No would-be leader of a major
British political party is complete without a think tank of his or her
own. In Australia, it seems, you need a publication.

Lindsay Tanner is still coasting off his effort of years ago, Open Australia,
and Peter Beattie and Wayne Swan have both recently released tomes. On
the Liberal side, Victorians Tony Smith and Andrew Robb have taken over
and rebadged Chris Pyne’s journal Options, while South Australian backbencher Andrew Southcott has chimed in with a publication of his own.

Now
another Queensland Laborite, Craig Emerson – sorry, Dr Craig Emerson –
is putting his exile from the Opposition frontbench to productive use,
yesterday releasing the Soviet chic titled Progressive Essays.

Emerson has declared families living on $100,000 in Sydney are not rich, The Australian
reports. He has “called on his colleagues to scrap the ‘old ideology’
of class warfare and ‘re-embrace’ the Hawke-Keating model of economic
reform,” reports Samantha Maiden. He has also “acknowledged there would
be pain in calling on welfare payments to the wealthy to be scrapped in
order to fund tax reform and other spending priorities. ‘If you want a
cut in the top marginal tax rate, give up your welfare, that’s what I
say to wealthy people in this country’.” And that’s just the start.

It
seems that pollies on both sides of the House feel that if you make
enough noise, you’ll end up on the frontbench. But does it happen
because of what you say – or to shut you up? Watch Emerson closely.

Peter Fray

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