Sections

Services

Information

UK United Kingdom

The Australian Labor Party and the pitfalls of the politics of avoidance

In the wake of the ALP’s poor result in the recent Western Australia Senate election, The Conversation is publishing a series of articles looking at the party’s brand, organisation and future prospects…

Labor Party reform is vital, but this time around it needs to be more substantial and far-reaching than previously to secure the party’s long-term future. AAP/Daniel Munoz

In the wake of the ALP’s poor result in the recent Western Australia Senate election, The Conversation is publishing a series of articles looking at the party’s brand, organisation and future prospects.


Dealing with an existential crisis is never easy. It requires asking hard questions and a commitment to real change. Each is hard enough but the latter particularly hard. Often we know what needs to be done but keep putting it off to a later day.

This applies to organisations as much as it does to individuals. The current state of the Australian Labor Party is a good case study in this politics of avoidance. Its membership base has all but collapsed, its primary vote is at a historic low and its constitution is corporatist and constraining.

The ALP is, however, still a nationally important organisation with a base in civil society and our political institutions, local, state and federal. This leads many of its leaders and managers – inside and outside parliament – to think that the crisis is part of the normal cycle of politics and good times will return.

The problems the ALP needs to address are twofold. The first are organisational and managerial and the second are ideological and political. The first takes us to its constitution and the second to its platform and policies.

Organisational reform

Constitutional reform needs a principle and that has to be democratic. That means a membership system based on one person, one vote and one value. Any compromises to that principle require clearly demonstrated political benefits.

In such a system, branches could be geographic, industrial or issue-based. That is, of course, a good description of how politics more generally is organised today.

The ALP’s corporatist structure puts too much power in the hands of too few people. Good people and advocates of justice they may be – and many are – but centuries of political science, whether conservative, liberal or republican, can’t be wrong. Power can, and too much power certainly will, corrupt those who hold it.

Labor needs to be not just more democratic but also more professional, in particular in policy development and candidate selection. The party relies too heavily on vested interests when developing policy. It needs to draw more heavily on evidence-based research and be more willing to involve the community using proven methods of citizen engagement, such as citizens’ assemblies and juries.

It will not be enough just to incorporate primaries into the pre-selection process, as important as that is. Potential candidates need to be identified and tested for their personal and political capabilities, just as any serious organisation does.

The current system that virtually excludes all but a few union-based factional leaders and their supporters isn’t bad because the people involved are inherently bad – they aren’t – but because it defies democratic and managerial logic.

Platform reform

The preferred option regarding platform and policies is where Labor is really struggling. Is it a union-based party or is it a social democratic party?

In the past, the numerically strong labour movement negotiated with the party leadership over policy priorities. But in this mix were plenty of ordinary members who could influence the process. It certainly wasn’t perfect, but the balancing that occurred between leaders, unions and members did allow for new ideas to emerge and did push the ALP in the direction of the common good.

Today, the situation is quite different. Social democracy is struggling to find the air it needs to breathe.

Firstly, there is the role of Labor’s union-based right wing, which exercises what can be described as socially and industrially conservative influence on policy. That means party acceptance of a conscience vote not just on issues like abortion and euthanasia but also on stem-cell research and same-sex marriage.

The social democratic element within the ALP is struggling to influence the party’s platform through avenues such as the national conference. AAP/Paul Miller

The convictions of the Christian Democrats in the ALP are honestly held but are clearly at the expense of Labor as a political organisation keen to draw support from the wider community. In some ways, they play the same role as the old left did in the 1960s and act as a veto power on Labor renewal. The result is that plenty of votes that should be Labor’s have gone elsewhere.

There is also the question of economic and industrial policy. A veto power again exists when it comes to microeconomic reform. In the Hawke-Keating years, the labour movement and the government entered into a contract that gave support to economic reform so long as there was a social wage built around health, education and training in return.

However, for some in Labor’s industrial ranks, these policies weren’t anything more than a transfer of power from labour to capital. Today they are reluctant to embrace further reform. They weren’t always wrong in this judgement and the get-rich-quick faction within the business class was given too much licence.

Some Labor-affiliated unions see economic – and environmental – reform as a threat to their organisational position in the labour market. The problem is serious reform is still needed and that demands strategic thinking of the sort we saw in the 1980s.

Lessons from history

In many ways there is a tragic quality to the situation. A significant number of Labor strategists blame the alliances that have been made with the Greens and others as the cause of the problem. In fact, they are the result of Labor’s historically weak primary vote.

The assumption seems to be that if only Labor returned to its industrial base and focused on economics above all else, all would be well again. What this so-called strategy actually means is that the Greens and others are left free to plunder votes that would be available to a genuinely social democratic party interested in social and environmental as well as economic issues.

The truth is that the ALP is like any organisation, be it private, community or public sector. It needs external sustenance, which only comes if it is trusted and if it is relevant. Both elements are missing – or at least are missing to the extent needed for the party to flourish.

Harking back to the glory days of Bob Hawke and Paul Keating might make parliamentarians and party members feel good – just as harking back to John Curtin and Ben Chifley made the party feel good in the 1960s. However, feeling good and doing well are two different things.

In fact, in the 1960s, it took a supreme effort by Gough Whitlam and his fellow reformers to confront this complacency and put the party back on a trajectory of success. Hawke and Keating – and their state equivalents – fed off the assets so created by the reformers; some very effectively, some not so effectively and some not at all.

Harking back to the glory days of Hawke and Keating might make Labor MPs and members feel good, but will it lead to anything? AAP/Paul Miller

The need for reform

All too often it seems Labor is back in the early 1960s again, complacent and self-congratulatory rather than self-aware and hungry. Reform is vital, but this time around it needs to be more substantial and far-reaching.

Unlike in Whitlam’s era, trade unions are really struggling and too reliant on the ALP for sustenance. The links of some unions to Labor aren’t helping them renew, nor are they helping the party.

It’s a post-colonial world in economics as well as politics and culture. That means the “costs of production” can’t be swept under the carpet. Politically, it’s an era of “communicative abundance” and “ideological confusion” rather than a simple battle between left and right.

Add to all of that climate change and the fears and uncertainties it has created and then ask the question: is Labor in a position to offer leadership as it did in the early 20th century (the Great Australian Settlement), the 1940s (the Keynesian welfare state) and again in the late 20th century (national economic reform)?

Join the conversation

202 Comments sorted by

  1. John Kerr

    IT Education

    Some excellent points here but, if my memory serves me correctly a similar situation has existed in the recent past - several times after each defeat, in fact. The elder statesmen even offered advice on what the party needed to do. Then, if my memory serves me correctly, the advice was somehow 'put on hold' and almost evaporated when elements of the party were able to sideline it. It's deja vu. When is the party going to realise that the end is nigh unless they pull their finger out and really start to embrace some of the ideas in the article and start doing something about it instead of treating each indication of terminal illness as a minor setback? You can look to the top or the bottom - it's going to need either a very, very strong and charismatic leader or a very strong groundswell from members to get it back on track. The longer they delay, the harder it becomes.

    report
    1. Donald Kenneth Hare

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to John Kerr

      I agree that reform of the party is imperative, but it requires more than a strong leader and a strong groundswell from members. There are not any Goughs or Hawkes or Keatings there at the moment and there doesn't look like there are any on the horizon. Also, a ground swell from members is not going to cause much noise, as to be a member you have to be a member of a union, and that accounts for a very small percentage of the population today. Add to that the mechanics of representation through…

      Read more
    2. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Donald Kenneth Hare

      It's strange that so many post that we need a party which ***** (a list which pretty much aligning with the Greens) and then either:

      a) acts as if the Greens don't exist, or

      b) say something like the above "have nowhere to go but to the greens)"

      Why this pretending they don't exist or that they have a terrible smell?

      If there is a big policy problem with the Greens why not say what this is?

      report
    3. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Here's a couple of concerns I've had put to me MWH.

      That they are the Democrats in crushed velvet ... that we will see a re-run of the Meg Lees runaway on the GST ... no discipline, not accountable, inherently oppositional rather than positive.

      That they are too parliamentary for a group that wants to change society... too much top not enough bottom .. playing at the wrong end of the pool ... should focus more on local community organisation and actually showing how Green policies work on…

      Read more
    4. Trevor Kerr

      ISTP

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Wouldn't you agree, Peter, the Greens are a useful lightning rod for the hatred emanating from the collective dementia at "Heart of the nation"?

      report
    5. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Trevor Kerr

      Oh yes indeed Trevor ... one need only look at the disgraceful little circus played out in Tasmania where Green ministers were sacked and escorted from their offices prior to Giddings calling the election date ... a shallow stunt that demonstrated nothing but Tassie Labor's identity crisis.

      Abbott has been quite successful I think in painting the Greens as wreckers and vandals ... kindred spirits? More worrying there are folks in the ALP who - being purely tribal - see them as opponents rather than allies or potential allies. They too are out demonising the Greens.

      Still - what do they expect - friends? gratitude? loyalty? principle?

      The only friends they can rely on are out here ... and they need a lot of them, and they need to demonstrate how the Greens are different.... more than hippy Democrats.

      report
    6. Ian Rudd
      Ian Rudd is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Retired accountant & unapologetic dissident

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter, you are being pretty harsh on the Greens.

      I think, and hope they are a party of values which it would do well not to compromise as it did in the Merrickville disaster. Its policies including economic ones are pretty sound as far as I can judge but they have a longer term view of the economy and society and these come up against the entrenched neocon ideology that has spread through the Western economies like a cancer.

      For the Greens to grow and take over Labor's position in this country…

      Read more
    7. Trevor Kerr

      ISTP

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Was thinking of the other mob as fingered by http://larvatusprodeo.net/archives/2011/03/heart-of-the-nation-democracy-is-a-bad-thing/ and whose trademark 'liberty' is the freedom to hook children onto nicotine. They are still livid about the plain-packaging triumph. Still going on about it like sooks, even today. Would love to know some of the stuff they directed at Roxon's personal wellbeing.
      As a simple test of the worth of a reformed ALP, suppose a shyster with shaved head approaches the Branch treasurer with a gift from the tobacco industry. The likely response is "Oh, goodness me, we can't accept tobacco money. Please launder it through a think-tank." I like to think the ethical response would be "Eff off and don't bother coming back."

      report
    8. Anthony Spawton
      Anthony Spawton is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Retired Academic

      In reply to John Kerr

      well stated John, it is interesting to read the cntributions and the who did what and who can we blame. This is conterproductive to the topic in hand and that is the revitalisation of the Labor Brand as a meaningful proposition for government and to replace the Abbott Government as soon as possible - hopefully in 2016.
      In an political environment of populism and the reinterpretation of democarcy as dollarocracy ( for the dollar by the dollar) with the sponors making their contributions conditional…

      Read more
    9. Anthony Spawton
      Anthony Spawton is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Retired Academic

      In reply to Anthony Spawton

      To finish -- I endore John's sentiment--"
      When is the party going to realise that the end is nigh unless they pull their finger out and really start to embrace some of the ideas in the article and start doing something about it instead of treating each indication of terminal illness as a minor setback? You can look to the top or the bottom - it's going to need either a very, very strong and charismatic leader or a very strong groundswell from members to get it back on track. The longer they delay, the harder it becomes."
      It is evident that Change must come from the "bottom -up" and that members can have a greater say - to abolish "block voting" thus depowering the factions or reducing their influence in decision making and the choice of candidates.

      report
  2. Joy RIngrose

    Retired Maths/Science teacher

    Labor has been the author of its own demise. The Hawke Keating combo, by beginning the dropping of tariff protection for industry, and enterprise bargaining, began the systematic murder of Australian industry. As manufacturing jobs flowed to Asia, so their union base became weaker. This left jobs in the relatively right wing union, service sector as Labor's support. They also believe in a big Australia - the importation of foreign workers to compete with Australians which also drives wages down. Labor has done many good things for all Australians, but these policies have undermined Australian workers and alienated their membership base. Corporate donations have largely replaced union funding to the detriment of all Australian workers. The should NEVER have approved 457 visas.

    report
    1. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Joy RIngrose

      Our import tarrifs are far lower than most other OECD countries - see http://tariff.findthebest.com/ -

      When we do trade deals with Japan (and others) it is high value manufactured goods which we lower our tariffs for to let in, yet all we export are agricultural products (of which the import tariffs remain high).

      So the long term result of Keating's lower tariffs is that we have become an exporter of beef.

      report
    1. Clare Tuckerman

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Trevor Kerr

      Spot on. And equally applicable to any political party - eg Mr Anderson, former Nationals leader and Deputy PM heading up Eastern Star Gas. Perhaps a bit like political donations, who is going to take the first step to reform, and to restore trust?

      report
    2. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Trevor Kerr

      I skimmed the interesting Ezra Klein article, and that made the point that people resists factual information that threatens their values.

      But I think Labor, and their supporters, go beyond this.

      In 2007 it was action on climate change and compassion for asylum seekers. But in 2010 it was 'no carbon tax' and racing the Liberals to the bottom of the barrel on asylum seekers.

      As I said in my first post here, what are Labor values other than loyalty to the party?

      report
    3. Trevor Kerr

      ISTP

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Well, Klein addressed shared values.
      "Recognizing the problem is not the same as fixing it, though. I asked Kahan how he tries to guard against identity protection in his everyday life. The answer, he said, is to try to find disagreement that doesn’t threaten you and your social group — and one way to do that is to consciously seek it out in your group. "I try to find people who I actually think are like me — people I’d like to hang out with — but they don’t believe the things that everyone else…

      Read more
    4. Ron Bowden

      Entropy tragic

      In reply to Amanda Barnes

      I know you haven't asked me but Shorten is a party machine man, as indicated by the way he got the job. So the answer is very probably no.

      report
    5. Amanda Barnes
      Amanda Barnes is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Voter

      In reply to Ron Bowden

      There is no doubt that he has played the game to get the top job. I could see him positioning himself well before Labor came to power & then working the system so that he could step right in at the right time. Aside from his Machiavellian personality I know little of the man however. I know he was the architect of the NDIS, an extremely difficult are of reform. He is therefore capable. Trevor notes that one cannot be a leader & a reformer at once. Well, Shorten has not shown much charisma in the leadership department. Perhaps his skill lies in reform? He is the one, after all, who has initiated these changes. He is a social media junky & cannot fail to have noticed the drift. He is, I think, above all a pragmatic party man. I am of the opinion that he will do what is necessary to get his beloved party back on track & he is placed well to do it. He is popular within the party machine & has the support of the old guard.

      report
    6. Ron Bowden

      Entropy tragic

      In reply to Amanda Barnes

      Amanda, no doubt he's popular with the party machine, but as this article and many of the commenters have intimated, that's not necessarily a good thing in this political climate.
      "Perhaps his skill lies in reform?" I really, really hope so. I don't know how he plans to bring his mooted reforms about and I'm wondering if they include making himself less bulletproof within his party.

      report
    7. Trevor Kerr

      ISTP

      In reply to Amanda Barnes

      Don't know anything about him. Skills as reformer would be known (only) to those working with him, the insiders. But, if he's labouring under the burdens of both roles, maybe he wouldn't be effective at either. I mean, if there is a reformer who can rise to the task and complement Shorten's job, maybe he (Bill) will blossom. Put it this way - the circumstances that illumine Bill's true capacity as Leader have not yet arisen. For all we know, he may look magnificent in battle dress.

      report
    8. Jane Middlemist

      citizen

      In reply to Amanda Barnes

      Amanda,
      re: "He (Bill) is the one, after all, who has initiated these changes"
      I'm pretty sure it was Kevin Rudd who initiated the reforms, which Bill is now implementing.
      Kevin did it to make sure that a (popular) prime minister wouldn't ever again be curtly dismissed in his first term - something which as Chris Bowen put it 'should never have happened'.

      report
    9. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Jane Middlemist

      Nah ... what should never have happened was "Kevin '07" .. a really vacuous slogan that led to the mistaken belief we'd just elected our first popular President - at least in his own addled mind.

      Bill didn't initiate these changes incidentally ... there have been demands for rank and file control of preselections for at least 30 years in my memory, more there has been growing distrust and concern over the workings of NSW Labor for much longer than that.

      This not just Shorten's challenge - certainly not his alone.

      And it will take much much more than a ballot rigged in favour of caucus to transform the ALP and get the factional rubbish out.

      And part of that should be a spill of all positions and new preselection ballots under democratic rules. State by state, then Federally.

      report
    10. Jane Middlemist

      citizen

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      "And part of that should be a spill of all positions and new preselection ballots under democratic rules. State by state, then Federally. "Agree with that but not holding my breath … I saw dear Kevin on TV announcing the change to choosing the leader just before he (Kev) vapourised. So I assumed it was his idea. Wrong?

      report
  3. Peter Ormonde
    Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Farmer

    Good piece ... an existential crisis indeed. But like all crises, the trick is to see the opportunity offered by change and renewal.

    If Labor can transform itself into a modern social democratic party with transparency and democracy at its core - embracing reform and a coherent set of principles at its centre - then it can quite literally blow the "default government" - the LNP - out of the game.

    When I say the "default government" I mean the lot that get elected when Labor fails... the…

    Read more
    1. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      If Labor has reached its own sunset, having delivered a middle class existence to most of its supporters, then why not a name change to the social democratic party?
      And in the process eliminate all the "DLP" types who now appear to have a second senator in the parliament.

      report
    2. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Wishful thinking indeed Peter that Labor could become a default government but then we have seen their performance as the de faulty government, the difference there being a Y and of course many people do wonder on Y as in Why did they ever vote for them and the now faulty opposition just keeps reminding us of Y.
      You are completely right that Labor is infected with more than infectious laughter Bronwyn is trying to correct for them as even in opposition they need to rise to the occasions better with that substance and content you may feel is lacking.
      Bill Shorten does need renewal, preferably for Labor somewhere else.
      We can be thankful for a government prepared to acknowledge the difficulties the country faces rather than kick things along into forward estimates as though all will be hunky dory, a government that is prepared to put the difficult times and choices to be made to the people.
      There is no fault in that.

      report
    3. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Greg North

      No no no "Mr North" - you miss the point of a "default administration".

      A "default administration" is what you have when you don't actually have a government - when Labor proves unable to run itself or run the show ... Labor loses elections - the LNP doesn't win them.

      They have no articulate vision, no actual policies - never have ... rather they promise safety, "no surprises" and a solid dose of shopkeeper economics. Then they do this slash and burn business ...

      I take the view that Labor is indeed the natural party of government in Australia - or rather, when it is operating effectively, has articulate policies and vision and is unified and coherent - there is no stopping them. The other lot never do, never need them... it's always just the same old safe mediocrity and wasted opportunities.

      That's what I mean by a default administration - it's like slipping the truck of state into neutral and coasting for a bit.

      report
    4. John Doyle

      architect

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      I also think, Peter, something similar. Not sure it applies so much now but Labor was always the party of imagination, and initiative, the one that set the agenda while the liberals seemed to be a consolidation party which fortunately didn't often turn back the clock. I have some sympathy for both sides.
      However we have a new situation beginning to become evident but which no political party dares to discuss. Before too long it will so important it will fill every agenda and no one will be able…

      Read more
    5. peter mackenzie

      Transport Researcher

      In reply to Greg North

      Greg, I wish the Abbott Government where as good as you seem to think they are - but they aren't. I can identify tens of billions of waste (admittedly mostly originated by Labor before Abbott).

      And I can already identify where they are in the process of wrecking (cutting the funding) a number of excellent and very needed programs).

      Just in the above, it covers the domains of aged care, carers, disability, youth, employment and transport infrastructure.

      Before you cast me as a Labor voter, I am not, and I have two friends who are state Liberal politicians.

      I will be working feverishly over the weeks and months ahead to try and convince the two state libs that they need to intervene in the actions of the federal party - if they can -lest their own constituents will suffer the poor decision making from Canberra.

      report
  4. Stephen Morey

    Australian Research Council Future Fellow, Linguistics at La Trobe University

    As Geoff Gallop says "The links of some unions to Labor aren’t helping them renew, nor are they helping the party." This is absolutely correct.

    For example, the affiliated Trade Unions hold 50% of the members of the ALP State Conference in Victoria. The Union delegates are controlled by the factional bosses. A deal between the factional bosses in 2013 meant that ALP members had no say in Upper House preselections - the same sort of decision making that gave us Senator Elect Bullock.

    This 50% control has to be reduced, and decisions should be made by party members, not by Trade Union bosses. The Union component within the ALP has to be reduced, immediately, to 20%. Unless Mr. Shorten comes up with bold changes like this, the ALP is in deep trouble.

    report
  5. Peter West

    CEO at Property

    Interesting article, thanks.
    Finding anyone who voted Labor in the last election is like trying to find a Fascist in post-WWII Germany!
    The days of the large-scale industrial base that almost automatically voted Labor is over.
    Communism/socialism with its attached Keynesian economics, combined with failing and bankrupt social welfare States, is the biggest failure of the 20th century.
    Labor is seen to be largely run by lawyers and professionals with no real world work experience, the "ideological…

    Read more
    1. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Peter West

      Incisive comments, which may have been even better if the labour costs highlighted were linked to the failure of Labor to moderate the excessive housing costs which make those labour costs internationally uncompetitive, and have driven manufacturers away.
      One expects no such action from the conservatives, who simply represent the forces of land and housing speculation, the easy and quick buck brigade.
      Watch them wreck the economy, and it will, partially, be Labour's fault for doing nothing to contain them; blaming the Liberals would be like criticising dogs for eating excrement, it is the nature of that particular political beast.

      report
    2. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to James Hill

      The huge increase in housing prices also pushes up retail prices, and one of the reasons that goods are so expensive in Australia is that the rents are so high for our shops.

      report
    3. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      But according to the conservatives all this is caused by penalty rates.
      They don't seem to have much support for a day of rest.
      Well, probably for themselves, but do slaves need a day of rest, probably not?
      But seriously all those costs can and should be traced back to property speculation, which is easier to achieve at the direct local government level, where major party operatives in many cases claiming to be independents are simply in it for the money.
      Their various machinations with disguised ownership of re-zoned property could be easily traced on the public register of property titles.
      But this public information seems to be conveniently difficult and expensive to access.
      One of the reasons a democracy needs an NBN and why property speculators oppose it?
      One of the good results for The Greens is the public support for Greens local councillors, more power to them.

      report
    4. Chris Owens

      Professional

      In reply to Peter West

      Do people really believe this sort of nonsense? There you go.

      Not many owning up to voting for Abbott either. Possibly the most petty, shallow prime minister in history, but I’m sure plenty did. The first actions of his term were to break convention and go after the previous government and also ramp up their culture war. http://www.themonthly.com.au/issue/2014/april/1396270800/judith-brett/triumphalism-tony-abbott
      Or place ideologues in unsuitable positions, Tim Wilson as HRC! and denier Dick…

      Read more
  6. Anne Powles

    Retired Psychologist

    In my pre voting years in the 50s I was entranced by the ethos of the Labor Party as viewed by books on this issue. They seemed a party of principle not purely personal gain. Their intense association with the Unions now contributes to a different focus. The Union movement has been vital in its day and has helped us progress, but with modern universal education and IT facilities that give all in the community a voice, it has become largely irrelevant. In my personal experience as a worker, the Unions have been at times quite destructive, with aims which see economic issues to be almost exclusively their role. This attitude has informed the Labor Party too. I want to vote for candidates who consider values which transcend the purely economic, and at present this pretty well excludes major parties.

    report
  7. Hinton John Lowe

    educationist

    The grotesque prospect of reactionary right wing Bullock holding hands with Abetz & Bernardi in the Senate suggests an Aussie Mad Hatters Tea Party worthy of the imagination of Ern O'Malley. Promotion of corrupt or supernumerary union officials and drongos like Bullock in WA and Farrell in SA from a union as anachronistic as Sirs and Dames - proves that only root and branch reform of voting membership, structures and processes will prepare ALP for capacity to govern itself- and only then perhaps acceptability to govern the nation.

    report
    1. Gerard Dean

      Managing Director

      In reply to Hinton John Lowe

      'Reactionary Right Wing Bullock' you may call him, but he was talking to the original roots of the Australian Labor Party.

      The ALP was not founded by an educated, left wing green elite. It was proudly founded by rough men - shearers - who wanted their say in the running of the land and theirs and their children's rights defended.

      That same party endorsed the 'European Labour Only' stamp that adorned Australian made furniture of my childhood because it was protecting Australian workers against…

      Read more
    2. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      You have been hoovering up Andrew Bolt's column again.

      From Murdoch's paper
      "Declaring his belief that God’s influence must be felt in the corridors of power in Canberra, Mr Bullock said he would rather be expelled from the Labor Party than vote in support of issues such as gay marriage and abortion.

      The revelation comes after The Weekend Australian reported claims last week that he had told several former colleagues he had never voted Labor in his life."

      And are you suggesting that working class people do not have gay children? Or working class women do not need abortions.

      Do not confuse your own anti-intellectual views with those of the working class.

      report
  8. Fergus Ferguson

    Political Exile

    The issue for Australian voters are that they are often not represented by the Unions, they aren't represented by the big end of town, and they aren't represented by the Monarchists that sit on the fence and include elements of both. We can leave out the lunatic fringes for the sake of argument.

    That means that the average voter who is compelled by law to turn out and have their name marked off the electoral role is pretty much represented by no one, and resents the entire system. All they know is that whoever gets in will increase taxes and charges, honor precisely none of their electoral promises, pork barrel the marginal seats, and generally make their lives more miserable. Also know as: 'Getting the shaft'. The voter will always get the shaft. The only minor, and usually very minor difference, is who is who is doing the shafting.

    report
  9. Kym Afford

    Population activist

    Above all what is needed is real leadership on climate change, something this party has been timid about, but at least it set up the carbon pricing. The Libs. under Abbott will be judged as criminals in neglect of what faces us, the escalating and catastrophic affects of climate change . You put the ball in the court and it was not that, the carbon tax, that got Abbott in to remove, it was your lack of cohesiveness.
    Debt was never a problem, either. You got beaten by relentless negativity and the Murdoch press, all because of a lack of conviction.
    As Gough said, "It's time , " to come out fighting for a pollution free environment and and social democracy... A fairness for all, not just a playing field for the low tax paying rich. You don't have time on your side, the world needs action now, but you do not have the handicap of Tony Abbott on your team either.
    That is a massive plus. Use it!

    report
    1. Gerard Dean

      Managing Director

      In reply to Kym Afford

      "Real leadership on Climate Change' destroyed the Labor party mate. Labor true believers lost a lot of their belief in traditional Labor values when Gillard introduced the Carbon Tax she promised not too.

      The old wharfies and shearers and nurses and teachers and machinest and shop assistants who have looked to Labor for a century to protect their interests all knew the Australian Carbon Tax was nothing more than a symbolic act that had no chance of reducing the earth's temperature.

      The obliteration of the Labor vote in WA had nothing to do with Murdoch (I believe he has very little media in WA), rather it had to do with Labor turning from its true believers.

      And then they turned from Labor.

      report
    2. Greg Young

      Program Director

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      You are right, in a way, that Labor strayed from its base.

      I can't speak for everybody, but Labor lost my vote because they were trying to be too much like conservatives for their own ggod. They weren't doing enough on climate change, they weren't ensuring that the benefits of the mining boom stayed in Australia, they treated asylum seekers like dirt and they opposed gay marriage. None of these stances are even remotely progressive. Their excellent management of the economy in very difficult times was welcome, but their inability to articulate their achievements, keep their divisions in-house or enunciate a progressive alternative to the LNP made them impossible to vote for.

      I never for one moment bought into the stupid construct that Julia Gillard somehow lied. The only people who believe that are either charlatans, people incapable of reading to the end of a sentence, or naifs who believe that no politician before Gillard has ever lied on the campaign trail, ever.

      report
    3. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      The Greens campaigned on the carbon tax and won a big swing to them.

      Labor will hold their position on climate change.

      The latest polling from Essential Media confirms what we have known for a while.
      "Most startling is the generation divide - scepticism about the science of climate change is concentrated in the over-55s, with young voters overwhelmingly endorsing the view as prosecuted by the IPCC so forcefully last week that there is no doubt the Earth is warming and humans are responsible…

      Read more
    4. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      The trouble is that they, the right-wingers, feel religiously justified in denying science and scientists altogether, despite Christ establishing the whole basis for Western Science with his prediction "You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free".
      The religious right, thus self-reveled as anti-Christ, also reveal that they are most like the pagan Romans in their religious proclivities.
      A simple review of their cultural background reveals that they are not really Christian at all.
      Worshipping IOVE OPTIMO MAXIMO?

      report
    5. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Worth noting that many of the under 40's have given up on the traditional media. And once you have stepped away for long enough, when you do take a look it becomes very clear that the papers, shock-jocks, and TV are mainly talking to the old, and are mainly pushing the views of old white rich people.

      The under 40's also don't have the same 'always voted ***, so always will' mentality of many older people. So voting Green for the first time isn't like a change of religion for them.

      report
    6. Anthony Spawton
      Anthony Spawton is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Retired Academic

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      Gerald if you believe this you will believe that cowscan fly. The Carbon tax is done and dusted -- its a non issue in the electorate and it worked - its legacy is only in Abbott's mind. If Abbott thinks he will get a bounce from the repeal think again - the WA election proved that - he lost a greater proportion of the vote to the minor parties than Labor did while the Greens prospered. Palmer won votes on the distribution of the GST - but Palmer himself new has a problem - if he holds the balance of power in the Senate comes a responsibility "not slogans" otherwise he will very soon become a "Steve Fielding" very quickly and after last night's interview on 730 -- welcome the new Steve Fielding.

      report
    7. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Anthony Spawton

      You are right Anthony, Abbott does have a problem with removing the carbon tax.

      After he makes a big fuss about getting rid of it the people will see that the world doesn't change. Shops won't all lower their prices. Electricity prices will continue to rise and rise. And when more major companies close factories Abbott won't be able to blame the carbon tax.

      Promising to scrap the tax helped him win, but doing so is going to make it harder for him to get reelected.

      report
  10. Stephen Ralph

    carer at n/a

    Any political party exists to provide a version of how a community, state or nation could be administered and run to (in theory) provide the best opportunities for citizens.

    Ultimately it's all about "the people". It seems that this part of the equation gets set adrift by modern politics, and it is often only about the politicians themselves and personal goals and ambitions.

    report
    1. Gerard Dean

      Managing Director

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      So you would rather old politics such as the Greek's version of democracy that was totally male and excluded women and slaves.

      Or Roman politics which was a brutal military state that bought peace to Europe but took little notice of its citizens.

      Or Russian politics where Lenin and Stalin could starve millions of their own citizens and where the merest hint of dissent meant death or banishment to a gulag,

      Or, I could go on and on forever.

      The truth is that modern politics in a western democracy is never perfect, but in the words of Churchill, it is the best we have got,

      Gerard Dean

      report
    2. Fergus Ferguson

      Political Exile

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      When was the last time in recent history a politician or political party ever did anything for the people? I can't ever remember one. People are units of labor which serve as taxation and income generators for big business, and they then are expected to turn up on election day and cheerfully reward those who have pork barreled them. Nothing more.

      report
    3. Janeen Harris

      chef

      In reply to Fergus Ferguson

      The economy is such a dominant force, who's got time to worry about people. Of course the LNP get around this by saying people can take care of themselves. Labor need to get back to serving people, not unions, not capital, not the economy, but people.

      report
    4. Stephen Ralph

      carer at n/a

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      Of course GD you are right.

      But it doesn't mean a good thing can't be improved.

      For the people, by the people, of the people - always good to remember.

      report
    5. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      Gerard your view that women did not have the vote in Ancient Athens has been revealed by modern scholarship to be inaccurate. The women who ran substantial independent households, the original economists, if you wish, did have the vote which was delivered by their husbands or male household slaves.
      Women did not mingle in the agora, or marketplace where the voting took place, because of the danger of them being taken and sold as slaves and whisked away in the nearby port, never to be seen again, but these women had sufficient economic clout to demand and exercise a vote on civic affairs which was definitely their business.
      And voting was compulsory, those business people unwilling to abandon their private interests to attend to their civic duties were seen to be preying upon the efforts of those who did take the trouble attend the debates and vote, and for this selfish behaviour they were punished with fines.
      Democracy has to be taken seriously if it is to work.

      report
    6. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Fergus Ferguson

      How about when the Greens were needed by Gillard to form government and one of their conditions for giving her their support in confidence and supply was that a dental scheme be introduced?

      report
    7. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Never was, probably never will be. Certainly cannot ever be while people talk of the two party system. MMP --Mixed-member proportional representation ---- as in Germany and New Zealand offer some hope, as does Switzerland, but the fact is that nobody else even believes in ‘democracy’.

      Put simply, party members will put party interests ahead of everything except their own interests.

      The changes that are needed will not be made, because they ar opposed to the interests of the parties, and of those who have ‘power’ because of the party.

      report
    8. Hinton John Lowe

      educationist

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Gerard Dean your argument is specious- an ignoratio elenchi, if you like. The issue under discussion is the way the ALP selects its candidates for the parliament elected in our democracy. In contemporary Australia we need women and men in parliament who have the capacity to comprehend and develop responses to problems of a degree of complexity and global breadth which would have been unimaginable except to a few of the intellectual elites in the times when the ALP aspired only to represent the interests…

      Read more
    9. Ian Rudd
      Ian Rudd is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Retired accountant & unapologetic dissident

      In reply to Janeen Harris

      "Labor need to get back to serving people, not unions, not capital, not the economy, but people."

      You mean like the Greens already do? Is there enough room for two parties to serve the people? I guess so because if you can have two parties serving the corporations you can surely have two parties serving the people... but not any party serving both.

      report
  11. Gerard Dean

    Managing Director

    The ALP has deserted a core group of rusted on True Believers - the rough, unfashionable, politically incorrect Holden V8 driver who works in the local meatworks. He can't stand the ABC's obsession with refugees and climate change and tree hugging greenies but he does care about his shift allowance or the state of the local highway or primary school.

    The newly elected Labor senator in WA, Joe Bullock, was on to something when he canned his fellow ALP candidate's left wing green views. He was…

    Read more
    1. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      Gerard Dean, Managing Director from Glen Iris claiming to know what workers want.

      By some lucky accident, that turns out to be exactly the same as the reactionary policies of Tony Abbott's Liberal Party.

      And exactly the same as the far right views expressed in Andrew Bolt's column.

      LOL.

      report
    2. Michael Marriott

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Gerard,

      We're a post-industrial society. This is a shrinking demographic to be a power base. Australian society is far more diverse and pluralistic than it has ever been. You're mythological "rough man" is a fiction.

      "Flippant left wing green moniroty" would be around 1 million Australians who voted Green.

      report
  12. Neil Champion

    Author

    It would be good to hear some comment on what Labor policies should be renovated and what democratic practices should be employed to improve the vibrancy of political engagement in this part of the world. For example, the Labor Party needs to establish serious policies of difference - why vote for a party that seems like the middle right of the Liberal Party? Political engagement means embracing the democratic potential of the digital age - why vote for a party that cannot, indeed seems unwilling to attempt to, communicate with the outside voices? And, it would be good to see some spine, some sense that there is more at stake than a politician's salary and status, in the way the platform is developed, communicated and defended.

    report
    1. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Neil Champion

      OK a short list of core values:

      Democracy and participation ... not just internal but throughout society... increased powers and resources for local government, much less for States.

      Human rights - for the vulnerable, for the individual. A commitment to using our resources internationally to ensure this in the region via aid.

      Overriding concern for the poor and disadvantaged ... a commitment to providing equality of opportunity for all in education, health, the law.

      Commitment to environmental…

      Read more
    2. Trevor Kerr

      ISTP

      In reply to Neil Champion

      Neil, have you got Joe Bageant's book Rainbow Pie? Here's a sample https://www.evernote.com/shard/s226/sh/d1c95092-78b6-4abe-9933-8d4dbdc06d74/8e23183e85a25e1a86a0227afcb10319
      (Hope the long link holds up!)
      He goes to the heart there, and there's lots more like it. Foreign as some aspects of 'heartland USA' may be, there's a lot in common with the core group of voters a successful Oz Party must engage. See he fingers access to good information as the key to social progress.
      I'd like to see more discussion on what it means to be 'conservative', and how those Tory bastards have hijacked the tag.

      report
    3. Ella Miller

      retired

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter, if only they would listen to common sense and remember that they are in power or not to represent the people who voted for them, not the Party or the Unions .Thinking of the unions they are also supposed to be there to protect the workers...they too have forgotten that..too many sticky fingers and self interest for my liking.

      report
    4. Peter West

      CEO at Property

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      I don't agree with any ideas here, hard to know where to start.
      "Democracy and participation" - what mechanism can be used to achieve this? The majority are often wrong, just look at recent political history.
      Australia has a great human rights legacy, even including the "right" not to be offended!! Foreign aid is often squandered or commandeered by rich elites in third-world countries. All foreign aid should be scrapped if we are to look after the "poor and disadvantaged" in our own society, so…

      Read more
    5. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Peter West

      Excellent ... I'm even more convinced of my initial sketch Peter ... in fact I'd be worried if you agreed with me for you are the enemy.

      Yes indeed the majority are often wrong ... that is their right. What would you substitute for majority decisions - minority decisions by our "betters" ... perhaps a panel of property developers and real estate agents? Sounds to much like NSW.

      I have a degree of sympathy for the Swiss system of cantons myself ... essentially self-governing communities…

      Read more
    6. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter - I think Australia would be a much better place if Labor did take on the values you list.

      But what is there in the fundamental nature of the Labor party that says that unionists would agree with your and my values?

      Gerald Dean thinks that Labor should take on the views of the Liberal party. Perhaps it is just as silly to say that Labor should take on the values and commitments of The Greens.

      report
    7. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      More democracy for local government, to stop the major party spivs speculating in real estate?

      report
    8. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Peter West

      Perhaps it was the 200 year long "Investment (or suppression) of Englishry" and their original Anglican Church of Alfred The Great by The Norman French Catholics which destroyed the "White Anglo Saxon " values that you hold dear, a long, long time ago.
      They seemed to have a better commitment to democracy that the foreign interlopers who enslaved them under a papal banner on a "Crusade".
      The Normans have been peddling their anti anglo-saxon lies ever since that time, with you gerard following in their footsteps< somewhat

      report
    9. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      I think the critical thing MWH is for Labor to look forward - leave Gerard, Bullock and the LNP looking back at the "good old days".

      It requires a sense of the possibilities and even the probabilities ... it's a vision thing. Labor spends too much time looking over its shoulder... dragging a massive millstone of obsolete and unrepresentative institutional baggage with them.

      Labor was built on a vision of structural social change - of nationalising the means of production and essentially "building…

      Read more
    10. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Peter Hindrup

      Wouldn't be like local government as we've known it Pete ... increasing resources will also mean improved accountability and co-ordination.

      You may think that local government wastes a lot of money - but I'd suggest it's just more visible. If you really want to see waste and high costs try pulling apart a state budget ... most revenue comes from taxing economic activity from buying a house or car to employing an apprentice... and the money goes er...

      And besides, at least when it's a local incompetent you can throw rocks at them in the street or reintroduce the stocks.

      report
    11. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter (sorry it took so long to reply, but I'm reading all of this thread so I'm now rather behind):

      Yes, you can look at some of Labor's past achievements and list some 'core values'.

      But you can also look at some of Labor's past and very recent achievements to prove that Labor lacks these values.

      Certainly Labor needs to set some strong policy directions and get a strong leader to push for these.

      But is there any fundamental reason why these cannot be to continue with Labor's basically…

      Read more
    12. Russell Hamilton

      Librarian

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Hawke was interviewed on the Margaret Throsby program last week, and asked to list his proudest achievements in government he mentioned the economy, then the anti-discrimination legislation .... but never mentioned Medicare. Interesting.

      report
    13. Jane Middlemist

      citizen

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      You'd be fine as a lefty spokesman Mr O.
      You already know all the history and the 'pollie-jargon' which, after all, is nine tenths of the battle; and you obviously understand the issues at stake. Just what we need at this critical time and wearing jeans is so much more egalitaarian - and, er, cool.
      I reckon you'd could out-slogan the Libs in a campaign. But no ducking into back rooms for a quick smoke while being interviewed on the goggle box. That would never do tsk tsk
      (Can I have your autograph?) :)

      report
  13. John Newton

    Author Journalist

    Flailing around like a drowning dinosaur, the ALP has grasped at any passing piece of flotsam that might keep them float.

    In doing so they have ditched principles.

    Can they recover? It doesn't seem promising when you look at Joe Bullock.

    report
    1. Gerard Dean

      Managing Director

      In reply to John Newton

      And that is where you are wrong Mr Newton.

      Joe Bullock was articulating the beliefs of the so called 'True Believers', those rusted on Labor voting battlers who worked in meatworks and steel mills and hospitals and looked to the ALP to defend their allowances and rights against large employers.

      The problem for many Labor supporting commentators on The Conversation is that many of the True Believers are not attractive or politically correct. The drink beer, drive Holden V8s and reckon that…

      Read more
    2. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      "True Believer"

      The reactionary Bullock could not even bring himself to vote for the ALP.

      "Declaring his belief that God’s influence must be felt in the corridors of power in Canberra, Mr Bullock said he would rather be expelled from the Labor Party than vote in support of issues such as gay marriage and abortion.

      The revelation comes after The Weekend Australian reported claims last week that he had told several former colleagues he had never voted Labor in his life."
      http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/policy/i-dont-always-vote-alp-says-nonbsp1-wa-labor-candidate-joe-bullock/story-fn59noo3-1226873964147#

      report
  14. Gerard Dean

    Managing Director

    I have to get to work now, but I will say one more thing about Joe Bullock.

    Joe articulated the views of the old fashioned Labor True Believer - the meatworker, truckdriver, shearer and nurse who all want the government to protect their shift allowances and fix their local state school.

    Being beer drinking, Holden V8 drivers who think the carbon tax is a joke and the boats should be stopped makes them 'Reactionary' to the educated elite cafe latte drinking Labor voter.

    My point. Bullock has bought a voice to the voiceless True Believers who live on the rough side of town and have turned from the effete left wing toward the man who walks like a street fighter - Prime Minister Abbot.

    report
    1. Craig Darren

      Tour Guide / Coach Driver

      In reply to Gerard Dean

      Gerard, your analysis is so true. Thats why I love reading The Conversation but also The Australian to avoid 'Group Think'. Having been to Uni and now mixing daily with the common worker, it just amazes me at how many 'progressives' from the middle class sneer at the common man. Talk up Climate Change but yet drive multiple cars, have multiple houses, consume way more than the average citizen and love flying for that weekend away pumping many more times CO2 in the air. The hypocrisy of the inner city, way higher than average wage earner, knows no end. Abbott will be like Howard, disliked & mocked by the commentariat but reelected over and over by the common people. Until the left stops the personality politics against Abbott and simply respect that people have a different view and debate issues but respect the individual.

      report
    2. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Craig Darren

      Abbott's anti-One Nation "Slush Fund" will be spoken of in depth by Palmer over the coming year.
      Does tend to diminish all these arguments about Abbott's support for those "ordinary" people abandoned by the Labor party?

      report
  15. Geoffrey Pearce

    logged in via Facebook

    I do believe that the Labor Party must redefine itself, and Geoff Gallop has pointed the way on some of the reforms needed. I am deeply saddened by what has happened to Australia, and to Australians over recent years, and particularly since the gang of thugs gained power. We really need a humanist party that has an environmental conscience. However the whole world is being held to ransom to benefit the few, and we are locked into a circle of acquiring yet more meaningless stuff. Our whole way of life needs to change and we need political parties with a vision and determination to help this happen.

    report
    1. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Geoffrey Pearce

      We do have a "humanist party that has an environmental conscience" - The Greens - a party of vision and determination :)

      report
    2. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Geoffrey Pearce

      Geoffrey, your discomfort is well justified, however, the coming austerity measures in the budget may plunge Australia into the late onset GFC and the inevitable Abbott Recession.
      Those holding the present economy to ransom will not survive but those presently suppressed by unsustainable debt will be relived of their pain.
      After the 1891 Depression it took Australians ten years to achieve the highest standard of living in the world, all because the economy continued, but without crippling debt interest payments.
      Abbott and Hockey are the unwitting agents of this very necessary economic change which will free Australians from debt slavery.
      Greed is a deadly sin?
      To kill an unhealthy economy?

      report
  16. Graeme Henchel

    Educator

    For years we have heard that the Labor party must reform itself and in the past few days that call has been more insistent. Gallup, Crean, Hawke,..even Shorten. In fact there seems to be no voices saying it should not happen. Yet we know it won't. It is time to name and shame the factional leaders and union "heavy weights" that are delaying reform. (Shorten May be one of them). I am one of those who hold the view that factional infighting between Gillard and Rudd supporters was the prime reason for…

    Read more
  17. Damien Westacott

    Programmer

    IMHO, Labor should be courting the professional organisations to make up for falling union membership.

    Australia doesn't currently have a political party that represents the interests of small business or professionals. That's the pool we should be drawing on to select our policymakers and leaders.

    report
    1. Stephen Ralph

      carer at n/a

      In reply to Damien Westacott

      Fair enough Damien, but for me the interests of ordinary people seems to need attention.

      There are many issues facing us all that need attention - climate, water, education, health, mental health and well-being - happiness?

      There's plenty of work to be done that doesn't rely solely on the focus of economics.....although all of the above do need money to succeed. Funny ol world.

      report
  18. Greg North

    Retired Engineer

    If Labor can get past the self interests of many to reinvent themselves as an organisation, that can only be a good thing I expect though aside from the personal self interests there are two huge stumbling blocks they will need to manoeuvre around, the first being deciding what they stand for and what is their support base.
    There is no mistaking that Australia's industrial landscape has changed and is still changing as a result of globalisation and with it the role of unionism which has long been…

    Read more
  19. Michael Shand

    Software Tester

    Wait, why do we care if labour is relevent or not? If labour are do not represent you then don't vote for them - why is this a problem? why is The Conversation crying about it and putting out a whole series on it?

    report
    1. Greg North

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Michael Shand

      Some people will care Michael, for the party itself and also so as to have an effective alternative government that is able to be in the first place a respected opposition that can put up realistic practical policies.
      I do not see that TC is crying about Labor but more recognising that many people would like to see some changes and in that itself, it is a topical subject.

      report
    2. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Greg North

      Your doing the 2 party shuffle and promoting a false diachotomy the 2 major parties are and always will be the only options, it's kind of sick

      report
  20. Michael Shand

    Software Tester

    "Greens and others are left free to plunder votes that would be available to a genuinely social democratic party "

    Are the greens not socially democratic? why you hating on the greens? this is pathetic

    report
  21. Amanda Barnes
    Amanda Barnes is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Voter

    Labor needs to look no further than the grass roots movements sprouting up like mushrooms, let by ordinary folk, reliant on no organised groups & driven less by ideology than by a desire to bring fairness, decency & equality back into the public discourse. Issues sadly lacking in recent times. Labor would be wise to not ignore this sector. They come from diverse backgrounds including small l liberals. As Geoff Gallop points out, the effectiveness of "communicative abundance" in drawing disparate…

    Read more
    1. Michael Marriott

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Amanda Barnes

      Very true Amanda.

      "Ordinary people" from both the city, suburbs and country are deserting both major parties.

      Just look at the WA Senate result, as well as the recent March in March (100,000+ took to the streets).

      The political paradigm has changed, Labor has failed to release this and is too busy looking back to the 1960s.

      The electorate is more volatile, more sceptical - but also waiting and hoping for a party or individuals to step forward and represent their views.

      report
    2. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Amanda Barnes

      In my electorate about 20% of those who vote I Green preference the Liberals above Labor.

      So there are already plenty of small 'l' liberals who vote for the Greens.

      I'm surprised that you fail to even mention them.

      report
    3. Amanda Barnes
      Amanda Barnes is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Voter

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      My plea was to Labor. I think there is an opportunity here for them to step back into their former role as a reformist & egalitarian party. The Greens are wonderful. They have heart & they have brains but they still have a fairly narrow platform. Running a national government requires so much more experience & expertise than the Greens have at their disposal (at the moment). Labor is a tried & tested economic performer. They have the machinery necessary to make tough decisions that won't always…

      Read more
  22. John Bernacki

    retired child protection officer

    The Labor Party has abandoned integrity and principles. They only want to win for their own personal benefit. If they had any love for Australia, they would disband so the Greens could replace them sooner rather than later.

    report
  23. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

    Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

    What does or what should Labor stand for?

    As the article makes clear, being a party of unionists leaves most issues totally open, and it's nice to get confirmation in the article that many of Labor's economic reforms have in fact favoured the rich at the expense of the unionist. So Labor have even failed on the one thing that they are meant to do.

    In the article by Barry Jones I criticised Barry for putting his party loyalty above his views on policy. Due to loyalty Barry supports Labor even…

    Read more
    1. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Alternatively, why can't those inside Labor, but with DLP values like Bullock, find the courage of their convictions and just call themselves the DLP?
      They have, after all, as Bullock has clearly indicated, A "DLP" prime Minister in Tony Abbott, even members of the Liberal party attest to that.
      And who might count up all the religious right wing DLP politicians in either major party?
      Together they would be a substantial political force.
      Though one suspects that these people lack real "faith…

      Read more
    2. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to James Hill

      My wish is that politicians organise themselves into parties that properly match their beliefs, and these parties are clear on their policies, and an informed public votes for the party whose policies best match their wishes.

      The Greens have clear policies, and their elected politicians have shown great integrity in holding true to the Green values. The Greens main problem is that most people who, if they were informed would vote for them, vote for a major party instead.

      It would be fun to…

      Read more
    3. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Perhaps if the mainstream political commentariat started to serve the public with your accurate analysis then politics would certainly improve.
      It seems that all the various factional battles, the real politicking, take place within the major parties for the prizes of "Safe Seats".
      And mainstream journalists seem to avoid this fundamental politicking, perhaps under pressure from embarrassed major party politicians?

      report
    4. Ian Rudd
      Ian Rudd is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Retired accountant & unapologetic dissident

      In reply to James Hill

      I don't think the current mainstream media will ever serve the public as you would wish it to do. I think we need to turn what we now call alternative media into the new mainstream - a herculean task.

      report
    5. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Ian Rudd

      Visions of a diverted river of internet based democratic activism washing away the accumulated ordure of the Murdochean stables comes to mind.
      For that is exactly what the internet is proving, the opportunity for citizens to exercise their authority as responsible adults, something hitherto impossible in the mainstream media.
      As always the paranoids view "democracy" as a threat; can they, instead, be banished for their threats to "our" democracy?
      Some coral atolls would suit them, they could set up a "tax" haven and live there as well.
      Rising sea levels won't phase such types, because according to their King, Murdoch, and their prime minister Abbott, global warming is "crap", of which there are plentiful accumulated supplies in the Murdochean stables, where Abbott's teenage contribution, to The Australian, still lies stored, along with all his subsequent "crap".

      report
  24. Ange Kenos

    logged in via Twitter

    Want reform? Start by really looking at the Bracks/Carr/Faulkner reforms. Then really look and consider the submissions on why 2013 was lost. Until these things happen, hot air will continue to disperse across the nation. Look at the blunders and lock them OUT, now! Re discover the grassroots members. Keep unions involved but not to a dominating level. Reward LOYALTY and NOT rats. Never again hire Liberals in jobs and ignore our own talent. Look at older and experienced staff for MPs and not always kids - some fresh out of uni with no experience and yet advising Ministers. Ensure that every staffer IS a member of the ALP...

    report
  25. Russell Hamilton

    Librarian

    I think Geoff Gallop's most important point is: "That means a membership system based on one person, one vote and one value".

    Members of the ALP should get one vote in their branch, which elects delegates to conferences where each delegate has one vote. Party policies should very rarely allow for conscience votes. If Joe Bullock is opposed to abortion, same sex marriage etc. he should find another party, because the party policies represent the values the party stands for.

    In W.A. we have the bizarre situation where the ALP is to the right of the middle-of-the-road Barnett Liberal government - how could this possibly happen? One vote one value per member is probably the single best way of getting the party to be more representative.

    report
    1. Anthony Spawton
      Anthony Spawton is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Retired Academic

      In reply to Russell Hamilton

      Bullock is a remnant of the DLP so it is not surprising that he readliy associates with Abbott. Iit is interesting that so much has been made of Bullock's comments in WA when his contemporary and with similar views Cory Bernardi headed the Liberal Senate ticket in SA.
      He was pilloried by Vanstone prior to the SA State election for not being a team player - I suggest that a significant group of Liberals in SA would have not been too impressed as it opened up publically the long and dysfuntion relationships of the SA Liberals and their continued infighting.
      So Labor in WA is not alone in this divide by a long shot.

      report
  26. Marcus L'Estrange
    Marcus L'Estrange is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Teacher

    Existential crisis: Labor may be overtaken by the Greens, veterans warn, 7/4, missed the point of what party members actually think.

    As a party member over a 45 year plus period Bill Shorten's plan and the party veterans views, 7/4/2014, to reform the ALP by weakening union links amongst other suggestions, will have little effect on improving the ALP's primary vote and membership numbers.

    It is the total disdain the vast majority of ALP MPs have towards the party membership who are really referred…

    Read more
    1. Jane Middlemist

      citizen

      In reply to Marcus L'Estrange

      I think Labor missed a big opportunity to begin renewal / renovation of the party, when they had the faux inclusion of members in the vote for party leader.
      The members made it abundantly clear that they wanted Anthony Albanese for leader but the paltry value of the membership vote put Bill into the leadership ( one caucus vote - for Bill - equivalent to 300 member votes - for Albo - why bother "allowing" the members to vote? It wouldn't fool even a ten-year old.
      Until the membership votes actually MEAN something, have some real value, not only for the leader but for policies / principles / values as well: why should young people bother to join, let alone vote for Labor?

      report
    2. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Marcus L'Estrange

      Genuine question Marcus ... Assuming you still are, why are you still a member of the Labor party?

      If you agree with most of what Rudd and Gillard did, and have some major disagreements with some Green's policy, then you loyalty to Labor makes sense.

      But if your policy values align far better with the Greens than Labor, why are you valuing party loyalty over good policy?

      report
  27. Anthony Spawton
    Anthony Spawton is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Retired Academic

    An excellent article. The Labor brand needs to reassess its core values to the electorate. In recent times Labor is trying to be all things to all people -- a "generic" intrinsically tied to the Union movement which has lost its " blue collar " base as typical blue collar employment has all but disappeared and where there has been a " gentrification " of the workplace with the aspirational pledges of the conservatives. In reality the new work places have not progressed and the poverty of managerial…

    Read more
  28. Jeffrey Nicholls

    Managing director

    The root of all political evil may be summed up in Margaret Thatcher's contention that there is no such thing as society. Here she was echoing Stalin's hope, which was to destroy all social structures which lay between him and the individual person so he would follow the old czarist practice of murdering anybody who got in his way.
    Opposed to this tendency is the democratic constitutional notion that we all have equal rights and are entitled to communicate and organize freely for our own profit…

    Read more
    1. Anthony Spawton
      Anthony Spawton is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Retired Academic

      In reply to Jeffrey Nicholls

      This is a dire summary but it does have credence as the political will of the conservatives is to reproduce a feudal system of indentured labour dependant on the whims of the employer with recourse.
      The view that work is a cleansing - a meaning to life- with a burgeoning working poor in advanced economies such as the US and UK and coming soon to Australia.
      In the UK for example the Conservatives caution companies that have slavery in the supply chain yet encourage the RBS to coach customers on the development of zero hour contracts.
      The demonic attack of the trade union movement is worrying and the victims of the current Royal Commission - will they be viewed as the new generation Tolpuddle Martyrs.
      Demonic attack will not encourage reform of anything and the sooner that Abbott realises that the better.

      report
    2. Danah Xue

      employed

      In reply to Anthony Spawton

      When the two Labor union people, Williamson and Thomson, have been convicted criminal conducts and sentenced to jail, and more union corruption allegations have surfaced involving more than one union, your argument that the royal commission is mere witch hunt/ union bash etc doesn't hold the water.

      Labor and Labor supporters like you should have an better read of the community and people's sentiments, should get above the narrow influence of union masters. If Bill Shorten and the Labor leadership have taken up this opportunity and made their position clear by supporting the enquiry in the beginning of the announcement, they would be in a much stronger position now - people would be more likely to believe that Labor is not just looking after union mates,, Labor is genuine in fighting corruption, Labor would have a clear air if no adverse findings come out of this.

      Unfortunately, Labor has been ...... stupid.

      report
    3. Anthony Spawton
      Anthony Spawton is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Retired Academic

      In reply to Danah Xue

      I would remind you that the sums involved are a pittance to the in comparison to the AWB affair for example, the Reserve Bank and the Banknote printing contract bribery and the politicians themselves with the "expense rorts"which are always blamed on their staff "making mistakes".
      On what basis are making the assertion of my political leanings from my post - if you had bothered to read it properly I am questioning the voracity of the political system to reform itself irrespective of party affiliation.
      Our political system is rotten not just one part of it.

      report
    4. Danah Xue

      employed

      In reply to Anthony Spawton

      "that the sums involved are a pittance to the in comparison to the AWB affair for example, ......"

      How do you know that when the Royal commission hasn't concluded?

      report
    5. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Anthony Spawton

      Surely we only have the working poor, rather than the starving to death poor in the US because, as Adam Smith argued, low wages enable high interest rates.
      Starved to death workers can play no part in this scenario.
      And the labour of poor workers is very unproductive compared to that multi thousand horse power machines "labouring" away in automated factories.
      The Idle Rich are merely toying with the working poor, hoping to have services at no or low cost which cannot, as yet, be supplied by machines…

      Read more
    6. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to James Hill

      If a poor person gets an extra dollar (by increasing unemployment or the minimum wage) this dollar is spent in the useful economy.

      But if a very rich gets an extra million, more than likely this is put towards buying already issued shares or already built property. Putting extra money into the share market or property market like this creates nothing new, but it does push the prices of these markets up. So the rich get richer.

      report
    7. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Danah Xue

      Unfortunately, the union corruption, yet to be uncovered, goes hand in hand with business corruption.
      Perhaps Abbott has also been stupid?
      And it has not gone unnoticed that The Royal Commission into Child Abuse has been "conveniently" sidelined in the media by Abbott's opportunistic inquiries into unions and pink batts.
      What would have happened if instead of spending the Cold War era screeching "communist" the religious right had put their energies into protecting the children of their own communities from being raped in the thousands by pervert priests?
      Union corruption does tend to pale in significance alongside this heinous offence to civilisation, no?
      Perhaps the "pious" Bullock and his "friends" could be called to give evidence about what they "knew" about the institutionalised abuse of children in their own religious communities, and how they used their "union" power to oppose it, after they have given their evidence to the union inquiry?

      report
    8. John Kerr

      IT Education

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Agree. I have heard this reason cited as one of the reasons the US economy is in trouble. Whilst the lower and middle classes tend to spend their money on goods and services which increases employment and income for others, the rich (who have been getting an increasing share of the pie) don't tend to spend in ways that improve the lot of others.

      report
    9. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Why is it then, Michael, that only The Greens and their supporters are at all interested in this basic economic and social justice, at least at the political level?
      Although the Australian Catholic Bishops are strongly committed to social justice, even in the past being criticised by the some in The Vatican for being "too democratic", a result of being exposed to Australian democratic ideals and practice?
      So for all the noise and venom of the usurpers of democracy and justice, there is still a lot of grassroots support for these foundation principles out in the community.

      report
    10. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Certainly, Stephen, that seems a contradiction, but those low interest rates are a consequence of the GFC.
      And in good news, US government workers have been granted a wage rise, and this will help to fuel and economic recovery.
      Extended to the whole of the economy higher wages might result in the US Dollar dropping in value, making US manufactured goods more globally competitive.
      Adam Smith's economic law, that wealth is created through industry, especially manufacturing industry, seems to be ruling again in the US.

      report
    11. Ian Rudd
      Ian Rudd is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Retired accountant & unapologetic dissident

      In reply to John Kerr

      Not only does the extra $1m(s) going to the millionaire(s) lead to inflated asset prices but all this money sloshing around in non productive financial assets, housing etc also adds to the ongoing systemic risk within the financial system that will likely lead to another major crisis. And then there is the money used to speculate on energy and commodity prices that lead to higher prices of oil and food which in turn slow down the economy and cause social upheaval a la Arab Spring.

      report
    12. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Ian Rudd

      Sorry, Ian, cannot confirm the starting date, but as you say the next crisis may be upon them before then.
      The argument is reminiscent of Henry Ford's famous Five Dollar Day where he doubled his workers' wages and they then bought the vehicles which they made.
      And again a good example of Adam Smith's argument that wages are returning capital, which comes back to the manufacturers when the goods are sold.
      Perhaps the Yanks are waking up to their cultural history?
      If so, it is about time.

      report
  29. Danah Xue

    employed

    Over the last a few years, Labor has been heavily focused on the personal attack on Tony Abbott instead of spending more time and resources on selling voters their own messages and attacking coalition as a whole.

    Labor seemed to be satisfied, via echo chamber of the social media, that Abbott has been wounded personally and his popularity was low, that It was enough for Labor to win the politics and election. But Abbot has proven that they were wrong.

    In policy front, Labor is in-between a hard place and a rock regarding the carbon tax, mining tax and asylum seeker. After the defeat in last September election, Labor should have accepted comminuty's verdict and should have come off the burden of these lost policies, and should have rerouped and restarted working on fresh ideas. What the hell they are thinking.

    report
  30. Michael Bolan

    Systems practicioner

    The entire system is deeply flawed.

    Each political party has a point of focus (capital, labour, environment) and has paying 'members' who have a say in party policy and direction.

    2 serious problems already - 1) how does the wider public get a say in political policy (it seems they don't) and 2) because good policy needs to balance capital, labour and environmental/social concerns - why have parties that are focussed on only one fraction of what is needed?

    The Labor party is going to be influenced by the system in which they find themselves. When that system is deeply flawed and 200 years out of date, we all end up with immense problems that we don't need.

    Australia needs to face up to that and redesign its systems accordingly.

    report
    1. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Michael Bolan

      I think your analysis of the situation is very skewed, "capital, labour, environment"

      your just repeating talking points given to you by the mainstream, all the parties have environment policies, all the parties have economic policies and all the parties have labour policies

      you should take the time to actually read the policies of the party's

      report
  31. Jane Middlemist

    citizen

    A small point perhaps but in these days of sound bites and busy lives, words do actually matter.
    Ms Gillard did not bother to rebut constant reference by Mr Abbot to "the carbon tax", a wasted opportunity, each time he said it, to explain why we needed to price carbon despite what she had said before.
    More words: constant reference to "the rank and file" when discussing Labor Party members or "the membership". When such language is used it should be corrected at every single, public, opportunity…

    Read more
  32. Pat Moore

    gardener

    In reviewing Labor's wander through the political wilderness, the top down effect of the co-opted two party state, a globalised system of US government-occupied corporate empire functioning through the real wealth extracting tool of neoliberal/neocon economic rationalism, must be taken into account. On reaching government, the junior partner of the coalition of the willing, whether LNP or Labor, hits a glass ceiling, finds a set of instructions/expectations laid down by the senior "partner" which…

    Read more
    1. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Pat Moore

      So what can we do about this Pat?

      My solution is to support the Greens in forums such as this.

      Though the Greens get attacked for being anti-democratic by misquoting something Clive Hamilton said about suspending democracy (which isn't only a misquote, but he wasn't even speaking as a Green), the only way I can imaging a coup happening in Australia is if The Greens won power in their own right.

      report
    2. Ron Bowden

      Entropy tragic

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      The Greens IMO, are the only party not targeting the basest elements of the great unthinking, who comprise much of the electorate and who determine outcomes.
      Society generally is going the way of Gordon Gecko and is bringing about its own demise with its glorification of rampant consumption and procreation.
      While ever the two majors pander to this and their own interests as they do, it'll be hard to find legislation coming out of parliament that's truly in the interests of Australia.
      I wish it wasn't so, and go the Greens, but I don't expect to live long enough to see any coup.
      BTW, I imagine that if they ever got near to taking government, they'd have a palatable suite of policies.

      report
    3. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Pat Moore

      Not, of course, to forget the lessons of what right-wing Labor did to itself in being defeated by The Greens in the Cunningham by-election, a whole twelve years ago.
      But those lessons have been forgotten, haven't they?

      report
    4. Pat Moore

      gardener

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      We need to demand that the light be shone into darkened corners Michael (Mearsheimer and Walt-like) where democracy is subverted/prevented, even if by some miracle of cosmic rainbows the Greens could ever be voted into power. Bob Carr's diary revelations today, with the elitist fist class pj's story & OCD tendencies duly highlighted by the MSM especially Murdoch, in order to cloud Carr's real message, to bring ridicule and opprobrium onto him and draw public attention away from what he is essentially…

      Read more
  33. Hinton John Lowe

    educationist

    Will someone please explain what's wrong with drinking cafe latte - it just means coffee with milk? Better than six pots in the pub, a brawl and home to bash the missus and the kids, I’m supposing. Or what’s wrong with conscientiously thinking and reading, and discussing issues which affect not only next week's pay packet and bills to pay, but also the lives of all the kids of everyone, and beyond? Are the mental products of an unfairly poor education and limited life horizons the touchstone of some truth no-one has told me about? Sounds a bit like religious faith, or a superstition, to me. Never let the actual evidence, or new ideas, let alone the confabulations of those supercilious uppity scientists, and especially a conscience and compassion, get in the way of a good prejudice- and a lot of resentment- I reckon!

    report
    1. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Hinton John Lowe

      It's standard right wing rhetoric to hate anyone who doesn't conform

      thinking is frowned upon as elitist, drinking anything other than beer means your a faggot, etc

      standard irrational hate based on tribal affiliations

      report
  34. Doug Pollard

    logged in via Facebook

    It's not just Labor that needs reform, but the unions that underpin it. Too many are undemocratic personal fiefdoms held by the same narrow clique year after year. Trade Union law needs reforming to enforce transparency and democracy on their internal workings, including term limits on office holders. Plenty of other leaders get by on a maximum of two four year terms: it ought to be good enough for union presidents, general secretaries and the like. Tony Abbott, by forcing this on them, may turn out to be the best friend Labor ever had.

    report
    1. Anthony Spawton
      Anthony Spawton is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Retired Academic

      In reply to Doug Pollard

      I can only agree on both counts. The use of block voting should also disappear as the large unions obliterate any change just to maintain the staus quo. Companies behave the same as the minority shareholder is beholden to the largest shareholders thus negating "three strikes and out' for ineffectual or tainted directors. Could the RC benefit Labor - doubtful - as previous Royal Commissions have been a waste of money in gaining reforms of Union Structures and their democratisation. The other issue is the funding relationship between the Labor Party and the Unions and the purchase of favour - an issue that is also currently haunting the Liberals as donors come to claim the benefits of their sponsorship.

      report
  35. Michael Ekin Smyth

    Investor

    Geoff: the situation is more analogous to the 1950s, not the 60s. If the ALP cuts off the socially conservative unions, (i.e. the Catholics) it more than halves its union base. It is the old DLP split all over again.
    If the ALP ceases to have a union base, it ceases to be a major party.
    The challenge is incredibly difficult and problematic but, if you want to maintain the ALP as a credible party capable of taking government at the national level, you have to maintain the broad church approach…

    Read more
    1. Michael Ekin Smyth

      Investor

      In reply to Marcus L'Estrange

      Marcus: Kevin was born Catholic and he experienced a harsh formative experience at the Marist College Ashgrove (Brisbane) - which he apparently hated. He was involved with the Evangelical Union at the ANU and, yes, he does attend an Anglican church. However, as far as I've been able to find out, he has never rejected his Catholic faith.

      report
    2. James Hill

      Industrial Designer

      In reply to Michael Ekin Smyth

      Gerard Henderson, in his book "Menzies' Child" describes how those "Catholics", lifted out of the working class, and into the middle class professions, by Menzies' education reforms of the sixties, are now in the Liberal party.
      The same thing has happened in Catholic Ireland following similar reforms in the sixties instigated from the outside, by the European Union.
      Mainstream Catholics are in the Liberal party now, Henderson catalogued the changes in his book.
      No, "Catholics", or that very small minority who wish to render unto Caesar instead of to God, should come out from hiding within the major parties and stand on their own feet.
      Or do they get more votes and "power" through deception?
      Abbott, our DLP Prime Minister, seems to have proven that case.

      report
    3. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Michael Ekin Smyth

      Why does everyone hate coffee all of a sudden? is a capicino okay but a latter not? what about beer guzzling, is this socially acceptable but different coffee with milk is not?

      what are the rules here?

      report
    4. Ian Rudd
      Ian Rudd is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Retired accountant & unapologetic dissident

      In reply to Michael Shand

      Who knows Michael but best to avoid the latte just in case. Of course in the comfort of your own home and if you are sure no CCTV cameras or listening devices are hidden behind framed pictures recording evidence against you: then indulge by all means.

      report
  36. Comment removed by moderator.

  37. robin linke

    stamp dealer

    Geoffrey Gallop's WA labor 15 years ago opposed the Pangaea nuclear waste storage project 1200 km east of Onslow that would have given the WA Govt, royalties of $3 billion per year and foreign exchange earnings of $10 billion per year. The conservatives under Richard Court & Hendy Cowen supported it.
    Belgium, France, Sweden, Finland etc have built their own deep level repositories and the UK is planning one.

    15 years later Tanya Plibersek and others including WA Labor oppose all Uranium mining…

    Read more
    1. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to robin linke

      robin - Thanks for such a great demonstration of the ideological mindset, straight from the old testament, that still thinks that nature only exists to be exploited for the (short-term) benefit of mankind.

      report
    2. robin linke

      stamp dealer

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Michael, One of my motives in contributing to the Conversation is to test whether rational debate is possible with the Left. Once again your reply shows you and the intellectual left elite are afraid to debate rationally,

      Nuclear and Hydro conserve nature. Many conservationists now accept this. Rich Western Countries especially in Europe & North America have exquisitely beautiful environments with base load nuclear & Hydro.

      Labor and the Greens refuse to debate, That denigrates the sacrifices of the ANZACS. Millions had/or have no free speech under Hitler, Stalin , Mao, militant Islam, Black dictators etc.

      Michael, You are afraid of a tiny mouse of thought, and bring the Environmentalist movement into intellectual disrepute.

      report
    3. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to robin linke

      Sorry robin, you are not here for debate but to troll.

      1 - hydro and nuclear are not the topic of this conversation

      2 - look at all the insulting language you use - in my opinion it is enough to get your post deleted for being against the community standards.

      report
    4. Shirley Birney

      logged in via email @tpg.com.au

      In reply to robin linke

      Your claims are in error and should be disregarded:

      1) WA Premier Richard Court vigorously opposed Pangea’s nuclear waste dump proposal and the then Federal Minister, Nick Minchin, rejected the bid outright.

      The British Government’s Trojan horse owned 80% of Pangea Resources Australia P/L. Covertly or brazenly, the Brits have preferred to dump their hazardous waste on other nations, bearing in mind that the Australian community was Britain’s recipient of 12 atomic bombs and 300 “minor” nuclear…

      Read more
    5. robin linke

      stamp dealer

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Michael, I am definitely here to debate. As I said my hypothesis is that the ALP-GREENS will not debate. The whole point of this conversation is the failure politically of the ALP and this covers 20 or more major failures of policy over many years. I picked one namely carbon free base load power, Hydro and nuclear are integral to ALP failure because of the carbon tax and high power charges. They are very much part of this topic

      My opinions would be deleted in many authoritarian countries. But Australia stands for free speech. My suggestion to you has been to face up to your responsibilities and give facts and figures .. I enjoy your evasions but would much prefer rational debate.

      report
    6. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to robin linke

      As I've said, nuclear and hydro and climate change are not the topic of debate in this conversation.

      And the reason I said your post should be deleted is not because of your opinions but because of your deliberate trolling, with for example your insulting all academics by saying that there opinions are "symbolic of the failure of the Universities to plan for our future, due to their ideological mindset."

      report
    7. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Though I won't get into the debate here, I do have some questions for you robin.

      Given your enthusiasm for nuclear, do I take it that you accept that climate change is such a significant threat that we need to take significant action to do our share to prevent it?

      And if climate change is such a threat that we should spend billions building nuclear, why are those on the right so keen to scrap most of the little we are doing now to lower emissions?

      report
    8. robin linke

      stamp dealer

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Hi Shirley. :

      The Liberal Govt of Richard Court explored the possibilities of Pangaea. Geoffrey Gallop heard about this and threatened to make it an election issue. Court then passed legislation banning it.They are the politics of fear and ignorance and they work. Remember 1983 when the GST was Keating's preferred option and remember his brilliant opposition to it in 1993, which set back this country's tax reform, and Howard had the guts to have a second go, and you then could not stand between…

      Read more
    9. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to robin linke

      Not gone forever Mr Linke ... nothing is gone forever with this stuff.
      Yep... they all have waste storage facilities ... but I reckon they'd be falling over themselves if we offered them the chance of dumping the stuff here ... what a vision for Orstaya you have... ... the world's toxic tip.

      Like we owned the joint ... and well heck it's only Blackfellas innit.

      http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2011/apr/24/nuclear-waste-storage

      More to it that just burying it you know.

      report
    10. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to robin linke

      Wikipedia - "The process of selecting appropriate permanent repositories for high level waste and spent fuel is now under way in several countries with the first expected to be commissioned some time after 2017" (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-level_radioactive_waste_management )

      And I'm waiting for robin to answer my question about the threat from climate change. If this threat is real then the Greens are right to be concerned, and the Liberals (and Labor) are wrong to not want to do much about it. And if climate change is crap, why bother to even talk about nuclear?

      report
    11. robin linke

      stamp dealer

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Michael,
      You say you are not going to 'get into the debate here' , but you are in up to your eyeballs!
      There is nothing Australia can do to lower significantly carbon emissions which are rising globally, especially due to China et al.
      ALP/Greens policy of 'renewables' don't work and are very expensive and cause Aust industries to shut down or go off shore.
      The huge contradiction of the ALP/Greens to support power sources that are expensive and don't work whilst adamantly totally…

      Read more
    12. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to robin linke

      No need to debate because you have answered my question.

      It seems we both agree that Australia doesn't need to consider nuclear.

      Our reasons are very different. But our conclusions are the same.

      report
    13. Jane Middlemist

      citizen

      In reply to robin linke

      When I think of the legacy we will leave to our descendants, nuclear waste and leaky nuclear power plants are not the first bequests that spring to my mind, Mr Linke.
      IMO the first challenge is to prevent this government from destroying all of the clean energy initiatives put in place by the Labor government.
      They were a start in the right direction and now all of them are are at risk, unless the Senate continues to block their proposals. The current government is not, for now, suggesting anything constructive unless you count "Direct Action" which has not been fully explained or debated.
      Seven months since they took power and, apart from dredging near the GBR, and encouraging coal-mining, shark-culling, and chopping down trees in Tasmania, what have they done about the risks of climate change and global warming? No need to reply:
      I know the answer.

      report
    14. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Jane Middlemist

      Jane - the danger when attacking Abbott on climate change is that this leaves most with the impression that with Labor we were dealing with climate change, and voting them back in will fix things.

      Yet under Gillard's plan our domestic 2020 emissions, excluding land clearing, would have been 43% higher than in 1990. And this would be even higher because Rudd moved us to the dirt cheap EU permits earlier than originally planned. And Labor are just as keen as Liberal to export huge amounts of coal.

      Labor (forced by the Greens) took a small step forward. Abbott is removing that small step. Both major parties will be seen to be guilty by our descendents.

      report
    15. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Jane Middlemist

      Riches cannot never ever be an embarrassment Ms Jane ... just glorious apparently ... maybe only the folks with them are embarrassing.

      I wonder what Benny Hill is like with French subtitles?

      "Les filles sont comme les pianos. Quand ils ne sont pas debout, ils sont grand." Nope ... losing nothing in translation.

      report
    16. Jane Middlemist

      citizen

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      To be honest, mon ami, I only watched Benny Hill once so I don't know if this is an allusion to his "show" or is just an intriguing glimpse of your rich and varied family life (and your love of music?)
      Bon nuit …

      report
    17. Shirley Birney

      logged in via email @tpg.com.au

      In reply to robin linke

      @ Robin Linke: “You could have found this information in Wikipedia in two minutes. Please let us know why you made such a serious error?”

      You appear to have a problem with comprehension.

      I repeat: There are no operating deep geological repositories anywhere in the world which are entombing spent fuel and other high level radioactive waste.

      Even devotees of Wikipedia should be capable of analysing the jargon before going off half-cocked.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deep_geological_repository

      Read more
    18. Jane Middlemist

      citizen

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Hi Shirley,
      I just want to congratulate you on possessing the patience of a saint. But I don't think he understands, the reason being that he is absolutely determined NOT to understand. Or maybe you are right and there is a problem with comprehension or -
      He could be 'trilling' (wink wink )
      or just a dill …

      report
    19. Jane Middlemist

      citizen

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      MWH re "Labor (forced by the Greens) took a small step forward." It's probably my bad memory but what was that about? I thought that Labor tried to bring in an ETS but was stopped by the Greens.
      Can you please remind me - what was the small step Labor was forced by the Greens to take?

      report
    20. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Jane Middlemist

      Rudd and Wong's CPRS was so bad that it was developed with the Liberals. It's main purpose was to give business certainly that larger cuts would NOT follow, and it did this by effectively giving the polluters property rights over their pollution. If it has passed the our price on carbon would now be about $1 per tonne, and this would be locked in until 2020.

      When Abbott scrapped the CPRS deal, Labor refused to negotiate at all with the Greens.

      Gillard went to the next election promising 'no carbon price during her first term'. The price of her getting support from the Greens so that she could become PM was to introduce the carbon tax. Though this was also only a small step forward, this didn't lock in failure.

      report
    21. Jane Middlemist

      citizen

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      "When Abbott scrapped the CPRS deal, Labor refused to negotiate at all with the Greens."
      According to Wiki, (in segment about history of the CPRS) the Rudd govt required the support of either the Coalition or the Greens to secure passage of the bill (re the CPRS). The Coalition, the Greens, and the Independents all joined together in voting against the relevant legislation and it was defeated in the Senate in Dec 2009. In April 2010 the govt (Rudd) deferred the scheme to the post 2012 timeframe.
      I don't agree with your version of events but whether right or wrong it's all water under the bridge now and I'd rather talk about the future than try to assign blame for the past (The current govt's hobby). BTW I like the Greens but I don't think they are mistake-proof any more than Labor is always right. Far from it.
      I'm more inclined to think that, so far, our current govt is nearly always wrong. Cross out 'nearly' : )

      report
    22. Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      Writer (ex telecommunications engineer)

      In reply to Jane Middlemist

      Rudd and Wong failed to NEGOTIATE.

      If Labor had really wanted to take action they could have negotiated with the Greens, and if they had removed the bits that locked in failure, the Greens would have supported it.

      But Rudd and Wong refused to even start any negotiations.

      The Greens did vote against the CPRS, but I think it is misleading to say that they joined with the Coalition because their reason for voting against it was very different from Abbott's reasons.

      I think getting the facts about this is important because it goes to the heart of whether or not Labor were ever serious about taking real action on climate change.

      report
    23. Ian Rudd
      Ian Rudd is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Retired accountant & unapologetic dissident

      In reply to Jane Middlemist

      Jane, Labor's CPRS was opposed by the Liberals and the Greens for completely different reasons - by the Liberals because they are deniers and by the Greens because it was not good enough. All Labor had to do at the time was accede to some of the Greens demands and viola we would have had semi reasonable CPRS in place.

      There comes a point in negotiating compromises beyond which all credibility would be lost should it be conceded. Precisely when that point is reached is a matter of judgement at the time and I think the Greens made a reasonable judgement.

      report
    24. robin linke

      stamp dealer

      In reply to Michael Wilbur-Ham (MWH)

      In answer to Michael and others:
      Google 'any variation of 'deep geological repository' and Wikipedia will list those inexistence, those under construction and those planned and the location. Nuclear waste over the last 60 years has not been a problem and plans for geological storage continue. you are dealing with the most technically advanced countries in the world which does not include Australia. Your views are directed in retarding Australian development and exports.
      By condemning the most…

      Read more
  38. xeroxcliche

    logged in via Twitter

    I am a Greens voter.... the essence of the problem of sustainability for most traditional parties is that it will break them away from their moorings that they refuse to leave. Gallop got a mandate in WA to totally reform forestry, instead he made a few concessions and industry assistance slowly drifted back- we literally pay people to cut down forests in WA - FPC losses subsidised year after year.

    In the 1980s Bob Hawke went to Toronto and pledged that we would reduce emissions by 20% by 2005…

    Read more
    1. Jane Middlemist

      citizen

      In reply to xeroxcliche

      Mr / Mrs / Ms / Miss" xeroxcliche "
      re: "the union movement is wedded to heavy industry and will leave Labor before it leaves fossil fuels"
      Anything's possible. That could turn out to be a very good thing for Labor!
      Have you read the Conversation"s Community standards (the bit about using real names)?
      Sorry, I'm an old 'fuddy- duddy' who cares about TC's 'rules' :)

      report
  39. Michael Ekin Smyth

    Investor

    It is wondrous to watch the meanderings on this sort of comment thread: how far they deviate into odd personal axe grinding.
    The topic is the ALP - why its vote is declining - the sins of avoidance - and how it can reverse the downward trend.
    The best approach is to remain a broad church, encompassing its traditional base and attacking those on the right and left who are trying to take the party down.
    The ALP is in its current dire state because it allowed itself to become the vehicle party for…

    Read more
    1. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to Michael Ekin Smyth

      You have a hugely inflated idea of the value of two party system!

      Politics are on the nose because nobody trusts any of them --- or trusts them implicitly to rob, steal, lie, anything to feather their own nests.

      The changes needed will not be made because it requires that parties would be reduced to being merely supporters, with no power, and give a great deal of power to the individual electorates.

      report
    2. Ian Rudd
      Ian Rudd is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Retired accountant & unapologetic dissident

      In reply to Michael Ekin Smyth

      "- the pinko so-called Green party. "

      I don't like your tone which is insulting and unnecessary.

      The Greens actually stand for something whereas as far as I can tell all that Labor stands for is described in detail on the back of their "How to vote sheet" for the recent WA election. (For your information the back is completely blank.)

      report