Ferguson out, Tanner in

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.

89 thoughts on “Ferguson out, Tanner in

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

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

    Neither was Carmen Lawrence.

  3. 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.

  4. “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.

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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!

  8. 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?

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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?

  13. 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?

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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

  17. 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?

  18. “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.).

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. “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.

  23. 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.]

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

  25. 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.

  26. 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?

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

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

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

  29. 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.

  30. 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.

  31. 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?

  32. 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.

  33. 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.

  34. 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?

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