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

beyond Lib-Lab? « Previous | |Next »
March 23, 2006

I see that the Australian Fabians had an forum at Glebe Books in Sydney on the Howard Government’s 10 years in power and the impact it has had on Australia. One of the speakers was Julia Gillard, who called for a new Labor vision. What does this look like in the face of the current Lib-Lab look:

Paul Zanetti

Gillard says that:

We cannot shy away from the so-called 'culture wars' out of fear of being wedged by right-wing caricatures of Labor values. In the past, Labor and progressive forces have sometimes derided the fear of change and sometimes embraced it, but neither reaction was right. Unlike the Government Labor can offer a vision of the future that embraces change but moderates its harsher and most destabilising impacts.

What are Labor values now they have repudiated Latham's conception of life lived within the market economy to and his concerns about mutuality, community, or social solidarity. If Labor values are family values for the Labor Right, then what are they for Gillard?

Gillard says that a federal Labor Government could deliver the substance that the current Howard Government has embraced only rhethorically is the argument. A good point. So Labor values for Gillard are the Aussie values of fair go and fair play? How is that different from Howard?

What is the content of change and moderation does Gillard have in mind, given this scenario?

The Sydney Morning Herald's Louise Dodson does not say. So do we have a vision without content?

At this stage we have to rely on Dodson's text, but not soley, because Guy at and Liam at were in attendance. From Dodson's text we can gather that Gillard's argument is pressing need for a changed direction in the ALP's political tactics. These had underestimated John Howard, as they had assumed that the PM's use of the politics of fear would be divisive and lead to Howard's repudiation by the electorate. This didn't, and is not likeley happen. Hence the need for different tactics to pissing on Howard then pissing off.

So vision is reduced to tactics. What's happened to the substance?

It's the economy stupid. It's the economy would have been mentioned. Dodson makes no mention of it though.So we have no idea how Gillard links up the economy with battlers and the family.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 5:11 PM | | Comments (6)


Gillard makes a few interesting points, although she spends more time talking about the problems with Howard's leadership, then how Labor should go about addressing them. She's definitely toned down since her last 'remove the factions' speech at the Sydney Institute.
Her full speech is now up on the fabian society's website:

Thanks for the link.

Although my stance in the post is a critical one I do support Gillard--pretty much along your lines. I do support her against the attacks by Michael Costello, Kim Beazley's ex-chief of staff, in his op.ed in todays Australian:

Julia Gillard is in danger of becoming the new Mark Latham. Her strategy is to get her name in lights by an unceasing attack on her own party...She is about look at me, look at me, look at me. Her aim is the celebrity that brings public approval. And the way she has set out to get that celebrity is to savage her own party....Beazley says the Labor Party should not focus on itself but on what the people want. True. But Gillard thinks she is on a winner with her strategy and so far she is right.

This is the ALP Right talking---it's become a standard line to kick Gillard and the left. Gillard is right to raise the issues because the ALP has lost contact with its Hawke/Keating past of a modern policy agenda, the core of which was embracing free markets and competition and liberal progressive values.
And then Costello says this:
But why should the public bother to listen to Beazley, Stephen Smith, Kevin Rudd or other Labor figures when Gillard dominates the media with repeated assertions that Labor is on the wrong track, when Crean says Labor is corrupt, and when Latham is back treading the boards telling the world that Labor should be shunned?

So what does the ALP Right (Beazley, Smith, Rudd, Swan , Conroy, Shorten etc) stand for: economic reform, social conservatism, and pro US empire? Isn't that what John Howard and Tony Blair stand for?

So where is the difference? What are the fundamental issues of difference. I can only see IR reform. If they--the ALP Right--- are reformist in re the delivery and effectiveness of public services, would they do that by handing responsibility for them to the private sector--- like Tony Blair is doing?

I do agree with Costello, however, when he says that Gillard is light on policy in contrast to Latham. Good policy was one of Latham's strengths. Gillard strikes me as more of a tactician--albeit a very good one.

I will read the full text and see if she does come up with some substance.

I also agree with Costello's comments about Gillard being light on policy. If she's serious about having a shot at the leadership, she should be flat out formulating policy now, as quickly as she can. Once she has a solid policy background behind her, it will be far harder for the Beazley camp to drag her down.

However, despite her lack of policy history, I think most Australians have more idea of what Julia Gillard stands for than what Beazley stands for & surely that's some indication of who should be holding the ALP's reins.

you are probably right when you say that:

I think most Australians have more idea of what Julia Gillard stands for than what Beazley stands for & surely that's some indication of who should be holding the ALP's reins.

I wouldn't really know. But I have some questions for you.

Have the traditional blue collar Labor bastions in the working class urban areas come back to the ALP because of Gillard's Medicare Gold?

Isn't she too 'inner city lefty' for these social conservatives?

I don't just mean the factory workers. Dad may be a production worker but mum is a sales clerk--or sometimes dad may be unemployed and living apart from mum. Are not these groups rusted onto Howard's family tax package?

How about the Mark Latham's aspiring suburban working class; those who have become independent contractors with an investment flat and are worried about economic growth stalling or interest rates rising? What does Gillard offer this class who are wedded to Howard because of his economic record.

We know that Beazley is very pro-American and pro-alliance. On the other hand, Beazley, in sharpening the differences between him and Howard, is saying that Australia should break with the US on Iraq, and quickly; that we shouldn't have gone there in the first place; and that we should leave ASAP. Pretty clear---dam close to Mark Latham's position is it not?

Gary,you can analyse and speculate on what Gillard stands for,and her future intentions.But take it from me Joe six pack from the suburbs, it is over for Beazley.This man I have no doubt is a very nice person,probabily very intelligent.But what ever name you like to put on what leadership is all about,Im sorry he just aint got it.As my good wife remarked the other day after hearing Beazley speak."Phill have you noticed that Beazley looks like he is asleep when talking to people" "I thought," Bingo thats it Beazley is in a coma".And this is how this man comes across,his heart is not in it and it shows.For mine get some one like Doug Cameron from the Union movement to lead the Labor Party,(and not necessarily as the opposition leader) and it's goodbye to the flat earthers for twenty years.Any bets?I will give any odds you like.


I admit that Beazley is under the hammer and that he is under pressure to lift his game. But the Right are standing by him. They reckon that they are onto a winner with the negative reaction to Howard's industrial relations refoms.

The tide is flowing their way so to speak.

Beazley is saying that the Iraq war is a serious policy mistake, and that if he inherited an Iraq commitment as prime minister, he would negotiate with the US to end it.

That's pretty clear.