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This is why I vote Labor

The first time that I published this post was in 2012 on the old Cafe Whispers blog, and republished it on The AIMN prior to the 2013 federal election. I hesitate to publish repeat posts but on this occasion I have made an exception, and present it again (slightly edited).

Why am I doing this?

Two reasons. Firstly, I want people to know the LNP that I know and from what I’ve seen this makes Labor a better alternative.

Secondly, to shut the critics up. I am a Labor voter, despite some noisy people thinking otherwise. And to those critics who might ask; “If you’re a Labor voter then why are Greens voters given a voice on this site?” My short answer is; “They are allowed to and they’re welcome to. It is their site too.” We are a left-leaning site – I won’t hide from that – and we all do our bit to put an end to the horror nightmare currently governing us. My bit is to vote Labor.

Here’s my story …

I was too young to vote for Gough Whitlam in 1972 and until then I had no interest in politics, but it wasn’t hard to get swept up in the wave of excitement of his anticipated victory. I would have voted for him. The Vietnam War was still raging and kids my age and older were dreading their 20th birthday and the subsequent prospect of conscription. We didn’t like the idea of fighting another senseless war. I think we were the first generation to take that stand.

Although my short-lived interest in politics was well behind me, in 1975 I voted for Gough as I wasn’t happy at the way he was dismissed by John Kerr (with the help of Fraser, in my opinion). In fact, I was rather angry at the whole affair.

I stayed with Labor until the early nineties. Yes, I voted for Hewson and I voted for Howard. Hewson’s loss disappointed me, probably because at the time I was not a big fan of Keating’s, while Howard’s victory brought out the champagne, as by this time I quite despised Keating (for his arrogance). In my eyes Howard couldn’t do anything wrong. He was perfect. But again, my interest – or knowledge – of politics was not vast. Rather small, actually.

It wasn’t long, however, before I would mumble to myself: “Come back, Paul. All is forgiven”.

With the benefit of hindsight, looking back at their prime ministerships both history and I will/have judged Keating to be the far better of the two. And by a country mile!

But I digress.

After securing work with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) in 1999 it soon became obvious to me that Howard was nothing but a political opportunist. Aboriginal people became political footballs and he soon caught on that ATSIC bashing provided him with the Midas touch. Despite having at his disposal hundreds of skilled and experience policy makers and Aboriginal people with their pulse on community needs and real contemporary issues, he found it was better politics to be driven by media demands and editorials. There were more votes in helping with the bashing than formulating some really beneficial programs to help these marginalised and disadvantaged members of our society.

It was sad having to visit remote Indigenous communities and make excuses as to why they were continually being ignored by Canberra. “Oh how different it might have been under Keating” I would silently mutter.

The disappointment I detected in the Howard Government in remote Aboriginal communities in South Australia was nothing compared to the detestation of him I felt within the Public Service when moving to Canberra. Frankly, it was quite a surprise and one that found me asking questions as to why.

The answers weren’t that complex.

From working closely with him and his government, Public Servants saw first hand what a mean-spirited, conniving, lying bunch of individuals those in the LNP government were. And it t didn’t take me long to discover this too! Policies were formulated to ensure their own political survival while ignoring the needs of wider Australians. Lies were told to the media about how successful their policies were when in fact they were failing miserably, and public servants were bullied into providing them with confidential information in order to secure a political advantage over the then Opposition. I am not at liberty to disclose what I witnessed, but let me say that in my eyes Howard was still perfect. The perfect a###hole, that is.

I often wished that those people interstate who worshipped him in their millions could come to work in the Public Service and see first-hand for themselves what a miserable #### he actually was. It’s a pity that the truth never ventured past the boundaries of Canberra.

On the Monday morning after he lost office, the sight of public servants going about their business with a spring in their steps and a smile on their faces gave Canberra a good feel about it. The bullying had stopped and the Public Service was again apolitical, which is how it should be.

But it was after they lost office that I saw how miserable and mean-spirited the Liberal Party was (and still is).

I am not at liberty to give exact details, but I was involved in formulating many policies for the Rudd/Gillard Governments that were aimed at assisting both disadvantaged and mainstream Australians. To see something finally being done for the wider community was inspiring. Sadly, the programs went nowhere or somewhere at a snail’s pace, keeping disadvantaged Australians disadvantaged. Why? Because the Abbott Opposition made every attempt possible to ruin these programs because the delivery of them would bring credit to the Labor Government. And naturally, the Opposition would then shout to the media that this Government was doing nothing for the average Australian … and the wider community started to nod in agreement. If the wider community knew of the billions of dollars that were wasted because of the Opposition’s tactics they might not have nodded so obligingly.

At about this time it was very easy to become demoralised as a public servant; working your arse off to get this country moving then watch everything crumble because the Liberals didn’t want it to move. They exhibited no interest whatsoever for the community or its needs. Adopting Howard’s manipulative trait, they were only interested in ruining a duly elected government and having parties in The Lodge. They haven’t changed much, have they?

I saw enough of the Liberal Party in my dozen or so years as a Canberran to carry a hatred for them for many years yet. I’m definitely Labor to the core and not afraid to admit it.

In my opinion, however, I think that since 2007 Labor have done a lousy job selling itself. Here they could take a leaf out of John Howard’s book of telling anybody with a microphone or a TV camera how good he was. Howard drummed it into us, and we heard it that many times that many actually believed it.

It’s the same manner Tony Abbott used to shout to everybody how bad the Gillard Government was. And the friendly media were happy to keep printing his lies.

Again, I’m digressing.

The point is, I will always vote for a party that puts Australians first and there is only one party that has shown me they have that commitment: the Australian Labor Party.

Can I really believe that the LNP would put ordinary Australians first? Can I really believe they’d be a better alternative for pensioners, parents or minority groups? Can I really believe they’d offer a better system for education, health or technology? No. Of course not. I’ve worked for them and not once did they convince me that ordinary Australians matter.

Can I believe that they would offer a better form of government for the upper class, the media barons or the mining giants? Yes.

I repeat: I will always vote for a party that puts Australians first and there is only one party that has shown me they have that commitment … and that’s the Australian Labor Party.

It’s time. Again.

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  1. pierre wilkinson

    hear hear

  2. DrakeN

    A simple, but clear insight into the minds, motivations and decieving behaviours of a sub-set of humanity which sees every means of gaining personal advantage as acceptable and appropriate.

  3. Florence Howarth

    Gough Whitlam’s time bought great change to this country especially women. He open up Asio. Created the Family Court & no blame divorce. His social changes were endless. When he came to power, we had numerous so called orphanges filled with hundreds new born babies born out of wedlock and kids of women who were deserted. It was near impossible for women to earn enough to keep their kids. Very few benefits which by the way were 4/5 ths m #auspolale rates. Wages 75%. The Orphanges were emptied before Whitlam was rudely deposed.

    I was not that wrapped in Hawke but I did like Keating. His reforms to the economy have served us well.

    Time now for new reform for this era. I believe that Gillard would have delivered if given a fair go.

    I suspect Shorten might be the right man for now.

    Labor has shown it has the ability to move with the times. Many old Lefties find this not to their liking.

    The world has changed. We now live in a global world as far as trade & the economy has changed. We no lomger do manual work in factories or on the roads. Example being the fact today cars are made from parts made in many countries.

    The Liberals always appear to be a generation or more behind.

    IMO borders don’t have the meaning they had even a couple decades ago. Our workforce comes from other countries. The poor no longer willing to starve. No longer willing to stay & be tortured. They are on the move. Building walls won’t halt the flood of people seeking a better life.

  4. Matters Not

    Me, I have always voted for the left side of politics or perhaps the progressive side as it’s now sometimes called. Effectively, my vote has always been for the Labor Party (sometimes via The Greens) – not for what some ALP members/Ministers et al verbalise or even do but from a deeper philosophical commitment.

    It’s the philosophical underpinnings that sustains my political commitment – not some practitioners who operate under the Labor banner but practise what I believe to be anti-progressive policies. What would you say to a Minister who closed down a high school program because certain rural folk (National Party voters one and all) didn’t want that option available because it meant they couldn’t get the boarding school subsidy that (didn’t) flow when such options weren’t available? That the local Aboriginal students relied on that option was dismissed out of hand. Yes a Labor Minister.

    What would you say to a Labor Leader who didn’t want ‘good’ teachers (his definition) transferred to a disadvantaged school because it was a waste – such students would never appreciate their expertise? And so on.

    On the other hand, I worked with certain Liberal members who shared …

    It’s the philosophical underpinnings that count – values, attitudes and beliefs and if you want to get deep and meaningful – it’s their view of human nature that really counts. Their view of the good society. How humans relate to that good society .. Etc.


  5. Peter Guinea

    Very nice Mick but a little late don’t you think. Howard and Reith reduced the working class to slavery, a degradation we have never come back from. In my view you and everyone that voted for that scum should never be allowed a vote again. An imbecile should have been able to see his Government was all about screwing the working class. I appreciate your honesty but cannot forgive your stupidity.

  6. New England Cocky

    Geez MN, what terrible decisions that were NOT exposed to public view. Why did you remain silent???

    What would you say about a NSW Lairbral former Premier who:

    1) used his influence to sell off the Land Titles Office to a consortium of bankers and then retired from politics into a “Client service officer” of a bank on a mere reported $2 MILLION per year salary package?? Yes, that failure of a banker, failure as a politician, failure as a (Christian) man ….. or

    2) was kicked out of politics by the NSW ICAC for corruption thanks to the four Independents establishing that august body, only to be reportedly “employed” as a director of about 44 corporations that had benefitted from government contracts?? Goulash anyone??

    The we have the collection of self-serving egomaniacs currently sitting on the Federal Treasury benches ensuring that their personal pecuniary interests benefit more than the Australian people. Anybody for Adultery, Alcoholism, Avarice, Bigotry, Hypocrisy, Misogyny, Philandering, and Racism?? Surely NOT representatives of the party having notional family values …

    It’s time ….. again!!

  7. Michael Taylor

    Perhaps, Peter, I should be less honest in future.

    That you can’t forgive me for voting the way I was rightfully allowed to do in 1996, suggests more about you than it does about me.

    Please feel free to remain bitter.

  8. Kaye Lee

    “Howard and Reith reduced the working class to slavery” because Hawke and the unions were naive enough to believe that everyone would keep up their end of the bargain with the Accord, and people who got all the social benefits and regular wage rises decided they had no need of unions anymore.

  9. wam

    My dad and therefore me were communists after he came home traumatised. The seeds of distrust of menzies were laid in the pig-iron days before I was born and had lain dormant till the miner’s troubles.
    I was too young to have the political understanding of the times but old enough by 1952 to realise uncle joe was a vicious murderer.
    I have been a political oozium bird ever since. Round and round searching for a home but disappearing into the dark and starting again.
    The driver of my inability to forgive rupert and his politicians is disingenuous hypocrisy. The ntnews and the clp have it in astronomical proportions.

    Whitlam and gillard were simply ‘classy’ to bjelke’s and the rabbott’s crass destructiveness and are admirable.
    Both were cut down before completing their plans and each made a terrible decision to my eyes. Gough brought politicians to darwin and the clp was spawned
    The men and women of the party were oft met socially in such a small town. (Especially as my darling was easily the most competent educator in the system. Her skills and knowledge was so oft used by men of power. Being a woman in schools not only was her work invisible and unacknowledged for the last 25 years of the century but, as she was completely trustworthy with confidential material, her worth is still unshared.)
    44 years later, the clp are still a bunch of southerners mostly men but a smattering of women. They are still racists who are convinced they are not. They are still sexist misogynists who are insulted at the reality a la the rabbott.

    The party and the supporters are committed to spending inordinate amounts of resources in blocking any Aboriginal initiatives and were thieves in the Aboriginal education projects of the 90s
    By the time you were in the territory michael I was hiding in a correspondence school burnt out.
    My best memories is the teaching of the first intake of Kormilda students when they reached year 9 in 1969. My Kormilda – Darwin association ended in 1989 with bolus hystericus et al.
    But I wish we had met.

  10. RomeoCharlie29

    Michael, a little honesty is ok but I certainly wouldn’t tell a left-leaning blog that I voted for the lying little rodent. My own admission of political naivety is that the first time I was allowed to vote (in 1966 as a 21 year old) I voted Liberal ( influenced by my mother! Though it is worth noting we both went on to vote Labor ever after).

    I have been known to give Labor my vote via the Greens, when there was a suitable candidate, but that was rare.

    And while I lean decidedly left, I worry that a potentially incoming Labor Government won’t be brave enough to make the decisions we know are essential for an equitable and fair Australia, starting with welfare payments, the tax system, and reducing Defence spending as well as winding back the so-called security laws which have gone a long way to turning us into a police state.

  11. Shaun Newman

    Michael, I remember this post very well, I was old enough to vote for The Hon E.G.Whitlam Q.C. he was one of a kind sadly, the only truly Labor Prime Minister I had the pleasure to vote for. He straddled the factions and seemed to present policies that attracted the overwhelming majority of Australians. He was a superb communicator and explained policies to the enth degree and simplified the complicated. Which was why he was crucified by the conservative forces in this country, they just couldn’t stand the fact that the ordinary Aussie may actually get something out of their national government.

    Sadly since his time, other supposed Labor Prime Ministers have been dismal failures, Hawke and Keating in particular, Rudd dis some good things and so did Gillard, but also made some big mistakes trying to look after “the middle class” Labor governments at one time used to look after “the working class” but they have long deserted my class of people.

    The rabid right wing of the ALP now dominate and control the party, which is a great shame. The only thing Shorten is promising lowly paid hospitality and retail workers is a return of their full penalty rates, not improving their lot in life. Still for me the ALP is the only alternative I have, not hopefully the Left of the party still does care about ordinary working people, we certainly do need someone on our side. We, pensioners, are living not on the poverty line, but below it and are hoping that a Labor government will return to the previous formula for pensions and increase Newstart to a reasonable level.

    We really need to remove these right-wing extremists who occupy the government benches currently.

  12. RomeoCharlie29

    Well well WAM, another Territorian. I too am married to a teacher who watched successive CLP governments destroy a superior education system inherited from the Feds at Self Government. Our paths would surely have crossed.

  13. Trish Corry

    Re The Accord: a simplistic and naive view Kaye.

    Yes union density did decline between 10 to 15% from memory; but context is extremely important. Context! The decline of manufacturing since the 1970s also had an impact, plus other factors. Globalisation & changes to the type of work (professions) of that time required change. The Accord was a necessary change. The best solution for that time. Context!

    I find it galling they your comment is in response to Peter who is rightly discussing Howard. He is the worst Prime Minister EVER. He truly hates the working class. Like a deranged sickness.

    Peter is correct.

    You are the type of ilk who looks back on the Accord and measures it to where we are now and blames the Accord for loss of union density and decline. Or the unionists who believe radical action is the only action. Which can most certainly backfire and does not always achieve the best outcome.

    The Accord brought the ACTU to the table, was originally a Gough initiative and worked within a tripartite system, which also bright great benefits and set the groundwork for collective bargaining.

    You are way, way off the mark criticising Peter. The true decline of union density and union power came with Howard. He saw the worker as a disposable commodity at the lowest cost. Workers should NEVER be seen as a commodity in a just a civil society.

    It’s sickening that you feel the desire so bad to point the finger at Labor you are blind to Howard’s destruction and flip someone off who points it out.

    Individual agreements, restricted access to worksites, mass casualisation, outsourcing, increase in 457 visas, threatening to massively cut Uni funding unless Uni workers chose AWAS (We had actual formal paperwork to fill out about our choice!) and the ABCC plus more.

    Every single thing Shorten is castigated for during TURC by the “Labor isn’t left enough crew” and their mates, the LNP, should be applauded. Every gain for workers during Howard was ridiculously tough.

    Howard is the cause of the mass decline in density. The cause of the balance of power tipped to the employer and Rudd/Gillard needed another two terms to fix the pain we still experience today.

    If you loathe Hawke, be prepared to loathe Shorten. Shorten is like Hawke. He is a moderate Unionist who knows how to negotiate between business and workers. This is what the “purist left” like to call right wing. 🙄

    That strength, alongside Sally McManus heading the Unions will be good for us all.

  14. Michael Taylor

    Romeo, I don’t mind admitting that I’ve made mistakes. It was the last one I made though (after becoming more politically astute) and I voted for Beazley in 1998. I have voted Labor ever since.

    By 2001 I hated Howard with a passion. I also hate the LNP with the same passion.

  15. New England Cocky

    @Trish Corry: I have difficulty accepting The Accord as “good policy” because it was concurrent with the down grading of teacher salaries also concurrent with women being more than 50% of the teaching staff and so, for administrators and politicians broadcasting the false propaganda, “only teaching to get some pin money to supplement their husband’s salary”. Subsequently teacher salaries have stagnated below international standards and the old adage “pay peanuts, get monkeys” has much truth for teacher recruiting programmes in state schools.

    Howard has been an unmitigated disaster, the destructive Margaret Thatcher of Australian politics, the puppet of international corporate interests against the best interests of the Australian people.

    @Michael Taylor: As an undergraduate I was advised that if I wished to see my local Federal representative of the National$ for any reason I would have to attend a fund raising function and pay the admission. Naturally I declined and instead have spent the last 40+ years working to eliminate these self-serving hypocritical economic parasites from Australian politics.

    I take some satisfaction from my very minor roles in the election of:

    1) the late Bill McCarthy (ALP) NSW Minister for Armidale then Northern Tablelands and Minister for Getting Things Done, and his good lady Thelma, 1976 to 1988, who dragged the region screaming in protest into the 20th century;

    2) Richard Torbay (Independent) for Northern Tablelands (NSW), 1999 to 2012, with a swing of 29% AGAINST the sitting National$ minister What’s-his-name in 1999; and

    3) Tony Windsor (Independent) Member for New England, 2000 to 2013, the first elected Parliamentarian in 2000 with a 62% first preference vote against the forgotten representative of the National$, who before the 1998 GFC, together with the too much maligned Rob Oakeshott in Lyne (Port Macquarie NSW), saved Australia from Toxic RAbbott and his IPA policies to create the worst third world economy in Asia.

    It’s time ….. again.

  16. Pilot

    Geez!!! Having been brought up in a rural town then moving to the coast, in my early years, I watched as Gough was voted in, much to the disdain of my parents. They were dyed in the wool conservatives and the World was going to end. I was on the shortlist for a short, government sponsored, trip to SE Asia, which Gough knocked on the head. My parents were all tied up in their own little World while I was out talking to the working class. I could not understand why they (my parents) were so bloody greedy, we were comfortable but others needed help.

    Long story short, There’s no way this little black duck could EVER vote for the LNP or any other conservative party while my arsehole points to the ground. They are a disgrace to our country and cannot bring themselves to support those below their assumed status. Conservatives are simply the brakes on Australia’s progress & growth. My first vote was 1975, for Labor and have not changed my vote since. Proud to have belonged to unions (ETU & CFMEU) all my working life.

    Those conservative supporters & parties can kiss my crusty old arse!!!!

  17. Diannaart

    Tried using the img brackets to display GIF, no joy


  18. Peter F

    Michael, thank you for this post. I agree with your assessment of the coalition. I am saddened that such people as Howard and Abbott have been held up as worthy of the office of Prime Minister at the very time that they were destroying our society. Your insider information (which accept without further detail) confirms what I have always believed.

    Howard: Tampa

    Abbott: Carbon’Tax’

    These two men manipulated this country without any concerns outside of their own political advantage.

    Add in Murdoch and we have the situation we now suffer.

  19. Kaye Lee


    “It’s sickening that you feel the desire so bad to point the finger at Labor you are blind to Howard’s destruction and flip someone off who points it out.”

    I have no such “desire”, I am not blind to Howard’s destruction and I at NO stage “flipped off” anyone.

    Ged Kearney explains it better than me.

    “Wage restraint from 1983 to 1990 meant unions held back from doing their core work of bargaining with employers for better wages and conditions, and some forgot how to organise and are still paying the price.”

    One only has to leaf through the pages of Shaun Carney’s excellent book from that era, Australia in Accord, to get the picture.

    “Within the trade union movement there has been widespread disenchantment at the results of the Hawke Government, a feeling that the unions were duped by the promises held out by the Accord,” he writes at one stage, also referring to a feeling that the Accord became political “window-dressing” for the government.

    It should not be overlooked that the Accord was never a truly tripartite process. Business, by and large, declined to collaborate with the government and unions at the time.

    There is no question that workers went backwards under Howard: casual and precarious work with inferior entitlements and conditions rose, the inequality gap grew and minimum wages growth fell behind average earnings, there was a deficit of investment in skills and training, and immoral business practices spread. But how did he get away with it?

    The co-operative wage restraint put in place by Labor and the unions in exchange for social improvements was then exploited by the Howard government. The power of organised labour seems to have been lost. Would workers have gone so far backwards if they still had the right to withdraw their labour if negotiations failed? Should they have anticipated the stacking of the Fair Work Commission with conservatives?

    I don’t know how to get through to you that I am not anti-Labor but I am also not a blind worshipper. I have been doing everything I can to get them elected, including pointing out where I feel they could improve. I agree that Shorten and McManus could make a great team.

  20. Harry

    I was a Labor party member in my youth but became disillusioned over time. It’s still the only hope out there for now- discounting progressive micro parties such as The Real Democracy Party, (RDP)of which I am a member.

    Assuming Labor is elected they must ditch their adherence to neoliberalism and “build a fair and sustainable Australia”. Ideally Labor would accept many of the progressive policies of RDP and perhaps merge wit it?


  21. helvityni

    I repeat once more what my friend said :’ H, you are not poor, why are you a Labor supporter? ‘

    My reply: ‘Because so many people are, and I have empathy for them, I’d like their lives improved.’

    I don’t approve of all Labor politicians, or Leaders, but on the whole they are more caring, and more progressive than the Other Side…

    Scomo tells us to have a go, and everything will be honkey dory….

    Obviously I have had a go, worked hard, been sensible with money and therefore I have NOT ‘earned’ a pension…

    I lived in Holland for three years ( I did not work there), yet they send me a part pension, no questions asked….they actually looked me up in Oz, I did not apply…

  22. helvityni

    ,,,I have never belonged to any party, I have also always supported the Greens, but oddly enough they don’t seem to flourish in Oz ( not like in Germany)…

    Also at the times the Independents seem to be the best of the motley lot..

    As for the Coalition, they all seem to care ONLY about themselves…(oops, maybe nor ALL of them)…

  23. Stephen Tardrew

    Onya Michael you have my best wishes and admiration for the endless work and commitment. You and Carol have a great New Year. I wander the political landscape however it is critical Labor wins then we can try for more change. Good on you mate. In Art and Love.

  24. Harry


    I was born in the Netherlands. We migrated when I was nine years old. My parents retired on the pension and lived on a part Dutch and part Oz pension. I am not so sure that the Dutch social security system is as good as I suspect Neoliberal ideology may have taken hold there as well.

  25. peter mccarthy

    I’m glad you posted this Michael, and slightly horrified that some folk feel bitterness towards your history. None of us know all the ins and outs of politics from our earliest voting opportunity and I’d be far more disappointed if you had been rusted on.

    As we age we generally discover more about politics and are more observant of the fine details. Howard always seemed to have confidence in himself and it wasn’t until later in life I understood this is the classic trait of the truly ignorant. When he talks about politics you can clearly hear that he regards it as a game. It’s all about beating the other Team. Not about what is best for the country.

    Personally, I never voted for Howard, but I have Voted Green when the Labor member was a ridiculous misogynist and I was shamefully naive enough to vote Aussie Democrat in the Senate before reality kicked in and they imploded. Something that seems inevitable in retrospect, and that neatly makes my point. Personal experience counts for much and the ability to learn from that experience is the key.

    Age can bring wisdom but sometimes age travels alone.

    A great post that does you credit IMHO

  26. helvityni

    Harry, I know, but at that time we lived in Holland, hubby was STILL a Dutch citizen…He’s ONLY Australian now, but still gets part Dutch pension…

  27. David Stakes

    I only found out recently, that I was entitled to some Pension from the UK. Having worked from leaving school to emigrating here in 1971. Having made 65 and some more, a friend said get the paperwork and fill it out. I now get an extra $75 a month. It all helps.

  28. John Boyd

    We certainly all tend to get our knickers in a twist when discussing these kinds of issues.

    Lots of reminiscences here. My own political focus came as a graduate student in the USA. I lived in one of the few precincts that voted for George McGovern!

    One aspect of lots of discussion is the fixation on personalities. ‘I didn’t like Hawke much, too much of a showman’ type of thing. ‘Can’t stand Shorten…no charisma’. Like a majority of the rank and file members, I voted for Mr Albanese. When the decision was made by the caucus, my view, as I trust was the view of the vast majority of members, certainly the ones I know, was that that’s done, now we just get on with it. I say to anyone that asks that Mr Shorten could not have done a better job of managing the process of policy development with a clearly unified team. I don’t want a show pony, I want a person who can manage the mind bogglingly difficult task of actually running a government.

    Like most correspondents, I despise Mr Howard, and virtually all of his team, especially Mr Reith. In 1996 as a senior executive officer in the APS, I was dragged off to a briefing by Mr Max Moore-Wilton, the new head of the Prime Minister’s Office. ‘Don’t give us this rubbish about frank and fearless advice; your job is to just implement our policies’ was the message in as many words. One could feel the fabric of the public service deteriorating.

    Probably unlike most correspondents, I was at the national conference. Along with anyone else I spoke to, I thought that it was really quite inspiring. You could not have experienced a more united party, with an agenda to address the huge range of issues facing us today, most inflicted on us by successive LNP governments. Sure, there are specific issues on which many would like to see more specific or stronger action, but let’s get into government first! I trust all you who wish for this outcome are out there doing your bit.

  29. helvityni

    Excellent post, John Boyd, totally agree…

    Let’s not join in Bill-killing, let’s get him and his team IN first…and then offer our advise….

    Otherwise have Scomo and Dutton…..

  30. totaram

    John Boyd: “..specific or stronger action, but let’s get into government first! ”

    I appreciate your point. However, if you get into government, after promising “bigger budget surpluses” than the coalition (as Chris Bowen is doing), you have already tied both your hands behind your back.

    It was all very well for the Abbott opposition to promise “surplus budgets in the very first year and every year after that”, because they would always get a free pass from the media if they failed to deliver (as they did). Labor does not have this luxury. Making stupid (I use that word advisedly) promises about large budget surpluses is the worst thing the incoming Labor government can do. They only do it because they simply don’t understand (and refuse to understand) a few fundamental facts about macro-economics. Budget surpluses are neither desirable nor something the treasurer can “deliver”. But as long as they continue to believe that budget surpluses show “fiscal responsibility”, they are severely handicapped.

    The Abbott opposition’s claims of “debt and deficit disaster” worked, because most Labor politicians themselves believed it. They could not counter it in any way. The ultimate surrender occurred when Wayne Swan declared that he would “deliver a surplus”. How could you convince the ordinary voter that you had not created a disaster by running up a huge government debt, when you were seen to be desperately trying to fix it?

    So, before Labor gets into government, the least they can do is to stop promising “larger budget surpluses”. But will they listen? I am not holding my breath.

  31. Phil Gorman

    Thank you Michael, there’s nothing wrong with being wrong but wilful ignorance is a crime. The ability to change one’s mind in the light of fresh evidence is a true mark of character. Died in the wool dogma is the realm of the blind, fools and rogues.

    I have felt buoyed by hope twice at election time, once by Whitlam, once by Rudd. The rest mostly seemed like choosing the lesser of two weevils. That’s why diversity in parliament appeals to me.

    Two party representative democracy worked well in the past but we need to cast a more eclectic net for 21st Century decision making. Australian Independent Media does well to welcome the progressive opinions of more independent minds.

  32. John Boyd

    I can’t find a reference to such a statement, and I doubt that it is in the platform, the version of which as agreed at the conference will be available soon. But I agree that pursuing budget surpluses as an end in itself is a bit simplistic, when there are other more significant economic problems, such as the level of private debt.

  33. Kaye Lee

    John Boyd,

    “Labor is promising to deliver bigger budget surpluses than the coalition if it wins the next federal election, by matching any new spending commitments with savings measures.”


    I cringe when they make such statements. How can they possibly know what economic circumstances will require? It’s madness to play that game.

  34. totaram

    Kaye Lee: My great fear is that many in the Labor right faction or even the left faction, including Chris Bowen, actually believe in this nonsense even though it is just dogma based on the old days of currency backed by gold. The fact that no treasurer can deliver a surplus (because the final fiscal balance is endogenous) , and that it implies greater private debt unless you have large trade surpluses, follows from simple financial arithmetic, irrespective of the type of currency you are using.

    The fact that large deficits and “borrowing” in your own fiat currency is not a problem, of course requires understanding of fiat currencies, but that comes later.

    All these people continue to think the government is like a household and if you tell them otherwise, they will dismiss you as some kind of crank. So they fall into the neoliberal trap before they have even started.

  35. Kaye Lee


    As you know, we have been discussing the potential of MMT for years but even without them making that quantum leap, promises about future economic circumstances are impossible to keep. Why make them? They must respond to the global conditions of the day, many of which they have no control over.

  36. wam

    In 2013 I wrote to gillard:
    about the rabbott’s new million dollar house which as a pollie earning a basic $150k was a 667% debt, if he became prime minister at $400k is a 250% neither is disastrous (I also wrote to )the chaser who fronted the rabbott who was bewildered by such arithmetic. Labor and my clp facebook were equally unable to compute that gillard’s debt that was spouting from the rabbott was tiny when compared to income
    the english, American, japanese debt was 100% of income if the rabbott was spouting disaster what would he say about those countries?
    Obviously the thought of attacking the rabbott by exposing his ignorance was abhorrent to gillard although her one foray was terrific
    ps rc there was one dissenting report in 85
    john boyd doesn’t like hawke too much of a showman or shorten not enough but wants someone in between who is just right and can run a government? as manuel says ‘QUE’?

  37. Hilde Rombout

    Helvityni, I also was a Dutch citizen, and get a part pension from the Netherlands. The system there as it stand says, everyone from the age of 16 to reaching pensionable age is entitled to a pension for all the years that they have worked there. I left the country when i was almost 25 and again lived there for a few years to support my ailing mother in her final days. So that means i get a part pension from the age of 16 – almost 25 and then again for the years i worked there during the time i helped look after my mum. Of course Centrelink takes a large part of that pension but what is left supports my Australian pension, and allows me to drive a car, a necessity when you live in a small country town.
    So Harry the Dutch system is still pretty good for pensioners, even for those living overseas and who have taken on another nationality, as far as i am concerned.

  38. helvityni

    Hilde Rombout, you are right it’s still pretty good….

    And of course the age care there is fantastic; my in-laws moved back to Holland and late on landed in a perfectly run local nursing home,nice trained staff, pleasant surroundings and a good health care….Oma lived till a ripe age of 96.

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