This is a guest post by Mr Kon Vatskalis, NT Labor Shadow Minister for the portfolios of Health, Primary Industry and Fisheries, Mines and Energy, Asian Relations and Trade, Defence Support, Information, Communications and Technology and Corporate Services.
He has been an Australian Labor Party member of the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly since September 2001, representing the Darwin-based electorate of Casuarina.
On having a closer look at the WA election results I believe that the Labor Party should be very worried.
If seats like Kimberley, Perth, Albany and a number of others have changed hands that would mean the annihilation of the party in WA and serious troubles for the party at a national level.
Another thing that has troubled me a lot was that when Sky News was showing the party gatherings, a significant number of young people were present at the Liberal Party function with many more middle-aged people at the Labor Party affair. You may think this is a generalisation but the reality is that things have changed radically in our society.
Gone are the days of “class warfare.” People now aspire to become something and – thanks to Labor in the 70s, 80s and 90s – people can now go to University, they can do something with their life and buy their own houses and make something of themselves. And of course people tend to vote more conservatively when they have a vested interest in property or wealth.
On the other hand I have seen Labor clinging to “the old values” and any call for renewal has fallen on deaf ears.
In addition to that the NSW corruption saga sends – rightly or wrongly – a message to the public that Labor politicians cannot be trusted.
Abbott and his very friendly media pals have been on the front foot condemning Labor policy. This has been assisted by the fact that Labor has not been able to sell its message properly.
But one of the most important factors is the way that the change of leadership has been portrayed by nearly all media outlet to present a picture that Prime Minister Julia Gillard cannot be trusted.
Playing this with the continuous talk about Kevin Rudd coming back – despite his valiant denials – has not and will not help.
Let’s face reality.
Things are bad for Labor nationally. And as a senior government Minister told me privately last week in Sydney, “The party is in serious trouble and I hope that Rudd will come back so we can salvage some seats in NSW and Queensland“.
Please note I am not writing this lightly.
As a member of the ALP since 1983 I have a responsibility and an obligation to defend the party and do what is best for the party. I am watching the party I love go downhill and I am not prepared to stay quiet.
I believe that Prime Minister Gillard is an honourable person and has been the subject of many unwarranted attacks at both a personal and professional level.
However people now have stopped listening to what she has to say. More importantly the rest of the party is pre-occupied fighting allegation about leadership rather than going out to talk with people.
The Federal Labor government has to take responsibility for the WA results and cannot blame everything on our comrades in WA.
My friend Allanah MacTiernan yesterday said publicly what many people in the party think, and I am afraid I have to agree with her.
Continue like this and the ALP is doomed.
It is the time for serious decisions.