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ALP: business-as-usual « Previous | |Next »
December 4, 2011

I didn't really pay that much attention to the ALP conference, or bother to dig around the media to see if the ALP was interested in reforming itself to become a more democratic political party. I was taking photographs instead.

I've just assumed that the ALP's factional system means that it has no real interest in becoming a broad -based political party. I've also assumed that its progressive social democratic credentials have gone, due to its embrace of same-sex marriage, uranium sales to India, Tasmanian forests, and offshore processing of asylum seekers along factional lines. The Australian ought to be happy with the conference outcomes.


The ALP knows that its members are leaving in droves because they have no say in its decision making or its major turn to the right, but the organization is not prepared to change its structure or culture. It's business-as-usual. What I got from the headlines in the media is that the leader must be supported. Nothing new there.

So it is still the much hated carbon price legislation that stands out as an example of Labor's reform credentials. What looms on the policy horizon is still the effects of the slow down in the growth of the global economy sliding into recession, and the economic crisis in Europe on Australia. More than three years after the Lehman bankruptcy – the only thing that had changed is that the centre of the problem is no longer the US but Europe.The banks are kept alive by gigantic quantities of electronically generated cash but do not lend; last week's co-ordinated action by six of the world's leading central banks was prompted by evidence that Wall Street was no longer prepared to lend money to European banks.

That crisis means reduced revenue and increased cuts to public sector spending and more belt tightening by the Gillard Government---but not cutting fossil fuel subsidies or reducing the private health insurance rebate. The budget surplus has to be protected through fiscal conservatism.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:49 PM | | Comments (15)


"That means increased cuts to public sector spending and more belt tightening"

so public services are likely to contract and health reform will be on the cheap.

Yes, waiting lists will lengthen and the gap will get wider.

social democratic governments in Europe have been directed to save the banks rather than reviving economic growth and employment. Losses on bad bank loans and speculations are taken onto the public balance sheet while scaling back public spending and even selling off infrastructure.

Yeah i didnt pay much attention to it either. I think the gay whales all got bicycles or something.

"the ALP's factional system means that it has no real interest in becoming a broad -based party."

The factional leaders are the union leaders who are protecting their union interests. The consequences is that the ALP as an organisation is in decline as the branches fold and the members that are left are pensioners.

So, Paul, what's the answer? Make unions illegal?

Make unions illegal?

greater democracy within the ALP's operational structure is what the John Faulkner, Bob Carr, Steve Bracks National Review Report called for. By that they mean opening up the Party to more members and giving those members more of a say.

Eevery single recommendation from the national review that might have empowered members and undermined factionalism was by the faceless factional men at the ALP national conference over the weekend.

That means the membership will play no role in the governance of the party or its policy formulation whatever pretences are made to the contrary.

The Right welched on delivering anything meaningful by way of organizational reform to ensure that the things people/members care about can become part of the process.

The Rights big no to greater democracy in the ALP organization has a simple reason. The Right are eager to limit popular elections because Labor’s regular (non-stacked) members are dominated by the Left. It's all about factional power. The Right faction's approach to popular democracy is for members to keep their mouth shut.

For all the talk of Gillard being a weak leader, the current Labor Party is very much Gillard Labor. The carbon tax, the only really Labor thing this government has done, was forced on them by the Greens. Fair Work Australia and Gillard's old style union attitude to industrial relations is the only genuine Labor value she seems to hold.

There's no point talking about restructuring the party and revitalising the grassroots while the policies and platforms could just as easily have been written by John Howard.

The argument from people like Penny Wong and Tanya Plibersek is that people should join and force change inside the party. But they're essentially asking people to join a party that doesn't represent them. Stupid. If you were going to join a party on the basis of the values the ALP currently holds, you'd be better off joining the Liberals.

Labor is a party that pretends to support same sex marriage while ensuring there are not enough votes to actually do it.

Lyn says:

" Fair Work Australia and Gillard's old style union attitude to industrial relations is the only genuine Labor value she seems to hold."

What has happened to the education revolution that was to be built upon the digital economy?

Supporting same sex marriage wouldn't have hurt anyone but it would have sent a strong symbolic message. They can't even do that.

The MySchool website and NAPLAN testing that Gillard put in place is stuff the Liberals would wish they'd thought of. Teaching to the test and collecting stats so that "parents can make informed choices" (funding decisions can be made) is about the old model of churning out standardised low wage employees. Kids get their digital education out of school hours.

Probably will be a bit of hooplar about the interest rate reduction and how mr and mrs blogs will pay x amount less on their mortgage but really c'mon! does anyone actually pay a reduced monthly/fortnightly payment? Or do they just get a slightly lower interest deduction on the monthly balance. Funny.

In Clueless, leaderless and blind in The Australian Paul Kelly says that the ALP is a political institution in decline and a party that cannot govern effectively any more:

Labor remains in complete denial of this reality. Its arrogance is breathtaking as it sits on a 31 per cent primary vote and pretends recovery is around the corner.It is beset by a complex malaise. It suffers both a leadership crisis and a grassroots membership crisis. There are no saviours: no Gough Whitlam or Bob Hawke to inspire a new generation. In truth, Labor is clueless about what to do.

Why is this so? According to Kelly it is because of the intellectual and ideological collapse of the Labor Right:
the great cultural events that gave the Right its inner faith and fighting credo have disappeared.These were the Cold War that gave the Right moral stature in its internal brawls with the pro-socialist and sometime pro-communist Left; and the influence of Christianity, which meant a widely shared system of social and moral values championed by the Right and persuasive within the party.

They still have their suburban family values to keep them upright.

Kelly makes no mention of inequality or social justice.