NSW Labor
NSW Labor leader Michael Daley (Image: AAP/Joel Carrett)

If it wasn’t clear before that the total cynicism of NSW Labor should rule it out of governing in that state, events since last Friday have confirmed it. NSW Labor’s preferencing of the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party — which wants to loosen gun control laws, introduce shooting into school curricula and encourage gun use by children on rural properties — has drawn increasing focus since the massacre in Christchurch.

Labor leader Michael Daley has since insisted that there is no way he would countenance changes to gun laws, but unlike Premier Gladys Berejiklian, he hasn’t ruled out accepting the support of the Shooters to form a minority Labor government. Labor wants the Shooters’ Legislative Assembly representation to rise from one to three at the expense of the NSW Nationals, helping prevent the Coalition from forming a majority government and giving Labor a crack at negotiating its way into power in Macquarie Street. 

As is obvious from their name, the Shooters see loosing gun laws as a core issue; how Daley thinks increasing their representation and giving them kingmaker status doesn’t increase the risk that they’ll get their way is a particularly sublime mystery.

As if to confirm the appalling judgment of NSW Labor, a racist tweet by the Shooters’ social media account was revealed yesterday. But the issue of racism was much closer to home for Daley, who was revealed to have told a gathering in September that “our young children will flee and who are they being replaced with? They are being replaced by young people from typically Asia…” before adding, “I don’t want to sound xenophobic, it’s not a xenophobic thing, it’s an economic question”.

Daley has now offered one of those limp non-apologies, saying “I could have expressed myself better … I apologise if any offence is taken.”

The idea of some demonised “Other” — Asian, Muslims, Jews, Africans — “replacing” white Australians is literally the rhetoric of white supremacists. And it’s the same idea Peter Dutton is trying to exploit when he warns that Australians will be “kicked off” hospital waiting lists for asylum seekers needing attention, or which Scott Morrison tries to exploit when he claims Labor will tax retirees to pay for more refugees.

Daley’s line is no different to Pauline Hanson’s warning that we will be swamped with Asians, however much he might insist “it’s an economic question”.

If it’s right for Hanson, and Dutton, and Morrison, to be called out on their exploitation of racism, then it must surely be right for Daley to be called to account as well. Coupled with its feckless support for a party that wants to put guns in the hands of children, it suggests NSW Labor deserves to spend another term in opposition, from where it can reacquaint itself with responsibility.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey