Is Laurie
Oakes a fan of Mumble Politics?
On Monday, Mr Mumble, Peter Brent, wrote “The trouble with
Bomber is that he has to devote much of his energy to keeping his job, rather
than doing it. This is largely thanks to Julia and Simon, but three years was
always going to be a long time to keep the troops schtum.”

Well, that’s basically what Oakes has to say in The Bulletin today:

For God’s
sake, give him a break! No matter what Kim Beazley does, it’s never good
enough. Even at the end of a parliamentary week which saw the government
sinking deeper into the AWB mire, sackings under new industrial relations laws
causing widespread disquiet, and Labor ructions calmed by a well-judged Beazley
speech to caucus, the bloke was still getting a kicking. “How do you solve a
problem like Kim Beazley?” was the heading on a two-page article in Melbourne’s Sunday Age.

The Labor
leader is giving his all. If anything, he is trying too hard…

Beazley is
doing “a far better job than most political commentary would suggest”, Oakes
says. He acknowledges Kevin Rudd’s potential, warns about Julia Gillard’s self
promotion and offers a few pointers to help the Bomber fly higher. Many of
these tie in with the views expressed by Labor hard heads when Beazley returned
to the leadership last year.

Oakes’s
first tip involves the “anachronistic” no-new-mines uranium policy. Michelle
Grattan
has some similar views on the matter. “Uranium mining policy is being
turned into the new ticker test for Kim Beazley. He can’t avoid it, and the
issue will measure his acuity in managing a party for which it is both divisive
and iconic”, she writes today.

They’re
right. It’s crucial. “It is an opportunity for Beazley to be seen to lead; a
counter to the ‘no ticker’ claim”, Oakes says. “And, since even Paul Keating
failed to change the policy, a win would be seen as a major achievement.” He
points out how global warming is making us rethink nuclear power, taking “much
of the old emotionalism” out of the debate.

But there’s another angle for the Bomber, too.
Uranium mining is about economic growth and blue collar jobs in Australia. It’s about producing material to prosperity in
nations like China and India – economic growth and, in the former, democracy. What
could be more Labor than that? Indeed, isn’t that what all Australians stand
for?

Peter Fray

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