New South Wales Premier Morris Iemma has an
interesting way of dealing with a rebuke from the electorate in three
by-elections.

He’s decided to make a bloke linked with
vote rigging his chief of staff:
former Queensland Labor heavy and MP Mike Kaiser.

Kaiser was forced to quit his state seat of
Woodridge in 2001 after admitting to involvement in Labor vote rigging in the
1980s. He was officially rehabilitated last year, became assistant ALP national
secretary and helped run the federal election campaign before leaving for a job
in private enterprise.

Now, he’s back – to the concern of many
Labor heavies. They don’t so much worry about his youthful indiscretions. They
worry about his competence.

Not only that. Kaiser’s resurrection offers
a good case study of the cultural problems in the ALP covered in The Latham
Diaries.

The tentacles of the unreconstructed
hardman of the Queensland AWU, Bill Ludwig, still seem to stretch wide – long
past the reach of the Shepherdson inquiry. Kaiser is still being looked after
by the Right.

Kaiser’s continued career is a prime example
of the sort of structural and cultural malaise within Labor which Latham could have and
should have targeted, instead of the vitriol he’s offered.

Latham’s complaints about the ALP are not
new. They can only be fixed from inside, too – not by throwing rocks on the
roof.

Here’s a prime case of what’s wrong with
Labor. Will any of the current crop of wannabe have anything to say on it?
Bill? Evan? We’re waiting.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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