tip off

Rundle: time to work out what a Labor Party is for

In the aftermath of Queensland — a place that, like Vietnam or Dresden or Hell, has become an event — it’s worth revisiting a debate that’s been going on round Leftish traps, regarding the ALP in power, and in the next election. This has centred around two strategies, based on differing perceptions of the party’s character and chances:

1) Grit your teeth, ignore the crap and support the ALP at the next election. Why? Not because of its centre-right policies per se, but because it holds certain things in place, making it easier for a real regeneration in changed circumstances. Thus what remains of Labor’s capital-labour settlement — what’s left of arbitration, Fair Work, etc — not only retains some protections for workers, but also maintains the principle that forces other than the market alone should set the conditions for work, and the framework within which wage and conditions are set.

The carbon tax is slight, but a real commitment, on a global scale, to collective action against climate change. Medicare was politically untouchable in the Howard era, but no longer is. And so on. Labor’s sneak victory would mean that it is as arrogant, out-of-touch and short-sighted as ever before, but that’s the price of the ticket. Should the federal Coalition suffer a loss under Tony Abbott, the above institutions can be preserved through a period in which the failures of a red-in-tooth-and-claw market have not yet become visible to sufficient numbers.

Meanwhile, the Coalition will be in fresh crisis, having tried a liberal leader (Malcolm Turnbull), a conservative leader (Abbott) and a petrol-station Mr Blowie (Brendan Nelson). It will be devoid of real talent and charisma in its front bench, vicious infighting will begin, generating either an unelectable conservative putsch — even as we speak, Mr Mirabella is laying out his “first gentleman” suit and choosing cufflinks — or a leadership more in line with the distinctive political mix of Australian life, for the inevitable point when it returns to power. Labor will thus have had an epochal, framework-setting win.

2) The worst thing that could happen for Australian politics in the mid-run — i.e. the next 15 to 30 years — is for Labor to somehow eke out another victory in 2013. The party with no real program, save for the aggressive neoliberal agenda of its Emerson wing, would use whatever combination of knavery and fluke got it a victory to decisively avoid any encounter with real reflection that might lead to a durable 21st-century political program. The party would be incapable of leading rather than following, should society continue an easy-money-fuelled rightwards drift, and it would have no credibility should China cough and fall over sideways, and our pitifully underdeveloped condition reveal itself. In this scenario, the Left should actively desert Labor, throw its energy towards the Greens. Labor is most likely cactus anyway, and then participate in Labor’s soul-searching and reconstruction during its decade out of office.

Following the Queensland defeat, there is now a third possibility — that Labor will suffer result 2), and be turfed out, but be subject to process 1), learning nothing and drifting on. There is the junk analysis — such as Bill Ludwig’s comment that Australians don’t like women in power — and the flummery, such as Peter Beattie’s comment that Julia Gillard should buy a house in Queensland. There is simple denial, such as the “it was time” analysis, always a bogus one, especially to explain a wipe-out. Then there is plain and simple magical thinking, which lies at the centre of it — Anna Bligh’s comment that though she was pretty sure the public turfed her for the surprise asset sales move, she “knew in her heart it was the right thing to do”.

Good God, where to start? With Beattie? Move to Queensland? What, so the electorate can throw rocks at two women whose policies and conduct they hate, rather than one? Yeah, that’ll work. That is one right out of the Bligh-on-MasterChef box: “Here’s something I prepared earlier — the fire sale of the electricity grid. Mention it? Did I not? Oh.” Where does this pitiful delusion come from, that people won’t vote Labor simply because they don’t know their leaders well enough? Beattie is the rule-proving exception among these political professionals, a man who retains a sense of how most people see the world. For the rest, keep them away from the people they might well vote for, for the same reason you don’t take the kids for a look-round the abattoir on the way to Sizzler.

As to Ludwig’s comment about women, well, yes the public won’t vote for them, if they keep getting given a chance at power only when things are in crisis, and a shit sandwich has to be delivered. Were some of the women in question to have refused this obvious raw deal, they would have been labelled as “scared of power”. When they take it — from both personal ambition and a sense that the precedent has to be set under any circumstances, they are then declared to be the poison in the chalice. Marvellous.

But above all, what is most significant is that absolute refusal to question either the wisdom, politics or necessity of the asset sales, one of the single most politically destructive moves in the history of Australian politics. Labor had a more solid relationship with sections of its electorate in Queensland than anywhere else — a relationship grounded in its ancient history but forged above all by the decades-long fixed electoral dictatorship of Joh Bjelke-Petersen.

The sense that Labor, the majority choice, was excluded from power by a fix, gave Queensland Labor an extra dimension of solidarity with its base, just as that was withering away elsewhere, under the impact of the wholesale reconstruction of economic and social life in the 1990s. The asset sales move, which treated Labor’s own supporters with utter contempt, and communicated to them that the party’s loyalty was to a technocratic elite, could not have been more precisely designed to f-ck up that relationship if it had been designed in the LNP skunk-works room.

Everything about the way the asset sales were handled — from Bligh’s remark that they were “not negotiable” to the mixing-in of profitable and loss-making assets in the sales basket, to the needless internal war created by the process — was a disaster created by one thing only: the notion that there is an abstract, depoliticised and technocratic series of decisions to be made, within a fixed framework, and that politics is what happens beneath that. Doubtless many of the arguments about refinancing public works were rational, but the non-negotiability was based on the assumption that that was the only possible good that people might see. The alternative possible good — the idea that it is inherently good for large-scale infrastructure to remain in the people’s hands — was simply discounted.

Bizarrely, a partial privatisation program could have been won, if it had been proposed to Labor’s base and the state as a whole, and argued for, as part of a social-democratic (or social-market) bigger picture. Pushing it through as a whole destroyed the remnant idea of a Labor social contract in the state, and any notion of trust. Given the shift to the Right, Labor’s neoliberals will continue to deny that the asset sales played any part. But the reports from exit polls and polling booths appear to be in no doubt that it did (which is why I feel it is at least plausible to write this assessment from half a world away).Why did Bligh, a life-long activist and member of the Socialist Left, take the decision to become the agent of such neoliberal aims, and adopt a crash-through-or-crash strategy? The question is the answer. The social-democratic left collapsed intellectually before it collapsed politically, unable or unwilling, at the heart of the party, to rethink new ways of managing a progressive politics after the failure of large-scale state ownership.

Bligh is an ex-student politician, turned community activist — and like many of that breed, one suspects, rather thin on the intellectual front, and perhaps impatient with anything that isn’t very action-oriented and piecemeal. There has developed on what remains of the “Left” in Labor a resolute anti-intellectualism with regards to politics — the sense that anything deeper than a two-page policy/spin document is a “w-nk”.

That has proved particularly disastrous for Labor for several reason. The first is that it has been willing to open itself to two leaders — Mark Latham and Kevin Rudd — who did have ideas, and then simply adopted them, in the spirit of “we’ve got to have some text to put in the leaflets”. But both men held their ideas as a distinct and individual body of insights, preferences and obsessions, not as the representation of a larger current of thought. The intellectual-political core became an expression of their personalities, not of the ideas themselves, such as they were.

But this has also proved disastrous because the only people in Labor or around it with a consistent body of ideas are the neoliberals — the Craig Emersons, Marn Ferns, Michael Costas, and a host of less-public figures. They’re either schooled in economics faculties — in the same way that a burr-headed rivet is “schooled” in a press — or they came to it through the long failures of centre-left politics. The latter group sell it like a new faith, the former are simply incapable of thinking outside of its percepts. They steamroller whatever vestigial and instinctual opposition practically minded people of a leftish disposition might put up.

Increasingly, many such people in Labor see any intra-party remnant opposition to neoliberalism as “the real enemy”, and direct more energy against that, than outside of the party. That state of affairs means that the party membership boundary no longer describes a single entity. The division between the neoliberals and what remains of social democracy in the party is greater than the fiercer political splits of the ideological faction years. Whatever the difference between a (Catholic) Right and a Socialist Left, neither thought that the market should define human being, social institutions or public culture.

The ALP neoliberals, out of fascination at the alleged (and illusory) Promethean power of a virtually unlimited market to lift the world to a higher state of being, are utterly indifferent to any more rounded conception of existence, the role other institutions — the state, NGOs, community networks, voluntary organisations, etc — might play in it, and how a social-democratic party might find ways of working through mediating non-market, non-state institutions. So now neither Right nor Left in the party have much time for genuinely new ideas, and they fuse with a clique of professional spin doctors, some of whom have gone from failure to failure across several continents, spruiking a pseudo-scientific expertise as the reason they should be hired afresh.

We have seen such a mix of delusion, bafflement and before — the pyramid cities of the Lambayeque Valley in Peru for one, whose inhabitants believed they could hold off the approaching conquistadors if only they could tear enough hearts out of living chests. High-priestess Bligh’s asset sales was a mild re-enactment — a state in a country in a resources boom believing that the answer to a mild deficit was to privatise the heart of state-owned infrastructure.

The belief system that makes this sacrifice appear rational is an imaginary one; the consequences are all too real. For Labor to be anything at all over the next two decades, it will have to begin a parallel strategy — first, drafting some sort of next-term program it could take to the people in the next election that would project a genuine idea of how life could be better, and from what basis that springs. But it should also lay the ground for the work it will have to do in opposition, when it most likely ends up there — to work out what a Labor Party is for, as something more than an outpipe for global capital. For the men and women of action, such a process will undoubtedly seem like a “w-nk”. But in Queensland now, there’s not a lot of action and sod all to do. There’s a reason the now-deserted Lambayeque Valley is known by the locals as Purgatorio, and it’s a long-walk through.

  • 1
    Posted Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    hi there, I think this sums it up Guy….Labor need a cohesive ideology framework then you do your compromising on the top 50%. They need to win the argument from a values basis and connect the economic and social - people have been brought up only to think about the economic administration of the economy so they need to start from this basis and then say, OK, a 2 tiered education system affects the economy - ie show the linkages and then win the war on taxes.

    Most studies have shown that Australian’s are more social democratic than economic libertarian so there is absolutely no reason that Labor cannot win the argument. They also do not come over the top strongly over the Murdoch media - people are now starting from a low base so it seems to me they overestimate that alot of people are dumped down and then, if they did educate people, they underestimate people that nobody will vote for them - when in fact that will have people lining up to vote for them. This is the only thing that will force the Right to undergo profound changes back to a Robert Menzies conservative

  • 2
    Posted Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    Labor has moved further and further to the right and become a party with no core beliefs or principles. It now simply stands for the gaining and retention of power.

    At least Liberal stand for something - money.

  • 3
    Posted Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    Absolutely nailed it right there, Guy!
    This pretentious piece of leftish drivel shows that you are as irrelevant to modern Australian politics as Anna Bligh. I haven’t encountered such a meandering piece of pseudo-intellectual pseudo-science since the Marxist Summer School at Sydney Uni in 1979.

  • 4
    James K
    Posted Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    I am still confused: if people do not want govt owned assets sold off… why did they vote for the coalition that has that as a standard plank of their economic policy?

    Here in Vic. the libs are talking about selling off the Port of Melbourne. Under Kennett they sold off 300 schools, the public transport system, the utilities (Qld was slow on that one)… and more. Some jails were privatised.. the list is long.

    The coalition are philosophically committed to less govt activity and more private business activity. That is their core belief.

    And so Queenslanders - who oppose the sale of a govt asset, voted in the party that will sell off more govt assets….

    I am confused.

    Maybe they voted against Labor because they said they would NOT do it but then did. They backflipped! And backflippers should be voted out.

    BUT if Qlders like the sale of govt assets as a principle, should they not have been happy to see Labor “see the light” or “get with the program”? Isn’t it good to backflip if the backflip is IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION?

    I am very confused. I think Qlders dont like the sale of govt assets (just as many of the rest of us hate it too). But if that is the case… they voted for the party that is the master of selling off govt assets.

    Sounds a lot like “cutting off you nose despite your face”.

    All I can really conclude, is that there were other things that really caused the swing.

  • 5
    Suzanne Blake
    Posted Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    Increased taxes, increased incompetence, dishonesty, “wealth redistribution”, ICAC events, jai led MP’s, more dishonesty, Union control and working families working to keep them in power at the trough

  • 6
    Posted Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    Which begs the question… why are the right wingers still in the ALP? Why don’t they join the Libs?

  • 7
    Posted Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    This article lost me at “The worst thing that could happen for Australian politics in the mid-run — i.e. the next 15 to 30 years — is for Labor to somehow eke out another victory in 2013”.

    With Abbott promising to repeal everything that Labor has achieved in the previous 6 years and looking like he will send the country into recession and lurching quickly to the right there is no way that it could be a good thing for Labor to lose the next election.

  • 8
    James K
    Posted Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    I agree.

    as a greens supporter, I do find it sad to think that all the most progressive thinkers and slightly left of centre minded folk, have tended to desert labor for the Greens. It has left the Labor party in the hands of the right and they are useless and misguided. (Nothing bias about my comments is there!)

    But the success of the greens in growing support by politically active and ideal progressives, might just be one of the reasons why Labor has drifted so far right.

    Or maybe that was happening first and it caused more to leave and find a roost in the Greens party.

  • 9
    Suzanne Blake
    Posted Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    Dont worry yourself Jimmy,Labor won’t eke out anything. The brand is damaged for a generation

  • 10
    Michael James
    Posted Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    I am with Stiofan, what a load of self-referential,. self-aggrandising cr@p.

    Queensland is now an event”

    Oh really? Then what did the almighty thumping that Labour in NSW received become? There the swing was 16.5%, worse than even last weekend’s well deserved shellacking.

    Perhaps its that the electorate, having placed ALP governments in power across the entire nation and federally, is swinging away to the conservatives, to a point that eventually the country will mostly be under conservative government.

    Then eventually, slowly and inexorably, the pendulum will swing the other way. All governments have a use by date, about three terms. Those that outstay that time tend to receive an almighty thumping at the ballot box, as long term resentment over those governments arrogance and born to rule mentality starts to really rankle with the electorate.

    Howard received it, Keating before him. Bligh and Kenneally are simply the next in line.

    Eventually Abbot or someone else will unseat the ALP in Canberra and they will govern for a few terms, the same as O’Farrell and Campbell will in Sydney and Brisbane respectively.

    Eventually however they too will end up on the nose with the electorate and will be turfed out, to be replaced by someone else.

    It’s the cycle of elections, when its time to go a government should go, postponing that day of reckoning just makes that reckoning even worse for being delayed, the ALP in Queensland can talk to their colleagues in NSW about how that feels.

    Gillard may salvage an election win in 2013 (unlikely but possible) however given their standing with much of the electorate, by the time they go to the next election after that it’s probably likely that the carnage visited upon the LP by the electorate will be horrible to witness.

    Speaking of use by dates, Crikey, Mr Rundle, from his Olympian point of despatch in London is obviously well past his. Can we please have someone who is a little more in contact with the real world of Australian politics, circa 2012, rather than a superannuated leftist prone to seeing the world through ideological glasses.

    His recent columns have undermined his claims to journalism, he is more a polemicist and propagandist these days than a reputable journalist.

  • 11
    blue bubble
    Posted Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    The reasons behind the asset sales were mostly well founded, just poorly explained. QR freight is almost exclusively about coal, as was Abbot Point. The long term viability of that required significant capital injection (better provided by the coal miners directly) and was slightly in conflict with the ALPs other agenda of tackling climate change. OK idea badly executed.

  • 12
    Posted Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    Michael James - Very said.

    SB - When Rudd won in 2007 people said the liberals faced a decade in the wilderness and yet almost got back in after a term. To talk of damage for 25 years is just absurd, but that is you isn’t it.

    And as ofr the extent of the damage, let’s look again in 12 months when the terror’s Abbott predicts from the Mining and Carbon taxes have not occurred.

  • 13
    Posted Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    I am an economist who believes that, while capitalism maximises the pie, it does nothing to ensure that it is shared fairly. Also in its pure form, it has nothing to say about external effects such as global warming, loss of biodiversity etc. Where do I go if Labor disintergrates?

  • 14
    Posted Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    The Left should actively desert Labor and throw its energy towards the Greens.
    Asset sales was the clincher that stopped me voting for labor.
    That was years ago.
    And I do agree with PUDDLEDUCK. The infiltration of the Labor party is complete and its downfall is assured, UNLESS it removes the neoliberals completely from its party and reclaims the social justice mantra that it was created to provide.
    I doubt that it can.

  • 15
    Bo Gainsbourg
    Posted Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    When Labor started in on privatisation, they copped not just the wrath of their base, but they reinforced the fury that people all round the country felt for their repeated privatisations in NSW and other places. To suggest that it was the only economic option as Bligh, Emerson and others no doubt have and will really sums it up. This is a party that prides itself on delivering neoliberal right economic policies that people hate with a passion. No other policy initiative can cover that up. The right must be overjoyed that Labor does it on their behalf and then cops repeated electoral floggings. The lack of discussion of alternatives to that program in Labor today is the primary reason it is shedding votes. If you want the people who will screw you in favour of the technocratic free market program, why not have the real ones instead of the pretend ones. The Greens in Qld aren’t yet big or established enough to be able to break through on the alternative, and their oxygen was sucked out by Katters party and others. But when the party of the “workers” and “social democrats” start privatising, start taking out shares in the liberal party. You’ll always be on a winner

  • 16
    Posted Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    To suggest that “neo-liberalism” (in the idelogical sense of the word) is the root of Labor’s problems is the height of bollocksry.

    NBN, Fairwork Act, carbon pricing, mining tax, disability insurance, private health care rebate threshold, GFC response, social care pay claims etc etc how on earth does this represent a party that is beholden to a belief in the “Promethean power of a virtually unlimited market to lift the world to a higher state of being, are utterly indifferent to any more rounded conception of existence, the role other institutions” or that the “market should define human being, social institutions or public culture.”?

    The true dinasours are the primitive black and white thinkers like Guy Rundle who are incapable of thinking with nuance. With the existence of the Greens as a genuine third force pandering to the sanctimonious left, labor has lost much of its “intellectually” active base including sympathetic “left” journalists. It is the black and white thinkers in Labor who see any risks associated with any party reform that might see the necessary re-engagement with comunities as absolutes to be avoided that will ensure Labor continues on its current trajectory.

    And wow, “They’re either schooled in economics faculties — in the same way that a burr-headed rivet is “schooled” in a press”…..as one myself, (and not one beholden to the current dominating paradigm) I find it incredible that such a sanctimonious knowall utterly addicted to polemic rhetoric in spewing their un-examined black and white convictions have the audacity to reduce what is a genuinely transcendent (if highly imperfect) and intellectually open field to a burr rivet being pressed.

    GR you are a fool.

  • 17
    Posted Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    Twobob - It all depends on how left you are, I am more with Crispy and while I like the job the Greens are doing pulling the ALP a bit further left I can’t go as far as they do on a whole range of issues.

  • 18
    Suzanne Blake
    Posted Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    @ twobob

    If your fellow extreme lefties agreed with you, the Green vote would have gone UP, it went DOWN 1.1% at last could.

    So where did they go? to Katter or vote informally?

  • 19
    botswana bob
    Posted Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    I see this stuff all the time: What does Labor stand for? Its well known what the ALP stands for: its an organisation dedicated to advancing the careers of union hacks — Craig Thompson — and party apparatchiks. The once great reform party has let the light on the hill go out, as the careerists, who have all the attributes of dogs save loyalty, pack its parliamentary ranks. Just look at the current PM: this careerist started to plot against Rudd — the bloke who got them back into office after a decade — the day after the election, signed an agreement on pokies reform than shredded it and is so petty so rejected a recommendation to apologize to Maha Habib after her shameful treatment by the bureaucracy. This is why the left is going Green and everyone else is abandoning this mob of self-serving Poloniuses — or is it Poloniae? [I was never much good at Latin which is why I never became a GeorgePell employee]
    The Bracks/Faulkne5r report gave the ALP a path to renewal but the faction hacks put the kybosh on it.

  • 20
    Posted Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    so if Gillard is wiped out, how long will Abbott last? a term? 18 months?
    He is not the messiah, just a naughty little boy.

  • 21
    Posted Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    James K: The National part of the Liberal National Party do not and never wanted privatisation in the first place. The only things that Campbell promised to sell off were the shares in QR National.

  • 22
    Posted Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    This is a very engaging piece (as evidenced in the responses!) and i enjoyed reading it. Its great example of evocative polemic (i don’t intend that as backhanded compliment).

    Its not so good that Guy tends to dehumanise/demonise those who hold a different intellectual view to him. This is unfortunate as I imagine the people he is refering to are neither horrible nor stupid (belted rivets or irrational zealots).
    It also got a bit unclear for me whether the main argument is that privatisation is the reason for the loss in Queensland, just generally a bad idea, or whether the queenland fiasco is merely a symbol of Labor’s subjugation to crazy scary neo-liberals (within their own party).
    The sale of public assets clearly makes people anxious. And the magnitude of such actions suggests people are going to be more anxious if they feel surprised or not consulted.
    At the same time, I don’t know how many people are clamouring to re-nationalise Australia’s banks, airlines or telecommunications firms. Also I don’t think the loss in Queensland represents a rejection of other maligned neo-liberal policies implemented by Labor such as floating the exchange rate, reducing tariffs or setting up an independent reserve bank.

  • 23
    Posted Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    Excuse my ignorance and stupidity but Labor stands for workers’ rights.It opposed and defeated Work Choices. It stands for lower paid workers, achieving a 25% pay rise. It stands for action on climate change. It stands for lower tax rates for the lowest paid, raising the threshold by over three times. It opposes middle class welfare, removing rebates from those with enough income to pay their own and not burden the taxpayer. It stands for some of the profits from mining not going into the already overloaded pockets of bloated billionaires but to the people of the nation whose minerals the miners are profiting from. It stands for a fair distribution of wealth where possible.

    How do I know? It has legislated these things against the odds in a hung parliament. Judging by their actions this is what they stand for. But when it comes to the media these are closely guarded secrets, like Rudd’s appalling performance as PM. David Marr spilled the beans, but the silence in the mainsteam media was so great that it came as a surprise when he stood against Gillard and lost by far more than Turnbull in the attack by Abbott. Those who stated the facts were struck down as personal attackers. Surely they were acting with principle and courage.
    So how come people keep claiming “We don’t know what Labor stands for.” Where are they hanging out?

    It’s Abbott I know nothing about. What does he stand for beyond raw power and destruction? What is his vision, his creative view, his agenda? Now there’s a mystery if ever there was one. “Brand” Labor, if we must talk about it in PR terms means something based on the Gillard Government’s actions and clear statements. “Brand” Coalition stands for opposing just about everything and turning back the clock regardless of the calamitous consequences. So why all the pressure on Labor.

    And why the Queensland result?

    Perhaps because there is a media vacuum of information about what’s actually being achieved or proposed and with the aggressive, belligerent focus on one person alone, rather than her government and all of its members, people in despair turn to short cuts. Polls, the loudest most strident voices of those with a fixed agenda,the vast, expensive advertising campaigns, the disinformation, the power of the right in print media shape their opinions, not the facts. And they just follow the leader and take a short cut. Maybe they have been duped. Change is essential, sure, but annihilation is not good for anyone.

  • 24
    Posted Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    If the ALP keeps implementing the neo-liberal policies of the conservatives, eg privatisation of public assets, people might as well vote for the conservatives and be done with it.

  • 25
    Posted Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    Here’s hoping lefties vote for the party that represents them, the Greens, and the people in the centre the ALP’s pitching at realise that the carbon tax bullshit from News Ltd is just that, scaremongering bullshit, and treat the “promise everything” Coalition with the contempt they deserve. Australia could do with another minority government.

  • 26
    Posted Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    Cliffg- Abbott stands for Abbott becoming PM, he will fill in all the blanks (like an economic policy) after that.

    DF - Look at the policies implemented by Labor int the last 4 year and the policies Abbot is taking to the next election and tell me which is better for the country.

    It amazes me that the ALP is routinely criticised for being to far to the right and for being a socialist govt that is only interested in wealth redistribution.

  • 27
    Michael James
    Posted Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    Cpobke, demonising the ‘other’ is becoming a staple of Rundle’s work, for example his immediate tarring of the shooter of several people in France as a Right Wing Extremist (tm), despite having absolutely nothing more to work from than his own prejudices.

    Bit awkward that the shooter turned out to be an Al-Quaida zealot. Oh dear…

    As I said, its becoming a Rundle stock in trade.

  • 28
    Posted Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    time to work out what a Labor Party is for”

    It’s too late Guy. You work out what you stand for in Opposition. Not in Government.

    Meanwhile, the Coalition will be in fresh crisis, having tried a liberal leader (Malcolm Turnbull), a conservative leader (Abbott) and a petrol-station Mr Blowie (Brendan Nelson). It will be devoid of real talent and charisma in its front bench”

    You mean like how the Labor party is? After having tried a Labor leader (Rudd), a do-anything-for-power leader (Gillard) and… sorry, who’s next? The only person they have with any charisma is now Carr but given his announcements of late I question the talent. And in fact even then, any leader other than Rudd, will have to explain why they’re supporting Rudd’s NBN, Rudd’s ETS, Rudd’s Mining Tax… Only Rudd can sell Rudd’s vision - but Labor don’t want anything to do with him. And it’s funny isn’t it, that Swan declared Rudd “somebody who does not hold any Labor values” and yet here they are implementing all of his vision.

    Turns out Labor doesn’t even know what Labor values are…

    I like the delusion in both your 1 and 2 scenarios though. I don’t know if you’ve caught the news but: Labor aren’t winning the next election. It’s not happening. They’re done. It’s finished. It’s over. That goose is well and truly cooked. Any scenario that has “Labor”, “election” and “win” in the same sentence is fundamentally flawed.

    The issue for Labor now is: How can they minimise the damage and not be utterly wiped out like Queensland? They’re hoping to death the Liberals stick with Abbott because that’ll at least head-off the 60/40 2pp split (and keep it more around 55/45). But if they stuff up their attacks against Abott like Bligh did against Newman…

  • 29
    David Allen
    Posted Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    Just to get things straight. As of now, the LNP has 49.81% of first preferences. All others i.e. those NOT voting for LNP, 50.19%.

    Source: Qld Electoral Commission.

  • 30
    Posted Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    Jimmy, that last line nails it.

    The know all sanctimones on the right see, or atleast assert, Labor as “beholden to the greens” “crypto-socialist” etc

    Their counterparts on the left subscribe to the conviction that Labor is “no different to the Libs” blah blah blah whinge moan squeal

    THey can’t both be right and, infact to anyone capable of relective nuanced, thought are both totally wrong

    What’s truly amazing is how shamelessly the gutless, spineless, careerist print and tv journos push both points without a hint of professional embarassment. That insufferable morally untouchable Tony Jones is capable of premising questions with both fallacies to labor politicians on lateline (and on Q&A too when he takes his regular breaks from his “adventure in democracy”) in the same sitting!

  • 31
    Posted Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    Hey Blue Bubble, did Labor really sell-off QR National to divest Queenslanders from being owners in a dubious business?

    I doubt it, but I’d be happy to hear evidence to the contrary. You’d have to ask, why then, were they so pro-coal development?

    I find it difficult to tell these LibLabs apart.

  • 32
    Tim nash
    Posted Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    Bligh is an ex-student politician, turned community activist — and like many of that breed, one suspects, rather thin on the intellectual front.

    Guy, I like reading your articles but this comment in particular makes me think your a total wanker.

    You should know better and If you probe around your journo ‘intellectual’ mates you might be surprised who was a student politician and community activist.

    Crikey prides itself ongreat journalism.

    I want to get my bearings after the election, not this opinionated bullshit.

  • 33
    purcell garry
    Posted Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 3:40 pm | Permalink


    Botswanna bob is on the money. The rot begins and ends with the Nsw right. Three decades ago the party was invaded by the self serving careerists with third rate economics degrees, black suits, shaved heads, sunnies and phones jammed in their ears; the likes of Bitar and Arbib; know nothings whose only aim was to be parachuted into a safe seat. In the 80’s and 90’s they were behind the Hawke/Keating sell offs; in the noughties they surrounded Carr and his feeble successors with all sorts of attacks on the public domain. Eventually they emerged as the dead eyed manipulators of Gillard and crept from the shadows to assassinate Rudd. Gillard could not resist the mephistophelian temptations of these aparatchiks and labor supporters will not forgive or forget no matter how she tries to attone by resurrecting Rudd policies which she opposed in order to bring him down. Labor will be destroyed at the 2013 election thanks to the machiavelles of the NSW right and will have at least 3 terms to reinvent itself beginning with the Bracks/Faulkner plans.

  • 34
    Posted Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    Cpobke, demonising the ‘other’ is becoming a staple of Rundle’s work, for example his immediate tarring of the shooter of several people in France as a Right Wing Extremist (tm), despite having absolutely nothing more to work from than his own prejudices.”

    I think you’ve nailed it there “despite having nothing more to work from than his own prejudices.

    Problem with these sanctimonious fools on the left is that they are far from harmless. They are ultimatley un-examined egoists who provide fodder for their reactionary opposites.

  • 35
    James K
    Posted Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    CliffG - spot on.

    Susanne Blake - crazy exaggurations with no arguments, as always.

    Down and out in Saigon - what planet are you living on? Are you really going to argue that the Liberals will NOT continue to privatise govt assets in Qld??? Okay… heres a deal: when they do sell off the next item, will you publically acknowledge how they are doing that? Will you help convince others to vote against them because of that scandalous behaviour!? After all they have not promised to sell off anything. If they do… they are …. not quite backflipping… but … well … they were deceitful! Maybe some of the Nationals in the team will quietly oppose the action, but Liberal philosophy is utterly committed to less govt action and more private action. That means sell off govt assets to the highest bidder. If you believe that is not going to happen in Qld, you are either naive to the extreme or you are the holder of some secret knowledge about that specific Liberal Coalition, that the rest of us just dont have.

  • 36
    Posted Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    The parties in the United States and Australia are some of the oldest on Earth-and the most irrelevant. Let Labour die-it stands for nothing, and faces its existential crisis.

    I’m a fiscal conservative, a libertarian as regards personal behaviour, and a strong green when it comes to the environment (and, ‘inter-generational equity’)

    What is the party for me?

    To ask the question is to answer it.

    Let a thousand flowers bloom!

  • 37
    Posted Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    PK93 - The other interesting thing is that critics have been saying the Qld result shows voters won’t accept leaders who li ed to them, yet Howard got away with his “non core promises” and Abbott clearly won’t/can’t keep hte majority of his. It is the fact that the “shamelessly the gutless, spineless, careerist print and tv journos” are so unwilling to prosecute Abbott for his statements that makes this an issue.

  • 38
    Posted Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    You seem oddly disturbed by the events in Qld and still emotionally wedded to Labor.

    As someone who has never been a Labor supporter I support the Greens on all occasions, whilst still recognising that they have not yet realised the gravity of the ecological crisis (they still think its possible to have growth, bless ‘em).

    In the even more deluded world of two (right-wing) party dictatorship we live in I, naturally, prefer the Labor Party to be in power because of the two it is slightly less right-wing.

  • 39
    Posted Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    Abbott’s no Hitler, I hope, but Germany allowed an elected leader to “fill in all the blanks once he was in”. It’s mighty risky!

  • 40
    Posted Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    Yes Calyptorhynchus, it really is about “less worse” option isn’t it?

  • 41
    Posted Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    Well put CLIFFG,
    Cannot see abbott lasting the next 17 months,he has wasted parliaments time,and is not only looking unhinged,but is acting like someone who has lost the plot.His latest apology was insincere as one would ever see,know many liberals who will vote for anything but abbott,also seeing others say this over a lot of the internet.

  • 42
    Michael de Angelos
    Posted Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    Labor is still a good brand despite moving to the right (but not nearly as much as elsewhere around the world) and Ludwig is correct. Not only has Gillard had a hell of a time as PM and the way in which she got the job, as though Fraser’s takeover or Abbott’s turfing of Turnbull by a mere one vote are acceptable-she has worn a cross of being a woman and that is, no matter what we are told, a typical Australian chauvinistic trait.

    Combined with a rampant media that now demands, absolutely demands that politicians court it’s patronage. Not one, not one bloody hack has pointed out Abbott’s ludicrous statement that QLD demonstrates “personal insults” are wrong while he and Pyne attack Gillard mercilessly on the most disgusting personal levels/

    Gillard has been treated appalingly yet she won fair and square last year and Abbott would be in the same boat if the Independents had leaned this way. But with none of the insinuations that Gillard is somehow not a legitimate PM.

    With all this millstones around her neck, Julia Gillard has actually done extremely well and guided good policies through Parliament. However it’s become a mantra that she doesn’t “communicate” effectively.

    The same was done to Paul Keating until every suburban dill was parroting Packer’s and News Ltd’s lines : “but he’s so arrogant”.

    The corrupt media (Leveson/Finklestein) are the problem and they are perverting democracy in a thousand ways. If we had a fair media we would not have the great threat we have to democracy today as exampled by Campbell Newman’s win in QLD= now a one party state that the idiots up north seem little concerned about. Newman may have deserved to win but as exampled by his blood thirsty claim he will fight tooth and nail to win another seat could demonstrate a Napoloen in the making. NSW should have shown that wipeouts are dangerous-we now have a do nothing premier.

    Howard’as first massive also shows the dangers- we as a country shared in the killing of tens of thousands of Iraqis and Afghanis because these ‘wipeout’s give unfettered power.

    Rundle-the problem is the media.

  • 43
    Posted Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    Garry Purcell you surely don’t believe the Liberal Party or the National Party don’t have backroom aparatchiks, do you? Why does Nick Minchin pop up from time to time, Peter Reith, Morris, Textor, etc and then there are the many whose names we don’t know or hear.
    “Labor’s faceless men” is a meaningless cliche in politics 2012.
    Go read David Marr’s “Quarterly Essay” on Rudd when he was deposed and it was much more than aparatchiks. He was in disarray.
    Not to have removed him would have been a catastrophe for the country.
    And do a quick mental comparison between the Gillard team and the Abbott team. Who has the most discredited yesterday’s men and women on the team. It’s about much more than the personality of the PM.
    Ask Arbib, Habib, Cornelia Rau, the AWB, the navy staff who boarded the Tampa, for starters. Go back and look at “Work Choices” and see how little choice it gave workers. The Coalition have policies, which they’re keeping close to their chest. After the catastrophic dismantling comes back to the future.

  • 44
    Posted Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    In support of JAMES K ,newman has appointed as director of the premiers dept,grayson who is known as a government sales expert

  • 45
    Posted Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    Cliffg- It’s not a risk I am willing to take but it seems many voter like to leave the thinking to Bo. lt and co.

    Schnappi - There is still hope, especially if people start looking at his policies and they realise the Mining & Carbon taxes aren’t bad at all.

    PK93 - See Calyptorynchus for further evidence.

  • 46
    Posted Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    @Cliff - absolutely spot on. I’m convinced that no matter what Labor achieves between now & the election will be ignored by the media because it’s much more interesting to talk about perceived failures rather than tangible successes.

    What does Abbott represent? The power at all costs, trash the country if required attitude that is par for the course in the grand ol’ U. S of A.

    I’ve got no idea of what the cause of Labors problems in QLD were but suspect that all Labor will be put into the same basket.

  • 47
    michael crook
    Posted Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

    Privatisation was definitely the main factor in the ALP loss. Helped by a very strong very early campaign led by the ETU (see Queensland first before Bligh sells it), with corflutes and bumper stickers, it was a campaign that sealed the fate of the Bligh government long before polling day.

    I do not think that Bligh initiated the privatisation or believed in it, she just knew that if she wanted the job she had to do what the Ludwig controlled AWU faction wanted. That is where the real power lies. For 20 years a so called union with more interest in its corporate connections (Jim Elder etc) than its own members, has ruled Queensland with an iron fist, and in the ALP it is always winner take all.

    The privatisations made no sense at all from an economic point of view, the ports, forest and rail were all making money (as was electricity retail before Beattie sold it, and state insurance office before Goss sold it ). In the case of QR national, this was a model of efficiency and returned high incomes to the state government. To say that it, or any of them couldn’t afford to modernise, is a nonsense, if private capital can borrow money, pay the interest and still make a profit, then a well managed organisation such as QR National could do the same.

    The assets, which belonged to all of us, and were making money for all of us, were sold for a song, and Queenslanders were very very annoyed about this, still are.

    Declaration, I ran as a candidate at Sandgate for Socialist Alliance, and, strangely, didn’t win!

  • 48
    Posted Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    CHPOWELL is absolutely right. There isn’t nearly enough diversity or competition in Autralian electoral politics. The very idea that a minority government is somehow unworkable or dysfunctional goes a long way to showing how complacent the two major parties, (and particularly the political commentariat in regard to analysis) have become in terms of policy-making and governing.
    It’s true that Abbott probably doesn’t need to esatablish a decent policy platform in order to very likely win the next election. He can rely on a typically two dimensional analysis from the media to render the only other viable government as useless and unsuccessful, which denies Australian’s any substantial political debate. Also, that proponents of federal opposition can at this point make claims to victory a year and half out from the election simply makes a mockery of our so-called democracy. For all the bullshit and partisanship of polictical commentators, bloggers and tweeters there is a profound disrespect for democratic principle.
    The reduction of politics to a simple two-sided media report with an occassional reference to one of the freak outsiders (outside the realm of the only game in town, to win power) has resulted in a commentariat as shallow as possible. The public will never become engaged in political debate as long as they can be assured that for every policy position there is a roughly equal and opposing one touted by the other guys. This kind of political system does nothing to reflect the complexity of the world we live in today , because issues in the public sphere aren’t contended so much as they’re opposed.

  • 49
    Posted Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    I’m normally a huge fan of your writing Guy.
    But this piece of confused mayhem reads more like an ad for Red Bull than a coherent article.
    Needs less fast stuff and more blue pencil mate.

  • 50
    Edward James
    Posted Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    Labor with some determination is on the way to being broken up. The party members have been doing as much damage to the political party as the party has been doing to the Australia. The LNP was the best tool to sweep as much Labor dead wood from Queensland as possible. The voting public know what they werte doing. They were sending a message to elected representatives generally stop lying to us stop abusing your trusted positions, and start exercising your influence in the best interest of you constituents. What is being done to Labor nationnally can just as easly be done to the other half of the two parties not much preferred if thay do not straighten up and fly right! The LNP has unfinished business, Heiner Shreddergate, just like Barry O Farrell in NSW. Government belongs to the people and it is their to work for the people. That has been forgotton for a long time take note Guy Rundel. Edward James