Labor’s vision for Australia misses one huge detail


I received this email today:


Some time ago I wrote to you asking you to complete a survey so I could see what you believed was Labor’s direction for the future.

Today our party – the oldest organised labour party in the world – is undergoing a process of grassroots reform and revitalisation. That’s why this was such a tremendous opportunity to hear from you.

I wanted to make sure all of you got a chance to see the results of this survey and what our community’s vision for the future of Labor was. Read our report and take your chance to share my favourite part of this job – listening to people about the things that matter most.

Thanks for your support,

George Wright
National Secretary

For whatever reason, I didn’t complete the survey. Nonetheless, I was interested to read the report.

Sadly, it told me little, but I was extremely disappointed with the summary. Here is a part of it:

The policy areas of importance to supporters, namely healthcare, climate change, the NBN & schools funding, were policy areas already championed by the Party.

So why am I disappointed? I’m disappointed because Labor’s vision for the future doesn’t include on-shore processing of asylum seekers. It obviously wasn’t an issue for the respondents. Not surprising when you consider that:

Respondents generally used the internet either every day, regularly consumed media television (68.10%) & radio news (65.18%), as well as Facebook (49.64%) and online newspapers (49.08%).

So there you have it: most respondents still favour mainstream media over social media.

If we want to change Labor’s vision, we first need to change where its members get their news and opinion. Then we can really tell Labor what we think of  off-shore processing of asylum seekers. And maybe they’ll listen.


There’s something missing from our media

Do you remember how most political stories used to begin between the 2010 and 2013 elections? They began with “The Leader of the Opposition says . . . ” and we were bombarded daily with whatever opinion Tony Abbott held. Even articles about the Government or a policy release began with the mandatory “The Leader of the Opposition says . . . “.

Have you seen any article begin with that since Bill Shorten was elected Leader of the new Opposition?

When Tony Abbott held that position the media used to beat a path to his door. Now anyone would be right in thinking that Bill Shorten has gone in hiding: yes, he’s been rather silent, but why aren’t the media making an effort to talk to him? Why are they no longer interested in what the Leader of the Opposition might have to say?

Well we all know the answer to that. The Government has made a mess of just about everything they’ve laid their hands on so the Leader of the Opposition is the last person they’d want to speak to these days. The Opposition could have a field day thanks to the stuff-ups from Abbott and his team of incompetents; it’ll be a real turkey shoot.

But they can’t do it without the media giving them a voice.

Oh how I miss the good old days of “The Leader of the Opposition says . . . “.

If it’s Labor let’s dig some dirt


The Howard Dirt Files were renowned. But even so, the Howard years were just a foretaste of what was to follow once Labor was elected.  I quote here from Miglo aka Michael Taylor’s post of September 12: Media mud chuckers.

It appears that no matter who leads the Labor Party, whether in Government or Opposition, the media always manage to dredge up some mud to throw at them.

The comparison couldn’t be more startling than at present.  Where are the demands for Abbott (and a quarter of his front bench) to resign?  These are not just unsubstantiated rumours from “unnamed sources”, or speculation on events from years ago, this is here and now with the rorts continuing up until the present.  Where are the threats from shock-jocks to throw the perpetrators into chaff bags?  Why are not Abbott’s family “dying of shame” as it was suggested that Gillard’s late father should do?

Shorten has now won the leadership of the Labor Party.

A little about Bill, born in Melbourne his father a waterside worker and unionist from Tyneside, UK.  Educated at Xavier Collage, graduated in Law at Monash uni.  Aside from his former role as National Secretary of the AWU, Bill is probably best known for his role in the Beaconsfield Mining Disaster.

The event was reported thus:

HE SPEAKS the language of the people; everyone is “mate”.

And he is never seen wearing anything other than the union official’s uniform, the chambray shirt and branded bomber jacket.

This week, Australian Workers Union national secretary Bill Shorten has been the public face of the Beaconsfield mine disaster. He has featured in almost every news bulletin and newspaper, has given countless news conferences and, at times, been the sole conduit of information about the mine for the media, the public and for anxious miners’ families.

He has played the hand of the “good bloke”, and won praise from both mine management, as well as miners’ families. He says the week has been a rollercoaster for him.

At the 2007 election, Bill Shorten was elected to the House of Representatives as the Labor Member for Maribyrnong and commenced his career as the Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children’s Services.   As Parliamentary Secretary, Shorten pushed hard for a National Disability Insurance Scheme, something which was later to become a policy of the Labor Government and passed as an Act of Parliament shortly prior to the 2013 election.

Isn’t that how you are supposed to express things?  Factual information.

But not so, almost immediately the media runs a lead article titled:  Labor’s Shorten experiment: the tale of ‘Showbag Bill’.

The article includes a snippets including the names and statuses of his former wife and current wife, which seems a little irrelevant but as this comment immediately followed the inevitable “power broker” descriptors, it was perhaps meant as a method of emphasis.

Shorten’s first wife, Debbie Beale, is the daughter of multimillionaire businessman and former Liberal MP Julian Beale. His current wife, Chloe, is the daughter of the Governor-General, Quentin Bryce.

Tony Wright’s article is otherwise fair and balanced. It does however give the appearance that it was written some time in advance. And why lead with such a negative title? Why is Bill Shorten “an experiment”, there is certainly nothing within the text of the article to justify not to provide any sort of explanation as to this description.

Shorten, in fact, has the gift of speaking the salty language of factory-floor workers and the smooth tones of captains of industry alike. He is a born networker and has a reputation for remembering names, whether they be union members from Adelaide or Ballarat or bosses from Sydney. on the other hand is yet to give it’s comment on the announcement of Shorten’s election to the leadership, other than this trivial and sarcastic remark:

Shorten: “Bill the Knife”, which reflects his not insignificant part in recent Labor leadership coups. Actually, he probably doesn’t answer to that name at all, but anyway.

My intuition tells me that it will be exactly as Michael predicted.  Again from his topic, “Media mud chuckers”:

At the moment there aren’t too many people in the party who’d be safe from the mud chucking. But anything will do. Kissing the wrong baby in 1985 or dumping a girlfriend as a teenager would be enough get the sharks circling.

In your opinion, given my assumption that the media would want political blood, who could thus be ruled out as the person to lead Labor at the next election?

That well known manifesto of good taste and style (said with sarcasm), Larry Pickering has labelled Shorten (only when it looked likely that Shorten would win the ballot) as, “..a treacherous union thug in a white collar and red tie”.  More to follow, I should imagine.

If only we could have another election

Kaye Lee notes over at The AIMN that though Tony Abbott has been claiming to have an overwhelming mandate, it turns out he only won by about 30,000 votes. 11 of the Coalition seats have margins of less than 4,000. See this story at the New Matilda, Thirty Thousand votes and Abbott’s gone for a detailed analysis.

Of course, it hasn’t stopped the gloating, especially on this site from the band of right-wing diehards. “Abbott won on Sep 7, so suck it up” is the general consensus.

It appears that many people who voted for the Coalition have since had a change of heart, as this latest Morgan Poll suggests, noting:

The L-NP (50.5%, down 2.9% since the 2013 Federal Election) leads the ALP (49.5%, up 2.9%) on a two-party preferred basis according to the multi-mode Morgan Poll conducted last weekend (September 21/22, 2013) on Federal voting intention with an Australia-wide cross-section of 2,999 Australian electors aged 18+.

But it’s on the airwaves that the real stories are heard. Complaints and messages of regret have been flooding in. Well I guess it’s too late. They should have thought of that earlier.

If only they could get another chance.

Significantly, the message is that after a week in office the Coalition have seen voters turn away from them.

Why do you think this is so?

Abbott Victory

Media mud chuckers

It appears that no matter who leads the Labor Party, whether in Government or Opposition, the media always manage to dredge up some mud to throw at them.

When Rudd took over the leadership in 2006 they went into a frenzy over the story about him visiting a strip club in New York years earlier, or that he lunched with former WA Premier Brian Bourke. Bourke was painted to be evil, a disgraced person, therefore Rudd was not a worthy Prime Minister because, gulp, he had dined with him.

The Government at the time, led by John Howard, naturally chimed in. Howard was producing dirt files quicker than he was producing policies. Senior managers in my department were asked to gather as much mud as they could on Rudd’s wife, Therese Rein, who had had dealings with the department through her business interests.

Then there was Julia Gillard. Just look at how she was treated. Her achievements as Prime Minister were less important than who she slept with 17 years ago. And of course she was a ‘commie’ because she was a member of the union in her university days. The list of her alleged crimes of the past was endless, with each entry encouraging and attracting another mud chucking session.

She also had to cope with being labelled a back stabbed for replacing Rudd, aided of course by faceless men. Tags that never left them.

Rudd’s return was met with reminders that he was not popular with Gillard’s backers. He was a psychopath, if you were to believe the media.

There could be another election in six months if Abbott calls a DD. Whoever leads Labor going into it needs to be squeaky clean or the media will go in for the kill. If he is one of the so-called faceless men he’ll be murdered for it. If he or she was openly a Rudd or Gillard backer they’ll be exposed as someone who helped destroy the other’s leadership.

In a nutshell, the media will screw them on whatever flimsy evidence they can dig up. God help them if, at some time in the past, they had provided a personal referee for a priest later charged with pedophilia of had a history of pissing in shoes in Canberra restaurants, among other noteworthy ‘çrimes’.

At the moment there aren’t too many people in the party who’d be safe from the mud chucking. But anything will do. Kissing the wrong baby in 1985 or dumping a girlfriend as a teenager would be enough get the sharks circling.

In your opinion, given my assumption that the media would want political blood, who could thus be ruled out as the person to lead Labor at the next election?

Good luck

Good luck to whoever wins the election.

Most people know I support Labor but if Tony Abbott wins, as he has been tipped to do, then I wish him all the best. Whilst I can’t imagine how horrible this country might become under his leadership I hope, sincerely, that he serves us well.

All he needs to do to become a good Prime Minister is to finish the great work Labor has done for six years. In Government he does not need to be a wrecker. He won’t need to say “No” to everything, good or bad.

He won’t lose any friends if he keeps the NBN. Most voters want it even though they’ll most likely vote for the man who threatens to demolish it.

He won’t lose any friends either if he changes his antiquated views on same-sex marriage. Again, most voters approve of same-sex marriage even though they’ll most likely vote for the man who wants to close the door on it.

Neither will he lose any friends if he continues with the Gonski reforms. Again, funnily, most people want a good education for their children yet they’ll most likely vote for the man who will ignore their wants.

I doubt he’ll lose any friends if he doesn’t stop the boats, though he will definitely lose credibility because of it. Many people in this country don’t mind the boats coming. They’d rather see them drift safely to our shores than be turned around at sea.

He definitely won’t lose any friends if he keeps to his word and not reintroduce WorkChoices. Dare I say it again, but funnily enough the strugglers who will suffer most under WorkChoices will most likely vote for the man who probably can’t wait to rob them of their rights at work.

I could go on and on, but my main point is that if Mr Abbott wins then I wish him well. And he would be wise to remember what John Howard said in 1996 that he inherited a good economy from Paul Keating. Tony Abbott will be doing the same: inheriting a good economy. No, a great economy.

He would be wise not to stuff it up.

We’ll be watching him. Closely. We’d be happy to turn him into target practice if he ruins this great country.

If Kevin Rudd defies the odds and pulls off a surprise win then good luck to him too. His predecessor has left him some of the greatest reforms of the last decades to build upon. He has been part of a team that has seen Australia leap to the top as one of the most economically sound countries in the world.

I hope he is rewarded with another term. This photo (origin unknown) succinctly sums up why I want his team rewarded.

I'm voting for

What if . . . ?

We well remember the drama surrounding the 2010 election result. In the end, it came down to Independents Windsor and Oakeshott siding with Labor for two reasons: Labor’s National Broadband Network (NBN) and the promise from Julia Gillard that she would not disrupt Parliament by calling an early election.

Given that a number of Liberal backbenchers were vying for the NBN to come to their electorates and that the government did serve its full term, Winsdor and Oakeshott made the right call.

Some optimists are suggesting that the 2013 election might be a repeat of 2010.

Let’s assume it is. And let’s assume it again comes down to a couple of Independents having the deciding vote.

What would they vote on and why?

I realise it is difficult to answer given that the Coalition have not released much in the way of policies, so we can only go on what we know so far.

Go fo it.

Note: This is a repost of an old post, which today seems more relevent than the time it was originally published.

The question no-one can answer

Will Tony Abbott be a good Prime Minister?

I’m yet to find anyone who can answer that in the affirmative. No-one from the ‘right’ side of politics has been able to come up with a simple ‘yes’ let alone anything of substance to back up the claim. Instead, we hear how bad the recent Labor prime ministers have been.

Why can’t they answer it? Do they have no confidence in him themselves? Do they think he’s a dud, but acceptable purely because at this stage he is the alternate Prime Minister?

Are they satisfied with a politician who keeps raising the bar of stupidity?

The election is around the corner and I’d like to hear from those people who think he will be a good prime minister and of course, from those who think he will not. But there is one simple rule: Tell us why.

In November last year I gave the right-wing loyalists the opportunity to be heard, commenting that:

No doubt inspired by their hero Abbott’s performances (which can be likened to a mad banshee), right-wing bloggers come here imitating his behaviour from the sidelines with the most outrageous comments about how evil and incompetent the Gillard Government is whilst at the same time hoisting Abbott as the new Messiah.

They fail miserably on both counts. All bluster with no evidence.

I’m giving them the opportunity to redeem themselves. I devote this thread to them where they can add some substance to their claims that Gillard is evil, the Government is toxic or why Abbott would make a better Prime Minister.

They failed miserably again:

The post received over 620 comments and the ‘right’ were out in force, however, their responses were merely parrot-fashion repeats of what we hear from the opposition and the media.

But now it’s a different playing field: We are nearing the election, Abbott has the chance to replace Rudd instead of Gillard, and we have a wider variety of contributors to the site now compared to last November.

It would be refreshing if those who think Abbott would be a good PM could attempt – as hard as it might be – to rise above the level of idiocy so evident in the right-wing newspapers and right-wing social media forums that tell us that Rudd eats babies, kills kittens, talks to trees or costs the tax-payer money to simply do his job. If I wanted to hear that you only like Abbott because Rudd can’t comb his hair properly (yes, the media do talk about that) then I might as well just head straight to the Murdoch media and read what people have to say there.

I imagine, going by the history of what the right-wing commenters have been saying on this site, that they might be intellectually challenged to come up with something original and meaningful. Here’s the chance to prove to us you are an intelligent voter or conversely, provide us with further evidence that you simply aren’t.

Another reason I’ve re-visited the opportunity to ask people why Abbott might be a good PM is because he has done nothing to convince me he could be, and because the anti-Rudd brigade has been rather feral in both the mainstream and social media forums. There must be at least one voter out there who can tell us why Abbott would be a good PM. I’m yet to meet him or her. Come on, show us your face.

BTW, I’ve heard some very good reasons as to why Abbott won’t make a good PM and they all have merit. A recap can be found here.

Election 2013

The election date

Whilst the election date of September 14 has been known for some time, since Kevin Rudd’s elevation to PM there has been enough media speculation to suggest that this date is no longer set in stone. Tony Abbott certainly doesn’t think it is, given his daily calls for the ‘new’ election date to be called, and preferably earlier.

Of course he would. Up until the last week he has held a commanding lead in the opinion polls. He would have been PM by now if only an election were held when he wanted it.

I’ve been of the opinion that Rudd would defer the election for a couple of weeks, giving him that bit of extra time to unhinge Abbott. It is without doubt that the unhinging has started, as the events of the past few days have shown.

Many of us old die hards have considered that an unhinged Abbott could turn out to be Labor’s best political weapon during an election campaign but subsequently harboured some concerns that if Abbott were to be replaced by Turnball, then it could work against Labor. Cook Abbott too quickly and see him fall on his sword too far out from the election may not be to Labor’s advantage.

So here’s a thought.

If the polls continue to maintain a swing in favour of Labor and Abbott’s credibility continues to deteriorate under the recent public scrutiny, could Rudd seize this as an opportunity to ‘lock’ Abbott in as leader of the Opposition by calling an early election?

What do you think?

Disability Funding Triumph: Progressive Blogosphere Abdicates

A repost from Labor View from Bayside:

This week we saw a major achievement in Australian policy – the bi-partisan acceptance of an increase in the Medicare levy to help fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme (DisabilityCare). There was considerable activity on social media before Tony Abbott’s concession but there has been a deadening silence in the progressive blogosphere since.

When you google Oz blogs for the last four days, there are no posts heralding this policy triumph. In fact it seems that many have just accepted it as a political victory for Abbott, not a policy win for Julia Gillard’s government. A lone voice has been Gary Sauer-Thompson at Public Opinion but even his post was titled Perhaps:

The disability people got what they wanted: a secure funding source that will partially pay for the NDIS and bipartisan support. That means the Coalition will find it hard to renege at a later date because they are publicly committed to the national disability insurance scheme.

If the conservatives keep their word, the NDIS  will be a major legacy of the Labor government, whether it is reelected or not. Abbott’s “conditional” support of the levy contained his usual dissembling but once the legislation is passed, he should be locked in.

Yesterday Victoria signed up to NDIS, just as we are abandoning the field to the Liberal National Party policy void. Despondency over the polls and government policy failures must not make Abbott’s austerity a fait accompli.

Schools, climate change and the NBN are just a few reasons to keep up the political fight. If progressive bloggers cannot step up, then it is probably time to archive their blogs and retreat into the twitter ether or a subscription to Foxtel.