected leaders are capable of leading. By waiting for a leader, surely we remain dependent on a system that in all the rhetoric I read here, demands we realise the current allusion of Democracy is well past any use-by date. Democracy has become habit rather than functional. That habit is what our current political leaders rely on. So many in the proverbial ‘Democracies’ of the world are in the streets protesting for change right now, but unfortunately we in Australia are somehow still convinced that Aust. is the “freest country in the world” etc. All that buster seems to have clouded Australians into cowardice for tipping up the apple cart. Despite the Christian claims pasted on Australians, didn’t Jesus or some one tip over the apple cart tables and demand social and political change? Have Australians become too complacent? Yes it is complicated, but the indolence of waiting for a new leader to arise trusting this current system, is obedience.

  8. Kaye Lee


    Well said. I take your point. We have to find the way to fight that brings people along rather than alienating them but, as I have said many times, polite warnings about climate change aren’t working and time has basically run out for discussion.

    I guess it is lazy to hope for a leader with courage to rally around. But shit it would be good to have someone to vote for who might actually have the courage to do what we know must be done because, without them, our protests can’t work.

    Though I do see promising signs from business realising they must act or face real climate related risk. Will that do it? Will they finally help sway government?

    We come back to what Keith Davis said in the previous article. We have to provide the inspiration. But how do we do that without it all getting lost in the “identity politics” putdown? Surely climate change is one place we could have come together but instead it became an argument about coal.

  9. Aortic

    Just looking at Einsteins comment in relation particularly to George Brandis explanation of metadata. Mind you there are many examples of these blithering idiots rambling on pontificating on issues that are clearly beyond their ken. How about Morribund Abetz, Kelly and Joyce as a quartet for a start. As Plato once wisely said, ” Wise men speak when they have something to say, fools when they have to say something.”

  10. New England Cocky

    Ah, Whitlam, now there was a satisfying election result and golden era of Australian history. “Courage and conviction” indeed, dragging Australia screaming out of the British cultural cringe and into the light of self respect … much to the disgust of the USA (United States of Apartheid) after all the kowtowing of successive Liarbral Prim Monsters following Menzies into obscurity.

    Sadly, in 2019 Silly Billy Shorten was NOT a Whitlam and as others have said, too many insiders believed their own publicity.

    @Aoritc: ” Wise men speak when they have something to say, fools when they have to say something.” However, in the case of Barnyard Joke, to paraphrase, “fools speak when they want to destabilise the notional$ leader”.

  11. Kaye Lee

    The man Morrison admires…….

    The Washington Post has obtained an advance copy of the book by an anonymous writer who describes themselves as a senior official in the Trump administration.

    Here are some key excerpts:

    “It’s like showing up at the nursing home at daybreak to find your elderly uncle running pantsless across the courtyard and cursing loudly about the cafeteria food, as worried attendants tried to catch him” the author wrote.

    Trump allegedly attempted a Hispanic accent to mock migrants attempting to cross the US-Mexico border:

    “We get these women coming in with like seven children,” Trump said, according to Anonymous. “They are saying, ‘Oh, please help! My husband left me!’ They are useless. They don’t do anything for our country. At least if they came in with a husband we could put him in the fields to pick corn or something.”

    Trump apparently wanted to get reduce the number of federal judges:

    “Can we just get rid of the judges? Let’s get rid of the [expletive] judges,” he reportedly said.

  12. Alpo

    “Then I read a comment by AIMN author George Theodoridis which resonated with me far more than anything I read in Labor’s review”…

    Wake up, Kaye!… George’s view is telling you that Labor lost because they didn’t go enough to the left! That’s the completely wrong conclusion!…

    If that was true, the Greens would have done exceptionally well…. but they didn’t!
    If that was true, the even more right-wing Coalition would have lost…. but they didn’t!
    In this country there is compulsory voting and those who refused to cast a valid vote were a small and insignificant number.
    Voting for an Independent was an alternative, which was supported by some alleged progressives obsessed with “the duopoly” throughout the internet before the election, but Independents went nowhere.

    Inescapable conclusion: The ALP did move well into the left side of politics with their programme, but they couldn’t stop the Neoliberals-Conservatives and their control of the media from scaring enough naive and gullible voters. The key for the Liberals (LNP) was Queensland and also, even more broadly, second preferences from Hanson’s and Palmer’s parties.

  13. Kerri

    If Labor wants to win the next election they could start by coming up with a bill of human rights.
    And then use it’s various clauses to highlight the rights the LNP are systematically takin from every Australian citizen.


    Spot on!

  14. Kaye Lee


    It depends if your focus is on how to get elected or on doing the right thing. Seems to me than many in Labor think they should be more like the Coalition purely because they won.

    George’s view mirrors what I would like to hear, which can’t be described as a political strategy. I look on it more as a mission statement.

    I wouldn’t say Labor moved well into the left side of politics with Shorten as leader and Bowen as Shadow Treasurer. I think they lost because they kept responding to Coalition dead cats and were poor in their messaging – keep it simple and make it relevant.

    Gosh a lot of people keep telling me to wake up. Perhaps if I read less about politics I would be more woke?

  15. STAND UP

    Here in lies the problem. It is compulsory to vote for 2 preselected candidates, which does not even pretend to represent a democratic vote does it? The voters just line up and pretend to live in a democracy like they are told do. Unfortunately money gets you elected, and both parties who pretend to represent the people of Australia are basically corporate funded. The average Joe has no voice do they? We just vote presumably for the same group of people that pretend to have different coloured hats, and then we complain. We the rabble then pretend virulently to create meaning for ourselves by arguing about differences that mean little to the Parties we argue about, and the voter remains distracted with that piffle, leaving the Corporate led parties get on with what they want to do. Should do this; should do that…. You wish. A Bill of Human Rights in Australia is a great idea and conveniently lacking.

  16. George Theodoridis

    Stephen Fry:
    “It’s the catastrophic failure of the Left!”

  17. Kaye Lee

    Today, after Albo spoke at the Press Club, Andrew Probyn interviewed Kristina Keneally and asked her if Labor being unable to answer how much their climate change policy would cost hurt them in the election.

    FFS how many times do they have to be asked that question before they come up with a sensible answer like “As with the response to the drought, we must do what is necessary to address this crisis. We had the cheapest. most effective way to reduce emissions with the carbon price. The Coalition and Clive Palmer trashed that and, ever since, emissions have been rising as has the intensity and cost of natural disasters. We simply cannot afford three more years of increasing emissions.”

  18. David Stakes

    Move more left, inspire with a progressive policys. Be up front on costs and hammer that in. Whether Albo can do this I am not sure. Can see him being replaced before 12 months is up if he is not gaining traction as the coalitions policys lead us into a recession.

  19. Lambchop Simnel

    ” Insiders see through insiders eyes”.

    I recall Hillary Clinton once complaining concerning mid east politics saying the problem with one failure was not that the policy was unrealistic but that the response to questioning had been that those involved had not “span” well enough.

    Got the same feeling looking at Marles in the pic with Albo. They even now wont get that honesty is the best spin.

  20. Phil Pryor

    Over time, history suggests, (I think and perhaps know) that truth is a prize but a victim, that policy must be clear but obscure, that money applied well will reap a crop, even of sprouting turds, that most people most of the time are not honest, certainly to themselves, that big money and short term greed are deep long term problems and that you must get in by any means to rob your opponents and reward your supporters. The ALP must tease out a win next time by cunnng inactivity, or careful thrusting, or lying doggo and letting the conservative turds lose (that didn’t work) or by eliminating by any means their filthy opponents. The immediate death and demise of anal Murdochism (not likely yet) would help, plus some awareness by the entrenched idiots, especially in Queensland, the home of plantation backwardness and a lack of reality and foresight.

  21. Trevor

    Too many Captain Cooks, was the reply from asking a 60000 yr old NT local.

    To paraphrase Whitlam talking to his cabinet, ….. you are all pissants.

    The youth are leading and adults are bemoaning the lack of leaders!

    Whitlam, then Hawke & Keating.
    Bill neva rated except in his own lunchtime.

    Better to be active than reactive

    The IPA led Abbott Turnbullshit MorriSCUM LNP are a criminal cartel.

  22. Kaye Lee

    Off topic but hell’s bells and cockle shells – Ken Wyatt has appointed Chris Kenny to the panel to design the process for an Indigenous voice to parliament.

    Chris Kenny??????

    This is what his own son wrote about him….

    “Kenny is a staunchly neo-conservative, anti-progress, anti-worker defender of the status quo. He is an unrelenting apologist for the Liberal Party. He was one of Alexander Downer’s senior advisers at the time of the Iraq War. He’s been known to argue for stubborn, sightless inaction on climate change. He spits at anyone concerned with such trivialities as gender equality, environmental issues or labour rights from his Twitter account on a daily basis. Recently, he characterised criticism of the lack of women in Tony Abbott’s Cabinet as a continuation of the Left’s “gender wars”. He is a regular and fervent participant in The Australian’s numerous ongoing bully campaigns against those who question its editorial practices and ideological biases. The profoundly irresponsible, dishonest, hate-filled anti-multiculturalist Andrew Bolt has recently referred to Kenny on his blog as “a friend”.

    In Defence Of The Chaser’s False Depiction Of My Dad Having Sex With Dog

    Appointing this man is an insult!

  23. Terence Mills


    Ken Wyatt must have been leaned on by Morrison.

    To even consider a Murdoch shill to this enquiry immediately devalues its integrity and robs it of objectivity.
    Alan Jones, if we really needed a right-wing ideologue, would probably be of greater value than Kenny.

    Crazy stuff !

  24. Jack Cade

    I used to tell my children that what differentiated the right from the left was that the left got into politics to help others, whereas the right got into politics to help themselves.
    Now there is no difference between most of the Labor Party and most of the Coalition.

  25. Kaye Lee

    I think Labor are streets in front of the Coalition but it worries me when they start mimicking their language – wealth creation and growing the pie. By all means talk about wage increases and job security and PLEASE commit to increasing Newstart, but don’t make it about wealth.

  26. totaram

    MN: Re: Chris Kenny, so as usual the ABC was cowed down by threats of funding cuts.

    Unless we can set the ABC funding in stone, there is literally no point in having a so-called “independent” broadcaster. Standard MO for conservative governments is to throttle any Institution they don’t like by “funding cuts”. The other trick is to load up the personnel with carefully chosen IPA/coalition apparatchiks, while completely ignoring any requirements for qualifications, expertise, etc.

    We might as well scrap all these institutions and give up the pretence that we have them. Acknowledge that we are actually no better than so-called “developing countries”. South Sudan? Democratic Republic of Congo, or even North Korea?

  27. Matters Not

    Yes totaram the ABC needs legislated, funding certainty. But it’s not on the political horizon regardless of political affiliation. As you say – the opportunity for political blackmail is too hard to resist.

    As an avid fan of the ABC on all its mediums, I am getting more and more pissed off with this quest for ‘balance’ which is leading to dumbed down discussion on shows such as The Drum. Just because a Professor of Dentistry is making a case for (say) a particular dental procedure doesn’t mean there also has to be a slot for Mervyn who believes in the Tooth Fairy or advocates removing teeth via a length of cord and a heavy door.

    Virtually every night there is someone from a minority group who (far too often) adds absolutely nothing to the debate. Take Josephine Cashman from the Big River Impact Foundation as a classic example While she has any number of academic stamps (itself a real worry re academic standards) other panel members visibly cringe when she seizes the floor. Great that minority groups participate but only if they have something to contribute.

    Yes, we need genuine independent broadcasters.

  28. Kaye Lee


    I feel the same about Jacinta Price and Warren Mundine. I have heard so many intelligent articulate Aboriginal people give fascinating insight into, not only problems we face, but solutions that have/are working…..and then there are these two who are dumb as a post regurgitating lines they have been fed by someone yet regularly filling up panel space in order to lift their political profile.

  29. wam

    How good is labor???
    6 years ago the workers choice was albo but the pollies chose shorten Wow what a good decision. It gave rise to thousands of words here. Most were without praise for any of his action/
    Such a consistent approach hits again as the pollies choose a couple pollies to ‘review’. The result of baby-boome fits with the expected wash of calcium hydroxide. There is no doubt, that kaye and a couple of labor party members could do a better job and cost nothing.
    chris kenny presents an obnoxious front but underneath he is worse. Although he may have dug deeper than craig and jay?.
    dear Alpo
    The Greens increased their support in every Senate race except in the NT.and went from $5m to over $9m??? Norrownose and his boys are yet to thank senile boobby and his girls.

  30. Terence Mills

    Just heard Matt Canavan on ABC radio talking about the proposed government ban on environmental campaigners and protesters including secondary boycotts.

    What a train-smash of an interview with this minister trying to explain how it’s OK for him to call for a consumer boycott on Westpac for not providing finance to Adani but it’s wrong for citizens to campaign against new mining ventures.

  31. Kaye Lee

    I’m sorry I missed that Terence. Canavan has a a highly inflated opinion of his own worth. He sees himself as a future leader of the Nats but he has absolutely no handle on anything beyond the ideological lines he is fed by the Minerals Council. He is SO easy to trip up but usually faces little actual interrogation. Who did the interview?

  32. paul walter

    He can smell a $buck from ninety metres though.

  33. Kaye Lee

    Thanks Terence. I will catch up on it when I can.

  34. Henry Crun

    Simple explanation: unpopular leader, unwilling or unable to explain the cost of unpopular policies to the majority of people who now believe they dodged a bullet.
    To continue with most of those policies expecting a different outcome next time would border on stupidity.

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