On St Vincent’s

Denis Lenihan writes: Re. “Hey St Vincent’s – get your own house in order before nanny stating” (yesterday). Bernard Keane makes a pretty shoddy case by quoting only those measures from my hospital.gov.au on which St Vincent’s does badly. Try looking at urgent surgery waiting times, malignant bowel cancer etc on which it is better than its peers. Bernard’s logic is also shoddy: surely he doesn’t mean to suggest that if St Vincent’s had good scores on the measures he does quote, its recommendations on liquor restrictions would thereby become valid?

Jackie French writes: St Vincent’s is not lecturing the public about finance, but on a subject its staff presumably know extremely well, the social and health effects of excess alcohol. Fair go, mate!

On the modern ALP

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Janet McCalman writes: Re. “Greens and Labor” (yesterday). Paul Johanson has clearly a limited exposure to the modern ALP, and a most selective memory. He joins a significant group of “so disappointeds” since Tampa etc. Of course very many Labor people were bitterly disappointed also but decided to stay in Labor and fight on.

If Gough Whitlam had decided in the early 1950s that he couldn’t work with Catholic, right wing NSW Labor and the Party policy of White Australia, where would this country be now? Quite a few refused to join the ALP until it ditched White Australia. And once Gough and his like-minded colleagues began to modernise the party, it was ‘good enough again’, they rushed to the barricades in 1972 and now wax lyrically about the magic Whitlam years.

Today, however charming the Greens may be, however beguiling their rhetoric, they are destroying the chances of progressive government in Australia. They need to do more than simply ‘sound’ like Labor people; they need to return to being Labor people. Currently, they are no better than the DLP and the people who will pay the price of this middle-class self-indulgence, are the poor.

This election is beginning to look like the rich and the educationally privileged ganging up against those condemned by structural change, educational inequity, and the neoliberal attack on the state and the union movement, to being “always on the outside, always looking in”. However, with the rise of the precariat—the new insecure middle class who despite multiple degrees, still cannot get a decent job and will never own a home — are joining them. The problems of job insecurity and exclusion are crossing class boundaries. Globalisation has now reached the professions with routine work being outsourced and 40% of jobs are predicted to disappear in the next 20 years. Inequality has returned to late nineteenth century levels and Australia does not need a significant portion of its progressive middle class wasting their vote on minor parties. It needs a united, creative, hard-working Left, that is fully engaged in the union movement and in the only mass party that has in the past, and can in the future, deliver change democratically. Vanguard politics, like the Greens, does not work in the long run. And it is profoundly anti-democratic.

Gough Whitlam’s personal commitment to Labor more than half a century ago changed this country for ever. There is no time to waste to save planet earth and ourselves.

As a Crikey subscriber and someone who began working as a journalist in 1957, I am passionate about the importance of independent media like Crikey. I met a lot of Australians from many walks of life during my career and did my best to share their stories honestly and fairly with their fellow citizens.

And I never forgot how important it is to hold politicians to account. Crikey does that – something that is more important now than ever before in Australia.

North Stradbroke Island, QLD

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