Tag Archives: Labor

What if Gillard Were to Lead?

English: Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gil...

Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gillard (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Published at Independent Australia 19 Jan.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s October parliamentary speech, in which she systematically tore down Opposition Leader Tony Abbot for his persistent misogyny, got a big reaction world-wide.  Why?  Because it is a problem not often addressed in mainstream politics, and because of her obvious passion and authenticity, delivered with devastatingly articulate precision.

In all the discussion that followed, about whether this was routine parliamentary posturing, about why the commentariat was caught off-guard, about whether she is hypocritical about other issues, one question was missing.

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Labor and the Media: Obstacles to a Decent Society

Two major Australian institutions are in the spotlight at the moment, the Labor Party at its annual national conference, and the media in an enquiry prompted by the Murdoch press’s excesses in Britain.  However the deepest problems with them are rarely acknowledged.  The Labor Party has become an obstacle to good governance and to a tolerable future for Australia.  The media have become more superficial, divisive, and regressive, and they are eroding our open and democratic society.

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Asleep at the Wheel, Accelerating Towards the Precipice

[This was published at On Line Opinion 29 Nov 2011.]

It is characteristic of some past societies that their highest accomplishments occurred just before a precipitous decline in their fortunes, according to Jared Diamond in his book Collapse.  It is less common that a society’s trajectory comprises a slow rise, a plateau and a slow decline.  Diamond does cite some societies that were able to shift their strategy and successfully negotiate a crisis, so a crash is not inevitable.

The former pattern, accelerating into a crash, is a signature of a society oblivious to imminent peril.  At least, the leadership of the society is oblivious to warning signs of a crisis, and they just keep on doing what they have always done.  Or perhaps they become more and more dissolute, like the later rulers of ancient Rome.

There is an eerie sense of unreality in Australian public life.  The things our leaders argue about, and the evidence they pay attention to, are largely irrelevant to our real situation, which is one of rising multiple crises.  The longer the crises continue unattended, the worse will be the consequences.

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Lost Labor – from 2003

I have been well ahead of the pack on a number of important issues, political leadership among them.

Here is the opening sentence from a comment by Don Watson on political leadership, from the current issue of The Monthly.

“It is now all but universally agreed that the Australian Labor party is a near-ruin, ruled body and soul by factional bosses and opinion pollsters.”

Below is a post from my old website www.geoffdavies.com, dated 7 June 1993.  You can also find more recent comments of mine here in the category “Political commentary”.

After two months abroad I find little has changed on the Australian political scene.  John Howard has finally confirmed he will stay on, the obsessively one-eyed Government is still attacking the ABC for alleged bias, and the Labor Party is still clueless.

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Sick Labor

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has at last begun the effort to explain her carbon price policy, but all agree she has a lot of ground to regain after scoring yet another spectacular own goal for Labor, this time by announcing a price on carbon without having any clear policy on compensating households.  This while facing a Leader of the Opposition who will say and do anything for a populist scare campaign, his biggest bogey of all being “a great big new tax”.  It is not so hard to think of how to present the issue to the public, as a journalist and a blogger demonstrate.  Why can’t Labor?

Labor has form, as former PM Kevin Rudd also scored a spectacular own goal last year by walking away from the greatest moral challenge of our time, global warming.  Then there were the running sagas of home insulation, green loans and so on, which could and should have been explained, fixed and continued but which became such a political liability they too were abandoned.  Labor has displayed staggering ineptitude.

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Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s recent speech to the US Congress was so sycophantic it was more sad than embarrassing.

We who think good ole Oz can be something other than a fiefdom of powerful foreigners are used to cringing when ever an Aussie politician visits the land of the free and the home of the brave.  Ironically it is the Labor politicians who are the most servile, because they think they have to prove they’re not lefties.  That will be one of the reasons for Gillard’s grotesque performance.

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The Australian Labor Party is Dead

[This was published by On Line Opinion, 12 May.]

Isn’t it time we declared the Labor Party officially dead?

The party has become a façade, an empty shell, a Faux-Labor Party.  It lost its vision long since.  It has forgotten why it exists.  It has no purpose, other than to gain power for the egos that inhabit it.

Lacking a vision, Faux-Labor is purely reactive.  Lacking a vision, it cannot frame issues to its advantage.  It cannot seize the initiative.  Caught awkwardly in its opponents’ framing, it is forever on the back foot, only ever able to be less bad, never able to proclaim a noble goal and pursue it.  Its collapse in the polls is surprising only for its speed.

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Visionless Rudd Doesn’t Want to Reduce Greenhouse Emissions

The most telling part of the Rudd Government’s “deferral” of efforts to reduce Australia’s greenhouse emissions is that it won’t even look at the issue again until 2012.  In other words, it is unlikely Labor will actually do anything in its next term, even though it leaves open the suggestion it might do something in 2013.

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Where is the Bold Leadership?

This was published by New Matilda, 22 Jan 2010.

The Republican victory in Ted Kennedy’s former senate seat in Massachusetts may seem a long way from Australia, but there are similar forces at work in both countries.  So far, no major political party in the Anglophone world has been willing to directly challenge the right-wing ascendancy of the past three decades, and we continue to pay a heavy price for their timidity and lack of vision.

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