#OneTermTony – back to basics

While I’m not entirely in agreement with Ms Rollison’s opinion that Labor needs to return to its union roots – we should also, in my opinion, be focussing on those who are no longer employees but who, thanks to Howardism, are now “aspirational” subbies – we are, as ever, are grateful to Ms Rollison for permission to republish her latest piece.

As the dust settles on Abbott’s election victory, I can’t help but feel extremely optimistic about this country’s future. That might sound like an odd thing to say, having blogged for three years about the nightmare prospect of an Abbott government. Don’t get me wrong, I know as well as anybody that we’re in for some very scary policy shifts in the next three years. However, since Abbott, thankfully, doesn’t control the Senate, and Rupert Murdoch doesn’t control the Senate and Gina Rinehart doesn’t control the Senate, all the money in the world isn’t going to help any of these three people to strip back the progressive reforms that were successfully implemented by the Gillard/Rudd government, should the Senate majority choose not to support these changes.

Abbott is going to have to sell his new policies and Labor policy rollbacks to small independent parties who owe him nothing. He’s promised not to negotiate with independents and minor parties to win power. But what point is there being in power if he can’t get anything done? He’s promised every angry bogan in Australia that he’s going to ‘axe the Carbon Tax’, and presumably they expect him to now axe the Emissions Trading Scheme. He’s promised every angry bogan and Gina Rinehart that he will axe the Mining Tax, but will he be able to do this without a majority in the Senate? So I hope Abbott’s feeling pretty impotent right now. And worried. Come the next election, not even hot daughters and a Murdoch media campaign can hide the fact that the angry bogans haven’t been given what they’ve been promised.

But Abbott’s impotence isn’t the only reason for my optimism. I also think an Abbott government is going to give the Labor party, and all progressive voters, a golden opportunity to go back to basics, and to question what exactly it is that we want from a progressive government and how we can bring about change without hitting the same hurdles which have damaged progressive reform in the last decade. Here are the lessons we need to learn to get things back on track in time to comprehensively beat Abbott in 2016. Bring on the One Term Tony campaign!

Labor’s relationship with unions

The issue of industrial relations was practically absent from this year’s election, even though Abbott’s front bench will essentially mimic John Howard’s front bench, the creators of Work Choices. There is no doubt that Abbott, or his backers at least, have an industrial relations policy in the works, ready to spring on unsuspecting voters who seem completely comfortable voting for a party who refuse to tell them what they plan to do in government.

But my question for progressive voters is this – should we wait until Abbott threatens worker’s rights to rise up and fight like we did in 2007, or should we be shoring up worker’s rights constantly, with a Labor Party that works in alliance with the Labour Movement through strong, fair, effective unions?

The problem with a strong, successful union movement is that unions have become the victims of their own success. Workers no longer acknowledge they need union support, until the moment they need union support. Union membership is at an all time low, especially amongst a younger generation of voters who have benefited from and lived complacently with union negotiated rights from the very start of their working lives.

I think it’s time progressive voters start to have a frank discussion about the role of unions in Australia, the benefit of unions, the relationship between the Labour Movement and the Labor Party, and the importance of unions working with the Labor Party. I think we should talk about the role of unions in the executive branch of the party – is it possible for them to have a fair influence without controlling everything? This sounds like a huge can of worms, but what better time to open it than now?

Uniting to get what we want

Long time readers of my blog will have noticed my frustration throughout this election campaign with the failure of progressive Green voters to unite with Labor voters to defeat Abbott with a unified front. Many will no doubt argue that Labor had no intention of unifying with Greens either, which may be so. But when Greens are actively campaigning against Labor, it does make the prospect of a united front a little hard to envisage.

When I say that progressive voters need to go back to basics, I think it’s really important that Greens voters and Labor voters start to realise that we’re not each other’s enemy and that we should be able to work together to bring about progressive reform, to the benefit of all of us.

For instance, using the policy of the Mining Tax as an example, it would be helpful if Greens supporters could at least acknowledge that Labor was forced to engage in a huge battle with rich mining companies over this policy. In a perfect world, Labor would have preferred a mining tax that more resembled the one outlined in the Henry Review, however progressive reform is not implemented by flicking a switch. You can’t just say ‘here it is’ and expect the policy to succeed. So when the Greens base their entire policy platform and costings on the assumption that if they were in power, they would instantly be able to introduce a much higher rate of tax for mining companies, it does make Labor supporters a little wary of these ‘perfect world’ scenarios, which would, from Labor’s experience, not be possible without a huge fight by some of the most powerful, influential industries in the country. Whether it’s right or not that mining companies influence policies affecting them, it’s reality. Labor has to work within this reality. And so would Greens if they ever had a chance.

It should be obvious, but it obviously needs to be said, that it would be much more productive for all progressive voters to fight on the same side. It would be much more productive for us all if the Greens didn’t spend their entire lives bagging Labor as ‘not being left-wing enough’, while also ignoring the political reality of the battle required to pass progressive policy. Rather than the Greens leaving all the battles to Labor, I think we all need to go back to basics, and battle this out together. We need to acknowledge who the real enemy is, which is anything getting in the way of progressive policy, surely?

I acknowledge that there will always be times where Greens don’t agree with Labor about various policies. But if a Green is judging Labor against an unobtainable utopian outcome which would never be possible in Australia’s political reality, I don’t think Greens are either being fair to Labor, or helpful in furthering progressive reform. I think Greens need to grow up and learn that some progress is better than no progress, whether a policy is perfect or not. We all also need to learn that the only way we’ll get anywhere is fighting for progressive reform together. If that means Greens have to compromise and negotiate, they have three years to work out how to do this.

Communicating the right message

The mainstream media’s political reportage has been in a downward spiral from low quality, low integrity, to downright unethical and immoral in the last few years. Following Murdoch’s lead, it now appears to be completely acceptable for political journalists from a range of media organisations to be completely devoid of the ability to be balanced, fair, and objective in their scrutiny of the political choices faced by voters.

Abbott not only had a free pass throughout the entire election campaign by avoiding examination altogether, he was also able to get away with hiding his costings and policy details from voters until the very last days of election. Even when they were released, they were barely reported.

This isn’t just disappointing. This is a travesty and a huge embarrassment for Australia’s mainstream media. For Murdoch to gloat on Twitter after Abbott’s victory speech that other countries will follow Australia’s lead in moving to the right, just shows what a scary, megalomaniac, wannabe dictator we have controlling the vast majority of newspapers in Australia. Progressive voters should be incredibly concerned about this situation.

So what do we do? The first thing we should acknowledge is that angry bogans who have delivered Abbott his victory are not reading this blog post. They are much more likely to be Daily Telegraph readers than they are Twitter users. So how do we reach them? Labor needs to improve their communication skills. This means the communication carried out centrally by the party, and the communication skills of the individuals within the party. Labor members know exactly what the ALP stands for, but do angry bogans?
Since we know swing voters are not going to learn anything good about Labor by reading the newspaper or watching the nightly news, we need to find ways to communicate without relying on the mainstream media. When Labor has a chance to communicate with voters, whether it be individual MPs in interviews or via political advertising, Labor’s message needs to be strong and clear. And all the leadership infighting has to end right now. The party needs to go back to basics and remind voters why they need and rely on progressive reform to improve their lives. If Labor has learnt anything from the last 6 years it is that the electorate won’t automatically give them credit for popular policies – they need to learn how to sell these policies to get the political success they deserve for their hard work.

Progressive voters need to go back to basics to beat Abbott in 2016. I think we can do it. Who is up for the challenge?

591 thoughts on “#OneTermTony – back to basics

  1. Wonder how JoHo is going adding up his costings. Suddenly the responsibility is all his as he hasn’t got a labor scapegoat to blame for his incompetence. Is his panel of experts up to the job?

  2. “Wonder how JoHo is going adding up his costings.”

    “Ok everybody…we’ve run out of fingers….take off your shoes and socks!”

  3. The young chap who voited Liberal, then started the ‘save the FTTH’ petition and then was surprised when Turnbull dismissed it with a sneer is only 20 years old. He was voting in his first fedral election and said he voted Liberal because he thought they would be able to do a better job of running things. Now he knows they won’t. Honestly, what a twit.

  4. He was voting in his first federal election and said he voted Liberal because he thought they would be able to do a better job of running things. Now he knows they won’t. Honestly, what a twit.

    Leone, unfortunately many young people and others did the same. That was one thing Abbott, Rudd and the OM did well, that is they made the ALP seem dis-functional.

  5. Apologies to all fans of body building, but I think its practitioners, both male and female, look ridiculous at best, and repugnant at worst, when doing their body building thing.

  6. A good point, gigilene. Labor in general was punished for dumping Gillard for Rudd. Labor’s vote fell by 4.5%. The Liberals vote barely increased. Andrew Elder got it right, despite the eventual result being a debacle for Labor and the country. Forget the bashing every other day about the polls. Forget the propaganda successfully aimed at demonising Gillard. To win government, Abbott needed to provide a reason why, having not voted for him in 2010, voters should change their mind. He gave them none. All that was done by Rudd’s termites, strung along by the media. Don’t think that this all went unnoticed by voters, either, as Marilyn Lake showed.

    Saffin was another Rudd termite to lose her seat. She was an excellent local MP, as Mungo has said. That should have been enough in a country electorate. Instead she got a big swing against her. Voters were annoyed about what was done to Gillard. Saffin herself must have had second thoughts, after Rudd came up with the PNG thing for asylum seekers. I believe she was part of it over her concern for the way asylum seekers were treated. Rudd would promise them anything. Delivering was a lot harder.

    The truth is, they couldn’t have turned around that poison against Gillard, and Caucus was spooked into surrendering to Rudd. But … as we saw in the piss-weak improvement in their vote, the voters were far from convinced by the coalition waffle. Given the choice between that and the substance of Gillard’s policy achievements, and the credibility of the senior ministers that went out … there’s every chance they’d have supported the government, notwithstanding their animosity towards Gillard. Instead, all they got from Rudd was a marginally less hated figure and airy-fairy waffle – no more convincing than Abbott’s brainfarts. And as we saw in those polling figures, Rudd justifiably scored very badly on trustworthiness.

    The part that Caucus didn’t see was that we didn’t just surrender to Rudd’s white-anting. We surrendered the agenda to Abbott and the MSM. JG was set to run on policy delivery and solid management.

  7. “Saffin was another Rudd termite to lose her seat. She was an excellent local MP, as Mungo has said.”

    JS may have been “an excellent local MP” in some ways. My problem with her is that she failed to get her constituents to warm to JG. (This was said by some poster who lives in her seat.) Almost every time she spoke with L Curtis, she showed hesitation as to JG’s judgement or process on certain policies. The image I have of her is that of her small silhouette shuffling behind KR or beside him.

  8. I didn’t see any of that, giglene. It suggests that she had long been Rudd-supporting and possibly believed all that stuff that this was all brought about by the factional heavies. Gillard attempted to take a harder line on AS simply because it had become a political football. Rudd at the time appealed to the left because of a more humane line. But as we later found out, Rudd adapted his stance to whoever was listening.

    I am surprised Saffin didn’t take to Gillard subsequently, because Gillard – possibly because of her affinity for Windsor and Oakeshott -did more for country and regional Austraia than any other PM for at least 20 years.

    But maybe when your mind’s made up it’s hard to shift. Over at IA, I occasionally cross swords with Tess Lawrence on the subject. Tess is convinced that Gillard plotted Rudd’s downfall and -incredibly- that Gillard is a narcissist! Go figure. She even tried to tell me that Roxon quit because Gillard stole her glory over plain paper cigarette packaging. I wonder what she thinks of them going off on a holiday together? Despite that blind spot, Tess and I are friends.

  9. I don’t really think that the senate circus was due to the Liberals, but just that the microparties preferenced each other first and the major parties last.

    The Liberals got close to 3 quotas in most of the states and got most of their senators elected either outright or with preferences from old allies like the Nationals (as the case in WA).

    Labor got such a terrible result by having barely 2 quotas in all of the states, and those that missed out on the full 2 (SA and WA) lost out because literally nobody was preferencing them, and instead passed on their preferences to other microparties until they pulled ahead for the last seats.

    Utterly ridiculous, of course.

  10. When doing the how to vote at the pre poll in Queanbeyan I was taken aside several times by women (always women) and told that wte they had voted against Mike Kelly with sadness but could not cop his voting against Julia Gillard.

  11. Gorgeous Dunny sounds like Bob has gamed the Senate voting system.

    I am shocked but unsurprised by the vindictiveness of the Liberals
    1. setting up Royal Commission into Gillard & AWU
    can we have Royal Commission into Abbott setting up & jailing Pauline Hanson
    setting up Craig Thomson
    2. taking pay rises from Aged & Child care worker
    it was an election promise
    3. rescinding Steve Bracks commission as New York Consul General – Nick Minchin would be better – yeah
    4. meddling in industrial relations when the union and employer are in agreement cf Leighton in Vic

  12. Are they really going to set up a royal commission into Julia Gillard and the AWU? Jesus christ that’s going way too far.

    Labor should never forget this and be just as ruthless when they kick these bastards out.

  13. let them have their royal commision. it will not find anything and some of the submisions could be every very interesting. what does sir humphrey say about inquiries?

  14. Fiona
    It’s the narcissistic personality of body builders that I laugh at.
    And they are all on steroids and drugs. They might be big but they are no Anzacs.
    A family member of mine did regular weight lifting at the gym with the extreme diet thrown in ( 30 egg whites at a time etc) – gave it up and lost 20 kg’s of muscle in a few weeks – what a waste of time!

  15. My worst fear about a RC is that they’ll appoint a LNP stooge at its head who’s already made his mind up and sends Julia Gillard to prison or something on some stupid pretext.

  16. I don’t think the abbott et al will receive any brownie points by showing such blatant vindictiveness. An Inquiry into the AWU and Julia Gillard may well bring them undone even though they have got the plod and AFP in their pockets.

    I’ve changed my mind about Albo – I’ll bet Rudd had a lot to do with his nomination. Chris Bowen to act as LOTO – pity he didn’t lose his seat as well.

  17. With Brandis as Attorney General its likely that any Royal Commission will be a show trial ending in jail time.

    Remember 11/9/73 in Chile when Pinochet ousted Allende rounded up all the public servants into a sports stadium, executed a third, exiled another third and jailed the rest, then spent the next decade rooting out remnants of dissent

  18. I know that it’s unlikely, but that’s Abbott’s style. He’s been getting away with outrages like that all his life and his journo bumchums rewrite history to make him look like the good guy.

  19. Of course a Coalition stooge will be appointed to head up that RC, should there be one. Peter Costalotto is free.

  20. I’m not in favour of Albo being leader. Especially not if that worm Bowen is his deputy. If Shorten becomes leader we get Tanya Plibersek as deputy.

  21. I wish the PM-Reject’s bum chums would stop going on about how wonderful he was to save so much furniture. The evidence shows Rudd actually destroyed most of it. He lost in 12 booths in Griffith, I bet that was a real blow to Mr ‘But the People Adore me’ Whiteant.

  22. I don’t know, I’m still leaning toward voting for Albo.

    I don’t really care what he did in the last parliament, I just like his performance and skill in the house. Plus his attacking style could really cause some stress fractures in the libs, especially with the unstable Abbott and the unskilled workers he has on as ministers.

    Even if he doesn’t end up as PM, I think he’ll make life more uncomfortable for Abbott than Shorten would.

  23. JG won’t end up in any gaol. nomater whom they appoint. if there qs anything to be unearthed it would have been done by now. And it will set a precedent fot the next alp gov’t to RC Abbott and Co. There are reasons new PMs don’t go after previous PMs. I wonder if Abbott and co are really that stupid. Didn’the learn from the last time.

  24. Does Albo have to nominate who his deputy will be ? I’m thinking seriously about joining the Labor Party so I get to vote for Shorten. If 50% of the rank and file are going to have a say in the leader, I reckon ALL the rank and file ought to have a say in the disendorsement of Rudd and a strong warning given to his whiteanting supporters to play nicely or suffer the same consequences.

  25. Interesting feedback, Mick, and confirms many of the oddities in the voting patterns. Given the divisions and cowardice in the Labor Party, it should have been a much bigger rout that it was. And it wasn’t the Rudd persona and brilliant campaigning that saved the furniture, though they might have helped a little in Queensland.

    The public was asked to choose between vague visions and half-baked ideas for running the country. They didn’t like either, but there was less hostility to the LNP, especially the Nationals.

    I think BK might have linked to this before

    I just think with JG offering something similar, with tangible programs in place, Labor would have gone very close to taking it. It was just such a different strategy, with Rudd’s lot all the time niggling away at doom, that Caucus just lost their nerve at the final jump.

  26. jaycee
    No quote. However, a basic Abbott/Pell Inquisition $1.05
    Currently I am not the person to consult on political punting! I cannot take a trick.

  27. For the ALP to ever return as a relevant political force at a federal level it needs to socially progressive and economically pragmatic. It won’t win in an across the board policy alliance with the Greens. It won’t win as a branded union brigade. Union influence and membership is in permanent decline. And it won’t win whilst it retains visible attention-seeking factions. Faceless men (and women) are a public turn-off. Above all, it won’t convince a single voter if it plays out its reinvention through the incessant and mindless idiocy of cable TV programs.

  28. Al Palster,
    Just realised you had disappeared into moderation – you are now liberated (and re-timed).

  29. Perhaps the threatened RC into Ms Gillard and the AWU is one way of forestalling litigation into the same matter by Ms Gillard. Remember the amount of bile and viciousness directed at JGPM? It would be a pretty fair bet that, of the LNP owners, someone, somewhere, in some public forum made about 2-3 million dollars worth of slanderous accusations.

  30. We won’t know the LotO until every member of the ALP has had a say.

    What a bloody rabble!

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