Home > Oz Politics > Abbott abandons half the population

Abbott abandons half the population

April 21st, 2010

Tony Abbott’s latest move, floating the idea that people under 30 should be denied access to the dole, is clear evidence of why he should never be Prime Minister. For that matter, it’s an illustration of the weaknesses that made him a second-rate (at best) minister under Howard.

The political calculation is obvious, although the arithmetic looks dubious to me. The idea is to appeal to the anti-youth prejudices of the older voters who form the core of Liberal party support. But older voters are hard to shift in general, and the kind of people who would like this proposal are mostly rusted-on Liberals, though they might once have been One Nation types. By contrast, Abbott’s overt appeal to bigotry against the young will surely cost the Libs votes among this group at a time when their attitudes are still being formed

Coming to the policy merits, Abbott’s supporting “reasoning” if such a term can be justified is that this measure will encourage people to move to “areas where there are skills shortages, such as in the Western Australian mining sector.” We are talking here about the age group where most people start forming long-term relationships and having children (median age for first child is 29, and appears to be declining at the moment). And, even if they are temporarily unemployed, most people in this age group have made career choices that are unlikely to be consistent with a flit to WA to work in the mines. And, even with relatively strong conditions, I doubt that the demand for labor in the mines extends say, to a cry for hairdressers, or bartenders or shop assistants, to pick a few occupations at random[1].

This idea seems too silly even to come from a focus group. In fact, it seems about on a par with the ideas I come up with after a triathlon and a few glasses of muscle relaxant. I usually manage to refrain from communicating these marvellous ideas on the blog, let alone announcing them to the public at large.

fn1. ABS used to publish data on unemployment by usual occupation, but they seem to have stopped.

(H/T Nancy Wallace).

Update: More from Kim at LP

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  1. Paul Norton
    April 21st, 2010 at 10:05 | #1

    John, I wouldn’t underestimate the populist appeal of this silly idea amongst demographics other than the grumpy old tabloid & talkback set. One of the side effects of Australia’s extended period of prosperity is that many people have no experience, or have fading memories of the experience, of the misfortune of finding oneself unemployed through no fault of one’s own and finding it hard to get back into work, or of knowing family or friends in this situation.

  2. Fran Barlow
    April 21st, 2010 at 10:11 | #2

    And in addition to that PrQ, one might add that it won’t be the least bit popular with those of us still supporting young people who have yet to develop highly marketable skills. Self-evidently, Abbott seems to be implying that a much higher proportion of the burden of supporting these people should be transferred from the state to us.

    That’s not a tax increase, but it might as well be.

  3. Ikonoclast
    April 21st, 2010 at 10:34 | #3

    Irony alert. Under Tony Abbott, the mature age unemployed can not only continue to look forward to the continuance of their unemployment benefit but also to turning age 65 where they make the transition from reviled dole bludger to esteemed pensioner-citizen! What a difference a birthday can make!

  4. Andrew McIntosh
    April 21st, 2010 at 10:47 | #4

    It’s also a pitch to the corporate community. An article from the ABC website (http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/04/21/2878417.htm) talks of nebulous “business leaders” with whom Abbott had been getting ideas from. He’s shoring up their support. This is also the same person who wants to bring back Work Choices; he’s fighting a rear guard class war, basically. Wonder how much joy he’s going to get out of it come election day.

  5. wilful
    April 21st, 2010 at 10:50 | #5

    Well I can’t see it as being terribly popular, but tactically it also runs with Labor’s narrative about him – that he just makes shit up when he feels like it. We don’t like PMs who do this.

    I’m telling you, a buck thirty is easy money for the election.

  6. April 21st, 2010 at 10:56 | #6

    I was unemployed not long ago and not once did Centrelink mention that there were jobs available in Western Australia. Cutting off my dole money and expecting that to make me realize the Western Australian mining industry needs workers seems a rather circuitous route compared to just telling me.

  7. Monkey’s Uncle
    April 21st, 2010 at 11:05 | #7

    I have been a fairly reliable Liberal voter for most of my adult life, but I think I will have to vote Labor this federal election. The more I see of Tony Abbott the more I am convinced he is a nutter. There is something about him that is almost desperately opportunistic in a kind of unhinged Lathamesque way. I wouldn’t trust this guy to run a local bowling club, let alone the country.

    I have friends who usually hand out for Labor, so I might be joining them this time around.

  8. Freelander
    April 21st, 2010 at 11:24 | #8

    Tony, like all compassionate conservatives, has always suffered from a surfeit of unbecoming kind-heartedness. What he really ought to have proposed is that all the unemployed be sold to the mining industry as indentured labour. That way, not only would they be converted into a handy source of revenue, but for once, the mining industry, which, for far too long, has been so ruthlessly exploited through taxation and so called ‘royalty fees’, would receive something for the unrequited rivers of gold it pays to government.

    Naturally, if someone is so inconsiderate as to choose to be unemployed under an Abbott government they should also be permanently disenfranchised.

  9. Mark
    April 21st, 2010 at 11:42 | #9

    I wonder how their parents feel about the idea of having Gen Y and their dirty laundry move back in?

    Forget asylum seekers, the next great fear campaign in Australian politics could also be it’s funniest. “We decide who moves back into the spare bedroom, and the manner in which they raid the fridge”

    Not only will this idea lose them the youth vote directly – but it will also cost them with more mature voters in suburban seats. Not to mention regional voters who now have to decide between immigrants and unemployed 20somethings from the big smoke.

  10. April 21st, 2010 at 11:51 | #10

    Another reason why it’s a bad idea is the nature of the labour shortages. Abbott is implying there’s a shortage of unskilled labour: there isn’t. The most acute shortages, the ones where people command the tall dollars, are for trade or university qualified professionals. Being unemployed in Port Hedland or Mackay is scarcely different to being unemployed anywhere else in Australia, I suppose, except that voters in marginal seats can’t see you if you’re far away.

    If you want to move unemployed people to those areas, simply tell them that there are well-paying jobs there and many will move. The reason why there has been no mass exodus to date is because people are told (whether they investigate it from home or if they travel there) that there isn’t much demand for unskilled labour, and that the real demand there is for people with the skills and experience that are in demand anywhere.

  11. Doug
    April 21st, 2010 at 11:51 | #11

    Mining Industry has told him it wants skilled not unskilled workers – the thought of youth loose with heavy machinery on a mine site has set cold shivers down the spine of coproate executives.

    They have offered him a briefing on their labour requirements.

  12. Freelander
    April 21st, 2010 at 12:06 | #12


    That is why disenfranchisement is a necessary part of any rationale policy. Wait, some of them may be influenced by the expectation of unemployment. Why not disenfranchise them all? Abbott, President for life. Wait, why not Australian Pope? And Australia can become the Abbott papal state? That way we would benefit from the incumbent’s infallibility!

  13. Warbo
    April 21st, 2010 at 12:17 | #13

    I suspect Abbott just said the first thing that came into his head, in a slightly desperate attempt to take the spotlight off the health agreement. As usual, that first thing was ill thought-out and ugly.

  14. Roy
    April 21st, 2010 at 12:19 | #14

    Like his maternity leave moment, this too isn’t a serious proposition.
    It’s Abbott’s farting in the lift tactic.
    When the day’s real issue is COAG Health, he drops a diversionary silent but deadly, buggers off and leaves everyone discussing the smell.

  15. Rationalist
    April 21st, 2010 at 12:27 | #15

    I am under 30 years old and I support the proposal to restrict unemployment benefits to those older than 30 years. People of this age should have no trouble finding work or studying or undertaking a traineeship etc in areas of national priority. Young people should be supported to study/train in areas of national priority, but in areas judged not to be in national priority, students should not be supported in any way.

  16. Melanie
    April 21st, 2010 at 13:09 | #16

    ‘Rationalist’… have you ever been unemployed? Have you ever been a student that didnt have mum & dad to pay all your bills?

    I’m not useless, a bludger or stupid but I did spend periods in my early 20’s unepmployed because people were hiring for ‘experience’ which I did not have at the time. You can’t just magically start studying or demand a traineeship when you have no money. How much to you think Uni fees, TAFE fees and textbooks cost? They don’t materialise out of thin air!

    ‘students should not be supported in any way.’

    this is too insanely stupid a comment for me to attempt to reply to. You clearly do not live in the real world.

  17. Fran Barlow
    April 21st, 2010 at 13:17 | #17



    “Rationalist” lives to troll. He simply works out what will seem the most plainly specious and provocative thing to say in this context and utters it without further consideration, confident that someone will respond in a tone of high dudgeon.

    You are not supposed to take his comments or him at face value. A quick review of his past comments shows that he is neither a rationalist nor rational.

  18. Tim Macknay
    April 21st, 2010 at 13:21 | #18


    I am under 30 years old

    Well, that explains a few things. You’ll find your first recession educational when it comes.

    Young people should be supported to study/train in areas of national priority, but in areas judged not to be in national priority, students should not be supported in any way.

    And here was me thinking you were a fan of free markets. I apologise – you’re clearly a central planner par excellence. 😛

  19. pablo
    April 21st, 2010 at 13:25 | #19

    This reminds me that Abbott has changed nothing from his days around 2000 when as Minister for Employment and Youth Affairs he was allegedly responsible for my sacking while in charge of one of his pet environmental youth employment programs. As supervisor, I refused to allow these 17-20 year olds on tax-payer funded allowances of $5. 80 – $7.20 p/h to plant trees on private property, ie at no cost to the landowner. After sacking me he required my crew to return twice to two properties to show these youngsters how the real world worked.
    At least I was able to go the Industrial Relations Commission and win reinstatement and recompense.

  20. paul walter
    April 21st, 2010 at 13:35 | #20

    I notice that Catalepsy has grub-like Judith Sloan “doing for” DB pensioners before a small but vociferous audience.
    Obviously plan b is welfare-bashing, if the race card fails.

  21. paul walter
    April 21st, 2010 at 13:37 | #21

    As to rationalist, must be great to have an independent income. Your time will come…

  22. Rationalist
    April 21st, 2010 at 13:41 | #22

    No, I have never been “unemployed” according to the ABS definition nor do I accept support from parents, I accept support from industry however.

    I am not saying these people are “bludgers”, I am simply saying that they should plan themselves for possible periods of unemployment rather than relying on the government during a period of prime employability.

  23. jack horner
    April 21st, 2010 at 13:42 | #23

    Large employers facing shortage of labour should behave like the good free marketeers they are by offering better pay and conditions.
    If the constraint relates to too few workers with suitable trades, the employers are welcome to offer more apprenticeships or otherwise contribute appropriately to the education of their workforce (and if that has free rider problems, they should [also] be asking government to put more resources into education and training)

  24. Matt C
    April 21st, 2010 at 14:22 | #24

    Hi John,

    Re: your footnote, ABS 6291.0.55.003 Table 7 might have what you’re after. http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/[email protected]/DetailsPage/6291.0.55.003Feb%202010?OpenDocument.

    Matt C

  25. Matt C
    April 21st, 2010 at 15:18 | #25

    Apologies, not Table 7, see SuperTABLE UQ3_may01 – Unemployed Persons by Sex, State, Occupation, May 2001 onwards

  26. Highlander
    April 21st, 2010 at 15:34 | #26

    Throwing in a new thought to the barrel: this pushes prospective students who would otherwise support themselves through unemployment benefits towards increased hours dedicated to working. And no, they do not take weekend trips to the mines, providing “useful labour”; they deliver pizzas.

    So where does that leave students as a whole? Well, those who have to work additional hours to stay afloat (that is to say, those not fortunate enough to have parental support), will eventually suffer a competitive disadvantage to those who do not work any additional hours, since time spent working takes away from time spent studying.

    Putting two and two together, I’d say this leans towards Abbott extending a “helping hand” to those who would elect him (i.e Liberal parents of uni and even high school students who will now do better against their peers) rather than Abbott being benevolent towards miners out West.

  27. Ken
    April 21st, 2010 at 15:36 | #27

    It just seems like the same stuff Howard spouted just as elections came up – terrorist queue jumpers throwing kids overboard, Aborigines taking people’s backyards, bludgers sucking money out of the hard working ‘punters’ – veiled or even straight out pitches to the bigots, xenophobes and their fear and envy. Those that see those recieving no more income than unemployment benefits as living high should try it some time. If you think those with low esteem, poor work and social skills and personality problems to boot would make great employees, they exist in abundance. Having them on the streets – or in forced labour gangs – without support doesn’t strike me as sound social policy. But this isn’t about best policy, it’s about pressing people’s buttons; no-one’s as unthinking as someone riled up about the latest inequity or their pet hate.

  28. Rationalist
    April 21st, 2010 at 16:53 | #28

    @Tim Macknay
    I plan to be well prepared for my “first recession”.

  29. Chris Warren
    April 21st, 2010 at 17:13 | #29

    Rationalist :
    I am under 30 years old and I support the proposal to restrict unemployment benefits to those older than 30 years. People of this age should have no trouble finding work or studying or undertaking a traineeship etc in areas of national priority. Young people should be supported to study/train in areas of national priority, but in areas judged not to be in national priority, students should not be supported in any way.

    This sounds like undergraduate jingoism you’d expect from Young Libs/Nats like Nick Sowden.

  30. Rationalist
    April 21st, 2010 at 17:25 | #30

    @Chris Warren
    I do not currently support a political party.

  31. April 21st, 2010 at 17:28 | #31

    When they don’t have enough food or basics, and steal to get it, at least they’ll get that history lesson everyone keeps banging on about. After all, that’s exactly what happened to so many of our ancestors just before they got their transportation orders…

  32. April 21st, 2010 at 17:29 | #32

    I have spent most of my adult life working in the mining and construction industry. The idea of the mining industry becoming the dumping ground for the long term unemployed would give every mine manger nightmares (If they weren’t convinced by now that Abbot must never be allowed to become PM.)
    Kevin Wealand is chief executive of Downing Teal (http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/04/21/2878744.htm?section=justin) commented that “not just anyone can get a job in the mines.

    “Labour has also got to be characterised as skilled labour,” he said.

    “So unskilled labour that is incapable or untrained in the use of heavy equipment, working in dangerous or remote environments, is unlikely to be easily employed.

    “Mining is inherently a dangerous business … to take anyone who’s absolutely unskilled and say ‘there’s a job in the resource sector’ would be contentious.”

    There are a number of things that the mining industry could do to attract a wider range of people if the shortage becomes more acute.

  33. April 21st, 2010 at 17:29 | #33

    “plan themselves for possible periods of unemployment ”

    Isn’t that called income taxation?

  34. derrida derider
    April 21st, 2010 at 18:17 | #34

    I reckon this is a bit of good old fashioned dog whistling. The unspoken message to the redneck voters is “we’ll take the blacks’ sit-down money from them”, because that’s who most of the unemployed are in mining areas.

  35. paul walter
    April 21st, 2010 at 18:42 | #35

    Going thu it, I missed what a genuinely big hearted,reasoned and accurate statement Paul Norton’s was.
    Thanks, Abbott, for another REALLY stupid comment, to remind left-of-rightist-people (including self) who the real enemy is

  36. Chris Warren
    April 21st, 2010 at 18:57 | #36

    Rationalist :
    @Chris Warren
    I do not currently support a political party.

    Neither is Nick Sowden.

  37. gregh
    April 21st, 2010 at 19:04 | #37

    It’s the same as the old ‘put em in the army’ call. It’s just a little trigger to flick the ‘we all hate the same people’ switch. As with the army proposals it can never happen because, as others more knowledgable than me point out, there is little or no demand from industry/army for unskilled or unwilling labour. I would be surprised if Abbott and his marketing team did not know that.

  38. Rationalist
    April 21st, 2010 at 20:30 | #38

    @Chris Warren
    Who is Nick Sowden?

  39. Alice
    April 21st, 2010 at 21:45 | #39

    OK now lets see – Abbott wants to bring in an even nastier version of “lets rip of youth” than workchoices.
    As is my understanding Abbott claims there up jobs in the mines in WA and he would like to induce the unemployed youth from everywhere else to go there at their own expense. Hmmm – could be a problem especially when accommodation is in such short supply that rents for pretty boring houses are $1000 a week in these labour strapped towns.

    Well now Abbott – architect of Iraq and Worckchoices thinks he can just lay down his Alister Taylor style rod and whip and workers will do exactly as he says.

    Pardon me but anyone stupid enough to vote for Abbott – especially under thirty year olds – yeah – if you dont want to pay for your own education or job in the mines (or your parents dont want to more to the point) then we will make sure, if you havent git the money abd your parents havent, get used to sleeping on park benches.

    the guy is an (self censored)..but Ill leave you with this just in case you are thinking of voting for Abbott think of Sol….


  40. Alice
    April 21st, 2010 at 22:01 | #40

    @John Davidson
    John Davidson – I dont think you need worry about the long term unemployed or the short term youth fresh out of school unemployed. They cant afford to move to mining towns but what I do suggest is they rally for a sleep over in front of Abbotts office. He is a jerk neither the young who dont have a job, nor the mining industry can afford.

  41. April 22nd, 2010 at 00:28 | #41

    Abbott jumps the shark.

  42. Jill Rush
    April 22nd, 2010 at 00:35 | #42

    This is a very good way to ensure that Gen Y and possibly a lot of Gen X plus baby boomers who will be faced with supplying money to support unemployed young adults rather than see them go into crime, vote Labor. Tony Abbott seems determined to lose every demographic possible. He should stick to riding bikes or parading in budgie smugglers as that is what he does best. At least Mark Latham had a more interesting turn of phrase as he crashed and burned.

  43. paul walter
    April 22nd, 2010 at 03:08 | #43

    Alice, you think he is a mouse’s ear?

  44. Alice
    April 22nd, 2010 at 06:48 | #44

    @paul walter
    Paul…I think Tony Abbott hasnt got a clue and Id be seriously worried if I was an under 30. I think they do it tough enough now due to the viciousness of JHs regime towards youth (hecs up and up wages down and down). Abbott should go join the army and bully the new recruits. He would then combine his only real skills – exercise and bullying people underneath him on the demographic ladder.

  45. paul walter
    April 22nd, 2010 at 07:02 | #45

    Ah well, since am here could start with comment 41#.
    I can’t beleive it, either.
    Surely a single human can only do so much damage to his foot to his own foot and still have something left capable of being shot at.
    At least Latham had some sort of half rational vison for the future, but Abbott, I reckon there is really, a pathological problem involved with some of the traits manifest.
    If that’s true, it’s not just the young people who have something to worry about.

  46. paul walter
    April 22nd, 2010 at 07:19 | #46

    But there is probably method behind the madness.
    He wants to hold the Tory right rump, so as not to lose too many seats at the next election. Maybe factional balances will change if there is a fair loss of seats- if that’s the case you’d expect the right to be strengthened.
    Besides, in allowing Rudd to take up slack on the right, perhaps he gets to see policies more to his liking up and running, since Rudd is himself fairly conservative.
    If they cede the field now, the huge anti Howard, in effect rainbow, coalition that put Rudd in, would complacently descend into internecine scrapping over spoils of victory.

  47. Alice
    April 22nd, 2010 at 07:32 | #47

    @paul walter
    Paul “If that’s true, it’s not just the young people who have something to worry about.”

    All of us do have something to worry about if Abbott gets in. I keep having visions of him in a uniform wearing jackboots.

  48. wilful
    April 22nd, 2010 at 09:29 | #48

    Jack Strocchi :
    Abbott jumps the shark.

    For an internet persona that is sometimes deliberately (dare I say wilfully) anachronistic, I must say I approve, Jack S.

  49. wilful
    April 22nd, 2010 at 09:30 | #49

    Paul Walter, I think you’re very charitable thinking this thought bubble was vaguely strategic thinking.

  50. April 22nd, 2010 at 09:42 | #50

    I was on the dole for a little period up in Darwin, and one of the places I did try was the mines. Well, firstly by watching for jobs advertised- there were none. Then at one point by walking straight into the reception of a mining company in Darwin and asking for work. A manager spoke to me and explained that unless I found a way to get experience, I wouldn’t get a leg in. How to get experience? I don’t know, I had one good friend who worked on a mine (and had given me the idea) but his dad managed it and gave him various moderately hard, extremely well paid jobs until he’d built his own CV up.

    It’s bizarre to suggest people can be conscripted across the country, in the first place. But secondly, is there ANY EVIDENCE at all that mining jobs are being offered to the people queued up at Broady Centrelink, and that they are turning them down?

    What about those extremely highly paid jobs out at the desal plant, are THEY even on offer to underskilled dole recipients?

    Nasty social engineering driven by a complete want of serious evidence.

  51. TB
    April 22nd, 2010 at 09:45 | #51

    Gee, you commenters are sure having a go at Rationalist, aren’t you? I don’t agree with all he/she has to say (and I’ve got no idea who he/she is), but his tone is measured and his view isn’t extreme. Yet he’s described as a ‘troll’ and his comments branded as ‘specious’ and ‘provocative’, and his views dismissed out of hand. If you’re all so sure he’s obviously wrong, why not roll out some decent arguments against what he has to say?
    I thought the left were supposed to be the tolerant ones? I used to visit Prof Q’s blog quite a lot a few years back, and while the views are largely the same, the general attitude towards those of a more conservative bent seems to be a lot less respectful.

  52. Chris Warren
    April 22nd, 2010 at 10:15 | #52


    So TB – why is denying unemployment benefits to any group of adults a decent argument?

    It sounds more like a rightwing undergraduate stunt like Nick Sowden to me.

    Dividing society up by this sort of thing is not “a more conservative bent” – it is rightwing reaction. They scapegoat the unemployed for the failure of business and the market to produce socially acceptable outcomes.

    Principles of democracy and a fair society require everyone to be treated equally.

  53. April 22nd, 2010 at 10:29 | #53

    Pr Q said:

    Tony Abbott’s latest move, floating the idea that people under 30 should be denied access to the dole, is clear evidence of why he should never be Prime Minister. For that matter, it’s an illustration of the weaknesses that made him a second-rate (at best) minister under Howard.

    Cutting the dole to young people is so obviously a silly idea from perspectives of both political demand and policy supply. Does Abbott think that the listener-ship of 3MTR will get him over the line?

    Abbott’s performance confirms my suspicion that the parties on the Right of AUS politics – LP, NP & ON – have got serious issues with recruiting capable leaders. This seems a problem with both the type of people attracted to the Right-wing political “bridge” and the opinions of the base on whom they depend.

    The previous L/NP government was able to get by with a few men of superior talent of pre-Fraser vintage. Its inner sanctum was run by three men – Howard, Costello and Downer. They were pretty much unchallenged for 11 years which indicates the thinness of the talent pool in the whole squad.

    Once Howard left the whole thing just started to fall apart. His individual capabilities kept the party together in spite of its institutional deformities.

    Turnbull offered the L/NP a glimmer of hope after the passage of Howard. As a superior individual with clear leadership ability and management skills he might have replaced Howard in the role of “Great Helmsman”. But, characteristically, the L/NP leadership and base revolted against him thereby sinking their one chance to stay competitive.

    The AUS polity needs an effective Centre-Right party to be competitive if only to prevent the ALP turning its Natural Party of Government status into a One-Party State. Don’t scoff, I do not sleep soundly with fellows like Richo, Burke, Arbib, Conroy running things behind closed doors.

  54. Chris Warren
    April 22nd, 2010 at 10:53 | #54

    @Jack Strocchi

    I think Australia would prefer fellows like Richo, Burke, Arbib, Conroy running things, than corrupt Liberals in the public service like Godwin Greech “running things” for their Liberal Party mates (or in Howard’s case his own brother).

    Anyway I expected Richo and Burke to join the Liberal Party, this is where they belong.

  55. Monkey’s Uncle
    April 22nd, 2010 at 15:16 | #55

    “Anyway I expected Richo and Burke to join the Liberal Party, this is where they belong.”

    A perfect illustration of a No True Scotsman-type argument.

  56. Monkey’s Uncle
    April 22nd, 2010 at 15:34 | #56

    I suspect the reasoning behind this is something along these lines. Given the budgetary pressures associated with the current structural deficit, aging populations, growing health expenditures etc., some cutbacks in the welfare state are inevitable. Politically, the young are the easiest group to throw overboard. They are less well-organized and vocal in their demands than the old, they tend to be more apathetic and disengaged from politics, and they are often seen as less-deserving and lazy.

    So there is a certain bleak Machiavellian logic to this. Although I suspect it will backfire, if for no other reason than that enough voters become resentful when they feel their baser instincts are being exploited in such a transparent manner. And it will certainly lose votes among the young, as even those who are not welfare recipients will resent the implication they are invariably lazy and feckless.

    Tony Abbott is clearly a grub who will stoop to any desperate, divisive measure to get elected. I suspect many such people in politics would swim around in the sewer if you told them there were a few campaign donations, minor party preferences or swinging votes at the bottom.

  57. Freelander
    April 22nd, 2010 at 16:32 | #57

    @Monkey’s Uncle

    No true scotsman would be to deny that Richo and Burke were in the Labor party.

    No one is denying that Richo and Burke were in the Labor party. That said, their past behavior suggests that they ought to find less philosophical dissonance in the Liberal party.

    You can be in a political party while holding and practicing your own political philosophy, antithetical to that party’s.

  58. Monkey’s Uncle
    April 22nd, 2010 at 18:21 | #58

    Freelander, you have offered us yet another illustration of the No True Scotsman fallacy. Perhaps it could be called the No True Laborite fallacy, lol!

    “No true scotsman would be to deny that Richo and Burke were in the Labor party.”

    You obviously don’t understand what No True Scotsman means. It means that although an individual is technically or officially part of a group, because they do not fit some utopian ideal of what that group should be, they can therefore be dismissed as not a true (insert whatever group), and hence the ideal of the group as perfect and incorruptible remains intact.

    Your defence is a perfect No True Scotsman defence. Basically any Labor politician that doesn’t fit in with some naive utopian theory about what the Labor Party should stand for can be dismissed as Not True Labor, and henceforth the ideal of the Labor Party remains perfect and incorruptible.

  59. April 22nd, 2010 at 18:41 | #59

    [email protected]#6 said:

    You can be in a political party while holding and practicing your own political philosophy, antithetical to that party’s.

    Thats a pretty good summary of partisan “essentialism”, which is contrary to evolutionism. Richo, Burke & Arbib are not pro-business, they are “crony statists”. Not much different from “crony capitalists” in the L/NP.

    The post-modern L/NP is probably less prone to institutional corruption than counter-parts in the ALP. They are probably more prone to individual corruption.

    Having said that, Hawke & Keating seem to have done pretty well out of their business connections.

  60. paul walter
    April 22nd, 2010 at 18:41 | #60

    Monkey’s Uncle, that’s a bit curmudgeonly. Is there even the faintest hope that politics could mean or offer more than the vicarious consolations of trampling on enemy corpses, for the anti social of our community?
    The reality suggestive, true, but can we NEVER hope for better?

  61. gregh
    April 22nd, 2010 at 19:02 | #61

    @Monkey’s Uncle
    so are there any boundaries other then a paid up membership?

  62. gregh
    April 22nd, 2010 at 19:04 | #62

    @Jack Strocchi
    “Having said that, Hawke & Keating seem to have done pretty well out of their business connections.” My father – old as old now and from the poorest of the poor – was disgusted by Hawke and Keating. As he would say, how could a Labor man get so rich?

  63. Monkey’s Uncle
    April 22nd, 2010 at 19:09 | #63

    Paul, I am not engaging in reflexive, partisan barracking. I am calling out those who engage in such behavior.

    Over the years I have become increasingly disillusioned with the Liberal Party, and if anyone offered the kind of feeble defence of the Liberal Party that is being offered for the ALP I should hope they get the same treatment. I don’t really care much for loyalty to any one political party come what may. I care about ideas and policies. I don’t care much for brand loyalty.

    As I say, Tony Abbott is a deeply flawed figure and I will be voting Labor this time around. That is the sensible thing to do. Decide each case on its merits, instead of some knee-jerk tribal loyalty. If it’s a choice between a man like Kevin Rudd (who I would trust to run a medium-sized government department but nothing more) or Tony Abbott (a nutter who I would not trust to run the local pub raffle) one must choose the lesser of two evils.

  64. Freelander
    April 22nd, 2010 at 20:34 | #64

    @Monkey’s Uncle

    Maybe you don’t understand ‘no true scotsman’?

    A scotsman is Scottish, it is not a choice or a matter of fitting criteria other than having been born in scotland or having scottish citizenship. The ‘no true scotsman’ is to idealise properties on to the scotsman, and then when evidence refutes this hypothesis to do a Duhem-Quine and deny that the subject of that evidence is a (true) scotsman. Saying that someone is a member of the Labor party, a party which embraces a constellation of political philosophies and excludes others, and that given what they appear to believe is not in that inclusion but is in the exclusion, and so they really ought to be in the Liberal party, has nothing to do with the ‘no true scotsman’.

    But maybe I have it all wrong?

  65. Alice
    April 22nd, 2010 at 20:49 | #65

    Gregh – my father said the same thing about 1980s Labor leaders…..sell outs. Labor values died in the 1980s and havent been seen since.

  66. Alice
    April 22nd, 2010 at 20:53 | #66

    MU agree “That is the sensible thing to do. Decide each case on its merits, instead of some knee-jerk tribal loyalty.”
    Thats half the trouble – we can swing our vote, we can change sides but what if both sides smell bad?? Thats the time to cause real trouble. Vote to destabilise and vote to get a new group up and in power. Vote to keep the mainstream out and make them aware, even if they win, how much they lost.

  67. Alice
    April 22nd, 2010 at 21:00 | #67

    I want freedom of choice…only for my vote…I want more competition only for my vote. Am I a neo liberal voter? No – but when it comes to my vote – yes. But all I see to vote for is the equivalent of shopping for groceries – the choice of Labor or Liberal – like Coles or Woolies – both parties ripping the majority off and enriching minorities and themselves.

    Go the greens for me now…and Im a swinging voter and there are more and more of us turning green – including the young. Next thing you know, vested interests will start putting plants in the Greens like they have in Labor.

  68. paul walter
    April 22nd, 2010 at 22:02 | #68

    No probs, Monkeys Uncle. I detect someone as depressed by the wasted opportunity that is modern politics as any are at these pages ( and most here are).
    Alice says it well enogh, last few posts.
    Freelander there is only one true way to tell a”true scotsman” and thats by discovering what he wears under his kilt; jocks or “commando”.

  69. Monkey’s Uncle
    April 22nd, 2010 at 23:01 | #69

    Alice, it is true that it is difficult when both sides have serious problems. But you can still vote strategically to get whatever outcome you want. That is why it is pointless to always vote the same way. Your vote becomes meaningless if it is locked in to one party.

    The problem I have is that I am basically a classical liberal who believes in limited government in economic affairs, but also in social and moral affairs as well. The concern I have with Tony Abbott is that his strict religious views are a little disconcerting, but in addition to that he is a grubby vote-buyer (witness his unaffordable paid maternity leave measures). He wants to control everything from the bedroom to the boardroom, which leaves me cold.

    Although I have never been the biggest fan of Kevin Rudd, he is the safer pair of hands. And if the Liberals lose badly it will send a message to them not to put up a leader like Abbott again. So strategically, voting Labor makes sense.

  70. Chris Warren
    April 23rd, 2010 at 01:07 | #70

    Monkey’s Uncle :
    I am basically a classical liberal who believes in limited government in economic affairs, but also in social and moral affairs as well.

    Why would “liberals” be so restrictive?

    These “liberals” are very illiberal when it comes to public power.

    Presumably this just leaves the field relatively deserted for private enterprise to run amok.

    True liberals will ensure that public power is guided by democracy, and not restricted by a monkey uncle.

  71. Freelander
    April 23rd, 2010 at 05:25 | #71

    The so self called classical liberals are simply libertarians making an ambit claim to follow 18th and 17th century liberals. Luckily those they attempt to link themselves with are long dead and presumably immune to the defamation. If I am wrong in this, and they do have any after life left in them, as a consequence of you and others laying claim to their tradition, they are now spinning in their coffins.

  72. Freelander
    April 23rd, 2010 at 05:25 | #72

    Sorry 18th and 19th century.

  73. Chris Warren
    April 23rd, 2010 at 09:58 | #73

    Monkey’s Uncle :
    I am basically a classical liberal who believes in limited government in economic affairs, but also in social and moral affairs as well.

    So should governments be limited from dictating that workers should have safety equipment, particularly safety increases the costs of doing business in Australia?

    See: Liberals would have risked this life

  74. Tim Macknay
    April 23rd, 2010 at 10:42 | #74

    Freelander @13 – it seems to me that it’s you who has misunderstood the ‘no true Scotsman’ fallacy, and Monkey’s Uncle who has it right – Chris Warren’s comment about Richo and Burkie is a clear example of ‘no true Scotsman’.

  75. Chris Warren
    April 23rd, 2010 at 11:15 | #75

    This depends on your level of understanding and the quality of your interpretation.

    If you deliberately misunderstand then you will sidetrack yourself into inane gibberish.

    This is an old tactic – ignore the inconvenient and create a distraction.

    Anyway – most people know that the antics of Richardson and Burke and confederates, have corrupted the ALP so that it now operates as “Another Liberal Party”.

    Now some Liberals want to vote ALP.

    Anyone wanting to look at the substantive issues should look at the modernising and gentrification of the ALP explored by Michael Thompson “Labor Without Class” and Andrew Scott “Running on Empty”.

    Poor old Monkey’s Uncle has got his paw caught in a jar and doesn’t know when to let go.

  76. 2 tanners
    April 23rd, 2010 at 12:19 | #76

    Well, at least when Toney bans the dole for the under-30’s they’ll only efffectively lose 6 month’s benefits, as no-one will get them after that”.

    WTF is with him? I thought Brendan Nelson was supposed to have been Labor’s secret weapon.

  77. robert (not from UK)
    April 23rd, 2010 at 12:29 | #77

    Jack Strocchi wrote: “Abbott’s performance confirms my suspicion that the parties on the Right of AUS politics – LP, NP & ON – have got serious issues with recruiting capable leaders. This seems a problem with both the type of people attracted to the Right-wing political “bridge” and the opinions of the base on whom they depend.

    True enough in general, I would suggest; but I really am starting to wonder (as one who has known Abbott very slightly over the last 20-odd years) whether there is a more personal explanation for Abbott’s carrying-on since the leadership fell into his lap.

    It seems as if he is deliberately trying to make himself look like a joke. Not least with the budgie-smugglers and so forth. When I had a tiny amount to do with him, he at least perceived the accuracy of Machiavelli’s warnings against undue bonhomie.

    Has he now got a serious alcohol problem or something? I have no idea, and two decades ago he most certainly did not have one. But, somebody must be aware one way or the other of What Makes Tony Run.

  78. Monkey’s Uncle
    April 23rd, 2010 at 13:26 | #78

    “Poor old Monkey’s Uncle has got his paw caught in a jar and doesn’t know when to let go.”

    No, poor old Chris has been caught out resorting to a silly argument and now he won’t let it go.

  79. Monkey’s Uncle
    April 23rd, 2010 at 14:17 | #79

    Oh and Chris, I have actually read Michael Thompson’s “Labor Without Class”, which was published several years ago.

    Thompson is actually coming at the issue from the exact opposite direction. He is not critical of the Labor Party for embracing market-based or pro-business policies, or for abandoning traditional socialism. He is mainly critical of the Labor Party for pandering to the ‘bourgeois left’ too much. Indeed, his book was endorsed by free-marketeer PP McGuiness. Thompson actually criticises the Labor Party for adopting economic policies that punish success (such as their 1998 tax policy).

    I can only assume that either you haven’t read the book (and are simply relying on unreliable talking points or assumptions about what it is about), or you assume that no-one else on this forum is familiar with the book and so able to call you out on it.

  80. jquiggin
    April 23rd, 2010 at 14:49 | #80

    I agree with Monkey’s Uncle on the content of Labor without Class, though I don’t imagine he would agree with my review


  81. Chris Warren
    April 23rd, 2010 at 15:05 | #81

    Stop monkeying around.

    How on earth can Thompson’s book be claimed to be the exact opposite!!? Its subtitle is: “The gentrification of the ALP”.

    So, very clearly, for those who can read, my comment at #24 is reasonable.

    If you want to make some accusation – get some evidence. Throwing dust-up all over the place does not fool anyone.

    Where does Thompson take the opposite direction? I see no opposite direction to what I stated. The “opposite” direction is only in the imagination of Monkey’s Uncle.

    I do not think that Scott and Thompson are taking things in any opposite direction. They are explicitly addressing the ALP’s so-called gentrification and modernising.

    So obviously, as I stated:

    Anyone wanting to look at the substantive issues should look at the modernising and gentrification of the ALP explored by Michael Thompson “Labor Without Class” and Andrew Scott “Running on Empty”.

    Poor old Monkey’s Uncle has got his paw caught in a jar and doesn’t know when to let go.

    How silly of Monkey’s Uncle to assume that I had not read these texts.

    I recommend that people read both texts. But please don’t try reading them in the “opposite” way.

  82. Monkey’s Uncle
    April 23rd, 2010 at 15:23 | #82

    Prof Quiggin, I largely agree with your assessment that Thompson’s book is somewhat intellectually limited and no doubt of dubious merit as a work of political science. Although I am probably sympathetic to his general outlook, he does not make the case particularly well.

    I agree the notion that the working class is generally supportive of economic rationalism seems a fairly heroic assumption. Although having worked in blue-collar occupations for a significant part of my adult life (warehousing, nightfill etc.), I can say I have never felt too much need to censor my own views. Indeed, most of the people I have worked with do seem to have much greater hostility towards progressive social values than economic rationalism. The really crazy-brave option would have been to call some of them out on their racism, sexism etc.

  83. Chris Warren
    April 23rd, 2010 at 17:02 | #83

    jquiggin :
    I don’t imagine he would agree with my review

    There would certainly be a good chance of that. I guess he would see such comments as demonstrating his thesis.

    Anyway, Thompson’s argument can be seen as echoing reactionary (psuedo-DLP) concerns – but, this does not mean it can be tagged as “intellectually limited and of dubious merit” or necessarily identified with the Liberal Party (which is the line once pursued by the Bulletin which presented Howard in a blue workers idiomatic singlet).

    Thompson’s position does not necessarily involve any criticism of ALP’s:

    market-based policies,
    pro-business policies, or of some

    ALP abandonment of traditional socialism,

    but it can be seen, in the hands of Martin Ferguson and co., as supporting opening Australia wide for nuclear industry or doing other obnoxious things (“to provide jobs for workers” etc etc).

    But rejecting that – does not mean rejecting the gentrification/modernisation thesis and the implied distancing by ‘chardonnay socialists’ and ALP careerists, from shop-floor perspectives.

    So as well as Quiggin’s;

    The obvious inference from Thompson’s book … is that he, and others who share his views, should join the Liberals.[the Burke and Richo effect? -cw]

    we are also getting the opposite – Liberals joining Labor {the monkey effect] – attracted by the gentrification/modernisation.

    So, as I noted at #3, Burke and Richo should join the Liberals, and our rather confused Monkey’s Uncle should vote labor.

    It is not necessary to see the gentrification/modernisation issue in the same terms as Thompson. A criticism of Thompson does not imply there is no problem with gentrification/modernisation.

  84. Monkey’s Uncle
    April 23rd, 2010 at 17:15 | #84

    Chris, I suspect everyone else on the board has lost track of your increasingly tortured logic and desperate attempts to remould your narrative to fit in with the facts. It seems you are just muttering to yourself now. Best of luck.

  85. Chris Warren
    April 23rd, 2010 at 17:49 | #85

    @Monkey’s Uncle

    That is not for you to judge.

  86. Tim Macknay
    April 23rd, 2010 at 19:37 | #86

    Chris Warren @24:

    This depends on your level of understanding and the quality of your interpretation. If you deliberately misunderstand then you will sidetrack yourself into inane gibberish.

    This is an old tactic – ignore the inconvenient and create a distraction.

    Settle down, Chris. (I presume your comment @24 was a response to me since it appeared directly after mine)

    The ‘no true Scotsman argument’ doesn’t imply that the qualities of the alleged offending member(s) of the group actually reflect upon the group. On further consideration, Freelander’s take on it could arguably be correct if you take the narrow view that ‘no true Scotsman’ has to be limited to a statement which includes the words ‘no true…’ in it.. but I still think it’s reasonable interpretation of your statement, regardless of how you intended it.

    I have no idea what you’re referring to by “inane gibberish” (I seldom write gibberish and then only deliberately).

    I’m also not sure what you meant by “a distraction” – perhaps you meant that I was distracted from the ‘more important’ stoush about economic ideology. The thing is, ideological blog debates about the role of government are both ubiquitous and interminable. Debates about the meaning of the ‘no true Scotsman’ fallacy, on the other hand, are rare flowers which should be enjoyed. 🙂

  87. Freelander
    April 23rd, 2010 at 19:59 | #87

    @Tim Macknay

    IMHO, Freelander’s take on ‘no true Scotsman’ is entirely correct and is the only correct interpretation. There is something that makes you a member of a group. For example, belief in the Christian god makes you a Christian. Christians seem to promote the idea that they, the true believers, are more likely to behave in morally better behaviour and that they are morally superior to so called ‘non believers’. When someone points out the actual behaviour of typical Christians, frequently, outcomes the ‘no true Scotsman’. But the people are Christians as meets the definition. If they were atheists portraying themselves as Christians then they wouldn’t be ‘true’ Christians but they are not atheists but true believers. Likewise, no claim about Richo or Burke never haven’t been members of the Labor party was made. All that was asserted was that given the appearance of their existing politics. Someone noted that they might find it more appropriate to be in the Liberal party. The same could be said for Hayden. Membership of the Labor party is simply a formality, but being a member or being a supporter is typically to support a certain constellation of political philosophies and to eschew certain others. A person who embraces any of those certain others can be a member of the Labor party, but would be fairly open to the claim that they aren’t a true member. If however, someone made the claim that Labor party people are somehow morally superior in their behaviour and refuting evidence was brought to bear and they asserted that the people used as evidence were not ‘true’ Labor party people and those people did embrace the constellation and eschew the certain others, then this not ‘true’ Labor would be a ‘no true Scotsman’ argument. However, if the people were simply masquerading as Labor party people, even if they were members, then there would be some merit is saying they were not ‘true’ Labor people.

    All rather obvious, I thought. Hope that clarifies it.

  88. Freelander
    April 23rd, 2010 at 20:04 | #88

    Or there is a better way to explicate ‘no true Scotsman’. When I say they are not a ‘true’ something it is not a fallacy. When someone uses the ‘true’ and I don’t like their use, it is a fallacy. Much simpler in application, and avoids what most avoid, having to think.

  89. gregh
    April 23rd, 2010 at 20:21 | #89

    If you go the ‘no true scotsman’ then you are claiming there is some set of attributes which are absolutely necessary for making the claim of is-a-scotsman true. That’s all and on the face of it probably reasonable. But in practice the ‘no scotsman’ is a ploy, the set of attributes ridiculously narrow, partial, and sometimes shifting such that no argument can be entered into. A true scotsman becomes those who the claimant admits to the treasured realm and no-one else.

  90. Freelander
    April 23rd, 2010 at 20:32 | #90

    The no true is a ruse to try to avoid refuting evidence when you have made some refutable claim about desirable associated properties of being a Christian, a Scotsman or whatever. Having evidence refute your hypotheses concerning the associated desirable property you simply fold that property into the definition of being a [true] Christian, Scotsman or whatever. No ‘true’ Nazi would exterminate people. Magic now the Nazis didn’t exterminate anyone, by definition. The no ‘true’ is a great ploy for the religious. No ‘true’ member of the Roman Catholic clergy ever molested anyone. There you go, all Vatican problems solved.

  91. Chris Warren
    April 23rd, 2010 at 20:33 | #91

    @Tim Macknay

    Those who reinterpret others statements, and then criticise the reinterpretation, generally come to grief.

    As you can see, #24 was not addressed to anyone in particular, but to those who play the reinterpretation gambit as a distraction.

    I have no interest in the Scotsman thing, it presumably arises from a misrepresentation and as pure distraction – no better than a ‘do you beat your wife’ tactic.

    On the other hand, the damage done by Belinda Neal, Grahame Richardson, Paul Keating, Brian Burke, Hawke and others is of great interest.

    However this has to be distinguished from a parallel take often expressed by DLP and associated sects (for example BA Santamaria “Who Rules Australia anyway?” – Weekend Australian, 30-31 December 1995, p9).

  92. Chris Warren
    April 24th, 2010 at 09:33 | #92

    Just to show how twisted the ALP is becoming. According to this [Dirty Site], Nick Sowden is now associated with Queensland ALP (at least in student politics).

    So the redneck rats and lost monkeys are coming on board?

    Will they sink the whole ship?

  93. Calligula
    April 25th, 2010 at 15:53 | #93

    Hello and thanks for the invitation to comment.
    Abbott does seem recently to have overturned a liberal core principle – that of small government.
    But since we can’t have small government anyway in result of the existence of the constitution and States perhaps he’s just decided to take another tack.

    So let’s look at one tiny jurisdictional aspect of canning the dole for 30s and under –
    The masters calling the shots in this country have relentlessly forged a generation or two of Australians, the vast majority of whose career expectations revolve around any sort of employment so long as it doesn’t involve raising a sweat or getting dirty hands.

    The education system seems dedicated towards turning out that sort of product on the basis of some policy dreamt up over forty years ago that Australia shall become a ‘service society’.
    The other side of that medal is that politicians, over that same timeframe have equally relentlessly driven Australian manufacturing and technical industries to perdition.

    This, of course, is an oversimplification of the total situation and does not refer to the minerals/energy/mining sector nor to the ridiculous situation where the sons and daughters of the privileged get to work (if such it could be called) in air conditioned comfort at head office with a ratio of about 2.5 chair polishers there to every worker out under the mid-day sun.

    The punchline –
    Queensland, today, is moving toward drafting legislation banning drivers younger than 25 from operating four wheel drive vehicles on our beaches.
    If they can’t be trusted with 4WDs on Sunday arvo – then what’s the future outcome when Abbott’s outcasts zip around the rim road of the open cast mine in those 50 ton trucks?

    Or would the Mad Monk get Centrelink to issue each one an exemption?
    Oh, I forgot – Federal law does override State when there is conflict.

    Easy peasy.

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