“Our party is facing a crisis of organisation and a crisis of belief, and instead of grappling with those threats to our survival as a party … we’re talking about the minutiae of politics, tactics, preferences. You have to win primary votes to have preferences to give. And, in case you hadn’t noticed, our primary vote is far too low and getting lower.”

So said ALP elder statesman John Faulkner as his party devoted much of the weekend’s New South Wales conference to talking preferences and attacking the Greens. Faulkner was howled down for his stance, and some party heavyweights will believe they’ve come away from the weekend’s bloodletting — which resulted in a decision to stop automatically preferencing the Greens — with a win. Have they really?

Many voters will be wondering why a party with a primary vote in the electoral “death zone” is talking preference deals and savings its criticism for other parties.

At least Julia Gillard was trying to ask the big questions in her speech to the conference. But as Bernard Keane writes today, she might be arriving at the wrong answers when she claims that “Labor is a cause, not a brand”. Keane writes:

“But like everything else, Labor is indeed a brand, as well as a cause; the two are hardly mutually exclusive, and indeed political parties are inevitably both. In Labor’s case, that brand is badly — very badly — damaged. Insisting that it is a cause will not repair that damage … Labor might do well to think more about its brand rather than less.”


We made news of our own over the weekend as our website fell victim to a hacker. The site was down for a few hours on Saturday morning as we smoked out the pest and inoculated our systems. Rest assured, no subscriber information was compromised and, as far as we know, no user infected with anything nasty. It looks like a random attack; nothing conspiratorial about it, sadly.