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Looking for Labor?

“It is very difficult for a voter who believes in fairness, equality and responsible government to see value in a Labor Party that seeks election by emulating its supposed opponents”, writes David Spry.

When considering the policies and track record of the LNP it should be surprising that in recent polls Labor are at only 50/50 with them in popularity. It is possible to blame the media, the lack of an informed electorate and the consequences of fear campaigns, but I suggest that Labor’s most significant impediment is its lack of an easily discernible identity.

The increasingly desperate efforts in recent years to identify with and claim succession from the Whitlam Government is really an admission that none of their governments since have achieved a similar status. Hawke, and particularly Keating played a significant role in changing Australia’s economy and forms of government, but unfortunately for Labor their changes have not all turned out to be for the benefit of the population at large – particularly from the perspective of the population at large. Like the LNP, recently Labor have had to fall back on gross figures and statistics to claim a benefit from their policies, while obfuscating the data that shows the erosion of the quality of life of many Australians.

Whitlam et al brought systems of certainty, responsibility and accountability that removed some significant pressures on all Australians, but particularly the poor.

Hawke, and particularly Keating, deliberately introduced risk into the lives of all Australians and eroded the concept of certainty from their lives.

The economic pros and cons of his policies are not the telling factors when considering Labor’s reputation, but rather that Mr Keating clearly showed that he was willing to impose hardship on the people, without adequate explanation and with no concern for the consequences for the people. His arrogance, his privatisations, his economic policies and his growing affiliations with the private sector all eroded any certainty that the electorate could feel about the Labor Party. He clearly believed in making money out of risk, so he decided that the lives of Australians should also embrace risk – whether they could cope with it or not.

Paul Keating alienated large sections of the electorate, including traditional Labor voters, lost the 1996 election and permanently changed the public’s image of the Labor Party.

The National Competition Policy, although vaunted as an extension of Whitlam’s Trade Practices Act, has in practice resulted in services ceasing to be maintained as essential, with the focus shifting from responsibility to deliver the service, to the taking of a profit from it. State governments have caught this infection and they sell off utilities and assets to prop up inefficient government practices in the short-term, or create government business enterprises the primary roles of which are the collection of general revenue, with no thought as to the future needs of the people they are meant to represent. Maintaining party loyalty is made difficult for any party that shows indifference to its supporters.

The internal transformation of Labor began as a result of the fall of the Whitlam Government. The lessons taken from their ousting focused upon the methods needed to prevent a repeat of the humiliation. Unfortunately the focus was on how to regain and maintain the party, its power brokers and elected members in new governments, while the traditional principles of the party were regarded as, at best, secondary.

One only has to look at the machinations of the parliamentary party in the late 70s and the 80s. Old fashioned members of principle were cast out and a new breed of seekers after personal power began filling the ranks. There had always been factional differences based primarily on principle, but these differences morphed into power based deals tied to personal advancement. Parliamentary Labor and the National Executive rapidly moved away from practices that supported fairness and equality, preferring to make deals with the private sector that would support their reign.

Nobody from the Whitlam era would have curried favour and support from someone as far right wing as Rupert Murdoch, or become the acolyte of such a controversial anti-labor figure as Peter Abeles, but Mr Hawke did both and his example has been followed by many Labor members since. People were left to ponder whether Mr Hawke had ever really been the workers’ champion, and even if they had believed, they had no choice but to conclude that his priorities had changed. What did it say about Labor? To what principles were they committed?

Mr Keating wanted to prove the viability of his economic theory and was not concerned with any resultant negative effects felt in Australian homes and workplaces. His recent claims that these continuing negative effects are the result of poor administration by his successors, overlooks the reality that he set in motion the landslide shift from government for the people to government with the business sector and provided no means to modify or control that shift. It was not very difficult for voters to conclude that Mr Keating was not a man of the people.

There were huge egos and personal ambition in the Whitlam Government, but what made them so different from the current crop, was that they were satisfying their egos by withdrawing Australia from an unjust war, ending Conscription that had served that war, providing medical care for everyone, removing the concept of the matrimonial offence from divorce law, introducing Trade Practices law and reforming government practices, all based upon principles of fairness and equality, and recognising that Australia and its resources belong to the Australian people. They were out there doing good for their electors and feeling good about it.

Too much time has passed for modern Labor to claim all but the most distant connection to its qualities in the early 70s. We haven’t seen a real leader since Hawke or Keating because the factions and the network deals mean that every ‘leader’ since is the product of compromise, and follows the weeding out of anyone committed to a particular cause or broadly based responsible philosophy. The executive and the power brokers want control, and it is a control directed towards the preservation of their personal positions and winning government in order to enhance their power. They employ and rely on advisors to find ways of winning government that will not compromise deals already done, which takes their focus far away from thoughts of the quality of life of the general public.

This is the age of selfishness and an excuse for everything, and these beliefs are used to justify the actions of so many within modern Labor. Unless they choose to change there will eventually be a groundswell of frustration either within the party, or in the community in spite of the party. I think it unlikely that we will sink into an undemocratic two-party swap-fest like the US system. It is far more likely that we will see a large number of Australians clamouring for change as has happened in Canada and the UK Labour Party. It should not be too great a leap for modern members to go from trying to bask in reflected glory to actually considering the substance that makes the Whitlam years so praiseworthy. The events in Canada and the UK show that policies of fairness and equality are not just historical myths but are attitudes alive and well among many people, including Australians. The LNP have always dismissed and sidelined the general public, but the tendency of Labor to follow a similar course will keep them rubbing shoulders with the LNP and see them neck and neck in the polls and elections, because in effect their policies are so similar and their networking is intermingled.

It is very difficult for a voter who believes in fairness, equality and responsible government to see value in a Labor Party that seeks election by emulating its supposed opponents. Like the LNP they are relying on a level of public stupidity that does not exist. A seriously ill citizen can read in 2015, in a Murdoch newspaper, that the old Repatriation Hospital in Hobart is filled with health department administrators doing unnecessary work costing millions of dollars while the waiting list for treatment for that citizen gets longer and longer. When they also hear Health described as an ‘Industry’ which makes substantial profits, and that both sides of government support profit making in Health and in Health Insurance, they know that they are being monumentally screwed. A party primarily committed to that citizen’s health will almost certainly get their vote. One that does factional deals to allow the health budget to be wasted will not.

Labor has come to share the belief that money is the measure of everything, but the provision of Health Services should primarily be about adequate delivery of those services to those who require them. As far as possible a budget needs to be arrived at that delivers those services as efficiently and economically as possible. But modern Labor supports the view that a Health Budget is there to be milked, by the already mentioned unnecessary administrators, but also by management methods primarily designed to maintain officials at the best pay-grade. Many people in the street know the truth about our inefficient and fractured Health System. Its problems are perpetuated by both major parties. Labor’s health policies, as practised, do not win it many more votes than the LNP.

I often feel sympathy for Bill Shorten when he is making public statements because the pressure he is clearly feeling comes, I am sure, not just from the journalists, but from his awareness of all the people behind him in the party, and in the ranks of those with whom the party has done deals, all of whom claim the right to judge and control him. He cannot proceed with confidence on the basis of representing a united party, simply because it is disunited. He tries to survive by taking the conciliatory approach, having watched Kevin Rudd arrogantly trying to publicly force policy upon his party and being thrown out.

Any party in which the majority of members are focused on personal advancement and power is not going to be seen as any more attractive than a coalition committed to the benefit of the privileged establishment.

The continuing resignation of members who have retained their principles clearly indicates that the party has lost its way. The explanation they give of their frustration at the negative effect of the selfish power wielded within the party is eroding confidence that Labor is a party committed to its traditional policies.

It is a mistake for 21st century Labor to hide behind assertions that the world is now different from that of 45 years ago to the extent that it precludes responsible government with the quality of life of its citizens as a primary commitment. This is particularly so when it has been the actions of Labor that have helped to shift government away from responsibility to and for the people.

Creating unnecessary jobs that deplete the budgets of essential services, agreeing to allow the continuation of Work Place Agreements so that rural workers have continued to be paid less than the minimum wage in order to prop up the overvalued parts of the rural sector, agreeing to every defence policy of the LNP without considering the merits and morals of Australia’s involvement, and immersing itself in the free trade mythology regardless of the proven negative results for our economy and the loss of Australian jobs, are all examples of Labor’s abandonment of the Australian people.

Such policies and practices make it difficult for modern Labor to emulate their past heroes because they have already painted themselves into a corner. Unfortunately a majority like that corner, or accept that there is no alternative, which forever precludes them from being a party for the people. In that corner power is more important than principle and the electorate has become something to be manipulated rather than represented.

I voted for the Whitlam Government and if a party of that calibre existed now I would vote for it again. Like the vast majority of the Australian population I was a beneficiary of the Whitlam legislation, not just in the delivery of a new focus of administration but in how it entrenched concepts of fairness and accountability in government and in business. Although not going as far as the LNP, Labor of the last 30 years has contributed to the erosion of the qualities given to us by Whitlam and Co. In their cosy deals with the business sector they have embraced secrecy in government in places where the only purpose is to hide information from the public. They have embraced economic policy based on the myth of ‘growth for ever’, even when Kevin Rudd had to leap to save Macquarie Bank and then the others when the GFC hit. Labor refused to look at the reality the GFC revealed; that the figures showing wealth and economic security, so heavily relied upon by Keating, his successors and others across the floor, were gross exaggerations of the true picture.

The GFC showed that, when the search had to be made for real money and real assets, much of the vaunted wealth was made up of ‘apparent money’ – money that only existed if they believed in all of the deals and all of the artificial financial instruments as being capable of realisation, and also if they thought they could rely upon the deliberately inflated value of real assets.

Unfortunately the GFC showed that much of Australian real estate was overvalued and many of those artificial creations had no substance at all – and the LNP and modern Labor are happy to pretend again that all the ‘apparent money’ created since the GFC is real and that market value will survive the next crisis. We are left to assume that, even though they know that it is coming, they are just trying not to think about the next bailout that they have helped to make unavoidable, or to admit that they will again expect the Australian people to take responsibility for it.

Labor’s support for current economic policy is support for continued economic inequality for most people. For all their protestations to the contrary, modern Labor has done nothing significant to reduce poverty since Mr Hawke’s promise to the poor, but they have supported the growth of wealth for the already privileged.

For all of the above, and unfortunately there are more reasons, modern Labor finds it impossible to show a cohesive identity to electors. They have spent so much time and effort in reaching internal compromises and in cementing relationships with business, industry and the media that their commitments are so diffuse that a single cohesive identity is impossible. When the role of the unions is added, and unfortunately for the party the beliefs within these unions vary so greatly, the public face of the party is too fractured to be easily recognised.

It could be argued that the lack of a respectable identity has persuaded some within the party to look to personal survival over responsible representation, but this choice does not help them to get elected as a principled alternative to the LNP.

The best that the Labor Party has been able to come up with in recent years is, while showing how similar they are to the LNP, they try to persuade voters that they are not as bad as the LNP – and that is not much in the way of persuasion.

It is my fervent hope that Labor does not morph into Australia’s version of the US Democrats, so that we have to live with both major parties representing the establishment ahead of the people. I suspect that some of the selfish survivalists within the Labor Party would be comfortable with that transition, but I hope that there are still enough people to prevent Labor’s history having only one government in 50 years that truly cared about the Australian people.

If Labor fails, then I hope that through social media and the internet, a groundswell of public opinion will come to demand recognition of the rights of the people and the need for responsibility in government.

To be a champion of rampant commercialism is not to reach the heights of human achievement, because such commercialism simplistically relies upon the selfish exercise of rights without the necessary balance of respect and responsibility, and therefore is not a basis for good government.

Modern Labor needs to discount the crude rhetoric that claims that competition is the essence of human success. Competition existed long before human evolution. Humanity, both as a philosophical concept and as a species, evolved to where we are now, by the use of our ability to reason to develop concepts and practises of cooperation, relying on values of respect, responsibility and compassion. Unbridled competition threatens and degrades our humanity, particularly when its aim is not just to win but to beat people into submission.

Unfortunately, for the time being, Labor cannot clearly show me or the electorate a clear commitment to humanity, or to what specific principles and policies they are truly committed.

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  1. billshaw2013

    When both major parties claim economic superiority we are in trouble. That’s because the focus is concentrated on dollars, not our standard of life and our responsibilities in looking after each other. The wheel will turn, corporate greed, oligarchy, boganism (new word?) and wealth inequality will ensure that……one day!

  2. diannaart

    I have actually decided to vote for Labor in the House of Representatives for the first time in many years, and fully cognisant of the points made in the article above.

    I agree Labor lost its way after the Whitlam era, took a turn towards the USA Democrats with Hawke and Keating in charge and continued to slide towards economic-rationalism as the only way to govern, during Howard’s terms. At present, Labor has moved far from the risks installed by Keating and now floats into the rip cast by the Liberal party.

    And yet.

    Another term of the LNP is intolerable. I fear any further erosion of democracy by an LNP which has followed its own path towards oligarchy – a minority ‘elite’ ruling the majority of people – that is all small government and low taxes really means.

    Of course, I will be voting below the line (despite whatever changes the LNP & Greens make to senate voting).

    But I will vote Labor, if only to prevent the tattered baggage of Abbott’s first budget getting through via a corrupt Turnbull.

    Then I will work towards more diverse representation for Australia, something that restores us to a more compassionate and caring nation. I hope.

  3. margcal

    I’m almost like you, Diannaart. Instead of putting Labor second last, I’ll put them second. Hoping that as the major alternative (even in another minority government) they’ll continue with their better policies and have the gumption to turn around their more awful ones.

  4. Jaq

    Phew! Glad someone has bitten the bullet and come out and said it! Labor relying on the popularity polls in exchange for any kind of moral compass. What makes me so angry ,( and I have been a long time Labor voter), is those on social media who keep in spouting that Labor are the chosen ones, over the LNP who those of us with a brain know, are just the pits.The Greens are getting it in the neck for doing deals- we are we in all of this?? I don’t see any of them doing what’s right and compassionate for the people of this country, with any concern for the future.Its just like watching a load of spoilt brats.What happened to Governance? It’s like watching a show called “I’m A Politician-get me into that Armani Suit”.

  5. Florence nee Fedup

    I am not sure who wrote this. Not sure I am in agreement.

    To say there is no difference between Labor and Liberals is something I don’t support.

    Yes, Labor today does things different to Whitlam.

    I am not sure Gillard, Shorten even Rudd are much different to Whitlam.

    Labor still supports Medicare, universal education, NDIS, and welfare for those who need it,

    Labor still supports unionism.

    The way I see it, is whether the economy supports society or the corporate world. That is where Labor departs company from the neocons.

    As for privatisation, there should be a continuous evaluation and turnover of what government involves itself in. Where there is no case that government does it better, time to let it go. Time to make room for new government endeavours such as NBN Co and CEFC.

    I believe that Labor needs to move back to providing affordable housing, that the market doesn’t or can’t provide.

    If my memory hasn’t let me down, I don’t recall Whitlam aiming at the blue collar worker, as in the past. He went after the educated middle class.

    That mass of uneducated, unskilled labourers and factory workers no longer exists.

    IMHO Gillard was preparing the country to be in the position to join the Asian century, not as supplier of ore and low income workers but as a country with high educated skilled workforce.

    Education was high on her list, followed by clean renewal energy and all the new technology that went with it.

    High speed fibre broadband top of the list.

    Yes putting in place the human and physical infrastructure to make it work. She and I believe Shorten are not into handing all to the corporate world.

    What she was creating was agility, innovation to transfer to the new economy from the bottom up.

    I see the role of Labor to be creating a civi, caring l society, where people not corporations are supreme.

    A economy that serves society, that creates commonwealth for all.

    We hear what is wrong with Labor today. Actually we don’t hear any facts to back up the statement. We don’t hear what needs to be done to turn Labor around.

    Would love to hear some details of what needs to be done. Maybe then I can understand better what is wrong with labor.

  6. Zathras

    Quite so!

    Ever since the ALP tried to emulate the “small target/policy free” opposition strategy of Howard they have abandoned long held principles and policies in favor of easy populism.

    If they stood against the Howard refugee policy for example, they may have stayed out of office for another term or two but retained their morality instead of following them down that very deep rabbit hole.

    Now we are trapped in a perpetual race to the bottom and vote on the basis which Party is the lesser of two evils.

    It can be said that the current ALP is not what it was but then again, neither is the Liberal Party.

    They are no longer traditional Conservatives but Neo-Conservatives with aggressive free market policies and leaning toward fascism in many areas.

    At least the UK Labour Party is risking a change in direction back to their true role.

  7. townsvilleblog

    Whitlam was the last “true” Labor leader who wanted to do something for the poor, the working poor in this country. He could and did clearly demonstrate his policies on stage, as to why they were fair and the LNPs were unfair. If ever the current ALP had something to run with it is the corporate Australians who have not paid a cent in tax for years, or have paid 5% or less which is an insult to every working Australian family.

  8. diannaart

    Off the top of my head, neither Rudd nor Gillard put a stop to:

    School chaplaincy program
    Subsidising private schools, mining and fossil fuel industry
    confining refugees to off-shore processing
    or, made a clear stand on climate change mitigation – why did Gillard never clarify ‘never a carbon tax?’

    and more – I am sure others can help Florence with why so many Labor voters turned away.

  9. Barry Thompson

    The I key at the AIM network seems to have gone on strike.

  10. Michael Taylor

    We’re getting it looked into, Barry.

  11. DisablednDesperate

    Oh bravo. Hear hear. Claps. You have articulated brilliantly everything spinning in my head.

    Politicians are all about personal advancement instead of governance.

    I see us sliding inexorably into the mire that is the US and UK and it scares me. Not just for me personally but for the country and planet.

    Thank you for writing what I could not.

  12. Trish Corry

    Victoria Rollinson once wrote an article on people’s “Obsession with Labor.” It is worth a read. These types of articles remind me of that piece. I have read it many times. It is probably one of my favourite articles I have read. I will make a comment on this later tonight. As a member of the Labor party, I don’t agree with many things in this blog post.

  13. Jagger

    Yes I agree with the author , let’s all vote for the LNP, their commitment to humanity Is only exceeded by their commitment to Climate change , Gonski , NDIS, Medicare etc. By the way it didn’t work out too good for Gough when he rocked the boat and upset the powers that be.

  14. king1394

    A lot depends on where you stand in society, and your world view. Liberal voters know that party will aim to reduce taxes, and they don’t care how run down the services that taxes pay for get, because they can buy them.
    Labor voters want better services, and also care more about social justice issues, but they also fall for the pocket full of gold approach of the Liberals. Labor is always asked ‘where is the money coming from’ and accused of extravagance, while the Liberals are seen as the ‘natural’ party of government and better economic managers.
    If we add the Nationals into the mix, we have more neo-conservatives, but their voters generally see them as agrarian socialists, who will look after the interests of farmers.
    And to wind up with the Greens, they have convinced those who are strongly devoted to social justice and environmental issues that they are a better choice, and thus have successfully removed modifying voices from the other parties – without delivering viable governance

  15. keerti

    Nietzschie’s statement,
    “When you fight against monsters be sure that you yourself do not become a monster.” Relevant to the labour party. There is none of the fight left in them. The rot began with hawke, who on becoming PM had an overnight shift of what he portrayed. Presumably he was “told” who was running the show and what he had to do. His first act was a sell out of the worker called “The Accord” and so it continued. The Greens are the most likely ascendants to the position that labour once occuppied. Perhaps they need to make some overtures to the police and nurses union?

  16. Darren

    Certainly some of what is described here is true, although I could never confuse Labor policy as a whole with that of the Liberal/National coalition. That said, on the economic front especially it seems Labor, indeed much of the world, has capitulated to neo-liberal, supply-side economics. It’s not difficult to see why this has happened when it has been pushed as virtually the only current and modern theory in education institutions and the financial world since the mid-1970’s. It drove Thatcher’s policies, backed up Reagan’s “trickle-down” nonsense and led to Keating’s economic rationalism. However that trend has begun to alter, and significant numbers of economists, financial analysts and educators are tearing up the parts that history has proven to be incorrect, and replacing them with evidence-based theory.

    The time is right for a new, truly progressive Labor Party to rise from it’s “me too”-isms and join with the Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warrens and Jeremy Corbyns of this world to return our parliament to its rightful place of serving the people instead of the economy, the financial markets and big business. It’s time for Bill Shorten and his economic team to sit down and discuss options with Professor Bill Mitchell and other proponents of new economic thinking. It’s time for Labor to become Labor once again.

  17. diannaart



    I want to know what Labor will do to redress the damage done do many of their socially based policies, such as NBN, NDIS, Gonski.

    At the time these policies were announced, I thought they were a good start, which needed a lot of tweaking to reduce the influence of big corporations, for example; public hospitals to receive the funding required to be truly public or public schools to receive all the funding and not having to share with private schools.

    Will Labor go further and put the public back in control of public necessities such as energy, education, health, environment and transport?

    What is Labor going to repair?

    What will Labor build upon once repairs are made?

  18. Douglas Pye

    ….. Now we’re talking !!! …. Maybe we will not all agree on everything here, but there’s well and truly enough to spin the wheels!

    Whether or not Labor can bring about the complete ethical rebuild from the original founding principles remains to be seen! …. The current crew do not greatly inspire me ….. because of the ‘ Favours Owed ‘ principle, which appears to be entrenched deeply. Plus the $$ BIG MONEY $$ tends to overcloud! … understatement! .

    Much of the content in this article really stirred my old (Social Democrat) heart,, and it will bear re-reading when I seek a little ‘feel good’. …… “God Bless all who Sail in Her” …. cheers….. 🙂 …..

  19. Darren


    I believe their policies on the NBN, Gonski and NDIS are pretty clear. NDIS and Gonski are to be fully funded. The NBN will be returned to being primarily FTTP, although perhaps not the full 93% figure of the original. (recent events may conspire to force this even under the LNP, although they will try everything in their power to forestall their acquiescence).

    Unlike many, I don’t propose removing all public funding from private schools, however I feel it should be limited to the basic per student rate. To those that differ from me on this, I suggest you at least consider a tapered approach to removing the funding. It must be remembered that there is a very wide spectrum of types (and wealth) of “private” schools. I have one child in each system, each attending the school of best fit, but I could not afford to make that choice if government funding of private schools was eliminated. I suggest many parents would be in the same situation (financially), and there would be a virtual tsunami of students moving back to a public system that simply could not cope with them in the short term.

    But I am with you, and I suspect most readers. There are certain services that we, as a populace, demand from our government. Services we see as essential, and these should always be provided with an eye to best serving the public, whether that be via regulation of private industry, or public ownership.

  20. diannaart

    If Labor returns to Federal government we can argue about subsidising private schools, because I resent paying taxes for people who have made that choice – I and all in my family attended public schools – that is what taxes are for – not about whether you can afford private tuition for your offspring.

    Private schools managed BEFORE collecting public money for their private profits, they can do so again.

    …and another question for Labor; defence budget at expense of human welfare, really?

  21. Andreas

    Re Florence above:

    The ALP governed country (AUS) I found in 74 after emigrating from a stale and visionless country (D) appeared inspirational, vibrant, full of life, job opportunities, outward looking. Thank you Gough Whitlam, a truly great man.
    What this Australia has changed into is a myopic, largely uncaring, winner takes all society where people are squeezed forever more to be “competitive”.
    ALP 1994 = Social Democrats out to advance the lot of their fellow (wo)man
    ALP 2016 = Largely a bunch of self-serving apparatchiks (arbib, bitar, s.. ?), after the few remaining genuine members had been driven out.

    So, dear Florence, where does one like me turn to?

  22. Adrianne Haddow

    Excellent article. Astute observation of how our politicians have changed the face and principles of government. Thank you.

  23. stephengb2014

    Agree with most of the article and indeed the comments following.

    What I see at the moment is a simple choice – the destruction of a fair and once egalitarian society – or a hoped for return to that once egalitarian society.

    If its the later – there is no alternative – vote Labor


  24. cornlegend

    All those that seem to have as much fear of Labor as the LNP, and a whole heap of doubt about them as a government or whether or not they will address your own personal little issue to your complete satisfaction, fear not .
    Malcolm will be returned and with a possibility of control of both Houses,
    So, lets sit back and see what will be salvageable come come Election 2019

  25. cornlegend

    nothing I said above changes, but I must admit I stopped reading after this bullshit
    “Any party in which the majority of members are focused on personal advancement and power is not going to be seen as any more attractive than a coalition committed to the benefit of the privileged establishment.”
    Can you direct me to any branch of the ALP where the members, too often with their hands in their pockets to meet the ever increasing fund raising for Labor, The pensioners, the retirees, the unionists the unemployed etc , all members of that branch meet the alleged criteria
    “the majority of members are focused on personal advancement and power ”
    FFS , I’m photocopying that and handing it out to the battlers at a few of the local Branches.
    Then, to convince them someone actually wrote that and I’m not doing stand up comedy

  26. jim

    Hey fellas/girls just don’t let on that you’re Liberal stooges it might become too obvious.

  27. Trish Corry

    Here is my 2 cents. I mentioned Victoria’s previous post about how people are obsesses with Labor. To me this entire article is another obsessed with Labor piece. The same criticisms are never afforded to other parties. But somehow people are always so obsessed with Labor. If it isn’t Labor’s fault, it can be twisted so it is.

    The compare and contrast of the current Labor party to the Whitlam, Hawke and Keating eras, I see quite often. Whitlam was definitely progressive. However, we need to put into context that the country had been under conservative rule for a long period of time. The Industrial landscape was very different, we were at war and women did not have very many rights. So many things that are not pertinent to today’s society.

    The reforms Hawke and Keating (they both argue who’s reforms they were) but the reforms they did made us competitive on a global stage. Collective Bargaining was also introduced in this period.

    It is also very important to contextualise the political landscape. There is a piece on the IPA website (the one about Abbott being like Gough). What Gough did was after many years of conservative rule, shifted the political landscape so far left, it became the status quo and it was hard to shift back. The IPA wanted Abbott to shift the country so far right, the left could not drag it back. As it becomes status quo. Status quo ends up embedded in our culture and it takes people power and movements, not just one leader to fight to bring out culture to where we want it. That is why it is very important to join a party of your choice, rather than just complaining from the sidelines.

    We had many years of Howard. He decimated Industrial law and we saw the biggest decline in union density for that period. Work Choices was and still is the most abhorrent, punitive, disgusting piece of legislation ever in the industrial landscape. The main aim of The Labor party is to fight against unfair conditions and wages for the worker.

    Whilst Gillard and Combet made many changes to Industrial relations and implemented the Fair work act, we need to contextualise that under Howard the Industrial landscape had shifted our industrial relations to the far right. Politicians need to work with workers and business. Sometimes incremental change is what is required, rather than radical change. Loss of business confidence or Industrial unrest all effect our economy. There are some things that Labor could champion harder, but overall the Fair Work act was a sigh of relief after Work Choices.

    To say that there has not been a Labor leader of their calibre, I disagree with. There is an article on this site in 2013 listing all of Gillard’s achievements. The Gillard Govt had passed an incredible amount of legislation and even during all the infighting and turmoil they gave us four major reforms – ETS (forced to a CT by the Greens), Gonski, NBN and NDIS. To say that we have not had a leader of calibre since Whitlam, Hawke Keating, is ignoring this completely.

    The author says that people are leaving Labor in droves. I’m not sure where that information has come from, but under Shorten’s leadership Labor membership has increased significantly. QLD has had a good increase as well. I do not know about the other states.

    Hear hear to Cornlegend about the fundraising comments. As a branch member, It is what we do. Give up our time to raise funds and to work hard to fight the good fight.

    I do agree that Labor can make many progressive reforms in the welfare sector. However, the Author/s also fail to mention that Labor has blocked a number of harmful welfare legislation bills in both houses.

    Anyway, I have heaps more to say, as there are a lot of issues in this post, but I am asking people to look at Labor very critically. Their history of reforms, their values, what they fight against, contextualise the public mood on certain issues. It IS important to win power and changes can be made once in power.

    I completely challenge that a democratic socialist party (centre-left party – not far left party) does not stand for humanity. As a member of Labor I find that particularly insulting.

    Change cannot be made from opposition. I am asking people who read posts disparaging the only other party who CAN form Government, to really consider what the alternative means, before casting your vote. Every vote counts. Every vote. If the Liberals get back in, in any shape or form I guarantee that there will be two things from Turnbull – mass privatisation and a major shift of the balance of power to the employer. However, it will be all be done with a smile. On the other hand, if you vote Labor, there has not been one period of Govt that has not included major progressive reform. Take your pick.

  28. Jagger

    “It is important to win power and changes can be made once in power” , you’ve hit the nail on the head Trish Corry. It’s alright to say we expect Labor to do this and do that but the truth is we must trust them , the alternative is unthinkable.

  29. Matters Not

    Trish Corry, I am tempted to respond (critically) to your post and at so many levels.

    But I won’t. I am in fear of you ‘decimating’ my arguments. And people ‘obsesses with Labor’. And I won’t mention: ‘who’s’ reforms they were.

    For shit sake.

  30. cornlegend

    Actually, not much has been written about the Micro Parties and what they have been up to .
    There have been two large meetings, one in Melbourne, one in Sydney, last saturday
    Some info from them
    “Inside the meeting of minor parties facing annihilation and plotting revenge

    The meeting was held in a narrow room above a central Sydney street preparing for the annual Mardi Gras parade. It was standing room only.
    Minor parties run lower house candidates in marginal Coalition seats as well as the Greens-held seat of Melbourne and other seats the Greens could win. Under the plan, these candidates would preference Labor in the lower house instead the two other parties.
    He told the meeting that, apart from the seat of Melbourne, progressive minor parties should target Batman (Vic), Wills (Vic), Sydney, Richmond (NSW) and Grayndler (NSW).
    Of the 34 minor parties represented at the meeting, more than half identified as left-wing or ‘progressive’. Many come under the umbrella of the Alliance for Progress, organised by James Jansson, who is also leader of the Science Party.

    According to Jansson, there are 14 parties in the Alliance, and together they have a membership of 14,000 (becoming a member of these parties is usually free).
    Jansson said the Alliance was thinking about running candidates in the seats of Melbourne, Sydney and Grayndler and right now it would not be preferencing the Greens (in the lower house).
    Before the Saturday meeting, some of the parties had spoken publicly about targeting Coalition and Greens seats in the upcoming federal election, but this was the first time they had met to discuss the idea properly.
    Although each of these parties on their own do not represent a large number of voters, together they account for more than 20 per cent of the vote at the last federal election (that’s including the Palmer United Party and Nick Xenophon).
    “We have preferenced the Greens highly in the past – but these changes fundamentally affects our democracy. Just because they’ve had good votes on issues we agree with in past – it doesn’t mean they have a blank cheque to destroy our democracy.”
    Melbourne is the only Greens seat in the lower house. Adam Bandt retained the seat in 2013 with a margin of about 10 per cent. About eight per cent of the primary vote went to minor parties.
    Australian Sex Party leader Fiona Patten said the party was going to preference Labor in the inner-city electorates of NSW and Victoria, including the seat of Melbourne.
    Australian Muslim Party founder Diaa Mohammed said the party was running people in the lower house to go against the Greens.
    Animal Justice Party NSW MLC Mark Pearson said the party was “seriously looking” at preferencing Labor ahead of the Greens “in order to knock this down”.
    Among the right-wing parties, Shooters and Fishers party NSW MLC Robert Brown said the party would target marginal Coalition seats.
    “Most of these parties in the room up there have absolutely nothing in common,” he said.
    “The minor parties are short on resources, but if we combine and focus on single seats all of sudden we have enough people.

    “We’ll punish them. “

  31. cornlegend

    There was a bit more in the Huffington Post
    Australia’s minor parties will be a major thorn in the sides of the Coalition and the Greens at the next election, as they plan a lower house assault in retaliation for senate voting changes.

    The Huffington Post Australia can reveal a meeting of more than 40 minor and independent parties in Sydney over the weekend voted unanimously to cause havoc in marginal Coalition and Greens seats, running candidates in more than a dozen electorates across the country and preferencing toward the Labor Party.

    The strategy will see parties such as the Liberal Democrats, the Sex Party, the Shooters and Fishers Party and the Christian Democrats — parties that usually target the senate and rarely entertain a House of Representatives campaign — run candidates in seats held by slim margins such as La Trobe or Hindmarsh, or in seats the Coalition or Greens hope to pick up, such as Grayndler.

    The plan was flagged by Liberal Democrats Senator David Leyonhjelm in February, but has now been formally agreed to.

  32. Trish Corry

    Wow Cornlegend. Thanks for that. How interesting!

  33. philgorman2014

    The Thatcherite slogan, “There is no alternative.” and Reaganite “trickle down” economics epitomise the very big lie at the heart of today’s politics: Unfettered global capitalism is the only viable future.

    How is it that Australia’s Labor Party embraced this inhuman dogma, despite all the evidence to the contrary? It can no longer be regarded as a genuine social democratic party and to characterise it as both centre left and democratic socialist is oxymoronic.

    There are many alternatives to money politics and fascist corpocracy, including Nordic models of economically successful social democracies.

    We didn’t have to buy into the big lie, but we did. If Labor can’t redeem itself then we must look to genuinely progressive alternatives.

  34. cornlegend

    Trish Corry,
    The part found interesting, and never realised before
    “Although each of these parties on their own do not represent a large number of voters, together they account for more than 20 per cent of the vote at the last federal election”

  35. gangey1959

    The sooner we have a Parliament that consists of a “Wabble of Wowdy Webels” the better off Australia will be.
    If nothing else it will wake the major parties up to the fact that “WE the Voters” have had enough of their bullshit, we are tired of looking after the best off at our own expense, and it is time something is done about it before we decide to do what we reckon needs to be done on a more local level.
    Let’s face it, our troops are OS, and there are not enough wallopers around if the average joe or josephine decided to say ‘Bugger it, I’ve had enough. I’ve got M. Sukkar as my lower house rep. I didn’t vote for him. Apparently he was in Canberra for all 66? days last year. He has not voted for one single thing that I agree with, either because of his lnp brand, or because for example in the case of marriage equality he is a catholic. If we meet in the street, he’d better be ready to duck/run/hide. He wouldn’t know me from a hole in his fence, but I’m guessing he’ll come with bells and whistles, and I’ll bet I can get close enough for a couple of good ones. I don’t think I’m Robinson Crusoe.
    I agree with 99% of the article above, and something in all of the responses, but I want my Australia back. The one that had jobs, and good education, and world leading science, and a home for refugees, and that looked after Nature, and you get the picture.
    I don’t know who I’m going to vote for. I sure as shit know who I am NOT voting for. ( In his ‘Day to Day article today, at the end JL wrote
    ” PS I have it on good authority that the fixer has privately lobbied a broadcaster to help stop independent senator Nick Xenophon from running a candidate in his seat.” How chickenshit is it if whyney pyney, (the leader of govt business) is that scared of standing on his own reputation and record?

    I’m off to read up on Rule 303. I have a feeling I may need to know its finer points.

    PS. PLEASE DON”T VOTE lnp. Anything else would be better, (Even chinese ownership. At least they would have uniforms to prove it.)

  36. Trish Corry

    That could be significant! Glenn Druery did say this on TV somewhere I seem to recall; that if they went ahead with voting reforms they would decimate them in the lower house.

  37. Gezza

    Both parties drift with the dominant global trends with capitalism – always have always will. The ALP is more to the left then the LNP – always has been always will be. The Greens are further left (and they have not made preference deals with the LNP). Both major parties work within the broader capitalist framework and will ever be limited by the hegemonic version of it. That dominant view of capitalism is under challenge at the theoretical level (the new political economy theory) and on the ground to no small degree because of growing inequality and the fall out from the impacts of the intensification of the erstwhile globalisation of capitalism (witness Greece and Ireland and the USA). Eventually both the ALP and LNP will drift if this challenge goes on – the likelihood of which is intensified by the threat of climate change. Any party that fails to drift will endanger its survival or give rise to the populism of the left and right that we can currently witness in the USA.

  38. Korstraw

    Nonsense article. For all Labor faults the Rudd/Gillard years and legislative programme was basically old fashioned Labor. So what is the alternative, vote LNP? Given the reality that either Labor or (heaven forbid) the LNP will form govt next election there really is no other choice. As to what they (ALP) are now how about joining and fighting to have ‘lost values’ reinstated instead of constant whinging and finger pointing, nothing about change is easy.

    You will never get social or economic justice from LNP, never have and if their current stint isn’t enough to alarm and alert everyone what the hell does it take?

  39. cuppa

    Thanks, but I’ll stick to criticising the Liberals.

  40. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    An excellent article, David Spry.

    I agree with every word of it.

    I wonder if Labor head honchos have the intelligence to listen, learn and change their doomed passage to neutrality, or worse still, sameness as the LNPigs?

  41. cornlegend

    Jennifer Meyer-Smith
    I’d be interested in your opinion of the outcomes of the Micro and Independents meetings I mentioned above .
    I didn’t realise your loose “Alliance” of all the above commanded 20% of the vote in 2013

  42. Jennifer Meyer-Smith


    my automatic response is that it is good for democracy to have a diverse range of micro political parties joining forces under an Alliance for Progress to put their policies up for the votes of the Australian people at the next election.

    I celebrate their boldness to ruthlessly target the LNP in significant seats. I am sorry that the Greens have allowed themselves to be manipulated by the LNP, so that they are being targeted too. The Greens have been much better than that and Di Natale and the Greens leadership need to seriously self-assess their current political agenda, especially with the Senate reform debacle, or the Greens will start facing the same contempt, as sections of Labor have faced.

    Talking about Labor, I bet the head honchos are sighing a sigh of relief that they didn’t decide to backstab the micro parties like the LNP did. I suspect that was good luck and not good management. At the moment, Labor has an advantage like looking like the good people, who didn’t pick on the little micro parties. A word of warning: I’d advise Labor to keep this position because if Labor is also perceived to seek to disenfranchise the micro parties, Labor would also stink.

    So, because Labor has not succumbed to bashing the micro parties and Independents also, I think overall, it is a glimmer of hope for beating the LNP and improving our conditions which we have suffered under the LNP and would continue to do so, if LNP were to win.

    I am daring to hope that all of us, who are left of this ugly LNP government, have reason to hope that there might be a contest after all at the next election.

    A word of advice to Labor: if the micro parties succeed and knock out the LNP and Greens candidates in those particular seats, which suits Labor’s agenda, Labor would be VERY wise to nourish their relationships with the progressive, alternative and reformist micro parties, so that Labor’s Alliance with these left and centre elements help to forge a promising future Labor purports to support for us, even the vulnerable and the environment. Labor needs to see it as an opportunity to build a wider proportionally representative parliament where all community voices get a fair hearing.

  43. cornlegend

    Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    I know we won’t know the candidates or who’s running for a while, but given those knowns, and the 2013 candidates I decided to do a muck around , how I’d vote 6 above the line .
    I’m sure you would be pleased with my inclusion of the “Micro Alliance”
    Here ya go
    1 The Labour Coalition
    2 Socialist Alliance
    3 Wikkileaks Party
    4 Socialist Equality Party
    5 Stop The Greens
    6 Labor Party

    Don’t worry, Labor is playing warm and fuzzy with a few micro Parties and having lovely little
    discussions with them

  44. Trish Corry

    The cynical view of Labor by those not in Labor always either frustrated or amuses me. I’m not sure if there is an emotion that is a mixture of both, but that is the feeling I get.

    I would strongly argue that Labor being a democratic socialist party and all, created by the union movement has a decent respect for voice in politics and protest. I think they have a healthy respect for minor parties rather than the Liberals who see them as just a pain in the backside obstacle.

    Julia Gillard certainly has had this view to be able to negotiate successfully with the minor parties, rather than chucky a big sad and taking the punitive and blaming approach. It is also evident that when Bill was speaking and the Asylum Seeker advocates protested behind him, he did not get annoyed, however the Liberals did.

    Somehow there are people who continuously look at Labor with such inherent pessimistic and negative bias, that they miss the good stuff. It is a shame really.

  45. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Well cornlegend,

    I’ll give you 4 out of 6 for good choices. Tick 1, 2, 3, 4. Not so sure about 5 because of their stubbornness to allow cars into national parks and 6 is a bit suss. (Woops, that sounds cynical!)

    But then that’s democracy at work. We can agree to disagree on some points but still work towards a common goal to making the greatest good for the greatest number.

  46. Trish Corry

    CornLegend, the Labor Coalition spend most of there time bashing Labor until they got ticked off at the Greens. They also aren’t even registered yet. It is a no from me on them.

  47. cornlegend

    none of the above 5 will win and the preferences go to Labor where they will be exhausted .
    Just a vote for Labor with some fun thrown in
    I’m wide open to suggestions 😀

  48. Jennifer Meyer-Smith


    how do you know their preferences will go to Labor where they will be exhausted?

  49. car054

    To some people unless Labor are AWAYS @ 180° to the LNP, there the same…. what was it the Tony Abbott so successfully campaigned against Labor at the last election …. repealing the mining tax, the carbon tax…. how do you think the LNP would have handled the GFC…..?

  50. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Nobody with any brains wants the LNP, car054.

    I don’t want an LNP-lite either, which is what Labor often looks like.

    I want good governance that is equitable, accessible, reformist and progressive. If Labor wants to govern, it needs to be ALL those things.

  51. cornlegend

    Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Our voting in the Senate operates on STV , single transferable vote so as the count proceeds and candidates attempting to gain a quota are either elected or eliminated, the STV is transfered to other candidates according to the voter’s stated preferences
    Now I can’t see any of the 5 gaining a quota so Labor will get it get elected and the remnants of the quota will exhaust
    It is a little bit more detailed but that’s a rough example
    “Nobody with any brains wants the LNP, car054.
    I don’t want an LNP-lite either, which is what Labor often looks like. ”
    you are going to be sad because it is likely 1 of the 2 will get the nod .

    Way back in the late 60s or very early 70s I had a car with the number plate CAR 054
    I copped a bit of stick over it because there was a tv show about dumb cops of the same name “Car 54 where are you?”

  52. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Thanks cornlegend,

    for explaining that.

    What about your choices for 6 or 12 below-the-line?

  53. cornlegend

    no, mine will exhaust and vanish into the netherland.
    After Labor, they can just vanish .
    We might get an earlier election in QLD if Annastacia Palaszczuk decides to pull the pin .
    It would be a good warm up for a Federal Election .:-D or a gift to the LNP :-{

  54. Jennifer Meyer-Smith


    I’ll stick to the greater diversity of the below-the-line option. Above-the-line is set up to make the micro parties fail. Undemocratic.

  55. randalstella

    Trish Corry March 11, 2016 at 3:29 pm
    “The cynical view of Labor by those not in Labor always either frustrated or amuses me. I’m not sure if there is an emotion that is a mixture of both, but that is the feeling I get.”

    i don’t know why she changed tenses half way through – but who says doublethink is so bad?

    For example, who could ever think that the posts here by Labor hacks could provoke any cynicism? No helping some people. They would have to be some of those not ‘in Labor’.

    I’ve had a quick look and I haven’t seen ‘dirty deal’ and ‘Greens’ mentioned together, for the past whole hour. Who’s getting slack on the campaign trail?

    So, I’ll do it for you: ‘dirty deal done by Greens’. You’ll have to do your own work from now on.

    I see the genius benefactor is back, the mighty head who tells us he invented the slogan Kill the Greens and Spill their Blood. (Such modesty.) So he’ll lift yah game.

    That’s another conversation on this site sorted.

  56. diannaart

    It’s a binary world in which we live – no matter which side you dress on – “either you’re with us or against us”

    Neither side gets the idea of diversity in politics either – no matter what Labor says about Greens dirty deals.

  57. randalstella

    I hadn’t realised that it’s ‘a binary world’. Thanks.
    I cannot see how liars involved in a vindictive campaign deserve to have excuses contrived for them. They are frauds.
    Otherwise, I don’t know what your post means.
    I also wonder what has happened to this site. Lies are lies – and this site should be exposing them, not providing them a haven, that amounts to putting a bluff to other posters.

    And by conversations with others, all of them Labor and Greens voters, they are also very concerned where this place is heading.
    It seems to be voluntary, as they have been warned. And then ‘resent’ the warnings, leaving one abuser in particular to come and go as he feels fit.
    I had a quick look at IA today, where Wicks has another of his ridiculously partisan anti-Green pieces. The comments below that rubbish about ‘dirty deals’ are better than here. People there are calling out the vicious smearing.
    I thank Diamond Joe in particular, if he reads this. Check it out.
    Also check out New Matilda, that tolerates none of this ‘dirty deals=Greens’ rubbish, and calls it for what it is.

  58. diannaart

    Forget I wrote anything.

    My post was not intended to be sarcastic – I was actually simpatico.

    Now I am backing away very slowly… gone.

  59. Jennifer Meyer-Smith


    in support of yourself and diannaart, I hope you know I support what you say about the naysayers of either Labor or the Greens trying to divide and conquer us despite the common foe being the LNPees.

    I know you want a formidable force against the LNPees, so that we together can turn around what’s happening to our beautiful country and people and provide positive governance that will represent diverse people, causes and environmental concerns.

    diannaart wants it too.

    I hope you also believe I want it too.

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