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is the game being played? « Previous | |Next »
June 4, 2005

The ALP continually suprises me in terms of its oh so clever parliamentary tactics and its bad long term strategy. The classic example is the way it handed control of the Senate to the Coalition by directing its preferences to Family First. One presumes that as the ALP did not want to lose control of the Senate to its enemies, so the clever tactic backfired.

Tactics have priority over strategy. Presumably it did not occur to the smart political operators to consider what the political landscape would be like for the ALP with John Howard controlling the Senate for a decade. That should have been the possibility to prevent at all costs. Alas, as the political operators in the party machine did not see beyond the horizons of their short term tactics, they handed their enemy dominating power on a platter.

This oh so clever way of political operating continues, as we rapidly move towards a new political order where John Howard will control both houses of parliament:


Now it's not just Beazley. It's the inner circle that runs the ALP these days. I presume the clever 'block the tax cuts in the Senate' tactic was devised by that smart political operator Wayne Swan, the shadow Treasurer, with help from Stephen Smith. Smith went public with the rationale for the tactic.

A similar situation has happened with mandatory detention. Remember it is the Liberal dissidents who are trying to soften the hard edges of mandatory detention, and to limit the time people spend in carceration, not the ALP. The ALP says that the policies advocated by Liberal dissdents, such as Petro Georgiou and Judy Moylan, are in line with its own policies. So openly supporting the Liberal dissidents would increase the pressure on Howard, and it help to keep the momentum up for the much needed changes to mandatory detention.

That is good long term strategy as the mandatory detention camp has become the heart of our political life.

Did the ALP provide support for the Liberal dissident's private members bills?

No. The ALP is being low key: it is asking few questions in parliament on the issue and, as the Opposition, it has not bothered to put up its own legislation to force the pace of change.

The ALP's parliamentary tactics last week were designed to attempt to embarrass the Coalition by highlighting the divisions within its ranks. Changing the mandatory detention system was the instrument used to play the short-term parliamentary tactics game.

That means the short term tactics have priority over is normal operating procedure of the ALP's political culture. That means the ALP doesn't really care about changing the mandatory detention system.

Good policy is sacrificed for parliamentary stunts. That is the judgement we citizens make. We also judge that the ALP's political culture needs changing.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 2:54 PM | | Comments (2)


No, they probably do not, but it's funny that if you live in Lindsay Tanner's seat all the direct marketing you receive highlights refugee concerns loud and clear as tho the ALP's main issue was asylum seekers.

This is due to strong Green performance in the electorate, of course, but it'd be nice to see Tanner making some noise in Canberra to match his local propaganda.

marketing is the key word isn't it. On the other hand Lindsay Tanner supports the thrust of the Georgiou bills. He says:

So broadly, the thrust of what he's on about is in line with Labor's position. It's not identical, but it's broadly similar, and it's good to see that from within the government, there are people as well as people in other parties like Labor and the minor parties who realise that the current situation simply cannot go on. It's inhumane, it's unjust, it's having a terrible impact on a lot of innocent people, and it's damaging Australia's reputation abroad. It's about time we changed, and good on Petro Georgiou. I hope he keeps it up.

The question is: did Tanner go along with the stunt in parliament last week: or did he, like Carmen Lawrence, absent himself from the vote described thus by Denis Shanahan in The Australian:

"The Labor tacticians decided to force the Liberals and Nationals to vote on the proposals of maverick Liberal MP Petro Georgiou to soften the policy on mandatory detention and limit the time people spend behind bars. The idea was to embarrass the Liberals and John Howard and highlight divisions in the Coalition party room."

Did Tanner think that this clever tactic would be counter productive, in the sense that it could have the consequence of preventing change to the conditions of those in detention?