Home > Oz Politics > Ferguson out, Tanner in

Ferguson out, Tanner in

June 23rd, 2005

I haven’t had time to digest the details of Labor’s Shadow Cabinet reshuffle, and of course it’s somewhat academic given that there’s a long period of opposition ahead and no sign of a serious attempt at policy and organisational renewal.

Still, I’m glad that Lindsay Tanner is back on the frontbench. He’s probably the best single candidate for future leadership Labor has at present. And I’m even more pleased to see the dumping of Laurie Ferguson. As far as I know, his sole achievement in politics has been to make a good choice of parents, and he has been an absolute disgrace on refugees, making even Vanstone (may she freeze in hell) look good.

Update Less sensible (in fact, very silly) is the (reported) continued omission of Bob McMullan and Craig Emerson. I have no idea what the rationale was for this, given that the shadow ministry is apparently being expanded.

Categories: Oz Politics Tags:
  1. production line 12
    June 24th, 2005 at 02:29 | #1

    ‘may she freeze in hell’

    Bloody hell, mate, that’s a bit rough. Poor old Satan.

  2. Elizabeth
    June 24th, 2005 at 08:21 | #2

    Could someone please explain what all the fuss is about concenring Mr Emerson? I knwo he has a PHD in Economics, but apart from that, what are his political, business, parliamentary etc successes. A link to a website (or two) would be useful.

    Perhaps its time that someone like Stephen Conroy was pushed up the batting order?

  3. Guardian of the Faith
    June 24th, 2005 at 09:02 | #3

    The fundamental change that should have been made to the ALP frontbench and wasn’t? Dropping the Bomb…

    Interesting to see the guiding light of the ALP (or should that be the Party’s Rudd-er?) is picking up trade. More free air-time for the Rudder’s pretty face. It’s only a matter of time until he becomes Opposition leader.

    JQ, you’re darn right that McMullan should be brought back. The most talented man in caucus I say.

  4. TB
    June 24th, 2005 at 09:10 | #4

    John,

    You prefer Tanner to Rudd for future leader? Why is that? Interested to hear your views.

  5. Paul Norton
    June 24th, 2005 at 09:11 | #5

    Craig Emerson was responsible for some very good policy advice on environmental issues as an adviser to the Hawke Government in the 1980s. Later, in 1994-95 he was involved in negotiating a very good package of environmental policies for the Queensland Labor Government in response to severe (and largely deserved) criticism from the environmental movement. Kevin Rudd was also part of this process, along with current Beattie government Ministers Rod Welford, Lesley Clark and others.

    Needless to say, this is not the sort of track record which goes down well with the bosses of the Queensland AWU faction. This is arguably the (ir)rationale for Emerson’s continued exclusion from the front bench.

  6. michael.burgess
    June 24th, 2005 at 09:27 | #6

    Having the Ferguson’s around does serve one positive role in that it illustrates the lack of talent currently being served up by the factional system. Looking back it is amazing just how much talent there was in 1983 when Labor got elected (Button, Evans, Keating?, etc). Labor should start vigorously recruiting factional outsiders who have demonstrated talent beyond branch stacking. Although, Garret and Kernot hardly inspire confidence in their recruitment system.

    For some reason Rudd reminds me too much of a demented choirboy or maybe an earnest Mormon.

  7. Andrew Reynolds
    June 24th, 2005 at 09:35 | #7

    TB – the party needs more than one future leader. They go through them at a rate of knots, unless they are a dog returning to thier own vomit, to paraphrase a former (successful) leader.

  8. Razor
    June 24th, 2005 at 09:35 | #8

    Keep reorganising the deck chairs!

    Women and children first.

  9. Paul Norton
    June 24th, 2005 at 09:40 | #9

    Michael, apart from the fact that Peter Garrett holds views on environmental issues which you disagree with (and which many in the Federal Labor Party, such as Tanner, agree with) and the fact that he is a practicing Christian (like Beazley), what else is there to criticise about him?

    He has certainly “demonstrated talent beyond branch stacking”. How many other current Labor MPs or Senators can you point to who have enjoyed international success as enterpreneurs in the market economy (which is what successful rock musicians are) *and* held office twice as President of a national peak organisation other than the ACTU?

  10. June 24th, 2005 at 09:40 | #10

    I agree – Tanner is top notch. Having experience like that of McMullan’s wasting away on the back bench is a fool’s game.

  11. Katz
    June 24th, 2005 at 09:50 | #11

    Until the ALP gets over its nostalgia for the economic and social components of the political settlement established at Federation, at the federal level the Party will be tin ducks at a sideshow shooting gallery. Leave it to state governments to play nanny, a role that the voters of the country find most acceptable.

    At the federal level, on the other hand, the social and economic dirigisme that most Australians took for granted between 1901 and the mid-1970s is both unsustainable financially and lacking in credibility politically.

    The major political opportunity for the ALP lies in their championship of tolerant secularism and in fostering libertarian sentiment against a perceived recrudescence of populist moralism from the Right.

  12. Dave Ricardo
    June 24th, 2005 at 09:56 | #12

    “This is arguably the (ir)rationale for Emerson’s continued exclusion from the front bench.”

    This is nonsense. Emerson got offside with the Qld AWU faction, especially its boss Joe Ludwig, because he voted for Latham in the December 2003 leadership contest, after being ‘advised’ to vote for Beazley.

    Plus, in the factional/regional break up of front bench positions after the election, there are only so many spots for the Qld AWU faction, and Senator Joe Ludwig (junior) was in line – surprise, surprise – before Emerson.

  13. Homer Paxton
    June 24th, 2005 at 09:59 | #13

    Craig emerson should be the Opposition spokesman on Treasury.
    Costello doesn’t hide his lack of understanding of economics very well.
    Who can ever forget a journalist on AM giving him a lesson on basic budgetary costing!

    As for the front bench. The Hawke front bench was unusual in its quality.
    Look at the front bench in 96 under Howard and bomber’s frontbench doesn’t look that bad.

    Frontbenches are like approval ratings nice to have but rarely there.

  14. Paul Norton
    June 24th, 2005 at 10:02 | #14

    Dave, I stand corrected.

  15. Dave Ricardo
    June 24th, 2005 at 10:03 | #15

    What’s not like about Garrett is that in the 1980s he wrote a song criticising US military bases in Australia, and so by implication this means he supports the murder of Israeli children by Arab terrorists.

    Or something like that, in any case.

  16. Pat
    June 24th, 2005 at 10:06 | #16

    Minor point Dave, it’s Bill Ludwig, as in ‘Big Bill’. His son is called Joe. Wayne Swan also hails from the AWU faction.

  17. Dave Ricardo
    June 24th, 2005 at 10:08 | #17

    Thanks Pat.

  18. Tafara
    June 24th, 2005 at 10:12 | #18

    in palestine arab terrorist = patriotic freedom fighter

  19. michael.burgess
    June 24th, 2005 at 10:15 | #19

    Paul,
    Re Garrett we certainly need people in the party to vigorously raise environmental and quality of life issues. Sydney, for one thing, appears to be in a rush to go from what was just about the world’s greatest city to something more approaching Los Angeles. My problem with greenies such as Garrett is that they approach such issues with the same lack of rationality that religious extremists approach discussion on morality. Also Garrett has too much anti-American baggage – Taking 20 years to admit that globalisation might not be all bad also does not impress me. That said, I am all for diversity in the party and I will gladly put up with Garrett if Labor has far more talent into the party, including some people who are at least willing to rationally discuss issues such as GM food and Nuclear energy (whatever their final conclusion). A greater appreciation in a Labor candidate of the importance of spending more than Malaysia on biotech research and development would also be nice. Not letting conservatives dominate discussions on issues such as welfare and education reform would also be nice.

  20. anon
    June 24th, 2005 at 10:17 | #20

    Katz,

    The major political opportunity for the ALP lies in their championship of tolerant secularism and in fostering libertarian sentiment against a perceived recrudescence of populist moralism from the Right.

    The day I take my individual liberty from the ALP party is the day we’ve lost the war. Most of them seem to believe 1984 was a pretty good idea. Had the Whitlam government not imploded I dare say Australia in 1984 would have looked a lot like Orwell’s version.

  21. June 24th, 2005 at 10:34 | #21

    Ferguson…has been an absolute disgrace on refugees.

    I dont know why Ferguson wanted to pick on Quasim in particular, or stateless asylum-seekers in general. Demonizing those people should be the least of the ALP’s worries in regards to the problems associated with the settlement program.

    no sign of a serious attempt at policy and organisational renewal.

    Not quite true in respect to senior personnel and policy. The ALP shadow ministry has been purged, or lost, many of the identity politickers responsible for the 1996 and 2001 electoral disasters, such as Theophanous, Tickner, Bolkus et al. This has prevented the ALP’s post-1996 electoral performance from tracking that of the DEMs.

    Beazley has also taken a strong progressive stand on fiscal policy, although this does not seem to be doing his http://www.theage.com.au/news/National/Labor-MPs-dismiss-Beazleys-poll-plummet/2005/06/21/1119250950719.html“>approval numbers any good.

    However the rot of branch-stacking and identity-politick pandering is still undermining the ALP’s organizational structure. The Age is running yet another series on how branch-stacking by the ALP’s ethnic lobby is wrecking the grass roots and electoral appeal of the of the Labor movement.

    Because many ethnic groups have close social and cultural ties, Labor operatives have found it relatively easy to persuade large numbers to sign up en masse. The key has been to win over the more politically aware ethnic group leaders, whose allies often end up with jobs in MPs’ offices.
    Critics say it is a bastardisation of the democractic process, producing poor-quality parliamentarians who see themselves as servants not of the voters but of their factional sponsors.

    People obviously think I am a crank for banging on about this, but it is the reason why the Left-liberal (Wet) side of politics cannot get aleg up in the Federal sphere. Pr Q might consider the sociological underpinnings of the Wets before he berates the political overtones of the Dries.

    Vanstone (may she freeze in hell).

    Pr Q seems to abandon all pretence at empirical analyis when the subject of refugees comes up, peferring to indulge in fire and brimstone sermons. This reminds me of Dr Knopfelmacher’s devastating ridicule of Sydney(“Heresy, Yes Conspiracy, No!”) Hook’s preferred tactic to constrain domestic communism: “Moral Condemnation Yes!, Social Analysis, No!”
    For those interested in the social analysis, rather than moral castigation, of Ms Vanstone’s ministry. Here are the facts:

    Australia took the largest number of migrants and refugees in a decade over the past financial year.
    More than 110,000 people arrived and settled in Australia in 2003-04 – an increase of nearly 20,000 on the previous yearly total of 93,914.
    Australia’s migration intake is now climbing back to the highs of the Hawke government’s days, when the planned migration program reached a peak of 145,000 for 1989-90.
    The number of people granted refugee and humanitarian visas during the past financial year was 13,851 visas – the highest in eight years.
    Senator Vanstone said that commitment maintained Australia’s place as one of the top three countries with a dedicated refugee and humanitarian resettlement program.

    If Ms Vanstone is supposed to be an enemy of alien settlers one wonders what bounties a friend would have in store. Those responsible for enabling and promoting and the criminal and lethal policy of people-smuggling should certainly have reserved a special place in hell.

  22. Paul Norton
    June 24th, 2005 at 10:38 | #22

    Well, in 1984 we had a Federal Labor Government and Australia was in a geopolitical alliance with the US and UK against the Soviet Union and its satellites, as in Orwell’s version.

    In 1974, I recall being taken by my mother to the local GP and seeing an AMA poster on the wall depicting Whitlam and Hayden as Nazis over their plans to introduce Medibank. I also recall a trip to Queensland (my family is from Melbourne) the same year and meeting an elderly couple of Joh voters who tried to convince me that the ALP had precipitated the Great Depression of 1929. So anon has some imagining to do before s/he tops those efforts.

  23. Katz
    June 24th, 2005 at 10:44 | #23

    So, Anon, you think that the ALP can never change its identity.

    I think you would agree that Howard has divested the Liberal Party of its own version of paternalism and dirigisme. These qualities, after all, were the hallmark of Menzian liberalism.

    Is the ALP any less capable of a remake? I think not, especially given the fact that in a democracy, political parties exist primarily to win elections.

    The interesting feature of Australian politics, of course, is that because of the highly centralised nature of political power within the ALP, factional and ideological brawls were relatively more important to the ALP than was winning elections. (This issue came up recently in another thread.)

    The ALP under Hawke moved strongly against that tendency back in the 1980s. I believe that this trend will continue.

    And, as I suggested above, the area of greatest political opportunity fort he ALP is in the sphere of individual liberty.

  24. Razor
    June 24th, 2005 at 10:59 | #24

    Katz – that is why the QLD ALP has moved to restore the dominance of the unions within its voting structure? – A positive move? Yes? No?

  25. Katz
    June 24th, 2005 at 11:06 | #25

    Razor, the path between Point A and Point B is rarely straight.

    If Australia were a family, then Queensland would be best suited to playing the banjo out on the stoop.

    So, to answer your question. No, it isn’t a positive move. But no, it’s not likely to provoke a wave of nostalgia amongst members of the family who don’t habitually sleep with the hound dawgs.

  26. anon
    June 24th, 2005 at 11:11 | #26

    Individual liberty is the antithesis of the ALP credo. Everything for Labour is about the lowest common denominator, victim politics, and social engineering. For that matter, democracy is also antithetical to the ALP, with the block union vote and factional crud.

    Sure, the ALP could remake itself. But I wouldn’t hold your breath. Labour is filled with career politicians, public servants, and unionists. They are now so unrepresentative of the majority of Australians that it is very difficult to see how they could remake themselves without completely destroying themselves first.

    The ALP seems somewhat like a once successful large company that has been left behind by the market. Successful companies originate to meet a market need but when the market moves on most find it very hard to adapt because their entire culture is built to service the original need. There are a few exceptions of course (IBM comes to mind, and GE), but generally large companies go the way of dinosaurs when their market is pulled from under them. The ALP seems headed the same way.

  27. observa
    June 24th, 2005 at 11:14 | #27

    Speaking of Mcmullan, he has something to say about the reshuffle here http://news.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=20125 Not happy Kim!

    If Labor can’t handle a bit of honesty by the Fergusons re the Qasims, then I’m afraid it will be a very long haul back.

    “Because many ethnic groups have close social and cultural ties, Labor operatives have found it relatively easy to persuade large numbers to sign up en masse. The key has been to win over the more politically aware ethnic group leaders, whose allies often end up with jobs in MPs’ offices.
    Critics say it is a bastardisation of the democractic process, producing poor-quality parliamentarians who see themselves as servants not of the voters but of their factional sponsors.” Too true.

    Still, the govt can’t afford to lose too many like Anderson and Howard going will probably create the inevitable vacuum like Ming’s passing did.

  28. observa
    June 24th, 2005 at 11:21 | #28

    Yes anon, Federal Labor does seem a bit like Kodak in a digital world.

  29. Paul Norton
    June 24th, 2005 at 11:28 | #29

    “Howard has divested the Liberal Party of its own version of paternalism and dirigisme”

    And embraced 19th century paternalism and dirigisme towards the “undeserving poor” in the form of “Mutual Obligation” requirements for the unemployed, disabled and single parents which are not only all stick and no carrot but which, to take the metaphor a stage further, are premised on the assumption that the donkey needs to be kept moving for its own edification, regardless of whether there is a destination for it to pull the cart to.

    Also, paternalism and dirigisme is not the exclusive preserve of the state. Employers can be malevolently paternalistic and dirigiste towards their employees, and are about to be greatly empowered to be so by the de facto abolition of unfair dismissal laws.

  30. Katz
    June 24th, 2005 at 11:34 | #30

    Howard’s “undeserving poor” ploy is populist politics. These political ploys are important as a means to establish the identity of Howard liberalism, but they don’t form an integral part of his social outlook.

    I guess the same can be said for his bribes to Gen X to induce them to make babies.

    And bowsers for neat and tidy Aborigines.

    All these are mere fluff compared with ending industrial arbitration or selling off all of Telstra.

  31. anon
    June 24th, 2005 at 12:18 | #31

    All these are mere fluff compared with ending industrial arbitration or selling off all of Telstra.

    Telstra is fluff too. Who cares – they’re a dinosaur. They’ll be sold and their value will gradually decline.

    But industrial relations is most certainly not fluff. It will be a huge boost to Australia. One thing that struck me working in the US was how easily people are hired and fired there. I still remember my first firing. The guy was a complete non-performer and his colleagues detested him, but I was still nervous as hell. My co-execs thought my behaviour strange.

    Over time I got used to it, and saw how much better for the economy that kind of workplace flexibility is. On one level, being fired there is much less important than in Aus, and there is very little attached stigma (unlike here). On another, it is a far bigger deal: there is much less welfare and for most people their healthcare is tied to their jobs. It creates a level of anxiety in American culture that is not present in Australia.

    I would not reccommend Australia go the US route wrt social welfare. Keep the safety net and the medicare, but free up industrial relations and remove wrongful dismissal. We’ll have the best of both worlds: a flexible workforce with a soft place to land between jobs (well, ok, not exactly soft but way better than the concrete floor in the US).

  32. Katz
    June 24th, 2005 at 12:32 | #32

    Not propagandising my point of view about Telstra and IR, Anon; just trying to express Howard’s view of them.

    I may or may not agree with your views on Telstra or IR, but your comments take the discussion into another area.

  33. Paul Norton
    June 24th, 2005 at 13:23 | #33

    The news of the reshuffle has just come through at:

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200506/s1399868.htm

    Ferguson has been moved sideways to Consumer Affairs. Peter Garrett is Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Reconciliation and the Arts. Tanner has Finance, Rudd gets Trade as well as Foreign Affairs, Swan keeps Treasury, McLelland loses Homeland Security, Crean gets Regional Development, and Annette Hurley is Shadow Minister for Jack Strocchi.

  34. Dave Ricardo
    June 24th, 2005 at 13:42 | #34

    “Annette Hurley is Shadow Minister for Jack Strocchi.”

    The mind boggles.

    I don’t think it matters much who gets what shadow portfolio since Labor is not going to be back in government in any of their lifetimes.

  35. June 24th, 2005 at 13:55 | #35

    “This has prevented the ALP’s post-1996 electoral performance from tracking that of the DEMs.”
    So, is the ALP trying to boost its confidence by arguing; well hey, we beat the DEMs. Who else is there to vote for if people don’t like Howard and the Libs? One of the previous posts mentioned the ecological fundamentalism, that is in my opinion not much better than the Christian fundamentalism of the far right these days, that you find lurking with the Greens (and that gives a dark taint to some environmentalists).
    It is funny, but Howard has taken the political space that the ALP used to hold in another way. The ALP used to be seen as a socialist party with all that collectivist baggage. Conservative parties defined themselves as anti-Labor parties. They traditionally used to be about promoting the individual and the usual old-fashioned liberal stuff. Howard is not like that. He seems to have a social-engineering aspect to his agenda, and dissent is not welcome. The political and economic climate that he is trying to build is hostile to individuals and small business, and only provides room for established wealth to prosper. To survive now, we need to conform within a kind of corporate collectivism.
    My point is that there is no conservative party in the traditional liberal sense, that was originally envisioned as being anti-collectivist or anti-Labor. Howard has taken the ALP’s ground, but this leaves a gaping hole in the political landscape – and that is located where many people would position themselves politically. In England then Labour Party has taken the conservative ground. The ALP could do that here too, if the factions (and sheer stpidity) didn’t stop it.
    Social democracy worked at the beginning of the last century, but it won’t wash with aspirationals and people who want to be treated as individuals – as customers.

  36. Elizabeth
    June 24th, 2005 at 14:02 | #36

    probably the key winner out of all of this is Stephen Conroy – notice he is now on both the Economics Strategy Committee and the Defence/Security Committee.

  37. michael.burgess
    June 24th, 2005 at 14:09 | #37

    Garrett reconciliation and the arts, give me a break. I would have thought we have had enough empty sloganeering on indigenous affairs within Labor. As for the arts well Midnight oil are no Enigma or Pink Floyd. What’s Nick Cave up to. Rudd, while undoubtedly bright, has been far too reactive as foreign affairs minister. And how many times has he referred to Downer as hairy chested. Opposing the Iraq war was also pretty dumb. Either bring back Gareth Evans or send Christopher Hitchens an Australian passport.

  38. June 24th, 2005 at 14:23 | #38

    “Less sensible (in fact, very silly) is the (reported) continued omission of Bob McMullan and Craig Emerson. I have no idea what the rationale was for this, given that the shadow ministry is apparently being expanded.”

    And Carmen Lawrence, what about her, she should definately be on the front bench.

    In other news who would give Tony Burke a front bench role unless they hadn’t listened to or read his first speech. It was so terrible he should be permanently sidelined.

  39. Razor
    June 24th, 2005 at 15:38 | #39

    Carmen Lawrence – Oh, please! Now you are just baiting aren’t you?!

  40. Ros
    June 24th, 2005 at 16:35 | #40

    Well I wouldn’t have fired Ferguson I would have listened to him. While I certainly wouldn’t employ me to run an election campaign and my preference is not for a Labor government, I did initially think that Ferguson made the right decision about how to respond to the detention changes, if clumsily. His reported position was that he didn’t oppose Mr Qasim’s release from detention but questioned the decision to define him as a stateless person.
    He made a statement that didn’t leave him in a position of saying Howard is basically right but more required. Australians can live quite well with the amount of perceived leeway given by these changes . Some journalists did try to get an explanation of why Qasim should now be released. But the outcome has been that Howard has moved, without losing his standing as a wise leader putting Australians’ interests first, and maintaining an image of strength. Australian’s vague sense of discomfort has been assuaged but they still feel “safe� and that their safety is still guarded by the right hands. Ferguson initiated a challenge.
    I thought he was identifying a weakness that was worth pursuing, particularly in light of the emerging major problems with our immigration laws, and the administration and administrators. Versus what appears to be considerable confusion and failings within our immigration/refugee system, Ferguson was making the point that the rule of law must prevail, that reason and consistency are what is right and fair. He identified the fact that the government had given itself a less than legitimate out that had the added advantage of compensating for what is seen by more Australians as unkind treatment of “illegals� I use the term as identified by Catherine Dauvergene, “The term ‘illegal’ has escaped its legal, and even grammatical, moorings and now stands alone as a noun�

    A long quote from Dauvenergne but I found her argument interesting
    “The first is that the legal crack down needs to be understood in the context of the threats globalization presents to nation states. In the face of diminished sovereignty in economic policy and trade realms, in military matters and corporate management, cracking down on illegal migration represents a strong assertion of sovereign control.

    Nations assert their ‘nationness’ by cracking down on illegal migration.
    In addition, a rhetorical focus on ‘illegals’ shifts the boundaries of exclusion. When a part of the population is acknowledged to be ‘illegal’, they are excluded and erased from within. Even when sovereignty at the border is breached, labeling people within one’s territory ‘illegal’ imprints sovereignty. It effectively shifts argument about membership and entitlement. When people are identified as ‘illegal’ it is hard to argue their membership claim on the basis of their contribution to the economy or their long term residence. These contributions are instead counted as evidence of their transgression. Sovereignty in this picture is again seen to be about people rather than territory, as the label ‘illegal’ allows us to shift the US-THEM line from the border of the nation to within the nation, wherever it is required. “

    I thought that her views had good explanatory power for the behaviour of both governments and citizens. Rushing to sit on Ferguson and feeling all warm and fuzzy as a result would seem to be a wrong response if such assessments of beliefs and trends are right. You have to take the citizens with you, don’t know that his sacking is doing that.

    She concludes with the statement that “One way forward may be by reference to the rule of law.�
    If Ferguson had pointed out a possible chink in the government’s position that could have been built on, and one which could have been used to disturb Australians’ belief that the Coalition was a steady rational safe hand, it is blown now. In particular that the rule of law was being ignored in an attempt to reduce political heat. Instead Beazley rushed to support Howard basically, even if he thought he was pleasing the humanitarians.
    And now there is another re-arrangement, which will challenge Howard how?

  41. Dave Ricardo
    June 24th, 2005 at 16:41 | #41

    “If Ferguson had pointed out a possible chink in the government’s position”

    That would be the Chinese diplomat who has recently defected.

  42. observa
    June 24th, 2005 at 16:55 | #42

    “Annette Hurley is Shadow Minister for Jack Strocchi.” You’re not suggesting she’ll go the way of John Anderson?? Actually I liked the headline ‘Family first for Anderson’

    Perhaps Carmen for Immigration Razor?

  43. Econwit
    June 24th, 2005 at 17:19 | #43

    The good thing is that these commies are relegated to figure heads with no power at the end of the month.

  44. Ian Gould
    June 24th, 2005 at 18:21 | #44

    Michael Burgess wrote: “My problem with greenies such as Garrett is that they approach such issues with the same lack of rationality that religious extremists approach discussion on morality.”

    Tell me michael is that comment based on anything other than sheer prejudice?

    As head of the ACF, Garrett worked closely and constructively with both inudstry and farmers.

    He, probably more than any other single figure, was responsible for dragging the environmental movement’s understanding of economics out of the mire of unreconstructed 1970′s socialism.

  45. Ian Gould
    June 24th, 2005 at 18:26 | #45

    Katz wrote: “The day I take my individual liberty from the ALP party is the day we’ve lost the war. Most of them seem to believe 1984 was a pretty good idea. Had the Whitlam government not imploded I dare say Australia in 1984 would have looked a lot like Orwell’s version.”

    This is one of the most singularly offensive and foolish comments I’ve encountered on the internet.

  46. Ian Gould
    June 24th, 2005 at 18:29 | #46

    >

    Funny, I thought it was the effete chardonnay-swilling socialist elites who despised the honest hard-wroking countryfolk.

  47. anon
    June 24th, 2005 at 18:37 | #47

    Katz wrote: “The day I take my individual liberty from the ALP party is the day we’ve lost the war. Most of them seem to believe 1984 was a pretty good idea. Had the Whitlam government not imploded I dare say Australia in 1984 would have looked a lot like Orwell’s version.�

    This is one of the most singularly offensive and foolish comments I’ve encountered on the internet.

    Ian, don’t blame Katz – I wrote that. And if that’s the most offensive thing you’ve encountered on the web, you really need to read more widely. Google for goatse.

    “Referendum on prices and income controls” anybody? Those jokers would have told us what we could earn and what we had to pay for everything. Labor still wants to tell us what to think. It’s Orwellian Ian, whether you’re offended or not.

  48. Ian Gould
    June 24th, 2005 at 18:43 | #48

    Anon, so if Whitlam had called and won an election in 1975 by 1984 all other political parties would have been outlawed; political dissidents would be being tortured and murdered; and the country would be in a state of perpetual war?

    We all say stupid things at times but most of us have the capacity to recognise when we’ve done so.

  49. anon
    June 24th, 2005 at 20:52 | #49

    Ian, as you well know Orwell’s 1984 is an allegory. So who is being “stupid” interpreting a reference to 1984 literally?

  50. Razor
    June 24th, 2005 at 21:07 | #50

    I’m sorry Observa, what were we talking about – I forgot (but have yet to be found guilty of lying by a Royal Commission.

  51. Razor
    June 24th, 2005 at 21:10 | #51

    Update – It’s called Factionalism, JQ. You are way smarter than me – was that an attempt at humour?

  52. Dave Ricardo
    June 24th, 2005 at 21:17 | #52

    “I forgot (but have yet to be found guilty of lying by a Royal Commission.”

    Neither was Carmen Lawrence.

  53. SJ
    June 25th, 2005 at 01:00 | #53

    Opposing the Iraq war was also pretty dumb.

    I beg to differ. Latham opposed the Iraq war, but in the runup to the election, that useless tool Beazley was brought in to sort out foreign affairs. Suddenly, there was no opposition to the Iraq war.

    The day before the election my twenty-something neice asked me why on earth she should vote Labor, when they are “exactly the same as those other f…..s”. I didn’t have a ready answer to that at the time, and still don’t.

  54. SJ
    June 25th, 2005 at 01:20 | #54

    “Referendum on prices and income controls� anybody? Those jokers would have told us what we could earn and what we had to pay for everything. Labor still wants to tell us what to think. It’s Orwellian Ian, whether you’re offended or not.

    You don’t seem to have any real understanding of what Orwell wrote about.

    In “Down and Out in Paris and London”, and also in “The Road to Wiggan Pier”, Orwell wrote about his experiences as a tramp, but from the perspective of someone who was born on the other side of the tracks (as Orwell was).

    Both of those books were refutations of the right wing position that government hand outs encourage laziness among the poor.

    The book that you’re probably thinking of, “1984″, is a rejection of totalitarianism. Totalitarianism doesn’t fall on the left-right axis.

    And I can’t think of any way of classifying a referendum as totalitarianism.

  55. gordon
    June 25th, 2005 at 11:12 | #55

    We still have two Liberal parties, neither of which I will vote for. The ALP can’t even work up the courage to promise to repeal the Howard Govt’s IR changes!

  56. stephen bartos
    June 25th, 2005 at 11:28 | #56

    Never underestimate how good a Minister can look with a government department to support, protect and coach them. Michael Burgess makes a comparison with the Hawke Cabinet – don’t forget there was a bottom half of the talent pool which was pretty ordinary; and even some of those who ended up in the right spot and turned out to be good performers started off shakily (remember Gareth Evans’ first couple of years?). In the current lineup there’s a number who are potentially at least as good as the best past performers – notably (IMHO) Tanner, Wong, Gillard, Rudd. I am not as taken as many seem to be by factional heavies such as Conroy, Swan and others whose main claim to a seat seems to be a history as a factional or State party operative.

    But ref. McMullan and Emerson, their ‘failings’ seem that they are not strongly factionally aligned and got offside with Bill Ludwig respectively. Which is as much explanation as anyone needs for why the ALP continues to struggle. Until the factional spoils system is dismantled, there will be problems. From the perspective of the factional bosses, policy is not relevant, only the numbers count. Likewise, members are a nuisance and to be discouraged – the larger the membership, the harder it is to manage the numbers. This is a fundamental problem for the current system under which Labor operates, and until Labor reforms itself it’s chances of gaining office – unless the government implodes and hands it to them – are slim.

  57. June 25th, 2005 at 14:05 | #57

    Perhaps its time that someone like Stephen Conroy was pushed up the batting order?

    Wow, somebody actually thinks that!

    He’s the bastard that rolled over on the FTA, and wants to ban Big Brother!

  58. Razor
    June 25th, 2005 at 14:46 | #58

    Dave Ricardo – the Royal Commission was quite clear – Carmen Lawrence was lying. Either that, or the witnesses, including her Cabinet Ministers, were lying. So it was either a vast conspiracy or she lied – which one?

  59. Homer Paxton
    June 25th, 2005 at 16:04 | #59

    Razor, The royal Commision was clear but the evidence wasn’t.
    The former cabinet was split on whether it happened or not.
    I don’t know but my guess that is one of the reasons she was found not guilty.

    the one interesting point I would point too is the most talented SA woman can’t get a guernsey yet penny & anne can. doesn’t make sense to me.

  60. Dave Ricardo
    June 25th, 2005 at 18:16 | #60

    Razor

    She was tried for perjury in a court of law and found not guilty.

    This overrides the findings of the Royal Commission, which made up its own rules of evidence.

  61. June 25th, 2005 at 18:26 | #61

    SJ, if you can’t think of any way of classifying referenda (and plebiscites, come to that) as tools of totalitarianism, you might like to read up on their use pioneered by both Napoleons and carried forward by the fascist dictators.

    The trick is to use something called “revolutionary” monism that interprets the general will as not only real and prent but also incorporated in the leader, as affirmed and supported by all those apparently democratic instruments.

  62. Elizabeth
    June 26th, 2005 at 15:21 | #62

    Robert wrote to my inital post: “Perhaps its time that someone like Stephen Conroy was pushed up the batting order?

    Wow, somebody actually thinks that!

    He’s the bastard that rolled over on the FTA, and wants to ban Big Brother!”

    When you mean the FTA I guess you meant the AUSFTA?

    We have FTAs with Thailand, Singapore, NZ (through the CER), and the US. And developing FTAs with the UAE, Malaysia, possibly ASEAN, and China.

    Should FTAs with the Thais, Singapore have been avoided too?

    Plus the bottom 25 LDCs in the world effectively are able to export customs dury free into Australia and other first world countries. Should that be abolished too?

  63. SJ
    June 26th, 2005 at 19:24 | #63

    SJ, if you can’t think of any way of classifying referenda (and plebiscites, come to that) as tools of totalitarianism, you might like to read up on their use pioneered by both Napoleons and carried forward by the fascist dictators.

    I didn’t say a “tool of totalitarianism”, I meant a sign of totalitarianism in and of itself. Dictators sometimes hold elections, too, e.g. Saddam Hussein. That doesn’t mean that holding an election is a sign of a dictatorship.

    The 1973 referendum to which anon referred didn’t pass, now, did it? Nor did a similar referendum in 1948 on price and rent control. A true totalitarian government might have thought of some more, um, effective means of imposing its will on the populace, doncha think? Something other than a referendum which failed to pass?

  64. Benno
  65. June 27th, 2005 at 02:27 | #65

    Actually, referenda that fail to pass aren’t the problem. The problem is keeping on until the answer comes right and then stopping. All those dictator types came in under the formal structures of democracy, then rigged it. They didn’t start by applying force to produce fraudulent results, they didn’t have the force. They just fooled enough of the people enough of the time to get force into their hands by fraud – and used as little of that capital up as they needed, by continuing that Philip the Great policy of “fraud before force but force after all”. Democracy African style – one man, one vote, once.

  66. Paul Norton
    June 27th, 2005 at 09:17 | #66

    Ian Gould wrote:

    “As head of the ACF, Garrett worked closely and constructively with both inudstry and farmers.

    “He, probably more than any other single figure, was responsible for dragging the environmental movement’s understanding of economics out of the mire of unreconstructed 1970’s socialism.”

    As a matter of historical record, the beginnings of the Australian environmental movement’s efforts at alliance-building with producer groups such as farmers, and its development of economic analyses of environmentally contentious industries which showed that ecological modernisation of those industries would yield superior economic results to “business as usual”, can be traced to the 1980s when Phillip Toyne was Executive Director of the Australian Conservation Foundation and actively promoted this agenda, along with other ACF people including Bill Hare, Keith Tarlo, Mark Diesendorf, Simon Balderstone and others. The ACF-National Farmers Federation agreement on Landcare in 1989, and its 1990 submission to the Hawke Government on Ecologically Sustainable Development, were outstanding examples of this approach.

    When Garrett began his first of two terms as ACF President in 1990 he was strongly supportive of this approach, but it had already been bedded down by Toyne & Co. in the previous few years. Garrett continued to sponsor this agenda in his second term, as exemplified by the ACF’s “Natural Advantage” proposal for ecological modernisation of the Australian economy which also carried endorsements from the ACTU and some businesses. It is therefore correct to praise Garrett on this point, but an overstatement to describe him as the single most important figure. If this honour belongs to anyone it would be Toyne.

    The other point which must be made is that in promoting this agenda, Toyne, Garrett, et al were not primarily concerned with dragging the environmental movement out of the mire of unreconstructed 1970s socialism, but dragging Australian economic and political thinking out of the mire of unreconstructed state-developmentalist mercantilism, which was – is – both environmentally disastrous and economically sub-optimal. This mentality continues to have its barrackers in sections of the Labor movement, as exemplified by Trevor Smith’s column in this morning’s Australian which reiterates calls by the likes of Michael Thompson (of “Labor Without Class” infamy) for the ALP to reinvent itself as the DLP.

  67. anon
    June 27th, 2005 at 11:34 | #67

    SJ:

    You don’t seem to have any real understanding of what Orwell wrote about.

    Orwell was much more sophisticated than you give him credit for.
    He was a small-s socialist but from the genuine perspective of championing the rights of the poor. He despised champagne socialists/latte leftists, which is obvious from even a cursory reading of “Wigan Pier” (that’s one g, not two).

    I don’t have a copy of the Left Book Club version of Wigan Pier, but Victor Gollancz who commissioned it was so incensed by Orwell’s treatment of the latte left that he wrote his own preface attacking Orwell’s portrayal, and later republished the book without the second half.

    Edited for coarse language by siteowner. I’ve been a bit lax on this lately, owing to time pressure, but I plan to be more vigorous from now on. JQ

  68. anon
    June 27th, 2005 at 12:16 | #68

    An 8 letter word starting with B meaning testicles, and the adjectival form of blood. What is the world coming to.

    To be edited for coarse language: is that hoarses for coarses?

  69. Paul Norton
    June 27th, 2005 at 12:38 | #69

    “Orwell. . . was a small-s socialist but. . . he despised champagne socialists/latte leftists, which is obvious from even a cursory reading of ‘Wigan Pier’.”

    Actually Orwell in Wigan Pier despised fruit juice drinkers, as well as people who wore sandals and pistachio-coloured shirts.

    However, Orwell also wrote, in the same book:

    “it would be a very great advantage if that rather meaningless and mechanical bourgeois-baiting, which is a part of nearly all Socialist propaganda, could be dropped for the time being. Throughout left-wing thought and writing—and the whole way through it, from the leading articles in the Daily Worker to the comic columns in the News Chronicle—there runs an anti-genteel tradition, a persistent and often very stupid gibing at genteel mannerisms and genteel loyalties (or, in Communist jargon, ‘bourgeois values’). It is largely humbug, coming as it does from bourgeois-baiters who are bourgeois themselves, but it does great harm, because it allows a minor issue to block a major one. It directs attention away from the central fact that poverty is poverty, whether the tool you work with is a pick-axe or a fountain-pen.”

    The contemporary Australian equivalent of “bourgeois-baiting [which is] largely humbug, coming as it does from bourgeois-baiters who are bourgeois themselves” is the sort of “elite baiting”, replete with “meaningless and mechanical” references to chardonnay, cafe latte, the inner city, etc., which we got an example from in today’s Australian from Trevor Smith, and which is also largely humbug, coming as it does from elite-baiters who are mostly elite themselves (i.e. Murdoch columnists like Bolt and Akerman, well-paid shock jocks, right-wing Labor MPs, Coalition MPs, lawyers like Michael Thompson, career union officials like Trevor Smith, Michael O’Connor and Bill Shorten, career academics like Van Onselen and Errington, etc., etc.).

  70. Paul Norton
    June 27th, 2005 at 12:58 | #70

    The salient point of political sociology being that Orwell’s cultural polemics in Wigan Pier were directed against what we would now call hippies or bohemians who he feared would be off-putting to the solid potentially pro-socialist worker. He did *not* polemicise against the humanistic intelligentsia or against professionals in general, he saw them as allies to be cultivated, and he was highly critical of the class-cultural sectarianism of much of the British left at the time.

  71. anon
    June 27th, 2005 at 13:49 | #71

    Today’s “humanistic intelligentsia” is not the same as Orwell’s. It is far more stratified.

    The latte left, champagne socialists, etc of today are that strata who are by-and-large living off the public tit – in tenured or semi-tenured employment – and from that privileged position (and for reasons known only unto them) want to tell the rest of us how to live our lives.

  72. anon
    June 27th, 2005 at 13:59 | #72

    Paul, I do not find your interpretation of Wigan Pier convincing. Take this passage from Chapter 8:

    A middle-class person embraces Socialism and perhaps even joins the Communist Party. How much real difference does it make? Obviously, living within the framework of capitalist society, he has got to go on earning his living, and one cannot blame him if he clings to his bourgeois economic status. But is there any change in his tastes, his habits, his manners, his imaginative background-his ‘ideology’, in Communist jargon? Is there any change in him except that he now votes Labour, or, when possible, Communist at the elections? It is noticeable that he still habitually associates with his own class; he is vastly more at home with a member of his own class, who thinks him a dangerous Bolshie, than with a member of the working class who supposedly agrees with him; his tastes in food, wine, clothes, books, pictures, music, ballet, are still recognizably bourgeois tastes; most significant of all, he invariably marries into his own class. Look at any bourgeois Socialist. Look at Comrade X, member of the C.P.G.B. and author of Marxism for Infants. Comrade X, it so happens, is an old Etonian. He would be ready to die on the barricades, in theory anyway, but you notice that he still leaves his bottom waistcoat button undone. He idealizes the proletariat, but it is remarkable how little his habits resemble theirs. Perhaps once, out of sheer bravado, he has smoked a cigar with the band on, but it would be almost physically impossible for him to put pieces of cheese into his mouth on the point of his knife, or to sit indoors with his cap on, or even to drink his tea out of the saucer. I have known numbers of bourgeois Socialists, I have listened by the hour to their tirades against their own class, and yet never, not even once, have I met one who had picked up proletarian table-manners. Yet, after all, why not? Why should a man who thinks all virtue resides in the proletariat still take such pains to drink his soup silently? It can only be because in his heart he feels that proletarian manners are disgusting. So you see he is still responding to the training of his childhood, when he was taught to hate, fear, and despise the working class.

    The class distinction implied by this passage is quite out-of-date (at least in Australia); but replace “bourgeois Socialists” with the modern equivalent, and I don’t think a lot has changed.

  73. jquiggin
    June 27th, 2005 at 17:44 | #73

    “An 8 letter word starting with B meaning testicles, and the adjectival form of blood. What is the world coming to.

    To be edited for coarse language: is that hoarses for coarses?”

    Anon, your comments frequently skirt the edge of civilised discussion, and even mild coarse language puts them over the edge.

    If you don’t like the rules here, there are 11.8 million other blogs out there, according to Technorati. Or start your own, and say whatever you like.

  74. anon
    June 27th, 2005 at 17:59 | #74

    jquiggin, my comments on your editing were meant in jest. I guess I failed to convey the appropriate level of humour.

    If it is not already obvious by now, I am a great believer in a) private property rights and b) individual freedom. So I have absolutely no issue with you editing your blog for language or any other reason (provided you are up-front about it). [Although I don't buy your explanation: the specific post from which you edited my mild coarse language was hardly close to the edge.]

  75. jquiggin
    June 27th, 2005 at 18:03 | #75

    OK, anon, that’s fine. As I’ve already discovered many times, irony is hard to convey in text.

  76. June 28th, 2005 at 16:26 | #76

    JQ, it’s hard to know what you find acceptable, considering the level you yourself sank to in suggesting that Amanda Vanstone should freeze in Hell.

  77. jquiggin
    June 28th, 2005 at 17:12 | #77

    PML, as far as I am concerned, Vanstone is outside the realm of civilised discussion.

  78. SJ
    June 28th, 2005 at 23:18 | #78

    So, anon, when you described the referendum as “Orwellian”, you meant that the politicians who proposed it drank their soup silently, as did the politicians who opposed it, whilst the people who voted against it slurped their soup. Do I have that right?

    Which group represents the fruit juice drinkers and the sandal wearers? This was 1973, so was it the DLP? And who are the people with the pistachio colored shirts?

  79. Tom Edwards
    July 2nd, 2005 at 12:36 | #79

    Would you please send me your email address as I have information that you may find interesting.
    Regards,
    Tom Edwards

  80. jquiggin
    July 2nd, 2005 at 14:22 | #80

    It’s johnquiggin +AT +gmail +DOT +com

    Sorry for obscurity here, but spammers have all sorts of tricks to harvest email

  81. July 2nd, 2005 at 15:45 | #81

    JQ, I think they know that concealment trick.

    Now, why do I feel a sudden urge to spell out – no, no, imp of the perverse notwithstanding, I won’t do it. Yet.

  82. the commenter formerly known as anon
    July 2nd, 2005 at 15:53 | #82

    SJ, the people who voted against the referendum voted against government control over our lives. Those who proposed it and voted for it did the opposite.

    Your guess is as good as mine as to how they consume their soup.

  83. SJ
    July 2nd, 2005 at 22:43 | #83

    I say again, anon: Holding a referendum does not equal totalitarianism.

    Your equation of control of prices with control over peoples lives is bizarre. Don’t you think that the goverment, as our quasi-proxy, already controls very significant parts of our lives? Things that we all think are important, e.g. the price of education, the price of fuel, the price of food?

    Honestly, where do you get this stuff from. The Reader’s Digest?

  84. July 2nd, 2005 at 23:52 | #84

    SJ, see my remarks at no 61 above.

    JQ, here is a useful antispam trick that lets people click to email you. You could even help machanise it like this with little risk.

  85. the commenter formerly known as anon
    July 3rd, 2005 at 21:41 | #85

    SJ, I never said holding a referendum _equaled_ totalitarianism. But a referendum to dramatically increase government control is certainly a step in that direction.

    Things that we all think are important, e.g. the price of education, the price of fuel, the price of food?

    Since when did the government control the price of fuel and food? And since when did they set incomes across the board?

    BTW, I am not against govt price controls where market controls fail, eg health care (the market doesn’t work very well when the consumers are willing to pay arbitrarily high prices). But handing over blanket control over prices and incomes to pissant bureaucrats in Canberra, most of whom have never held a real job in their lives? You’d have to be insane. Thankfully, the Australian populace felt the same way.

  86. Elizabeth
    July 4th, 2005 at 08:44 | #86
  87. jquiggin
    July 4th, 2005 at 09:24 | #87

    Given that the study did little more than restate the long-held views of those who undertook it, I don’t think it has much evidentiary weight.

  88. Dave Ricardo
    July 4th, 2005 at 09:49 | #88

    Here’s a passage from the SMH story

    “The report’s authors, Bob Birrell, Ernest Healy and Lyle Allen, of the Centre for Population and Urban Research at Monash University, say Labor’s image as the party of “elite social and cultural concerns” continued to alienate Australian-born voters in the outer suburbs.”

    How do they know this? Did they do a poll of voters and ask them why they voted the way they did? Or did they infer this from the fact that Labor did relatively badly in electorates with a high proportion of Australian voters? If the latter, how do they know that other factors, like the interest rate scare, weren’t dominant?

  89. Elizabeth
    July 4th, 2005 at 12:18 | #89

    I see now!

Comments are closed.