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Driving forward on new policy ideas? « Previous | |Next »
May 30, 2003

I'm currently glancing through this weeks Bulletin and come across Maxine McKew's lunch with Lindsay Tanner (subscription required) who has the Labor Party's opposition Communications Portfolio.

Tanner is an intellectual politician who wrote a book called Open Australia not so long ago. In the interview he is selling himself as a future leader. Maxine McKew conveniently provides the platform for the product sell.

In the interview he talks about the problems faced by the Australian Labor Party. He says:

"We've got a product problem. That's something thats been building for years. Its reflected in thr threat from the Greens and its reflected it the hollowing-out of our party membership around the country. We've lost our way as a political party. We have to fix that. It means taking risks, being bold, going on the attack. Putting forward strong alternative visions about Australia as it could be under a Labor Government."

Thats a pretty accurate diagnosis. In Tanner's own words the ALP is currently filled with mechanics who fiddle with the engine to make it run. It's lacking in drivers who decide where to go and how to get there.

So how does the ALP move forward? Stop recycling people in the same ideas framework. Embrace change agents, says Tanner. Fair enough.

But as Maxine points out there is nothing coming from the ALP to challenge the Brendan Nelson's user pays reforms to the universities. How would they ensure equity and greater resourcing? As Maxine points out Jenny Macklin, who is in charge of policy development, is not delivering. What ever happened to Knowledge Nation?

We have an ALP on the defensive not one that is bold and beautiful. And it has been on the defensive since 1996. The 1980 ideas of neo-liberal economic reform have run their course. As Tanner would say no robust alternatives have come forward.

There was the initiative on the Murray-Darling Basin in the Budget Reply. An opening perhaps?

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 12:49 PM | | Comments (2)


If Tanner is an intellectual, bring back the engine drivers. If Tanner's hopes for higher office depend upon his intellectual gifts, surely he'll need to start showing some evidence of their existence first?

Tanner did write a book. That not enough?