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Joel Fitzgibbon Helps Albo Show Who’s In Charge!

This is a rather difficult post to write. One of the things that upsets people on the left side of politics more than anything is other people on the left side of politics ruining consensus by having a different point of view.

I noticed this on social media this week when it seemed that anyone who said something along the lines of, « I don’t agree with the decision to dump Mark Butler, particularly when Albo said he wouldn’t be doing that just a couple of months ago, » was accused of practically handing the next election to the Coalition. Apparently it’s fine to get rid of Butler because he hasn’t been able to cut through in his portfolio but any suggestion that one should replace Albanese as leader because he isn’t cutting through is a terrible suggestion and we’ve all got to pull together and get behind the leader.

Joel Fitzgibbon has been making a lot of noise and doing more interviews than just about anyone in the Labor party lately and his point is that one shouldn’t be focused on climate change because the emphasis should be on jobs… In particular, his.

Of course, it’s always good to adapt to the times and to demonstrate a capacity to change your mind based on a more thoughtful consideration of the best course of action. Albanese realised that the only way to get Joel Fitzgibbon on board was to give in to everything that he wanted. This is a great way to foster unity… And a couple of days ago when Joel said that they had to make it easier to change the leader, he was very clear to tell the audience that this was a general comment and nothing to do with the current leader, so that seems to have worked really well.

I think it’s worth remembering that the last election wasn’t a wipeout for Labor. The disappointments came because they were expected to win and, in most states, they did well. Queensland was a bit of an outlier and there were a couple of surprises like Gladys Liu, but given the recent state result in Queensland, the next federal election may not be so positive for the Coalition… particularly if Morrison campaigns there.

As I see it, Labor’s strategy since the last election is to work on the theory that if they just move closer and closer to the Liberals then people won’t be able to tell the difference and that they’ll win because they’re so much nicer. This is pretty much what Kim Beasley tried with asylum seekers in the lead-up to the 2001 election and that worked out really well because, well, he almost won.

Personally I suspect that when one starts adopting one’s opponent’s position, it tends to suggest to the electorate that the other side was right all along, but then I tend to think that parties would be better to stand up and tell the truth, even if it meant that there’s some electoral damage. I mean Labor went into the 1969 election opposing the Vietnam War; they lost. However, they didn’t decide to revise their policy and try to make themselves more appealing by ditching something that many of the members felt strongly about. To me, fighting climate change fits into that category.

Yes, I know. It’s easy when it’s not your job that’s at stake. But the reality is that when it comes to jobs in coal, it’s a matter of when. Even the PM when asserting the long term nature of coal assured as that there’s still be jobs in coal in “ten, twenty, thirty years”. Thirty years is a far cry from the coal will be around forever that was being suggested by the Matt Canavan brigade.

Arguing that we need to help workers and businesses in the transition from fossil fuels is at least honest. Pretending that their jobs are safe is like trying to keep the fax machine factory operating.

Speaking of transitions, I’m still trying to get a handle on the whole Google should pay for content thing. While I think that Google is far too big and we need to be looking at ways to ensure it pays its share of tax and doesn’t take advantage of its near monopoly position, arguing that it should pay media for directing people to their site is like asking the Uber driver to pay a fee every time he brings someone to your restaurant. Whatever else, it does strike me as odd that the government is getting involved in this dispute between private companies and coming down so hard on the side of the media companies.

At least it would strike me as odd if it weren’t for the fact that the same government paid Murdoch companies to cover women’s sport and the Murdoch companies charge the ABC for the right to show it.

Yes, this government is a shocker, and according to some people on social media, I shouldn’t be criticising the Labor party because we all have to unite and get behind Albo. I understand that but I did find it amusing when someone replied that they wouldn’t vote Labor while Joel Fitzgibbon was leading it. Yes, disunity is death. And yes, I get that some people want consensus and that means that nobody should disagree with them.

But I do wonder what those people will be saying if we have a new Labor leader by the end of the week. Sportsbet is running a book on whether Albanese leads them to the next election and if you suspect that he won’t be challenge because nobody else wants the job, then you can get good odds on that happening. While I’m not encouraging you to gamble, you can also get even better odds on Shorten being the next Labor leader but surely they wouldn’t do that!

Still after Brexit, Donald Trump, Boris Johnson, Scott Morrison and everything else that’s happened, betting on the most unlikely result would have made some people rich!

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  1. Kerri

    Labor seems to be well lost in the wilderness.
    They think the way to victory is to copy whoever wins.
    Which devalues their core and plays to populism.
    They cannot fathom that most of their voters would like them and the greens to get along.
    They would rather hate the Greens because that is what the LNP tells them to do.
    They are incapable of looking at themselves in the mirror without their rose coloured glasses be it as individuals or as a group.
    Like Shorten failing to realise that people simply don’t like him.
    And worst of all they are utter crap at capitalising the LNP’s, and there are so many of them, faults.
    As long as they remain “Liberal lite” the people who constantly say “I am not interested in politics and besides they are all the same” are absolutely correct!
    The average punter does not want to do the hard yards to establish the difference between st and clay.
    A truly visionary party (like Gough’s) would take a huge step to indicate a separation from the norm and an improvement of living and working conditions that separates them from the right.
    I mean let’s face it, if Labor were to present some radical changes (like aggressively managing climate change) you can bet your life the Libs will not try to follow out of fear of election loss.
    Meantime the Libs are refusing to help Queensland tourism because of their petty partisan nastiness with zero concern for how many voters they p
    s off as they know they have no competition and they don’t need to worry that it was Queensland who got them over the line because as long as they keep propping up Uncle Rupert the sandgropers won’t recognise that they are being screwed over.

  2. David Spry

    Why is the Labor Party still being offered excuses for its moves away from fairness, equality and responsibility?
    Understanding is being extended to Joel Fitzgibbon as if he has faced unchanging difficulty in his electorate and in his political role, but has still fought on doing his best for his electorate.
    Scientific evidence confirming human causes for global warming and climate change has been widely and openly available for decades, and particularly during the 24 years since Mr Fitzgibbon was first elected and in his privileged position he has had access to more of that information than the average citizen.
    Has he chosen to not make himself aware? Is he intellectually incapable of understanding the science? Or, is he pretending that it can be dismissed or put aside for later consideration.
    He says he must adopt the wishes of his electorate, its businesses and electors, but he does not take any responsibility for not engaging with his electorate and making sure that they are fully informed of overwhelming information that contradicts their stand. The jobs and industries in his electorate are to him and his supporters far more important than the Australian lives and industries disastrously affected by fires, drought, floods and destruction of forests. One can assume that the Barrier Reef, the Torres Strait islands and overseas disasters are even less relevant to him.
    He and his right wing colleagues bear no resemblance to the party I used my first vote for supporting the 2nd Whitlam government or that of Hawke and Keating.
    Whitlam swept away 23 years of rule by the right wing establishment. Modern Labor cannot sweep much away because, since the time of Hawke and Keating, too many members of the party have been securing their positions within the establishment.
    Modern Labor cannot honestly claim to be the true successors of the Whitlam Government.
    Compromise leaders who constantly feel the pricks of daggers in their back are not leading us anywhere.

  3. Anon E Mouse

    Why are people giving any credibility to what Fitzgibbon says? He is a yesterday man, one of Latham’s type.
    Sure Fitz is trying to rattle up the Setka gang of CFMEU traitors who hammered social media and SMSs on the coalfields and associated communities with the death tax lies in the last Fed election. The traitors in the CFMEU tried again in the Qld election – backing Reinhardts mining interest despite her stated wish for workers to get $2 a day.

    I think many who were tricked by the traitors in the CFMEU realised they were had.

    People were howled down if there was any critique of Shorten. The plan he took to the last election was not well explained and too complicated. The franking credits, Jim Chalmers baby, was presented in a confounding way that left the door open to rejection. Note that Albo has dropped that.

    Really, the focus needs to be on the real benefits of the reshuffle. Mark Butler was put into one of the most important portfolios of health and ageing, where his talent is needed. Health and ageing are hugely vulnerable for the coalition.

    Fitzgibbon is only in the news because that’s what MSM want to be the focus.

  4. Matters Not

    Joel is still in the news because he was a power player – a leader of a faction – the Right faction. As to what meaning(s) that might be given to the fact of this reshuffle, there is some debate (as there is about most facts).

    Some might argue it is:

    one that sharpens the economic arguments in favour of green jobs, boxes in Bowen’s Right faction behind existing climate ambition, and perhaps constrains Bowen as a potential leadership aspirant.


    could view Albanese’s decision as more self-serving — the manoeuvring of an opposition leader desperate to shore up his defences.

    Then again. Both views might be accurate because his motivation(s) could indeed be – both.

  5. Harry Williams

    Rossleigh, your memory is not serving you well. 1969 was the year that the ALP lost because of its stance on the Vietnam fiasco. They stuck to their guns in 1972 and WON. Remember the “its time” slogan.
    However you are quite correct in your assessment of the ALP in today’s clime. It stands for nothing (except for the national dirge) and is mostly bereft of principle and vision. They laud the likes of Keating and Hawke who both sold out to the neoliberal economic forces and disregarded working class people and organisations. This was where most of the extreme rot commenced and it hasn’t improved.

  6. Rossleigh

    Harry, you’re absolutely right. I remember the dates clearly because I was too young to vote in 1972 but old enough to go to Vietnam had Gough not been successful. And, of course, I remember “Don’s Party”.

    I actually meant to write something about them losing in 1969 but they stuck to their guns and still went in opposing the war in 1972. Imagine if they’d said, “Oh well, we lost. We better change our policy on that to make ourselves more electable!”

    Anyway, I’ve corrected it.

  7. Kronomex

    What’s going on with Labor is now nothing much compared to what parts of the LNP is doing: rolling Kevin Andrews, trying (and no doubt not going to succeed) to remove Professor Doctor Chief Scientist Philosopher Extraordinaire Kaveman…I mean, Kelly, and Porter and Reynolds being told to steer clear of parliament because of Covid. Saint Scotty of the Marketing (a turd is still a turd no matter how you sculpt and paint it) will possibly do a disappearing act to avoid answering unpleasant questions because as we all know he only likes nice announcements.

  8. Andrew J. Smith

    A Labor member friend in Melbourne, a retiree (skip/Irish heritage) generally thinks that Labor and some associated unions, like the LNP and media, are still too ‘culturally specific’ i.e. too ‘skip’ and/or ‘pale and male’, with attitudes to match, plus a bit of ‘closed shop’.

    The rot set in when Beazley (and MPs) failed to call out Howard’s Tampa refugee stunt(s) and dog whistling due to (the imagined) fear of their own supporters, assuming they agreed with Howard, vs. an informed ethical stand (Tampa is still highlighted by outsiders as a reason for their antipathy towards Australia as it confirms their stereotypes about Australia, ‘seems a bit racist’ and ‘shallow’).

    Meanwhile many policy/decision makers and MPs represent baby boomers (who will dominate electorates for some years), and generation X. The monocultural boomers and oldies (pre WWII births), nominally Labor and/or swing voters, were the same target group Libs from the time of Howard have had some success in ‘flipping’ on sociocultural issues, as they age and have a long voting life ahead….. (research shows that many voters move to the right or become more conservative as they age).

    The last federal election lost by Labor and/or won by the LNP in QLD had some unusual phenomena backgrounded by QLD’s unique sociopolitical culture including ON, ‘their LNP’, strong ADF military presence, Christianity and tropical climate (?); Brown’s Adani caravan (was up there with his trashing with Abbott of Labor’s carbon emissions scheme), Palmer’s anti-Labor campaign to complement/supplement the LNP’s scare campaigns and of course the ever present support from Murdoch media.

    In the current media environment, which replicates the US coverage with focus upon (largely confected) ‘leadership’ that has now become understood to be about preaching, haranguing, pontificating, sound biting, dog whistling, messaging etc. pretending to be normal and appearing energetic, on the moment via national legacy media 24/7; while ignoring most local electorates and local concerns due to lack of media presence, hence little policy detail filters through.

    Labor needs to cut through not just on personality, but being able to present policy to voters, but they may have to really do some deep analysis (with Democrat expertise?) and then game how they can proote through limited media; suggests digital via Google/Facebook vs. Murdoch again….

    PS One’s own sister and brother in law have moved back to Sydney (Chatswood in fact) after some years on the Sunshine Coast for climate, but tired of hearing repeated Sky After Dark narratives…..

  9. wam

    A nice read, Rossleigh,
    The reason joel gets air time is his controversial mouth.
    The reason why a ^&%^$ indoctrinated nincompoop was successful in opposition was his controversial lying mouth.
    Albo there is plenty of controversy to get the commercial TV, including guttersnipe sky who would troll the sewers for a rating rise, going for a throat or two.
    Labor, it’s #^#&&* time again!.
    So get off your arses and act!!!!

  10. guest

    Just a little point about Albanese “doing better”. Recent two party preferred polls: Morgan (Nov. 2020) – ALP 49.5% LNP 50.5% Newspoll (Jan 31, 2021) – ALP and LNP level

    It gives more power to Rossleigh’s comment about Labor losing in 1969, winning in 1972. Labor was level with the LNP in April 2020, but then the pandemic powered on and “sucked all the politics out of politics” according to Michelle Grattan last Friday.

    So how is Albanese (not in the cabinet) or Labor able to make ground with all the focus being on the pandemic?

    So what did Joel Fitzgibbon say in The Australian (20/11/2020)? He said, in part: “Wind farms are popping up all over…coal generation now struggles to compete with renewable generation and the most recently constructed coal generators will be the last to be built.” Yet we ask what Joel, after 24 years in parliament, knows about climate change. We might well ask the LNP and we would get a different answer. And we look for reasons for Labor losing the last election.

    Labor had led in more than 30 polls (Turnbull’s bench mark) over Abbott and in more than 30 polls over Turnbull himself. So many reasons are offered, even blaming Shorten, saying that its reasoning was not clear and it was too much. No one had told Shorten Or Shorten was not liked (despite Labor’s long lead in the polls) because?…he mixed with ‘aristocracy’, he stabbed Rudd in the back, he was not to be trusted…big Murdoch plus Palmer campaign. And all kinds of opinions come up about Labor and the LNP: Labor did not take advantage of the Tampa affair (it converted me from LNP to Labor); Labor and the LNP are too “too male and pale” and a bit “closed shop”; people move to avoid Sky After Dark (we do not have to listen). And those treacherous unions supported the miners! Yes, the MSM of the Murdoch kind want Joel to be the centre of attention because he is speaking some kind of Murdoch denial-speak about climate change being overstated. His aim is quite simple: he wants to calm the miners’ fears – because they do not know what will happen to them and their families as coal is phased out. The beginning of his statement (20/11/2020) looks at that closely. Is Labor looking at the matter? Maybe. Is the LNP looking at it? Certainly not. Coal for the LNP will be with us until late this century, if we let them. What does the Climate Targets Panel say about reductions in carbon emissions? “Australia needs to cut emissions by at least 50% by 2030 to meet Paris goals, experts say.” (theguardian.com, 28/1/2021) Labor are well ahead in that race. Stop complaining. If you want to see mad Murdoch boiled cabbage on climate change, see The Australian today. Weird. And just a little bit of cherry picking, re China being the biggest emitter of carbon. Go back to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution up to today – and China has emitted about half as much as the USA. A good talking point against deniers.

  11. Bustopher

    You’ve spelt his name wrong. It’s not Joel Fitzgibbon, it’s COAL Fitzgibbon

  12. guest


    Your comment is not not funny, not clever and not useful.

    You have not been paying attention. He has been in parliament for 24 years, he knows coal is on the way out (quoted here) and he is concerned about what is going to happen to the coal miners (as he said 20/11/2020).

  13. Harry Williams

    Guest, Joel (not that he’s any different from the rest) is mainly concerned about Joel. If Cessnock were home to a green industry base then the coalminers could go to buggary. Then there wouldn’t be any crocodile tears.

  14. guest

    Harry Williams
    I am sure that after 24 years Joel could retire quite well off. But he is concerned about what happens in his electorate of 24 years when coal goes, as he knows it will, and is already.

    What you mean by your imaginary “green industry base in Cessnock” (grapes?) I have no idea. Nor do I understand why the coal-miners – and I presume the whole Newcastle coal port? – could “go to buggery”.

    What is your plan?

  15. Kaye Lee


    If Joel was genuinely concerned about his electorate and the future for them, he wouldn’t quote per capita emissions. The atmosphere doesn’t really give a shit about how many of us there are when it comes to tipping points. It’s a conman’s statistic, used by people who want to hide the truth.

    He wouldn’t talk about Australia’s emissions being irrelevant in the grand scheme of things because we are so small. When emissions from Australia’s current coal, oil and gas exports (3.6% of global total) are added to domestic emissions (1.4% of global total), Australia’s contribution to the global climate pollution footprint is already about 5%. That’s equivalent to the total greenhouse gas emissions of Russia, world’s fifth biggest carbon dioxide emitter. Australia population is equivalent to 0.33% of the total world population.

    I would be very happy if you could point me to any suggestions that Joel has made about the future direction for his electorate because, from what I have read, he’s got nothing. And believe me, I have looked because I think it is important. I have also tried to make suggestions about what needs doing now to prepare. Has Joel?

  16. Kaye Lee

    This is the sort of crap that Fitzgibbon gives rise to…a piece in the Australian by one of the kids from the IPA (also in November last year) titled “Labor climate policy: Joel Fitzgibbon is right; middle Australia’s concerns are not those of the inner city”:

    “The left and its cheerleaders at the ABC, the universities and big corporations have seized on Joe Biden’s yet to be officially confirmed accession to the White House to reignite decades’ old climate wars. Yet in doing so they have misread the key result of the US presidential election, which is that the future is Florida, not California.

    This is why Fitzgibbon is so right when he said “We (Labor) also need to talk to aspiration — those coalminers on $150,000, $200,000 a year, who have big mortgages but have worked hard, and made big decisions on behalf of their family, who can’t afford to have politicians specifically close down their industries.”

    But it has been years since Labor has spoken to workers and the Australian heartland. Instead, the result of Labor’s policies, such as mass migration, emissions reduction, internationalism, higher taxes, more regulation and mandatory superannuation have undermined the jobs, wages and opportunities of working and middle-class Australians.

    Labor’s propagation of identity politics, support for an Indigenous-only body to advise parliament and attacks on freedom of speech and religion have divided Australians at a time we should unite around our shared values.

    Australia might not be Florida — yet — but a realignment is coming, whether the major parties are ready for it or not.”


    Great job Joel. I’m sure your audience on Sky just love you.

  17. Michael Taylor

    Kaye, I’ve been reading up on him a bit since your post and I can see why so many Labor supporters can’t wait to see the back of him. It really is hard to see why people defend him.

  18. Kaye Lee

    Michael. my electorate of Robertson shares a border with the Hunter electorate. What happens there affects me and mine quite closely so I pay attention to the repercussions of what Joel says. People are used to the Fitzgibbon name and don’t want to vote Coalition but went to One Nation last election because Joel is so….entitled and disappointing in a Georgina Downer kinda way.

  19. guest

    Kaye, I have read your post on dumping Joel and I have brought to it my notes from his 20/11/2020 offering in The Australian. I have looked at other sites, but I do not really know where to look. The miner’s diary note says something, but I do not know where he is coming from.

    You ask me what Joel is offering as a solution to the inevitable transition to no coal. What is anyone doing? And that seems to be what Joel is asking as well – because it is not only the Hunter Valley which is facing a massive change, but the coal mines in Queensland are under threat as well. OK, coal will not be dumped completely immediately, but it is on the way out and Joel knows it and says so.

    What makes it difficult for Joel is the panic that miners must feel when Labor has a zero carbon target by 2O50, which is not that far away, but far enough for some people not to really care. But youngish mining groups with families do care. What will become of them? What are the plans, something like the car redundancies?

    Joel is saying some silly things which seem to be from the Coaltion/IPA because they are softer and less “alarmist” or “apocalyptic” than Labor’s. Which does not go down well with Labor. But Joel is speaking to the miners. Or that is what I am presuming.

    In his The Australian piece he speaks about his friend Woody and how he asks about the future of the miners and their families. Then he tells us he knows coal is on the way out and renewables are taking over. He can see the effects of climate change in the sea surge at Stockton Beach and he sees acres of solar panels and rows of wind turbines on the hills in parts of the Hunter.

    If we look at writing in The Australian, even today, Jennifer Oriel and Nick Cater repeat the same old Murdoch/IPA slow and measured and proportionate policy which is not really going anywhere, despite Morrison’s vague assertions.

    So we come to the Climate Targets Panel claim about 50% emissions reduction by 2030. That makes it difficult for both Labor and the Coalition, but Labor is ahead. And in the polls Labor and the Coalition are close.

    Albanese is being criticised in an airless political environment. Joel could resign or be dumped, but I do not see what that would really achieve.

    What has to happen is that Labor – not just Joel – has to show they care for the miners with a plan. If Joel is as “selfish” and “self-serving” as some have said, I can only point to the fact that Joel has at least represented the Hunter Valley people for 24 years. Whether he is failing them, I do not know. That is for others to decide.

    I am just taking Joel at his word, which is all I have.

  20. Kaye Lee


    I truly appreciate your comments which is why I am persisting in trying to get my point across.

    The Hunter is a fabulous region – so much potential. They have traditionally voted Labor but they are currently represented by a lazy incumbent with no vision and no drive. He quite likes things how they are, ignoring the inevitable transition they must face.

    He thinks people should all be earning 200 grand a year and any suggestion that might change will get Joel to pay a little attention – just a little because HE will still be earning way more than that so he doesn’t have to waste energy advocating for new industries – the old ones have served him well.

    Just to give you some handle on Joel, he is co-chair of the PARLIAMENTARY FRIENDS OF RESOURCES with Craig Kelly.

  21. guest

    Kaye, OK,OK. I am surprised Joel has lasted so long if what you say is right. As I said, I have relied on one statement.

    As for that IPA stuff @9:15, I have no idea what that means. No longer California; now it is Florida.

    I have just watched Four Corners and Proud Boys, and I have no idea what is all about. But it looks like a mess.

    And Murdoch Americanism has crept into Oz like another disease.

    I think it is time to hide away in a safe place.

    Sorry to bother you.

  22. Kaye Lee

    You have not bothered me. I enjoy chatting with you. I am sorry I have been so persistent. I am angry with Joel…not you.

    PS I included the article from the IPA kid because of the conglomeration of cliches. I didn’t try to understand it. I laughed at it. But if my name was mentioned in such an article, as Joel’s was, I would be reconsidering my public profile.

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