A new sandpit for long side discussions, idees fixes and so on. Unless directly responding to the OP, all discussions of nuclear power, MMT and conspiracy theories should be directed to sandpits (or, if none is open, message boards).

144 thoughts on “Sandpit

  1. At the very real risk of being wrong, my reading of Megan’s position is that the ALP’s more recent actions with respect to refugees is at odds with what has been presented as the 2011 policy document, i.e. “National Platform”, Australian Labor, 46th National Conference, 2011. I’d say that what Kevin Rudd stated the ALP would do with respect to unauthorised maritime arrivals (having no visa), in the lead-up to the Sep 2013 election, is at least part of what Megan is criticising as being unacceptable treatment of asylum seekers.

    Megan’s further point (if I’m reading it right) is that to support the ALP while their last stated position (presumably Kevin Rudd’s statements as PM, in the lead-up to the Sep 2013 election) is active, doesn’t provide the ALP with any incentive to change that position. Now, if she chooses to vote for a different party because they have a better (in her eyes) asylum seeker policy, then two things may come of that: i) win or lose, the ALP, in post-mortem mode, discover that this was a key reason they lost X voters to other parties; ii) the party she voted for actually get the votes to run the joint.

    The obverse, which Megan points out, is that if she simply votes for the ALP as a default, it isn’t going to encourage the ALP to shift their position on asylum seekers arriving by boat, etc.

    In other words: If ALP UMA policy is BAD by Megan’s standards, then she won’t vote for them; if ALP UMA policy is GOOD by Megan’s standards, then she *might* vote for them, but won’t necessarily.

    I must say I’m a bit confused too, as to how to reconcile what is in the National Platform (2011) with what Kevin Rudd announced in the lead-up to the Sep 2013 election. He made it very clear that no asylum seeker arriving by boat without a visa would ever set foot on Australian soil (ABC Vote Compass, Aug 21, 2013), and it was in official ALP election advertising. Here’s an old news story reporting on PM Rudd’s announcement. Has the ALP overturned what Rudd announced, or is it still sitting on the table? Can’t really be clearer than that, sorry.

  2. @J-D

    To me it still boils down to the point at which a person can “support” a party (the ALP in this case) while opposing a “policy” (refugees).

    Ivor seems very vexed about the idea that people might refuse to support the ALP (calling me names, making a pointless distinction between a “policy” and a “Platform”, talking about sects etc..).

    I imagine the faceless men of the ALP are similarly concerned. On the one hand they need support but on the other hand they have a certain agenda and policies (neocon, cruelty to refugees…) which some of those supporters might oppose.

    If someone’s disdain for the policy is greater than their desire to support the ALP then they will choose not to support the ALP. If that sends the ALP to electoral oblivion so be it.

  3. I sometimes disagree with Megan over detail, but in essence I think we are agreed – if you don’t want to be cruel, don’t vote for the major parties (and be selective about the minor ones – safest to vote greens, I think).

  4. @Val

    Many people have voted for the Greens for two decades: what improvements in conditions for refugees and asylum seekers have those votes contributed to?

  5. @J-D

    During that time, how many times have the ALP or LNP negotiated with the Greens to pass legislation regarding treatment of refugees?

    The ALP/LNP duopoly usually vote together on the worst legislation, thereby neutering the effect of the cross-bench.

  6. @Megan

    Ivor’s made his position clear enough, I think, at least in part (and no doubt if I’ve misinterpreted him he’ll make clear again that he’s vexed): the course he advocates, at least most of the time, is supporting whichever party has the general support of the trade union movement. I suppose if you want to know why he advocates that course you can ask him. In any case, it’s plain that in Australia right now the party with the general (although not universal) support of the trade union movement is the ALP. Also it seems plain enough to me that you don’t take the same position as Ivor, so it’s hardly surprising that the two of you find yourselves at odds. Please note that I am not advocating that you should agree with Ivor.

    Political parties (the ALP included) gain and lose supporters all the time, for a diversity of reasons. If you’re suggesting that the ALP has lost supporters because of its recent actions in relation to refugees and asylum seekers (in Government and in Opposition), I’m sure you’re right. How many it’s lost that way is less clear.

    The people who make decisions for the ALP are keenly interested in the party’s electoral advantage. I expect they’re as good at calculating the effects of their decisions on the party’s support as anybody else, and probably better than many. That’s not the same thing as thinking that they never make mistakes; everybody makes mistakes. It could be that the way they’ve handled these issues (of refugees, asylum seekers, immigration, border control, and so on) has harmed the party electorally and that it would do better electorally with a different approach to those issues (perhaps, for example, one you would recommend). It’s possible you’ve judged this more accurately than they have. I wouldn’t want to have to bet on it, though.

    Nothing lasts for ever; that includes the ALP, the Liberals, the Nationals, the Greens, and every other political party; it also includes you and me and the Commonwealth of Australia and this planet. Nothing lasts forever, but some things last longer than others; some will last longer than I do; I hope my daughter does. As for political parties, sometimes they plunge to complete electoral oblivion very rapidly and with very little in the way of advance indications; but that’s not usually the way it happens; and although I, like everybody else, may be mistaken, I don’t observe any present signs of trends likely to lead to the ALP disappearing from the electoral landscape.

  7. @Megan

    As the law presently stands, if you are voting in a Federal election for the House of Representatives, and you do not either give a higher preference to the ALP candidate than to the Coalition candidate or give a higher preference to the Coalition candidate than to the ALP candidate, your vote will not be counted as valid at all, which means in particular that it won’t be tallied as a valid vote for the Greens.

  8. @Megan

    I haven’t studied the Parliamentary voting record and I’m not interested in disputing that point with you. I was just applying the same test to Val’s suggestion that I was applying earlier to all the suggestions you made. The question I was posing was about what actions (that you or I or anybody might take) are likely to be effective in improving the conditions of refugees and asylum seekers: in other words, whatever the suggestion, I ask ‘Will it work?’

    I’m fairly sure I remember that in the past you’ve made comments in which you’ve suggested that in this country (at least) the supposedly democratic system of government is broken. If that’s true, it might explain why your suggested courses of action won’t work. But if something doesn’t work, finding out the reasons why it doesn’t work is not enough by itself to make it work. A few days ago my car wouldn’t start. I suspected that the battery had died (and this guess was confirmed when the NRMA came). But my diagnosis (correct as it turned out to be) did not restart the car. Mere knowledge that the battery was dead was not by itself effective in making the car go. If in fact voting for the Greens does not achieve your goal, that doesn’t stop being true solely because you are able to explain why it doesn’t work.

  9. @J-D

    …the House of Representatives…

    Yes, that’s why I said “where possible”.

    On the other hand, in the Senate it is possible to vote below the line and exhaust the ballot without preferences flowing to either the ALP or LNP.

  10. @J-D

    Mere knowledge that the battery was dead was not by itself effective in making the car go

    No but it was an essential first step.

    Otherwise you may have sat in the car all day, operating the pedals, spinning the steering wheel and wondering why you weren’t getting anywhere!

    The first step is to realise there is a problem in the first place.

  11. > On the other hand, in the Senate it is possible to vote below the line and exhaust the ballot without preferences flowing to either the ALP or LNP.

    There’s this thing called “opportunity cost”; keeping your hands clean is all well and good, but the effort you spend to keep yourself “personally” “sinless” is effort you can’t spend in other, potentially-more-productive, ways of fixing the problem.

    [which isn’t to say that this specific suggestion you’re making is per-se unreasonable, it’s just that there seem to be a lot of suggestions you’re making and — opportunity cost again — “we can do any of these things” doesn’t mean “we can do all of these things”.]

  12. @Collin Street

    The “lesser of two evils” argument?

    Sorry, not buying it. Evil is evil.

    I need someone to convince me that supporting the ALP will achieve anything good – to keep it simple, I’ll settle for an argument confined to the humane treatment of refugees but I’m open to argument on any subject.

  13. The Coalition’s policy has successfully stopped that boats and consequently we aren’t seeing hundreds of people die each year at sea.

    When Labor was last in office, it bought into the silly argument that push factors overwhlemed pull factors, softened its policy and thus encouraged people to risk their lives at sea. Labor soon realised its folly and arguably made the only choice that any moral entity could make- it toughened its policy on asylum seekers.

    Does anyone have a better plan? By this I mean a plan that will save lives and be accepted by a public that is overwhelmingly hostile to asylum seekers. Remember, moral posturing is not a plan peoples.

  14. @Megan

    So, having observed correctly that when the ALP and the Coalition vote together in Parliament the votes of the Greens have no effect, what course of action do you propose as a response to that situation?

  15. @Megan

    Saying that you’re not going to support Labor if it’s not going to do any good is perfectly reasonable. I guess you’d take the same position in relation to any political party?

    It strikes me, though, that ‘I need someone to convince me …’ is an odd way of expressing that position and I wonder why you chose it.

  16. Megan :

    I need someone to convince me

    Just how self-centred, self-indulgent and self-serving can she be.

    This sounds very undergraduate campus-based to me.

    We need people who can cooperate with others from all walks of life and who understand the practicalities of representing the Australian community at large.

    There have been many attacking groups within the Left in Australia and the peace movement often centred on people who later turn out to be linked to the CIA and other entities. John Kerr is the most noteable. You can see the typical behaviour of a plant in Kenneth Gee’s book “Comrade Roberts: Recollections of a Trotskyite”, Gee, Kenneth, p32.

    But you need to know how to use a library.

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