By Callen Sorensen Karklis
Several years ago I resigned from the ALP. I was heavily involved in the party running local branches in Bowman and also working briefly in the labour movement in call centres as well as working on the shop-floor in retail before I ended up working in the media.
I quit the party in late 2017 because I foresaw what I then saw as the party losing touch with the community and finding party politics extremely gruelling at times. I was banking on my prediction being wrong of course.
I abhor the views of Trump and co as well as Scomo and believe in social democracy and fairness. As somebody who’s indigenous, I feel we’ll be getting the same old treatment from a group of rich blokes who only understand how to throw a little bit of money at a problem without thinking of the long-term consequences and I really fear for the future of young people as well as the worker and pensioner.
Despite leaving the party I’ve worked my butt off on state and federal campaigns politically when I can, and even putting up penalty rates posters for the Change the Rules campaign anywhere I could lately. I was absolutely gutted and been pissed off for the past few days because of the election result but I honestly didn’t blame people for it.
The Labor party needs to get back to its grassroots this much is true, although the party came off as united federally in Qld we’ve become so divided on the environmental and climate issues. There is so much of a future in lithium mining and renewables yet the movement didn’t articulate this to the voting public and the jobs growth we could get out of it. I’m as much to blame for some of the stuff ups lately as well and for that I admit it, and sorry for not working hard enough with those on the progressive side. But I’m not here to cast blame and shame on a loss.
I voiced my anger lately with others in the movement and the need for internal reform and getting back to grassroots. What I’ve learned from this is that we must eventually unite and strengthen our campaigning and messaging on point to win people over as well each other. It says a lot when people tell me they saw the ALP as the big end of town, which we know otherwise. But they do appear so to the public at present from their eyes.
Many Labor candidates I found had been sheltered from the general public events, such as rallies, clubs, bars, and sporting events. There wasn’t enough effort put into talking to the average day person like Hawkey or Whitlam would have. There is a big consultation problem according to my aboriginal family elders in the movement and many of whom were AWU and ETU members for a time in the sand mines on Straddie.
The Greens and Labor party campaigning against one another didn’t help either. Conservation groups did some great work campaigning on issues of the environment but it wasn’t read into the minds of people trying to pay their bills and earn an income, there was no communication on what jobs there are in renewables or alternative sustainable mining. Messaging on environmental issues cut through but not enough! It needed to reflect real jobs as well as alternatives.
Labor needs to work out ways not to demonise the Greens and maybe even people who would have voted Katter in the North. Let’s not forget the surge in One Nation would have also been former Labor voters in most cases. Look Qld may have some conservative elements but it’s been known as a bellwether state for a reason.
We must not dig into people for leaving a cause or belief and following the way they went, it’s time to convince people and educate what progressive policies actually do to better their lives and how the other side isn’t their best mates at times even when they make out to be sometimes.
On a positive note, some areas in Bowman in my area still retained to the ALP and the Greens, like Straddie where the ALP branch was recently folded. Based on preferences the conservatives were only 9 votes ahead on Straddie, leaving Cleveland to be a real battleground with only 200 – 500 votes apart despite the heavy campaigning on issues like Toondah this may have also been a protest vote against Labor while the Greens saw a surge of 2% locally but still this was not enough to dint the Pro Toondah lobby in the LNP.
Other areas still showed some interest to progressives in the South – East end as well so there’s room for growth and rebuilding. Look I don’t know if the ALP would take some of us back in the movement one day, but regardless I feel as though we’re all going to have to learn how to sort ourselves out whether you’re a progressive independent, a Greenie or in the ALP, before we can convince people who and what we can do, like protecting the environment and building up new jobs. Labor and progressives need to solve their identity crisis and now! If the Labour movement never came to be there would be no notion of a fair go, and I don’t think that’s something we should give up on.
Callen is a Fabian and was the Secretary of the QLD Fabians Branch in late 2018 and is a Quandamooka Noonucle Indigenous person with a strong commitment to community. He is a member of Crime Stoppers, works in media advertising and is running as the local independent candidate for the upcoming Redlands City Council elections in division 2 in 2020.
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