tip off

Cynical weakness v economic 
irrationalism

It’s superfluous to note that federal politics has reached a nadir in recent months. It’s not that it keeps plumbing new depths; it’s more like just scraping along the bottom of a particularly filth-encrusted barrel.

The only grace note of proceedings yesterday — indeed of the entire week — was Julia Gillard rising to upbraid Joel Fitzgibbon for his disgraceful, s-xist and staggeringly stupid catcall of Julie Bishop, and Tony Abbott rising in turn to accept it in good faith. The rest was an economically irrational, and occasionally simply lunatic, Opposition slugging it out with a staggeringly inept Government.

This is not to suggest any sort of moral equivalence. Labor may be inept, but it has not altogether abandoned good policy. We’ll wait and see on Sunday whether the carbon pricing scheme is better than the execrable CPRS — that will depend mostly on how long the compensation to industry lasts and how quickly the price goes up. And the long-delayed mining tax is about one-third of a good policy. But in other areas it hacks away, none more so than on the economy, where for all the polls showing it is regarded poorly as an economic manager, it keeps making the right calls. Notice how many people are still complaining about the need to cut spending faster? None — and certainly none at the Reserve Bank.

But for all its reform intentions, Labor looks like it is systematically working its way across a minefield, and making a point of stepping on every single one. It’s almost comic how unerringly the Government opts for the wrong decision.

Take live cattle exports, for example. The Government could have chosen to suspend the trade until there was a guarantee there’d be no repeat of the nauseating scenes from 4 Corners. The ban would have lasted for several months and inflicted considerable pain on Labor, but it would have been the right thing to do in animal welfare terms. Or it could have cynically minimised the political pain by resisting calls for a ban, knowing the media cycle would move on and people would forget about 4 Corners — until next time.

Now of course there most certainly will be a next time, for instead of doing either of those things, it carefully identified the worst option of all, and did both — putting a ban in place, then revoking it under political pressure without any sort of concrete guarantee that things would improve. The issue is now back in the hands of the industry that sat and pretended the whole issue was a marketing problem for the last decade.

Voters are surprisingly tolerant of political cynicism, but cynicism coupled with weakness is never a winning combination. The Howard Government exemplified cynicism and a determination to retain power no matter what the cost, but voters forgave that because of its impression of authority and competence. Labor lacks both. The Prime Minister, once so feared in Parliament and so well-regarded by the electorate, fails to project authority. Wayne Swan, whatever his successes as an economic manager, has never projected authority as Treasurer. But the problem goes further back — Labor in power has never shaken off the perception that it still thinks it is in opposition, and that lurking round the next corner will be John Howard, ready to leap out and wedge them off the political map again.

In short, Labor gives the impression it is not quite sure it is entitled to be running the country, that its hold on power is fragile. And lo, that’s what came to pass.

The Coalition, on the other hand, plainly feels the world simply isn’t right if it isn’t governing, and under Tony Abbott will say and do anything to reverse that unnatural condition. There’s a plain parallel here between the Liberals and the Republicans, whose reaction to the Obama presidency - in historical terms, one of the more conservative administrations of the post-war era — has been the adoption of batsh-t insane economic policies, culminating in a stand-off over the US debt ceiling that has conjured the hitherto-unthinkable serious discussion of US debt default.

Likewise, under Tony Abbott, the Liberals have turned their backs on market mechanisms, invented entirely spurious savings and promised to both increase spending and restore the Howard Government’s disastrous cycle of pumping up demand with tax cuts to ease the burden of higher prices caused by pumping up demand.

But there’s no shame for many (though not all) Liberals in this because it’s all in aid of overturning the outrage of a Labor Government.

The problem is, too many in Labor appear to agree with them and act accordingly.

91
  • 1
    CML
    Posted Friday, 8 July 2011 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    Bernard if I wanted to hear never-ending negative reports on how “bad” the Labor government is, I’d read the Ltd News press. Lift your game, Crikey. How about some INDEPTH examination of what a lying, cheating, arrogant pack of bast..ds, who have no workable policies, the opposition is? We are certainly not going to read about Mr rAbbott and his fellow travellers’ shortcomings in any of the MSM publications in this country. If the opposition is elected to form government next time, then the voters will have been well and truly hoodwinked.

  • 2
    klewso
    Posted Friday, 8 July 2011 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    Too true Bernard, but no matter how inept, bordering on incompetent, Labor can run, that is more than matched with Abbott’s side’s exhibitions of their and his own potential for ineptitude, incompetence plus that capacity for being being spitefully malicious.
    “Poor fella, my country”?

  • 3
    Perry Gretton
    Posted Friday, 8 July 2011 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    Gillard and Obama are stymied to a large extent by unscrupulous and power-hungry oppositions, for whom any lie or distortion will do service if it advances their cause. Both leaders come across as vapid and uninspiring, but that’s hardly surprising. A reasonable person in the company of raving lunatics also comes across like that.

    Yet the record shows they are reformers, even if the reforms they’ve managed to implement are considerably watered down. However, the media prefers to dwell on negativity and fear-mongering.

    I didn’t vote for Labor, but I believe Gillard needs to be credited for what she’s achieved in very difficult circumstances.

  • 4
    klewso
    Posted Friday, 8 July 2011 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    Look what “the Muppets” did to the one bloke that had the potential and presence that could have carried “leadership” off - Tanner - the small-minded, jealous little egomaniacs ham-strung him, for being aligned to the wrong faction.
    (“Psssst, wanna buy a nose?”)

  • 5
    TheTruthHurts
    Posted Friday, 8 July 2011 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    Bernard if I wanted to hear never-ending negative reports on how “bad” the Labor government is, I’d read the Ltd News press. Lift your game, Crikey. How about some INDEPTH examination of what a lying, cheating, arrogant pack of bast..ds, who have no workable policies, the opposition is?

    I don’t know if you have noticed by the Libs are in opposition.

    It’s not the media’s job to grill the opposition, it’s the medias job to keep the government to account.

    BER, Pink Batts, East Timor Solution, Live Cattle Export Ban Bungle, Endless taxes and the axing of a sitting Prime Minister and you have the making of media grilling gold.

  • 6
    Jimmy
    Posted Friday, 8 July 2011 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    Perry Getton - Well said - add in a rabid and vehemently anti govt media and their achievements become even more laudable. Look at the Herald Sun’s 2 page spread yesterday about the “costs” to various people of the “carbon tax” before the tax is even announced and with no mention of the compensation they will receive for a perfect example.

  • 7
    Jimmy
    Posted Friday, 8 July 2011 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    TTH - “It’s not the media’s job to grill the opposition, it’s the medias job to keep the government to account.” So by that logic Abbott can say whatever he wants without scrutiny even though he could become PM without going to an election. Get real.

  • 8
    Perry Gretton
    Posted Friday, 8 July 2011 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    I managed to get an online letter accepted by the Herald Sun yesterday, querying how they could analyse the effects of a carbon tax when the details were yet to revealed. I was gobsmacked when they accepted it.

  • 9
    Fran Barlow
    Posted Friday, 8 July 2011 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    It’s hard to disagre with much of this analysis.

    Many years ago, I was handed the thankless task of coaching an inline hockey team. Nobody else had a child who could ice skate all that well, still less manage to play hockey on inlines so I was it.

    Given that I didn’t expect the team to be scoring many goals, I figured the most important tasks were working out how to cut the number of goals we conceded. I chose the only kid who wanted to be goalie, warned all the other kids that at the first sign of abuse or criticism from any of them that they would become goalie for the next two games and worked on training him to keep out goals.

    The worst place for an inline hockey goalie to be when a shot from close range is coming is in the middle. The shooter gets to pick either side, and the goalie, who has no time to react just has to hope the shooter chokes or misses. You give the shooter one side — ideally the side with the sharpest angle and then you choose a low dive and raise your free arm. That maximises the chances of deflecting the puck, especially in a game where the kids aren’t all that good at shooting.

    Because the kids couldn’t skate much, I had them practice passing and holding. The less the other team had the ball (we weren’t using a puck) the fewer shots on goal they’d have and we could force them to chase more, tiring them out and reducing their advantage. The best of our skaters and ball trappers would move forward and then the piggy-in-the-middle routine would be resumed. I was seeking to neutralise a weakness (or if you like, render an opposition strength less salient.

    It seems to me that these are principle that the government has failed to apply. Instead of picking a side and being consistent, they are allowing themselves to be attacked from both sides. Instead of making it hard for the opposition to make use of their freedom to troll by simply adopting a policy, continually explaining it and then moving on, they are all over the place. They could have announced in February that they meant to begin a consultation process to devise a carbon price, announced a provisional framework in a couple of months and the final detail now. They could have shut down “Juliar” talk by pointing out that a carbon tax was not being considered quite early. But they didn’t. They could have pointed out that as it was clear that the Bali framework process could not be satisfactorily completed on a timeline that met the government’s desire to keep vulnerable people out of detention, they would process all on-shore and annoy all those who were never voting for them in Newspolls while impressing all those who wanted a robust position to defend.

    But no … I suspect poor coaching.

    {FTR … my inline hockey side ended up finishing about half way in our division the first year and came 3rd the following year. They started slowly, but got better, and our goalie turned into arguably the best goalie of the division — almost all of it as a result of his hardwork, character and his refusal to make the same mistake twice}

  • 10
    Jimmy
    Posted Friday, 8 July 2011 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    Perry - I tried to pst a comment on the article by the Vic Eneergy minister but surprising it didn’t make the cut. Kudos to you though, definitely a red letter day.

  • 11
    Jim Reiher
    Posted Friday, 8 July 2011 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    The level of political leadership in this country is woeful. Abbott and Gillard… is that it?… Is that the best this nation has to offer at the moment? Out of all the people in Parliament on both sides, Abbott and Gillard are … the … best?… the most competent?… the most insightful?… the most visionary?…

    I heard a joke the other day (an oldie revisited): a fishing day trip was happening. Mr Abbott and Ms Gillard were on board … during the day, the boat sank. You know who was saved? …..

    Australia.

  • 12
    freecountry
    Posted Friday, 8 July 2011 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    For once I agree with every word, Mr Keane. I also get the impression that while more and more voters are swingers, less and less of these swingers are being heard. The opening up of social media allows public discussion to be increasingly dominated by a narrow band of loud party loyalists on either side, who bang on with all the finesse of British football hooligans tearing benches from the stands to start swinging at anyone wearing the wrong colour.

    Political hooligans — I can play the slogan game too, and I’m going to keep repeating this one until it becomes standard journalese. Even the rare swingers who do turn up are often mistaken for political hooligans because that’s the dominant life form in this habitat. Political hooligans are causing the rise of leaders whose sole claim to authority rests on wearing the correct colour, or to put it another way, “I am the answer. What was the question?”

  • 13
    Posted Friday, 8 July 2011 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    Oh come on, FC. You of all people shouldn’t be complaining about “not being heard.”

  • 14
    Jolyon Wagg
    Posted Friday, 8 July 2011 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    TTH, I understand that conservatives are happier with an anecdotal presentation of the news as exemplified by the Australians biased approach to reporting the BER.

    Fortunately, those of us that are interested in an objective and detailed overview of the performance of the BER can now refer to the Orgill report released today.

    Perhaps you could try reading it.

  • 15
    CHRISTOPHER DUNNE
    Posted Friday, 8 July 2011 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    The rise of Tony Abbott: the triumph of bullsh!t over mediocrity.

    Australia, you’re standing in it.

  • 16
    BSA Bob
    Posted Friday, 8 July 2011 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    Fran Barlow at 2.44
    I like the stuff you write. I think the problem here, though, is that the example you gave presumes that rules will be applied & adhered to. This isn’t the case in current Australian politics. The opposing team aren’t held to account for breaking the rules, the goalposts are wherever they & their media allies declare them to be & the boundaries are pretty elastic.

  • 17
    Suzanne Blake
    Posted Friday, 8 July 2011 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    Agree Bernard and an outrage the ALP government is

  • 18
    Jimmy
    Posted Friday, 8 July 2011 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    Looks like Suzanne’s link to however does her thinking for her dropped out mid sentence.

  • 19
    Posted Friday, 8 July 2011 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    LibLabs.

  • 20
    Suzanne Blake
    Posted Friday, 8 July 2011 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    @Jimmy

    Noted you have no answer on the BER waste, as Orgill reported today

  • 21
    Posted Friday, 8 July 2011 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    Bernard if I wanted to hear never-ending negative reports on how “bad” the Labor government is, I’d read the Ltd News press. Lift your game, Crikey. How about some INDEPTH examination of what a lying, cheating, arrogant pack of bast..ds, who have no workable policies, the opposition is?”

    Did you even read this article?

  • 22
    Jimmy
    Posted Friday, 8 July 2011 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    Suzanne - I posted two responses to it on the other thread. In short the Orgill report found a 5-6% premium was paid for BER projects on a national average (which if this is called waste is still well short of the $1.5b the Australian claimed) which it found was acceptable in order for the spending to accomplish the stimulus objectives of the program.

    Have you actually sighted the report or are you just going of a report in a paper that has lead at campaign against the program and is far from impartial?

  • 23
    Suzanne Blake
    Posted Friday, 8 July 2011 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    @ Jimmy

    I read the two page summary. $1.5b waste is unacceptable, regardless of the fact you say its to stimulate

  • 24
    Perry Gretton
    Posted Friday, 8 July 2011 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    @Suzanne. You’re obviously not in the construction business.

  • 25
    Suzanne Blake
    Posted Friday, 8 July 2011 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    @ Perry

    I live next door to a developer and a few doors up from a builder who has build 100’s of homes and they live and die by managing costs. $1.5billion waste is unacceptable waste of taxpayer dollars. Its about the NBN cost in Tas and ACT.

  • 26
    Frank Campbell
    Posted Friday, 8 July 2011 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    Most of this is a repetition of conventional wisdom. It could have been written by the Oracle of the Obvious, Paul Kelly, except for the expletives, froth and bubble- usual Crikey additives. (Which we like)

    But the comparison between the Republicans and Abbott is a barf too far. Not only are the two systems/cultures starkly different. The insane gringo mix of primitive religion and economic hypocrisy isn’t seen here. The only recent administration to cool debt growth was Clinton, but Bush’s wars and tax cuts have put the US many trillions in hock. Obama has inherited this, and when in deep shit, the Fed prints toilet paper.

    Tarring Abbott with this loo-brush is unconvincing. He’s just following the usual Opposition script -tax bribes, rubbery figures and kicking the shit out of anything with red hair. Banal Julia reciprocates. So what? Harry Jenkins has 14,000 ways of saying “Order”, according to peer-reviewed research.

    Anyway, the next election is a referendum on the carbon tax. Gillard’s choice. Keane is congenitally incapable of realising that this is very silly policy- it’s unilateral, cannot reduce global temps, will eventually damage mining and manufacturing, will immediately disadvantage the rural poor and remnant working class, will cause a rapid expansion in renewable energy rorts (google up Flannery’s geothermal fantasy, Geodynamics), and has comically vanished up its own exemptions. Ideologically, it’s shambolic: Gillard says “the coal industry has a fantastic future”. Sarah Hyphen gives it ten years. Brown bans wind turbines in Tasmania because it’s killing all the eagles, while demanding them for Australia.

    The entire ramshackle fantasy is an indulgence of well-heeled inner suburbanites- the chief beneficiaries of the property boom and bad urban planning. Don’t patronise “the punters”, the “selfish”, “stupid” and large majority who’ve rebelled against this vast low-postcode rort. They’ve had enough. They’ll even vote for the intrinsically unattractive hormonal Jesuit.

  • 27
    Jimmy
    Posted Friday, 8 July 2011 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    Suzanne - 5-6% of $16b is less than $1.5b for a start and is it really waste if it served a purpose? Yes if Victoria and NSW hadn’t of outsourced “public works capacity” things could of been done cheaper but slower but how much damage would that of done to the economy, how much revenue would the govt have lost due to the greater slowdown?

    Ask your builder friend if he would find 5-6% over run acceptable?

    Plus I assume you are talking about the media release when you say “the two page summary” and there is no mention on that of $1.5b.

  • 28
    Perry Gretton
    Posted Friday, 8 July 2011 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    @Suzanne. I had my tongue in cheek when I wrote that. It is a very large sum of money, but without reading the report, I’m not commenting further.

  • 29
    freecountry
    Posted Friday, 8 July 2011 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    Daniel - I get heard, a little bit. I also get attacked by Laborite hooligans on the mistaken assumption that I’m a Liberal hooligan.

    Fran Barlow - There is a counter argument, based on the ice cream vendor problem. You know the one: the optimum locations for two ice cream vendors on a beach would be at the one-quarter and three-quarter points of the beach’s length. But neither can trust the other not to take the middle of the beach, so they both end up next to each other, “stuck in the middle with you”.

    Either way, both ice cream vendors can remain open simultaneously. But in politics, only one party can govern in any one jurisdiction. When two political parties approach the middle from different sides, the combination of force and counter-force should be highly responsive to any shifts in exactly where the middle is, because the middle is not defined in absolute terms but as the point where exactly half the voters are further to the left and half are further to the right. Having agreed where the middle is and what policy objectives are to be pursued (eg parental leave), both can then debate the finer points of legislation to better achieve that outcome.

    If only it worked like that it might have some merit, even if it only really pleased the minority in the middle. So much for theory, but our system is not even doing that much. What went wrong?

  • 30
    Suzanne Blake
    Posted Friday, 8 July 2011 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    BER Report Link

    http://www.bertaskforce.gov.au/documents/publications/BERIT_final_report.pdf

  • 31
    Tim nash
    Posted Friday, 8 July 2011 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    “In short, Labor gives the impression it is not quite sure it is entitled to be running the country, that its hold on power is fragile. And lo, that’s what came to pass.
    The Coalition, on the other hand, plainly feels the world simply isn’t right if it isn’t governing, and under Tony Abbott will say and do anything to reverse that unnatural condition.”
    This is so true and to make it worse it isn’t and individual trait of a leader, it seems to be something built into each side of politics or even just ordinary people.
    Thinking you can lead and telling everyone at every opportunity makes most people around you think you’re a total arse hat, but often those people get into power because they are relentless and after a while people believe them.
    Being unconfident / humble, makes you less likely to hold onto power because you are able to take peoples opinions into consideration and this can make decisions difficult or even impossible thus making you look weak or indecisive.
    I don’t feel a balance is ever possible between these two types of people.

  • 32
    Posted Friday, 8 July 2011 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    Daniel - I get heard, a little bit. I also get attacked by Laborite hooligans on the mistaken assumption that I’m a Liberal hooligan.”

    Yes, sometimes people will be mean on the internet. That’s not the same as silencing you, though.

    Anyway, comment threads on news articles aren’t the most conducive environments for debate. They actually inhibit debate for a number of reasons - moderation policy, ease of access etc. Basically, it’e easier for somebody to bung in “all [blanks] are liars and crooks. Wake up Australia!” at the end of an article, then say, write a publishable letter to whatever news site they are browsing.

  • 33
    SonofMogh
    Posted Friday, 8 July 2011 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    Suzanne can also see Russia from her window.

  • 34
    Suzanne Blake
    Posted Friday, 8 July 2011 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    @ SonofMogh

    Yes, but not from Window. Just from TV set everytime Gillard, Swan, Brown and the like speak

  • 35
    Captain Planet
    Posted Friday, 8 July 2011 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    Some food for thought from a former electoral candidate….

    By definition, 50 % of the electorate are more greedy, rude, selfish, ignorant, racist, or stupid that average.

    In a preferential voting system, if you are going to get elected, again by definition, at least some of those people are going to have to vote for you..

  • 36
    Posted Friday, 8 July 2011 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    Yes, the ALP are Bolsheviks.

    Wait, which party is recommending huge amounts of direct government action and which one is seeking a market solution to help alleviate climate change again??

  • 37
    freecountry
    Posted Friday, 8 July 2011 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    A market solution plus politically selective compensation. You can take the interventionists out of the mercantilocracy but you can’t take the mercantilocracy out of the interventionists.

    Seriously though, which party wants to impose a great big new tax on business to pay for a $75,000 baby bonus? (Liberal.)
    Which party assists the the banks by helping rip off the wages of working families buying homes to protect the unearned wealth of landowners? (Labor.)
    Which party wants to have preferential trade with the developing countries that happen to be the countries least interested in protecting the natural environment? (Greens.)
    Which party offers the least support for the ethnic group that is furthest from being immigrants? (One Nation.)
    Which party was the strongest opponent of offering payment to farmers for sequestering carbon in their soil during the CPRS negotiations, on the grounds that a rise in rural land values would “crowd out” farmers, against the advice of the National Farmers Federation? (National.)

    Things can get a bit confusing in that tumultuous scramble for positions at the middle of the beach.

  • 38
    TheTruthHurts
    Posted Friday, 8 July 2011 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    Yes, the ALP are Bolsheviks.

    Interesting that they refuse to meet the Dalai Laimer, and the last time a Labor leader met him was all the way back in 1992.

    Are Labor still getting their directives from the communist party?

  • 39
    Perry Gretton
    Posted Friday, 8 July 2011 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    @Thetruthhurts. Well, your spelling of the Dalai Lama’s name may reflect your inner feelings, but I fail to see why any prime minister should meet any religious leader. Religion and politics should be kept separate.

  • 40
    Fran Barlow
    Posted Friday, 8 July 2011 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    FC said:

    {…}But neither can trust the other not to take the middle of the beach, so they both end up next to each other, “stuck in the middle with you”.

    That actually illustrates my principle, because when both are in the centre, all the space to their respective sides is theirs. Being at the 25% and 75% points would allow nibbling. So really, both vendors are on the fringes, but both vendors are there so that they can pitch at only one location.

    The real probelm with the concept of “the middle” in politics is that it assumes that this is a static thing, rather than something that can be urged one way or the other. While it is unlikely that the middle will, any time soon, favour either producer-centred governance on the one hand or a complete slide into capitalist slavery on the other where what trifling governance there was in the hands of the richest criminal, it is possible that a coherent left-of-centre policy (or if such could be formulated, a coherent right-of-centre policy) could shift where “the centre” was by winnng over/mollifying left- or right-of-centre voters.

    It seems to me that what most non-tribals want/demand out of governance is the sense that their values are being respected by some viable and consistent set of policy settings. A government that does that and appears competent can govern either from the right or the left regardless of what the policy wonks think is ideal.

    What the ALP has done is to paint themselves as a ‘Seinfeld’ government — one that is not competent enough to claim to be managerialist and yet has no enduring values. Even those inclined to support it out of habit or some memory of some ancient hatred or worthy act wonder why they should care about its fate. In the end, unless you believe that the fall of the government will cause the rescission or truncation of some worthy program or usher in people whose values are utterly offensive, why should you care what happens to the regime?

    The ALP’s abandonment of principles, its pandering to the values of people who have always hated equity, justice, human rights, the environment and even liberal democracy in many cases, rather than winning over such folk merely invites everyone to wonder whom they really trust to trample on the above values. As Gittins noted recently, nobody believes that the ALP can do as good a job of brutalising refugees as the LNP, and if that policy is a good one, then one might as well vote LNP. If allowing the rich to get richer or business to foul the air or fighting useless wars in some far off land is a good policy, once again, it’s the LNP who really have their hearts in this work.

    Those who think this is poor policy listen with a mixture of disgust and alarm and as the polls head south, fancy that perhaps the least psychologically taxing thing is to go to ground until better times arrive — or vote Green or informal, or Liberal because it doesn’t matter anyway.

    As I discovered when coaching — while nobody likes losing, there are good losses and bad losses. A bad loss is where you act unwisely, ignore sound and viable plans, or learn nothing from your loss. A bad loss is one where you lose to a structurally inferior but more disciplined and well drilled group. Conversely, good losses are where you sharpen your tactics, are agile in responding to challenges, build cohesion within your team and emerge with a better plan for the next time you confront a comparable challenge. If the ALP had challenged Tampa in 2001, it might well have lost all the same. It might perhaps have suffered on paper an even worse loss than it did. Yet if it had managed to craft a coherent and principled response reflecting what those committed to the ALP had (rightly or wrongly) seen as traditional ALP values there can be little doubt that it would have drawn to it a whole new core of energetic, educated and highly committed people. It would have been able to mount a far more impressive challenge in 2004 and in 2007, instead of the shambles of a regime that defeated the now moribund Howard government, we would have seen a battle hardened and principled party sweep aside the LNP rabble and lead us forward towards a modern and more humane Australia. Indeed, the same core might have swept aside the soulless number crunchers in NSW and avoided that debacle as well.

    Sudeenly we see why Beazler acted as he did in 2001 …

  • 41
    Posted Friday, 8 July 2011 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    Are Labor still getting their directives from the communist party?”

    Still?

  • 42
    Sue11
    Posted Friday, 8 July 2011 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    Ah yes, Labor always feel and act like they are the house servants who have taken over the estate while the master is away and are trembling in fear of his return because they willl have to give it back. Enter Tony Abbott , who seems to believe thats exactly what they have done and he is not going to rest until he ruthlessly routs them. Labor feels apologetic and fearful and Tony Abbott is able to attack them and get away with it because of this.

    Labor feel quite clumsy and oafish in so many ways, but I still think many of their policies are far better than Abbott and Cos , but these policies have been greatly weakened by the apparent belief they are not really meant to govern.

  • 43
    Posted Friday, 8 July 2011 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    It’s pretty amazing that some people still consider Labour parties to be Communist front organisations. I mean it was silly even at the height of the Cold War, but now it is….exponentially more silly.

  • 44
    Posted Friday, 8 July 2011 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    Interesting that they refuse to meet the Dalai Laimer, and the last time a Labor leader met him was all the way back in 1992.”

    Also interesting that Bob Brown met with the Dalai Lama in June. Typical of the bloody Communist Gre — oh wait.

  • 45
    mook schanker
    Posted Friday, 8 July 2011 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

    Suzanne, ask your builder friend if he would charge 5-6% more if you wanted work done quicker than normal. On a basic level, the triangle of cost, quality and time always seems the case….

  • 46
    freecountry
    Posted Friday, 8 July 2011 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

    Fran Barlow - I think you’ve nailed it with Kim Beazley in 2001. That’s when the ALP sold its soul, for a cheque that bounced. The papers, the people, the universities, all were waiting for a sign from Beazley on what they saw as life and death issues for those who were out of luck and in need of a fair go. Then Beazley, debating Howard on the ABC, promised to “send the boats back to where they came from,” and after that, he and Howard together insisted on campaigning about the details of wealth redistribution. The journalists said “oh no you don’t” and kept printing stories about human rights but, Beazley and Howard were having none of it. Between them they bludgeoned the media into their own agenda.

    Most people see that history differently. The commonly accepted version is that Howard intended to elevate stopping the boats to the main election issue, and succeeded. The truth is otherwise. Both Howard and Beazley wanted to dispose of the asylum issue and all that Amnesty International stuff quickly, push it out of the way, and concentrate on distribution-of-wealth issues. So Howard gets the blame for turning Australia into a land of the venally selfish, but it was truly a bipartisan strategy. Beazley had his moment, and he failed. I’ve never been able to take Labor seriously since then.

    You have a way with words tonight, and I laugh to read phrases like “out of habit or some memory of some ancient hatred or worthy act” and your parenthetical “or if such could be formulated, a coherent right-of-centre policy”. Funny. In fact a coherent right-of-centre policy is simplicity itself: (1) There’s more to society than government; (2) Sustainable rises in the standard of living come from organic economic growth, not from cancelling incentives for success; (3) Use coercion only as a last resort. Simple stuff. Unfortunately somewhere on the way to political practice, even these simple principles can be lost in translation.

  • 47
    TheTruthHurts
    Posted Friday, 8 July 2011 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

    Ah yes, Labor always feel and act like they are the house servants who have taken over the estate while the master is away and are trembling in fear of his return because they willl have to give it back. Enter Tony Abbott , who seems to believe thats exactly what they have done and he is not going to rest until he ruthlessly routs them. Labor feels apologetic and fearful and Tony Abbott is able to attack them and get away with it because of this.

    You should watch the movie “Animal Farm”

    Labor are the pigs, the little Aussie tax payer are the barnyard animals.

    Everyone is equal but like we saw in NSW Labor, some are more equal than others(you reckon those NSW Labor MPs and their developer buddies are doing it tough?).

    Labor(the pigs) will keep squeezing the farm animals to work hard and harder and tax them more and more so that the pigs and the pigs family can live an easy life doing very little.

    But much like in the movie, in the end the barnyard animals revolt…. and run the pigs out of the farm. It’s time to take back what WE work for. It’s time WE get our fair share for OUR work. We don’t need pigs with their mouths in the troughs at the top taking OUR work for granted.

    Labor will be gone swiftly and for a very long time.

  • 48
    TheTruthHurts
    Posted Friday, 8 July 2011 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    Suzanne, ask your builder friend if he would charge 5-6% more if you wanted work done quicker than normal.

    Were public school halls built 60% faster than private school halls?

    Because thats the difference in pricing according to the report.

  • 49
    Posted Friday, 8 July 2011 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    Actually in the original end of Animal Farm the barnyard animals look at the pigs (the ALP, in your analogy) and the exploitative humans they originally kicked out (who would be the Liberals, logically extend your own analogy) and the animals can’t tell which from which.

    A much more accurate, and interesting, analogy. :)

  • 50
    C@tmomma
    Posted Friday, 8 July 2011 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

    Suzanne and her neighbours, the Builders and Developers, live in the new suburb of Boganville Heights I think.

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