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Jul 31, 2009

ALP conference turtles pull their heads in

When a federal MP likens the ALP front bench to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, you know the ALP National Conference has turned terminal.

Andrew Crook — Former <em>Crikey</em> Senior Journalist

Andrew Crook

Former Crikey Senior Journalist

“I congratulate Minister Roxon and I congratulate the government.”

“It has been a pleasure to work with the Health Minister and I praise your intellect and your commitment to the issues.”

“I wish to thank Minister Snowdon for his speech and for his passion for rural and regional Australia.”

So went the health care “debate” at the ALP National Conference this morning in what is looming as a ratings disaster for fledgling public affairs channel A-Pac, and a crisis for the nation’s feature writers. In a repeat of yesterday’s pre-approved water torture, delegate after delegate shuffled to the podium to again deliver pre-vetted cant before a slouching audience dreaming of a better life.

The big health announcements have already been made this week, leaving interest levels waning without the benefit of yesterday’s rapidly-disintegrating “green jobs” hook.

Illicit drug use was condemned, but for many delegates the prospect of a Friday night ice bender at the adjacent Home Nightclub must be starting to look tempting.

Over three long hours, the health care and education sessions proceeded inconsequentially, with clearly-distracted chair Anna Bligh at one point slashing the speaking time by 20 per cent, from five minutes to four. Some delegates waived their right to speak altogether, with Bligh striking them off the schedule with barely-contained glee.

Linsday Tanner’s roving motion-killing hit squad has emerged triumphant, with a formal vote amazingly yet to take place at the conference. When the time came to vote in this morning’s session, amendments were approved “on bloc”, in a move straight out of the Erich Mielke playbook.

And when resident ALP novelist Graham Perrett gets laughs by likening the federal front bench to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, with Donatello, Michaelangelo, Raphael and Leonardo becoming Kevinangelo, Julianardo, Waynatello, and Kateael, you know the party is in serious strife. Watch here:

“They’re no half-shells, but they’re my new renaissance heroes”, claimed Perrett, to embarrassing sniggers.

Even the much-hyped Labor Fringe, which received another publicity boost in the Financial Review today, has failed to live up to expectations, with the ALP-haters at Socialist Alliance forced to carry the protest can outside the auditorium.

Ministers have appeared supremely disinterested, with many mistaking the podium for the dispatch box — yesterday, Craig Emerson partook in the requisite pre-speech jacket-buttoning.

Even the “Mexican stand-off” within the Victorian Right over election to the National Executive was resolved, after nominations matched the vacancies.

The real action, if you can call it that, will come tomorrow with the gay marriage stoush set to enliven a core of committed activists but not many others. Louise “infertility does not discriminate” Pratt had a brief audition today with a passionate appeal to GLBTI Australians.

Away from the conference floor, previous rumours of delegates embracing the Star City craps tables have been nixed after the punt shifted to nearby crab-racing venues, with several senior delegates itching to make the most of the action.

Like the crab face-off, the NSW leadership showdown could still have some way to run. Last night sources sighted a miffed NSW Preimer Nathan Rees putting away a few quiet beers, with bitter rival John Robertson working the opposite side of the room and studiously avoiding eye contact.

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7 thoughts on “ALP conference turtles pull their heads in

  1. RaymondChurch

    Come on Andrew what is really p-ssing you off is Labor showing a united front. No bitching, in fighting, everything appears sweetness and light, (the mad monk will be impressed). The whole conference appearance is in stark contrast to the rabble that is the opposition. There was one minor glitch with new minister Abib, but hardly a sacking offence. Sky News in their oh dear gasp shock way tried to make it bigger than it was,but that was all they had so they hung their hat on it. Abib will have got the message from the boss already. All in all, it’s (the conference)is ticking over like a well oiled machine. If the gay marriage debate is going to be the biggie of the weekend, the result is already decided on that one, so all in all, everything being equal, it’s tickety boo and back to Canberra for the next sitting. Has there ever been a more happy bunch of fluffy ducks? Turnbull the Mad just cannot turn a trick.

  2. pedro

    Welcome to democracy ALP style. Kind of reminds me of the books I have read about the communist regime under Stalin. Apparently nobody ever disagreed with the big boss, and those who dared to were literally frozen out in Siberia.

    So too with the ALP, where nobody is allowed to have an individual opinion. Certtainly explains why there is an absence of ideas!

  3. RaymondChurch

    Come on Pedro, dont be a sad sack. Never heard of happy families.

  4. pedro

    Ouch, such harsh name calling raymondchurch, oooh, I’ve learnt my lesson.

    Everybody knows that debate has been neutered at this conference. Who are you trying to kid lol.

    Seriously, what a shame you left wing types are too scared to allow open debates. What happened here is a good example. I had a different opinion and you cruelly cut me down with a vicious bit of name calling. Ouch!

    As for happy families, that is not even a nice try, you have just embarassed yourself!

  5. RaymondChurch

    Pedro you are not having a good day. I meant this ‘happy family’, here on the blog, in Crikey, on these pages, in box, email,us, here, your brothers and sisters, chatting together…. There will be open debate, what time to adjourn to the rubbidy dub:-)

  6. Daniel Ashdown

    “Welcome to democracy ALP style. Kind of reminds me of the books I have read about the communist regime under Stalin. Apparently nobody ever disagreed with the big boss, and those who dared to were literally frozen out in Siberia.”

    Fantastic analysis. Really illuminating. Kevin Rudd is literally Stalin. Thanks for your input.

  7. pedro

    Wow Daniel, great late input! You must be quite the intellect.