“What goes around comes around, so
there was more than a little poetic justice for Kim Beazley on Thursday
when a newspaper reported that unnamed Labor MPs were aghast at their
leader’s decision to vote against tax cuts contained in the budget,” Shaun Carney wrote in The Age on Saturday.

destabilisation process had begun, with the anonymous quotes detailing
bewilderment and dismay at Beazley’s judgment during the one week of
each year when even the most aggressively indifferent voter is paying
attention to what’s going on in Canberra. It was difficult not to feel
a Proustian rush, as if we were all back in 2003, when Beazley’s
supporters were doing exactly the same thing to Simon Crean, predicting
disaster at every turn and subjecting him to a political death of a
thousand cuts.

“One difference was that, of course, this time
the backgrounding was aimed at hurting Beazley, not helping him. The
other was that the process has become turbo-charged. A Labor MP told me
on Thursday afternoon that he had already fielded three phone calls
from members of the press gallery asking when the challenge against
Beazley would be on.”

Indeed. It was pleasant to meet a
delegation of Labor heavies in the Gallery on Thursday afternoon,
whiteanting their leader before he could even deliver his Budget
Address in Reply. Tasmanian MHR Harry Quick’s tax comments on the ABC on Friday didn’t help much, either.

was full and frank: “There was a bit of angst because the decision was
made – Smith, Swan, Conroy and Beazley, without any discussion. You
know, like four people wanting to play in every position on the footy
field and you’ve got an interchange bench that’s never used and you’ve
got a whole lot of players who can play in better positions than the
four and they all want the ball kicked to them straight away…There was
a reasonable number of people who, you know, have said to Kim that, you
know, you’re the leader, you’ve made some mistakes before, you know, if
you want to have everyone singing from the same songbook, for goodness
sake involve us, because some of us have been around a long time and
keep winning seats and increasing our margin despite the storms that
assail us… you know, we ought to be doing something right so if you
exclude us, well occasionally we’re going to get our knickers in a knot
and speak our minds.”

The Roosters are back – and the pundits
are left wondering if the influence of this little group, as much as
Mark Latham, was behind the decision of some of Labor’s brighter sparks
to retreat to the safety backbench after the next election. This little
politburo is having an undue – and disastrous – influence on the ALP.

Swan now has two massive blunders to his credit – the $600 in family
assistance that wasn’t “real money” from the election time, and now a
decision to block – or try to block – a tax cut for the true believers.
Bob McMullan, Lindsay Tanner – hell, even Craig Emerson, come on down!