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Mar 28, 2013

The strangely malleable legacy of the Hawke-Keating years

Labor figures who now invoke the Hawke-Keating legacy appear to have forgotten what actually happened back then. And if Labor really wants to embrace the H and K era, here's what they should do on superannuation ...


The vanquishing of Kevin Rudd’s leadership ambitions — at least while Julia Gillard remains prime minister — has done nothing to quiet the debate over Labor’s direction; indeed, that debate is more intense than ever …

“People have got to believe we have conviction, that we believe in what we stand for, there is a coherence of message and we are determined to pursue it. What we have to do is to take people with us.”

That was Simon Crean’s statement last week, that Labor’s woes wouldn’t be solved by a mere change of leadership, as he invoked “the great things that I was part of in the Hawke-Keating government”. Then came the stream of ministerial resignations on Friday, with Martin Ferguson calling for an end to “class war” rhetoric. Bill Kelty has since chimed in to complain of a Labor Party that “cultivates division“.

That’s the Bill Kelty who as ACTU secretary warned that the election of the Howard government in 1996 would see the union movement take this approach to the government: “If they want a fight, if they want a war, they’ll have the full symphony.” Looks a little like division to me.

Crean’s attempt to wear the mantle of the Hawke-Keating years might also sit uneasily with those who remember how he was derided as an advocate of interventionist industry policy when Labor was trying to dismantle protectionism and open the industrial economy up to competition, when the term “Creanite” was one of the more printable Keatingesque term of abuse within the ministerial wing of Parliament House.

And given Labor turned its back on the Keating legacy after 1996 under Kim Beazley and Crean, the whole embrace of the Hawke-Keating years as a golden period of Labor success is rich indeed. The “Hawke-Keating era” now appears to mean whatever Labor figures want it to mean.

As for division and class warfare, anyone who remembers Keating enthusiastically dishing it out to his business critics might have difficulty with the idea that the 1980s were a nirvana of consensus politics, especially when Keating was happy to rise in Parliament and, in the course of a spray at Nobby Clark, suggest NAB was in financial trouble. Nor were those governments above stumbles, errors and policy disasters. When Keating lost in cabinet to Kim Beazley over telecommunications policy, Australia was handed a monolithic Telstra that held back communications infrastructure and strangled competition in Australia for a generation.

Still, the passage of time, as we know, lends a rather roseate hue to conflict and turmoil. Who knows — in the 2020s Labor figures might invoke the bravery of the Gillard government in implementing a carbon price.

What the Hawke and Keating governments were good at, undoubtedly, was standing up to special interests and rentseekers. Indeed, a key part of Keating’s communications strategy was to rip the mask off special interests opposing reform and expose them as the self-interested lobbyists they were. But when Wayne Swan does the same to mining magnates (in one of the few effective moments of communication this government has achieved), suddenly it’s “class warfare”, not just according to Christopher Pyne but to the miners’ friend at court, Martin Ferguson.

Under that logic, any effort to point out that business interests are not analogous to, and may even be in conflict with, the national interest is “class warfare”.

For some, that’s pretty rigorous logic. Remember Kerry Stokes last week at the media reform hearings declaring that there was no distinction between the interests of his shareholders and the public interest?

Labor is indeed engaged in a “class war” but it’s one declared by special interests, who use their entrenched position and wealth to protect themselves. Foreign mining companies unwilling to pay tax, media companies who won’t even self-regulate let alone accept government regulation or sections of the financial planning industry who don’t want the easy life of commissions and disengaged fee-paying clients. The ammunition in this war is advertising dollars, lobbyist payments and polling.

And Labor isn’t always on the side of the angels in this particular war. It runs an industry policy dedicated to propping up three multinational car companies. It only discovered rentseeking and gold-plating by electricity network owners when state governments went from being Labor to Coalition.

But if politicians want to misuse the term “class war”, then let’s be clear what it really means.

Which brings us to the current stoush between the smouldering ruins of the Rudd camp and the government over superannuation. One by one, they’ve lined up to criticise any plans to reduce tax breaks for the well-off on superannuation. First Crean. Then Joel Fitzgibbon — what happened to “you won’t be hearing much from Joel Fitzgibbon between now and May”, Joel?. Then Kim Carr. It’s almost as if we now have an official and an unofficial opposition, one in the Coalition, one on the Labor backbench.

As Treasury revealed in January, this is the year in which superannuation tax concessions are forecast to overtake housing (essentially, the CGT exemption on the family home) as the single biggest area of tax expenditure, at around $30 billion a year, and forecast to rise to $40 billion a year well before the end of the decade. In terms of sheer size, there’s a case for urgently reining in the cost of superannuation tax concessions to preserve Australia’s damaged tax base. Moreover, those concessions are disproportionately skewed in favour of higher income earners.

The Coalition has its own superannuation tax plans, intending to remove the Low Income Superannuation Contribution for low-income earners, further skewing the benefits toward high income earners.

Addressing the unsustainable growth in tax expenditures and doing so in a way that does not increase, and ideally reduces, the inequities of the current system, would traditionally be considered sound Labor policy. The Hawke-Keating government, which assiduously pursued tax rorts like fringe benefits exploited by high-income earners, may well have adopted exactly such an approach.

But for those who only last week were calling for a return to the spirit of the Hawke-Keating years, apparently it’s divisive and unfair.

Strange how things change.


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56 thoughts on “The strangely malleable legacy of the Hawke-Keating years

  1. Hamis Hill

    Malleable? Is it cool to know what a hammer is now?
    There’s one for the tradies!

  2. cairns50

    im a labor supporter through and through and have around 200,000 in my super and im just over 60years of age,not a big amount but i must admit even im concerned about them changing the rules

    why can not new rules be put in place for people who are 50 years or younger and who still have many years of work left in them to fund there super and leave the existing rules in place for people above that age limit

    after all we will all die eventually

    re the class war whats wrong with that? when the liberals, big business the miners and every other right winger stop attacking working class people then perhaps people like myself might start thinking different about them

    class warfare give us a break? i wont even bother going into how much the churches get for there schools compared to the govt state school system

  3. klewso

    Unfortunately, from the look, Labor seems rented out to rent-seekers?

  4. Richard

    on point bernard. thanks.

  5. GF50

    Bernard spot on analysis, and several posts already showing the unknowing of the confections of the “class warfare” People unknowing of the fact that it is only those on high income that are using their Superfunds as a “tax haven” to the detriment of those without high income to benefit mightily from that that “tax haven” and compounding interest.

  6. illywhacker

    Outstanding Bernard.

  7. JMNO

    Very good article.

    I remember that at the end of the Keating years, there were many people waiting with cricket bats to belt Keating as far out of politics as they could. He was resented for behaving like a toff, lecturing Australians about culture and how we should all think, and ramming engagement with Asia down everyone’s throats. I actually liked what he said but I knew many people who had the feelings I have described.

  8. Sharilynn Gerchow

    Surely Fitzgibbon has a conflict of interest here given that he must earn at least $190K/year according to the Remuneration Tribunal? Maybe Gillard should highlight that removing tax breaks on the super of high earners will impact on her Govt but they are doing it for the good of Australia?

  9. klewso

    I think it’s funny how and what some of these operators like to feed the press – if they went to Fraser Island they wouldn’t feed the dingos there?

  10. Kristian

    This is excellent stuff, Bernard.

    Thanks particularly for the details on some of Keating’s shortcomings. I’m a little too young to know a lot of what happened then, so it’s good to get some balanced info.

    That said, even in my relatively uninformed view, I’m sure he ran things better than the current lot!

  11. Achmed

    “The Coalition has its own superannuation tax plans, intending to remove the Low Income Superannuation Contribution for low-income earners, further skewing the benefits toward high income earners.”

    (This will effect around 7 million workers)

    and yet when this plan was released Abbott is quoted as saying his Govt would not touch superannuation in his first term.

    Is it just me or can others see a contradiction?

    Is this like his statement that there would be no new taxes under a Govt he lead, then he released plans to increase business tax by 2% for paid maternity leave plan

  12. Jimmy

    Achmed – You will go mad trying to find consistency in Abbott’s statements. If he does everything he has claimed and we don’t end up in recession or worse because of it it will be a miracle.

  13. Suzanne Blake

    Labor faces decades in Opposition, if they survive that long.

  14. Suzanne Blake


    If Labor is defeated, consumer and business confidence will rise again, and there we will be not Recession based on Labor losing office

  15. Achmed

    So true Jimmy. The lack of scrutiny by the mainstream media only proves the Liberal bias

  16. Jimmy

    SB – “Labor faces decades in Opposition, if they survive that long.” They said the same about the libs after 2007.

    “If Labor is defeated, consumer and business confidence will rise again, and there we will be not Recession based on Labor losing office” Consumer confidence is already rising, it rose 7% in Jan and another 2% in Feb. It is currently sitting at 110 (100 being neutral).

    On business confidence, in the last 2 days we have had “prominent Sydney investment banker Mark Carnegie” arguing for the retention of the Carbon tax and an article in the business spectator bagging out Abbott’s ridiculous direct action policy.

    And they won’t be that confident when unemployment rises and growth slows or goes backwards and company tax rates increase.

    Abbott’s economic polices don’t make sense and can’t work simple as that.

  17. Mike Flanagan

    Thanks Bernard. You may very well be right in your perceptions.
    There has been much chatter among Chadwick House members about the tensions between capital market players and democracy. Perhaps in there we may find the true essence of ‘class warfare’.
    The world has changed since Hawke Keating and Howard. The GFC will be become the historic marker.
    The rivers of taxpayer gold built on debt encrusted growth patterns are no longer present or available in the foreseeablle horizons. When they were available governents could afford to pay off section of the society in order to further a policy ambition for the whole of the community.
    While Ms and Mr, Gillard and Swan endeavour to show strategic direction, Tony Abbott offers his usual PR gifted empty incoherence, and a few malecontents enjoy their five minutes of sunshine, your above piece is a ray of white light thanks Bernard.

  18. Steve777

    “What the Hawke and Keating governments were good at, undoubtedly, was standing up to special interests and rentseekers” – right on, great article. If only Rudd and Gillard showed similar proficiency in calling rent seeking for what is was.

    BTW – I think you meant “sections of the financial planning industry who don’t want the easy life of commissions and disengaged fee-paying…” TO END.

  19. David Hand

    I believe that the Hawke / Keating governments were the most visionary in Australia’s history and their positive impact will have an effect for most of this century.

    This causes a problem for Labor because many of their profound reforms were not in the narrow interests of the union movement. This is where Union acolytes such as Julia Gillard have real difficulty. They are caught between delivering favours to their Union masters and speaking kindly of the Hawke and Keating years. It’s hard to do both.

    So we are left with a muddled narrative that lacks authenticity. Labor people don’t know what of the Hawke / Keating reforms are politically acceptable in the 2013 version of their party.

  20. Steve777

    Of course Bob Hawke was the consensus man. Paul Keating was less patient. It was sometimes said that his approach to consensus was more “agree with Paul or get st…”. He was not particularly liked but he was respected. Labor desperately need the sort of relents that Bob Hawke and Paul Keating brought to Goverment in the 80s and 90s.

  21. Steve777

    Sorry “relents” = “talents”. The iPhone text predictor strikes.
    And good points made by David Hand.

  22. Mike Flanagan

    The assertion Ms Gillard is a ‘union acolyte’ is without foundation.
    Ms Gillard was an industrial solicitor who hung her shingle out under one of the more ecletic legal companies of Melbourne. She was never an officionado of any union.

  23. Mike Flanagan

    Steve 777
    Both Keating and Hawke governed with a majority in the lower house, the current government lacks such luxury.

  24. michael crook

    Just wait for the Trans pacific trade agreement, if you want to see the pendulum swing even further to entrenching foreign corporations as our controllers, you aint seen nothing yet.

  25. Hamis Hill

    Suzanne confirms the inevitable Abbott Recession by merely mentioning it at all,
    What will you be doing in the Recession, Suzy?
    Who was Totalitarian Tony getting advice from in London this Christmas?
    Here is how it will pan out.
    The technique of dispossession through(unsustainable) debt is already in place thanks to Howard’s trillion dollar private debt orgy, leaving Australians unable to invest in their own mining and agricultural sectors.
    In the “Inevitable Abbott Recession”, the gamble with ever increasing Capital Gain on housing will fail.
    But the overseas financiers of all other sectors of the economy could hardly care and will simply step in to buy this housing at a massive discount.
    It is how the market works, Suzy, and those most likely to profit have especially selected Tony to make it happen for them.
    The “poor white trash” of “South Timor” with Tony PM presiding over the Abbott Anarchy.
    Should be a hoot watching them all blaming it on “The Bitch”.
    Who will be your new landlords, slaves?
    The world’s biggestjoke, who threw it all away because a bunch of pea-brained journalists told them to do so.
    You’ll soon find out how the First Peoples felt when you suffer the same dispossession, but it wasn’t their fault the first time, unlike the fools who followed them.

  26. Hamis Hill

    Suzanne confirms the “Inevitable Abbott Recession” merely by denying the possibility.
    It’ll be real Barbeque stopper!

  27. Hamis Hill

    Howard’s trillion Dollar mortgage time bomb, complete with built in Austerity trigger, and the “Inevitable Abbott Recession”: hammer it into your “malleable” consciousnesses, Arsepirationals!

  28. Hamis Hill

    Vote Labor!

  29. Gocomsys

    I personally do not give a damn about party politics and I couldn’t care less about labels such as left, right, centre, wet and dry. What I care about is the health of our democracy. I hate it when it gets trashed for the sake of profit and power or through sheer ineptitude and stupidity.

    The triumvirate MSM/ABC/LNP are clearly out of control for some time now. The malevolent alliance is hell bent in removing a policy rich and better than average Federal Government. These are unprecedented events.

    A diverse range of tools are being deployed. They are ranging from telling outright lies, supply of misinformation, suppression of facts, personal attacks and the list goes on. Another effective tool is the constant reference to mid-term poll “results”.

    Some honest journalists are stepping up to the plate in order to set the record straight. Unfortunately too many “fence sitters” do not seem to comprehend the gravity of the situation. Time is running out!

    Get your act together people or our civil society goes down the drain. Do you care?

  30. David Hand

    Keep it up Hamis! While there’s time there’s hope!!

  31. David Hand

    Your plucky effort to distance Gillard from her Union servitude is worthy. Futile but worthy.

    As urban intellectuals muse with puzzlement about how a government presiding over such a strong economy and also be so unpopular, the union influence looms as a major factor. Witness the union friendly industrial laws, the way that MPs are told by their union masters who they must support in a leadership spill if they are to retain their pre-selections and Julia’s less-than-stellar work for the AWU in the 90’s and it’s not unreasonable to call her a union acolyte.

  32. cairns50

    thanks david hand having know all people like you making posts on crikey has once again turned me off where do disgusting people like you come from

  33. GeeWizz

    Labor have actually been attacking low income earners superannuation, do a search on Super Co-Contributions Scheme.

    Under Howard if you contributed $1000 into your own superannuation(from your post-taxed income) and made less than $30,000 annually the government would give put in an additional $1500 into your super account. People earning above $30,000 could also get a co-contribution but the amount decreased at a tampering rate with wages up to $60,000 where you got nothing. The bottom and top income rates were indexed every year so that as Australians incomes rose the same amount of lower income group could get it each financial year.

    Then Labor got in.

    First thing they did in July 2009 was drop the government co-contribution from $1500 a year to $1000 a year. This made low income earners involved in the scheme $500 worse off per year.

    But Labor hadn’t finished tinkering just yet. They also stopped indexing incomes every year and instead fixed it at a set income. Permanently. Now as incomes of Australians rise every year, less and less people were eligible.

    But wait Labor wasn’t finished just yet.

    In the 2012-13 budget the top “Phase Out” income of $61,290 was stripped all the way back down to $46,290. This means if you make $46,290 and co-contribute $1000 now the government won’t give you a red cent. Not a dime.

    But Labor still wasn’t finished. They stripped the co-contribution again, this time halving the total amount to a measily $500 now, 1/3rd of what Howard gave low income earners… yet still the low income earner must contribute the full $1000 of their own money to get it.

    Labor have absolutely r4ped and ravaged the co-contributions scheme… they have milked everything they could out of low-income earners and yet they dare pretend to care about superannuation for Australians?

    Labor reminds me of the book/movie 1984… they didn’t actually strip $1000 from your co-contribution low-income earners, they actually gave you $500 more. It’s the history revisionism.

    Bernard should know better than to believe it.

  34. John Bennetts

    Thanks, Bernard. Joel Fitzgibbon deserves to be reminded daily of his “You won’t be hearing… from me” statement. It suggests that the speaker has either self-control or humility in defeat, neither of which is true.

    As one who is unlucky enough to live in his electorate, I was disappointed when he took over the seat after his Father, FitzGibberish the First, bequeathed it to him.

    The man has done nothing, either before or after his election, to justify holding the seat of Hunter.

    Labor, please repair your preselection processes. They are at least as poor as those of the other parties.

    In the long run, I expect that the parties with the best candidates will win. How, therefore, can our Big Four parties justify serving up so much deadwood and time-servers, election after election, for at least the past decade?

  35. Hamis Hill

    The best post so far on this article, Mr Bennetts.

  36. supermundane

    “any effort to point out that business interests are not analogous to, and may even be in conflict with, the national interest is “class warfare”.”


    This cannot be repeated enough.

  37. supermundane

    I forgot to add, not least when it’s uttered by the former minister for back-rubs for mining magnates, the craven Martin Ferguson.

  38. supermundane

    My first comment is in moderation purgatory because it quoted from the article.

  39. John64

    “The “Hawke-Keating era” now appears to mean whatever Labor figures want it to mean.”

    That’s because it’s all those Labor figures have to hold on to. They’ve got no legacy or ideas of their own.

  40. Hamis Hill

    We should beat that strangely malleable ploughshare of the Hawke-Keating era into a set of scalpels in order to dissect what animates the un-dead corpses of the zombie opposition.
    Here is a preliminary report from the political coroners office.
    “Rugger-Buggers and Misogyny: Abbott Dog Whistles To His Mates”.
    Fear and hatred of women, which Abbott hopes to gain him control of Australia, must also be accompanied by guilt.
    The male-bonding rituals of the pubescent rugger buggers usually involves the team “shareing” a willing professional or amateur prostitute.
    This not restricted to Australia, former grid-iron star John Wayne reports gang rapes on night-time sportsfield practice nights.
    Janice Joplin apparently confessed to offerring herself up to such a ritual in her youth.
    Even our demure and gentlemanly cricketers report enthusiastic young women breaking into dressing rooms to plead for sexual attention from any or all of the team.
    Tales from North Queensland inform this ingrained gang-rape mentality.
    Young, drunken women, unfortunate enough to fall for the charms of a young boozer soon found out that he would inform his mates who would then line up for their “turn”, exiting the pub for the assignation mimicking the sound of a railway train, toot toot, as lined up like carriages they set off to “train”, very punny, the unfortunate young woman.
    Sydney, in the swinging sixties saw, drugged or drunk young teenage girls fornicating in a public park at night joined by a line of willing males, drawn by the whispers of GangBang and dutifully forming a very prominent queue to the quizzical stares of the passing public.
    Some drug induced “Free-love” peace, love and understanding rugger-bugger team style, just as they were taught at training or overnight away games in strangetowns.
    So the result of the examination is that misogyny is indeed entrenched in the team spirit sporting culture of Australia and that fear and hatred, and indeed, guilt has to be factored into Abbott’s (youthfully induced?) capcity to dogwhistle on the subject, to gain votes from suburban, “sporting life” aspirationals.
    Why do they hate Julia?
    Did their youthful experiences teach then to do so?
    Yes,overseas observers, they’re a “weird mob” down under.
    Ready to throw out a successful, economically competent and responsible government and replace it with the Howard era’s walking dead because their upbringing gave a very big “problem” with women.
    For the religious connection to all this there is a book called “Damned Whores and God’s Police”.
    Apparently some women don’t like Julia either.
    That’ll be God’s police vainly attempting to protect their men folk then?

  41. Hamis Hill

    Overseas observers already know that misogyny plays a large part in the Australian polity.
    Misogyny might even change the government.
    Is there an unsated, international appetite for a deep forensic analysis of the subject?
    They’re looking at you Tony, and it won’t be out of context, the context of Australian misogyny is deep and wide as the continent itself.
    The world looks on in wonder and fascination; it will sell lots of newspapers, (but not in Australia, where they don’t want to know!).

  42. Person Ordinary

    Bernard – Perhaps the insight that “The ammunition in this war is advertising dollars, lobbyist payments and polling” needs to be more broadly explored?

    It seems obvious the far right is currently on the rise in the dollar democracies due to the power of political advertising and malevolent media to exploit public ignorance, just as the far right rose to power in the 1930s using the new forms of mass propaganda to exploit public delusion. But is there more or less influence of money over politics here than in the US? Is our media more at fault because America at least has some media options in the centre and towards the left, whereas we don’t?

    Enlightened article, and the many great comments here show that a lot of us can appreciate the bigger picture – no need to dumb it down like so many others.

  43. Mike Flanagan

    Sorry for my tardy respnse to your assertions and ‘long bows’ but agrarian “intellectuals’ have their time determined by weather and other influences beyond our control.
    The right’s demeaning of the unions influence on the basis of a few bad apples has to be comapared to the historic manipulation and gaming of the political discourse and policy by the supporters and financiers of the conservative parties, on offer.
    A cursory reading of recent history will show up leaders, presidents and members of the LNP being marched before courts, royal commisions and public enquiries for their actions to further their political and financial ambitions.
    Spin and distortions are their supporting associations, such as the HR Nicholls, IPA, and Menzies House, stock in trade.
    The public have to spend days reading HIH Royal Commission
    transcipts to get an honest appreciation of the character of one of the recent LNP’s leader. All studiously ignored by MSM.
    While I deplore the mischreant behaviour of individuals in the some unions, the movement has served the pulic well over their history, and they gain their power to be recognised in the public debate and discourse from their weight of numbers of membership.
    The corporate associations (Mining, Retail, Manufacturing and the like)find the size of their cheques is the predeterminant of their influence over the LNP led by Abbott and his neocon supporters.
    If we are to build and depend on an economic structure that is fundamentally an amalgam of capital and labour, then labour has both a right and a duty to be part of the development and application policies in a democracy. It has been, and still is, the union’s mission to further that side of the argument.
    Currently, with the arraigment of the MSM and capitals rent seeking corporate associations and propaganda tanks, the public have little access to the truth.
    I rebutt your last par David on the grounds that after a concerted six months campaign by an indolent cabal of Canberra Press Gallery journalists Ms Gillards stands tall, with her blemishes, untouched by Royal or Judicial Commission, Parliamentary Enquiries or any court.
    Her malevant and self serving adjudicators are the MSM and their rent seeker associates.
    Not the established mechanisms of enquiry that many of Abbotts neocon supporters have and are about to front. May I suggest you read the transcipts and judgements of the Ashby case, and we all look forward to Krogers coming test in the courts.
    “acolite” be damned

  44. Achmed

    While Abbott plans to remove the superannuation benefit to low income workers, the majority of whom are women, he screeches about any move on high income earners.

    Attack the “poor” protect the rich is his mantra

  45. David Hand

    Hey Mike,
    Thanks for your lengthy reply.
    I concede that my posts contain generalisations. But is is a mistake to take those generalisations and downplay the issues they represent.

    For example, you refer to a “few bad apples” from the union movement in court at the moment as though such behaviour is not widespread. I accept that the Obeid saga is almost certainly isolated. I can’t remember any other politician leaving parliament and moving into an $8m mansion on Sydney harbour. Even that doesn’t come close to the corruption in the National government in Queensland in the 70’s and 80’s.

    But the Craig Thompson drama and Julia’s less than stellar performance setting up an AWU slush fund are undoubtedly more typical.

    The issue affecting Labor today is the way that a small elite of union officials use their positions to control pre-selections of Labor MPs. If those MPs form a government which governs for the benefit of the country, as it did in the Hawke / Keating years, the system works. But if the union appointed government operates as a servant to its union masters, it is electorally doomed.

    The single best example of such toxic union influence was on 24 June 2010 when MPs went home from parliament the night before unaware that a spill was on. The muppets got a call from their union masters telling them to vote for Gillard and Paul Howes, a union boss not in parliament at all, went on Lateline and claimed credit for the knifing of Rudd.

    “Acolyte” is not a bad description.

  46. Hamis Hill

    There is a new game called “Fourth Estate” where you just make up titles for articles, that then allow you to write whatever you like, just to see what happens.
    What fun, Ha! Ha!
    Come on get into it! The saturation point for lies in the media is long past.
    Anybody can write anything, with a reasonable expectation that a sizeable amount of the community will agree, especially if they are told what they want to believe.
    They’ve done Gillard to death with this game, now try it out on Tony.
    Something has to fill the vacuum.

  47. Plane

    To poorly paraphrase a popular film, the battle for the Labor leadership is over, the battle for the Australian election is about to begin – and unlike the film, there is no Frodo or Gandalf on Labor’s side.

  48. Mike Flanagan

    I, along with most others condemn the thompson shanigans.Even if it proves to be no more than scrappy paper work.
    It has been said, that you can tell a person by the contents of their library and their associates. I think Thompson’s shelves are bare and his associates are nothing to write home about.
    One could suggest that the unions have offered a training ground for up and coming law , economic and other graduates to further their influence on policy outcomes born of their intellectually acquired ideologies.
    The rent seekers’ propaganda tanks , members and ministerial officers of the state and federal LNP governents serve the same purpose for darker reasons and at the taxpayers expense.

  49. Achmed

    People always make largese about Thompson and his alleged misuse of union funds and of Gillards assoiation with the AWU.

    But remain silent on matters such as companies not paying dividends to shareholders while using millions in company money to buy up shares to use as a “reward” for their executives. Or businesses going bankrupt leaving shareholders thousands of dollars out of pocket while the CEO etc keep their million dollar mansions and lifestyle, or the Board of Directors giving themselves million dollar bonuses and massive pay rises even when a companies share price is falling and/or the company has sufered a loss.

  50. Mike Flanagan

    Yes Achmed and I would care to observe they usually find paying income or corporate taxes and optional ‘extra’.

  51. Achmed

    Example – Tinkler has a “taxable” income of less than $10,000 per year

  52. David Hand

    Mike and Achmed,
    If we could vote at an election to deny less than competent corporate executives their fat bonuses at shareholders’ and customers’ expense, we would. In fact we do. The recent laws around the remuneration reports at company annual meetings have had a large acceptance and many have been voted down. It’s not effective in dealing with a clear rort but it’s progress. I also am wondering wherever Nathan Tinkler’s wife got that billion dollars from.

    In politics, any party is quite capable of electing second rate rent seekers who would then fail miserably to all of our cost. It’s just that on this occasion, at this time in history, the ALP has done it.

    If we could vote out a government populated by union acolytes who have lost sight of the people they are elected to serve and have shown themselves to be a soulless rabble, developing their values and core principles from Western Sydney focus groups and legslating for their union masters, we would…… Oh that’s right! 14 September is less than 6 months away!

  53. Achmed

    And elect a journalist as PM

  54. Mike Flanagan

    A journalist??? What a laugh! A drooling and dawdling scribbler is a more apt description. Some of his past catholic drivel is available on Independant Australia and the Citizen Journalist sites for the public’s painful indigestion.
    The copies available of his past rants display a man that is intellectually challenged, ethically conflicted , socially moronic and scientificly lemmingised.

    And so your suggestion is that we should replace the current government and leader with an ‘allso ran’ rugby player with boxing ‘blues’ cultivated by a cult led by a frocked clown who depends on a piece of prehistoric scripture written in a foreign language by a group of self serving ideologues while still maintaining, with a straight face, we all arrived on the same planet in six days among some godly claps of thunder.

  55. Achmed

    Abbott the journalist, Bishop the lawyer who during a court villified suffers of asbestos related diseases, Hockey who was a Director of the Libs and Pyne who was a policy advsier to Vanstone

  56. Dogs breakfast

    “Under that logic, any effort to point out that business interests are not analogous to, and may even be in conflict with, the national interest is “class warfare”.

    Absolutely Bernard. That Labor is losing the ‘class warfare’ debate is indicative of how useless they are at selling anything (and how easily the MSM will swallow anything from the local galah in the pet shop).

    The Libs can hand out tax cuts for the wealthy and superannuation largesse to millionaires and somehow that is ‘appealing to the aspirational voters’, not class warfare. Labor attempts to even the playing field a little and it’s class warfare, even from their own colleagues.

    Dumb and dumber.

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