For a long time, at least since the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd saga, the Labor Party has been in defensive mode. This has assisted the Coalition, of course, which has always played an offensive game.
Some people may remember the kerfuffle over the leadership changes during the last Labor Government — well, it was only six years ago. And yet, while the Coalition upstaged Labor’s record of three leaders in six years with three leaders in five, this seems to have gone practically unnoticed.
The Opposition under Bill Shorten tried but failed to get any traction and, certainly, under Anthony Albanese – whose complete lack of dissent could easily have him mistaken for a Liberal backbencher – seems to have forgotten how to play the game.
A few months ago, IA met with a senior ALP strategist. We discussed tax cuts — the Liberal Party’s sole policy on which they won the election. In the meeting, we asked why the ALP rolled over when it came to the crunch and assisted the Morrison Government, then newly elected and needing to prove it could deliver on its only strategy?
A complex answer followed, touching on long-term strategy and the importance of picking their fights wisely. That they would never live it down if they didn’t support tax cuts for lower-income workers, which were tied in with tax cuts for the upper echelons. And something about a commitment to fight at the next election, when it counts, apparently. We were told we saw things too simplistically. It’s all part of the bigger picture, they assured us.
Um, no. It clearly is not, we protested. They had lost the election anyway, so why couldn’t they fight on key policy areas? Why could they not muster enough backbone to at least protest convincingly? And, if we did see things simplistically, so did the rest of the electorate, evinced by the fact that the ALP had just lost the so-called unloseable election. How much worse could it get?
‘LABORING’ UNDER LOSS
But it’s a funny thing, losing.
Yesterday, a long-time Labor supporter said,
“The party is broken.”
And therein lies the crux of the matter. The Labor Party is decimated. It is pulling the doona up over its head and licking its wounds. It’s just not showing up.
Every now and then, a lone voice emerges, notably Kristina Keneally criticising Peter Dutton — who needs to be criticised, of course. But where is the action? Where are the boots on the ground when they’re required?
Australia has never needed an active opposition more than right now. The two-party system is the key function of our fragile democracy and, just lately, it has been hard to find.
The tax cuts legislation was the first of a series of key Government moves through which the ALP has been sleeping. Although Australians have not granted it any leave to do so. The Labor Party under Albo is absent without leave — “Albosent”, if you like.
The Opposition is paid by taxpayers to show up and be in opposition. This is what the Opposition is for. It is not required to acquiesce with every tyrannical move, or just plain bad policy, the Government conjures.
WHICH ASYLUM SEEKERS?
Astonishingly, the ALP has come out fighting against the Government’s “publicly funded cruelty”, as Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese described this latest [move to deport the Biloela family] in a long list of atrocities perpetrated against waterborne asylum seekers by both major parties….
Sadly, the Labor Party’s current outrage does not appear to extend to the plight of the refugees and asylum seekers who’ve spent some six years slowly rotting physically, emotionally and psychologically on Manus Island and Nauru. The ALP continues to declare that not one of these boat arrivals will ever be settled in Australia, making the Opposition as culpable in their violent persecution as is the Morrison Government.
BOOTS ON THE GROUND
On the subject of entering Australia into a conflict, literally Trumped up by the Donald, Anthony Albanese, “urges restraint”. Already forgotten is our horrific involvement in Iraq, where we idiotically followed the U.S. into yet another ill-conceived foreign military adventure.
On that occasion, PM Johnny Howard stuck his hand up to be picked with the big boys faster than President Bush could say, Anyone want to join us in a fake war against innocent people? Australia’s involvement in that conflict, like so many others before it, has since proven to have been based on lies.
Former executive chairman of UNSCOM, the UN Special Commission to disarm Iraq, Richard Butler wrote in IA:
What is at issue here is the fact that, at present, the U.S. has set itself on a path of conflict with Iran, which is widely thought would have catastrophic outcomes….
…It would be a more than bitter irony for us to take part in military action against Iran on the side of two nuclear-armed states … in order to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
“Urging restraint” is such a strong statement from the Leader of the Opposition. Trump and his Australian disciple PM Scott Morrison must be a-shakin’ in their boots after those fightin’ words. Actually, they decided to shake the boots of our military, instead. Our soldiers will be used as pawns, in a futile conflict in a far off place — one in which we, again, have no business involving ourselves.
COAL AND ASSORTED FUN POLICIES
On climate, the one area where Labor has often (though not always) shown its mettle, Albo, it seems, is won over by Morrison’s impressive demonstration in Parliament on the harmless fun of coal. So much so, that on the subject of the global climate emergency, Albo says, Coal isn’t so bad.
Concerning the Government’s persecution of Witness K and Bernard Collaery, only the sound of crickets has been heard where a loud Opposition should have spoken out.
Repressive, unnecessary religious freedom-to-say-whatever-you-want laws? Labor is willing to work with the Government on these — naturally.
And finally, at a moment that could have facilitated a truly independent Federal commission against corruption and catapulted Albanese’s status to that of a statesman, Albo said:
“I have not seen any evidence of direct corruption … that has been proven in my time when I’ve been in parliament.”
Wow. With Helloworld, Parakeelia, visas for au-pairs, Rolexes from Chinese businessmen, jobs for mistresses and Watergate, to name but a few fiascos, perhaps the Leader of the Opposition should have gone to Specsavers?
Independent Australia is not affiliated with any political party but we are progressive. We want to see the opposition stand for progressive Australians. Unfortunately, with its current game-plan of looking the other way or just plain rolling over, the Labor Party looks likely to remain in opposition for a long time yet.
By Michelle Pini