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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Is the ALP Right going feral? « Previous | |Next »
April 27, 2005

The ALP Right has big plans to revitalize the federal party. It does need rejuvenation as the power has shifted to the states.

Now the bruvvers on the Right constitute a strange political animal with stange ways. We saw the strangeness here. That little policy proposal was about increasing the rate of the GST and broadening the GST by including food to help the states get rid of their own tax base. Now they have got more strangeness.

This time it is Bill Shorten, national secretary of the Australian Workers Union and aspiring MP. Bill is all about ditching the inner-city, chardonnay lefty set and getting back to basics.

Back to basics? What would that mean today? It means downplaying caffe latte issues such as the environment, refugees and multiculturalism? It means turning away from pseudo-Green left policies that play in only five or six inner-city federal electorates. It also means moving away from the (big) Left, returning to the blue collar base, and appealing to the centre or middle Australia? That is how I understand it. Confirmation

What are the policies then?

Shorten gives it straight in a recent speech. He said that the top personal tax rate should be brought into line with the 30 per cent rate paid by companies. Presumably this is how Shorten understands the ALP being the party of the big economic ideas that give confidence to all Australians. Presumably tax cuts come before increases in publicly funded health care and that what Shorten means when he says that its time for the ALP to move to the Centre of Australian politics by focusing on the broad economy.

Apparently he also said the rich should pay less tax, taxpayers should fund wealthy private schools and the Medicare rebate should be scrapped.

Back to basics as an agenda for renewal? It's a sharp contradiction to ALP policy and values don't you think? What is the ALP Right up to, embracing the basics of the Liberal Party, in the name of Labor Unity. That embrace implies that the goals of public policy are to promote prosperity and ensure that Australia becomes the wealthiest nation in the world.

Shorten was giving his ideas on on how Labor could win the next election in marginal Labor seat of Isaacs, in Melbourne. Honestly, I cannot see how becoming a neo-liberal clone of the Liberal party will get the ALP re-elected. Shouldn't the ALP be different from the Government? Isn't that the tried and tested strategy?

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 11:09 PM | | Comments (2)


I definitely agree that the ALP should not be trying to become Liberal-Lite by drifting to the Right any further than it already has been. Product differentiation is an important thing in politics.

However, I do think that Shorten has a point. The hard facts are that your average Green/progressive vote is likely to end up an ALP vote so long as the ALP stays marginally left of the Liberal party.

It's a bloody difficult balance!

good point re Shorten's insight.

As you say the key is balance between conservative and radical. That means being innovative in policy rather than allowing a policy vacuuum to develop whilst waiting for the Howard Government to make a series of mistakes.

Innovative in national policy means listening communities and citizens not echoing Howard and Costello or focus groups; not assuming that it is the alternative government; and not following publc
ic opinion.

It means taking charge of the national debate on public issues.

These are the arguments of Barry Jones, ALP National Pesident.They are a useful counter to the Shorten proposal for the ALP to be Liberal Lite.

They imply the loosening of the rigid factionalism that has emerged since the Hawke and Keating governments. This has stifled the Labor Party’s processes, and given advantage in preselections to a narrow group of people. This has to change is John Button's argument.