Philosophical Conversations Public Opinion Junk for code
parliament house.gif
Think Tanks
Oz Blogs
Economic Blogs
Foreign Policy Blogs
International Blogs
Media Blogs
South Australian Weblogs
Economic Resources
Environment Links
Political Resources
South Australian Links
"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

DLP+ ALP: history reborn « Previous | |Next »
December 14, 2006

As we know the DLP was founded in the 1950s after an acrimonious split from the ALP, and helped keep Labor out of power at a federal and state level for more than two decades. It was in 1955 that a fiercely anti-communist, predominantly Catholic faction of the ALP, crossed the floor of the Victorian Parliament to destroy the Labor government of John Cain snr. So a proportion of Catholic Labor voters transferred their political allegiance to the DLP, and through it to the Liberal side of politics. A Tory working class was born and the DLP was the arch enemy.

John Spooner

Given this political history why would the apparatchiks in the Victorian ALP in the 2006 state election preference the DLP ahead of the Greens in some key upper house seats ? You can also ask: Why did the apparatchiks preference another right-wing party, Family First, to help it get elected to the Senate at the 2004 federal election? Was exhuming the DLP---it has not held a seat in a Victorian parliament since 1958, or in any Australian parliament for more than 30 years--- just another mistake by the oh-so-clever party machine men?

Of course, you would have to ask the ALP power-brokers in the party machine's powerful administrative committee these questions. Shouldn't they have to explain their decisions to the rank and file? We can, however, surmise that the deals to preference the DLP ahead of the Greens would have been given the okay by the inner Brack's circle. Senior ALP strategists confidently predicted that the Greens would grab the balance of power before the election. So we know the basic answer: the deals with the DLP were done to prevent the Greens from gaining control of the Legislative Council.

Are the Greens worse than the DAP or Family First? Obviously yes, for the socially conservative wing of the party, which is deeply opposed to the decriminalisation of abortion and gay civil unions. The Greens are the enemy. The DLP is a friend. Is this how the rank-and-file Labor members see things?

So what does that suggest about the ALP's commitment to social justice (eqality of opportunity +solidarityas a helping hand when times are tough?) sustainability and social reform? It's too lefty for the right wing machine men who detest the cosmopolitan, inner city professional class, have little time for social liberalism, and sideline the environment to keep the economy ticking over. This is the crowd that is content to be an echo of the Howard government and have little or no conception of market failure. Their "business as usual" means that emissions will take atmospheric carbon to a level likely to produce a final temperature increase by two degrees; to the point at which positive feedback mechanisms will start to trigger runaway climatic change.

So what does that say about the Bracks ALP? If the key feature of the 2006 Victorian election is that the Labor Party is the big winner and there was a shift to right-of-centre in the regions, then the ALP is socially conservative, and Steve Bracks is Victoria's first DLP Premier. Things will remain that way as long as the Liberals continued to be defined as free market, small government liberals.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 6:05 AM | | Comments (5)


Not having lived in Australia for very long, your post was very illuminating. I did not understand at the time of the last election why Labor would be preferencing Family First. I understand a little better now. I like the Australian voting system, but detest the machine politics, that steal your preferences by stealth. It is very challenging to vote below the line, especially if you have to vote for every candidate for your vote to be valid.

There are three possible motivations for the Labor strategists in this, in addition to your version.
1. Deals to maximise Labor's votes require some sort of quid pro quo. Giving preferences to the DLP ahead of the Greens in some regions was a trade-off for receiving reciprocal treatment.
2. Preferences tend to be given to the apparent weakest opponents, but that requires a calculation of which candidates will contest the final vacancy. Precise prediction is virtually impossible.
3. To the extent that the DLP was even considered a remote outside chance of succeeding, there is some real politik advantage in being able to chose from among multiple potential voting partners, so that different issues can be played with different allies. For example had the provisional result stood: 19 ALP, 2 Green 2 DLP 2 Nationals, 15 Liberals, Labor would have been in a position to secure a majority 21 votes from the support of either Greens or DLP. There are few issues which one or the other of these groups would not be a natural ally.
As things stand, the DLP's support is only sufficient to prevent an initiative supported by Liberals, Nationals and Greens. Labor thus is rather more dependent on the Greens on matters of controversy, although it might well be able to cobble together a majority by exploiting any Barnaby-type mavericks in the Nationals.
The Group voting system remains a scandal, since it's virtually certain that voters of various political stripes are corralled by Party organisations into supporting candidates against their intentions (and the preference allocations are not widely disseminated, so that the voter is ignorant of the consequences of their single expressed Party preference).

thanks for the info. It was very very helpful in terms of describing the tactical thinking of the ALP strategists.

What I continue to find problematic is the assumption that the DLP is a natural ally of the ALP on some issues. Doesn't that reinforce my point that the Vic ALP is deeply socially conservative.

Isn't it th e above ALP strategist assumption---ie., the DLP is a natural ally of the ALP on some issues---what is being contested by many in the ALP? Clever tactics bad strategy?

I agee with your comment that "I like the Australian voting system, but detest the machine politics, that steal your preferences by stealth."

On the other side of the ledger the ALP has achieved its long-term goal of ending the hegemony of the conservative parties in the upper house. Even when the tide of electoral fortune turns, and the Liberals return to government in Victoria, they will find it almost impossible to control the upper house.

So we have an new upper house in Victoria that will be a more effective house of review and it will have more diverse representation.

I fully agree that the conduct of the State Election was corrupt, the information commented on Andrew Landeryou was not confidential, as you have implied.

Public elections must be open and transparent and the detailed progressive results of the election should also be in the public domain. If anything the VEC is at fault by not publishing accurate information or details of the election results.

The Victorian Electoral Commission and Steve Tully, Chief Electoral Commissioner was actively engaged in a cover-up crisis management as a result of their monumental stuff-up. The explanation provided to the media for their multiple stuff-up was false and does not give the full picture or facts behind their errors in the count.

I am informed that the conduct of the State Election and Steve Tully’s management will be reviewed by the State Parliament in 2007.

There is a lot issues that need to be considered such as the VEC accessing illegally the results of the e-voting system prior to the close of the November 25th poll without any scrutineers present.(Steve Tully’s tried denying the allegation, and became abusive when we raised this issue following email sent our by Glenda Jackson, VEC Election Support Manager, sent to the media) Link.

Mr Tully’s refusal to provide relevant statistical details in relation to the conduct of the election including the number of ballot papers issued, detailed preference data and ongoing concerns that the VEC’s data-quality was not the best (And that is putting it mildly).

Based on the limited information, released by the VEC ballot papers have gone missing and remain unaccounted for. The VEC failed to publish detailed polling place breakdowns of the upper-house vote (Something that is normally the provided during election counts (The 2004 Senate election provided polling place results.

We have now had to submit an FOI request to try and obtain copies of the detailed preference data and polling place return. (This is further example of the abuse and the extent that Mr Tully will go to avoid accountability and the need to provide an open and transparent election results). the conduct of this election has brought the Victorian Electoral Commission and the State Election into disrepute. these concerns have nothing to do with the final outcome of the election.

More information…
click here and here