The Australian Labor Party – A Dying Brand

The Australian Labor Party does not even call itself a socialist party. Actually it is a liberal-bourgeois party.

V.I. Lenin, 1913

Democracy in Australia in 2011 stands at a crossroads. The Australian Labor Party, Australia’s oldest political party and traditional home of the centre-left vote, has been steadily losing support among the electorate for several years, at both state and federal level. In New South Wales Labor, in office since 1995, was routed earlier this year in the greatest landslide against it in the party’s history. Labor also lost office recently in Victoria and Western Australia; polls show the incumbent Labor governments in Queensland and South Australia headed for disaster; while in Tasmania, Labor, in coalition with the Greens, could well end up as a minority partner in a Green government.

Federally, 2007 marks possibly the last time ever that Labor will ever win government in its own right; the 2010 election was won on a campaign promise of No Carbon Tax, and even then could only form government with the support of four independents, none of whom are likely to gain re-election based on recent polling.

Why is this? Labor’s primary vote support has dropped from the mid-40s at its historical height to 29% nationally, and as low as 24% in some states. Today I will argue that the reason has less to do with the factors generally put forward by the MSM—factional infighting and lack of direction on environmental issues—and everything to do with the transformation of Australian society and the evaporation of its traditional support base.

In 1891, faced with restlessness among Europe’s working classes and the rise of socialism, Pope Leo XIII promulgated the encyclical Rerum Novarum (Of New Things), subtitled in English Rights and Duties of Capital and Labour. In its own way, its publication is just as much a landmark event in European history as was that of Das Kapital twenty-four years earlier. I urge you to read it when you get the opportunity, though the ponderous style typical of encyclicals makes it far from entertaining. In it, Leo forcefully asserts the concept of private property and condemns communism; yet he similarly condemns the inhuman excesses of monopoly capitalism and upholds the right of workers to form trade unions and bargain collectively with their employers. I regard it as the theological foundation document of the ALP, though it is rarely mentioned in its own historical accounts.

Birth of the ALP: Queensland Shearers’ Strike, 1891

In the same year Rerum Novarum was promulgated, several nascent workers’ groups were formed among the six colonies (as they then were) on the Australian continent. Labor mythology dates its beginnings to an 1891 meeting of striking shearers under the “Tree of Knowledge” in Barcaldine, Queensland. Two weeks before the Vatican’s publication, Queensland shearers staged one of the world’s first May Day marches in that town. In the same year, Labor candidates stood successfully for election in New South Wales, winning the balance of power in the state Legislative Assembly (lower house); in Victoria in the following year, eleven Labor members were elected to the Victorian state parliament.

Though not formally affiliated at that stage, these groups had several common goals: the formation of trade unions to represent workers and improve their wages and conditions; protectionism, including the imposition of tariffs on imported goods which were in competition with locally-made products; and keeping out cheap Asian labour (the White Australia Policy), which persisted as ALP policy until 1973. Strange to relate, Labor was the party of institutionalized racism; the leader in the 1960s, Arthur Calwell, was famous for his epithet two Wongs don’t make a white. I would be most curious to learn the opinion of Labor’s current Federal Finance Minister on this point.

Incidentally, for those of you wondering about the spelling, in colloquial use in Australia the word labour has always been spelt the British way; owing to the influence of a particularly shady character, American (?) immigrant and parliamentarian King O’Malley, the “modernized” spelling of Labor was officially adopted in 1912 in relation to the ALP. If you’re ever unfortunate enough to find yourself in Canberra, do try lunch at the Irish pub named in his honour—the only decent part of that whole misbegotten town.

From the start of Federation in 1901, Labor has maintained electoral strength by defining itself as a broad church; it has historically been an alliance of trade unionists, academics, out-and-out socialists, or some cross-fertilized combination thereof. Today, the party is formally split into Left and Right factions; numerically, the Right is marginally dominant, but factional battles within Labor tend to be murky and incomprehensible to many outside the party. The current Prime Minister is from the Left faction (indeed, her colourful CV includes terms as secretary of the Victorian Socialist Forum and before that, president of the pro-Marxist Australian Union of Students) but was installed in a party-room spill over the incumbent by a deal underwritten by the Right. Those of you familiar with the politics of Tammany Hall in the United States, would find any reading of the history of the ALP so familiar you could be forgiven for thinking it was a branch office.

Encompassing such a broad range of opinion has meant that, until very recently, Labor has commanded the lion’s share of the votes on the political Left. The downside is that the breadth of opinion has lead on occasion to political turmoil. The Australian Labor Party has split on a number of occasions throughout the twentieth century: most famously in 1916 over the issue of conscription; and again in 1955 over the growing influence of communism in the trade union movement. On the latter occasion, the anti-communist Democratic Labor Party split away from the ALP and directed its preferences to the Liberals, keeping Labor out of office federally until 1972. The DLP were backed in this endeavour by a church-sponsored organisation known as “the Movement”, which undermined communist influence in the unions. My own parents were active in this group in the 1950s, and tales of their successful exploits were a common topic of dinner-table discussion in my childhood.

Former trade unionist and Socialist Party member, John Curtin became Australia’s wartime Labor Prime Minister (1941-45) and brought the ALP to its greatest-ever electoral success

In 1972 Labor, out of office federally for 23 years but now led by the charismatic Gough Whitlam, finally regained government in Canberra. Embracing television for the first time as a serious political tool, and buoyed by the American revivalist-style It’s Time election campaign, featuring many famous identities from the Australian entertainment industry (which stood to benefit mightily from increased grants to the arts sector), Labor swept to office over the tired Liberal-Country Party coalition led by the underwhelming Billy McMahon. Having enormous appeal to the younger baby-boom generation, many of whom were voting in 1972 for the first time, running on a platform of social reform, ending conscription and Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War, and introducing free tertiary education, Whitlam symbolized change, youth and a breath of fresh air. Like John F. Kennedy a dozen years before him, his reign represented Australia’s Camelot, and lasted as briefly.

Of course, much of it was illusory. Though Whitlam himself, a classics scholar, decorated war veteran and barrister, was a genuine progressivist and embraced social reform expressed through the national parliament, his cabinet were selected for him by the party machine and overwhelmingly represented Old Labor, seemingly having learned little from their party’s troubled decades in the wilderness in the mid-twentieth century. Sound fiscal and monetary policy soon took a back seat to a long-prepared laundry list of socialist aims. That, combined with unscrupulous parliamentary tactics on the part of the conservatives, led to a situation in which, by October 1975, Labor was unable to guarantee supply (that is, the passage of money Bills necessary for the day-to-day running of the government). Faced with a deadlocked parliament and fearing a constitutional crisis in which the Sovereign herself could potentially become involved, the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr, took the extraordinary step on 11th November of invoking the Reserve Powers granted his office under the Constitution, sacking the Government and swearing in as Prime Minister the Opposition Leader, Malcolm Fraser, on condition he immediately call a general election. Fraser won this in a landslide, and Labor once again found itself in the wilderness.

The full circumstances of The Dismissal, as it is known here, are to this day a matter of great debate among historians. I will say of the competing memoirs, of Sir John’s account, Matters For Judgement, and Whitlam’s response, The Truth of the Matter, that the latter makes far more compelling and credible reading. Whitlam’s speech that day from the steps of Parliament House in Canberra included the most-quoted line in Australian political history:

If Whitlam’s cabinet had not learned the lessons about fiscal responsibility being indispensable to a prolonged Labor term in office, two of his colleagues in the Labor movement certainly had: Australian Council of Trade Unions president Bob Hawke, and a 31-year-old parliamentarian from Sydney’s inner-west Labor heartland, Paul Keating. Hawke, a Rhodes Scholar who wrote his dissertation on Australia’s industrial conciliation and arbitration system, realised that a new accord between unions and business would be central to Australia’s future prosperity in a global marketplace increasingly dominated by Asia. He found an ally in Keating, a career party-machine man who dominated the New South Wales Right faction. Personally, they made an unlikely team: Hawke was extroverted, gregarious, hard-drinking and a stereotypical “Aussie larrakin” (in 1953 while at Oxford, he famously broke the official world record for beer consumption by downing a yard glass in 11 seconds); Keating was saturnine, stylish, imperious and driven. Between them, however, they revitalized Labor to the point where the party that swept to power in 1983 was almost unrecognizable from that which prevailed only eleven years earlier.

True to his word, Hawke when elected as Prime Minister instituted the Prices and Incomes Accord with the union movement, committing to keep inflation low in return for wage restraint and ushering in a decade-long period of industrial harmony. A raft of other measures: the floating of the Australian Dollar in 1984, deregulation of the financial sector, dismantling of tariff barriers, cooperation with the U.S. Reagan administration in its military programs and the privatization of the Commonwealth Bank, seemed the antithesis of traditional Labor values, and while gaining near-universal praise from the international community, angered many grass-roots Labor supporters.

Labor’s long electoral success during this period also masked a demographic shift in Australian society that, while favouring Labor in the short term, would prove in part its undoing. The large influx of refugees from Europe following the Second World War, and from Vietnam following the fall of Saigon, were funnelled into suburban enclaves of Sydney and Melbourne, were heavily reliant on welfare payments and were thus considered by Labor to be part of its natural constituency. As indeed they were, for many years. What Labor did not count on was that these groups, many from cultures that prize education, hard work and thrift, would truly become the embodiment of immigrant success stories: that they would, in fact, become successful: wealthy, no longer reliant on welfare, and increasingly vocal on how their tax dollars are to be spent. Whereas in the 1980s it was rare for a politician on the Right of Australian politics to bear anything other than an Anglo-Celtic surname, today politics on both sides reflects the ethnic diversity of our society generally. I’m careful here to use the term ethnic diversity, rather than multiculturalism; a policy that is being unilaterally rejected as divisive by governments around the world, of all political hues.

Labor have also, in some ways, fallen victim to the success of its own agenda. Its policy of free tertiary education in the 1970s and 80s meant than many young Australians from lower- and middle-class backgrounds (this author included) were for the first time afforded the opportunity of a higher education. Their efforts in removing trade barriers have meant that low-skilled manufacturing work has left for countries with low or no minimum wage rates; the image of crowded ranks of unionised production-line factory workers belongs very much to our nation’s past. A miner in 1900 working by candlelight on a pittance was certainly in need of the protections fought for by his trade union. In 2011, a mine worker in the Pilbara earning an average of $150,000 per annum on a fly-in, fly-out contract from his lavish home in suburban Perth has less of his predecessor’s taste for revolution, and every interest in minimizing his tax and maintaining the status quo. Incredible though it may seem, of late several unions, such as the Australian Workers’ Union, have aligned themselves with the Liberal Party against Labor’s Carbon Tax. They can see, even if Labor can’t, that the policy will lead to an overseas flight of capital, destruction of their livelihoods and will result in a decrease neither of a single molecule of carbon dioxide emitted globally, nor of a nothingth of a degree of the earth’s temperature.

Campaigning against Labor’s proposed Carbon Tax in April this year, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott finds a receptive ear among miners at the Cloudbreak Iron Ore Mine, Pilbara, North-West Australia

Which brings us to the fate of Australia’s Socialist Left. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union and communism generally twenty years ago, and failing to make the impact it wished from the leftmost fringe of the Labor Party, organised hard-core Socialism in Australia shifted its attention to the emerging Green movement. The power of the socialists to organise and infiltrate rival groups had been demonstrated in 1985, following the formation of the Nuclear Disarmament Party. Politically naïve, the NDP’s constitution did not forbid applicants to remain members of other political parties. The Trotskyist Socialist Workers’ Party wasted no time in joining the NDP en masse and promptly voted themselves onto the executive. The NDP, now viewed as a communist front group, collapsed.

Like rebels in search of a cause, the socialists now turned their attention to the Australian Greens. In 1983, the Greens (not a registered political party until 1992), led by Tasmanian physician and gay-rights campaigner Bob Brown, won a landmark legal victory in the Franklin Dam case. The Greens’ rapid success in the Federal parliament caught the eye of many socialists, who calculated that movement would be an easier route to power than the convoluted path represented by being a minority faction of the Labor Party. So, for example, Lee Rhiannon, daughter of Sydney’s “first family” of communism, successfully ran for election in the 1999 New South Wales state elections, and subsequently for the Federal Senate in 2010 as member for the Australian Greens; Melbourne Marxism academic and industrial lawyer Adam Bandt at the same election became the Greens’ first-ever Lower House member, winning the inner-city seat of Melbourne vacated by the retiring long-time Labor member, Lindsay Tanner. These are the two most obvious examples; I could give you many more.

The reality is, Labor is haemorrhaging its electoral base: on the right, to the Liberals, and on the left, to the Greens. I view this as a profoundly negative development in Australia’s political history. The Liberal-National coalition needs to be kept honest by a strong centre-left political force; and the Greens, colonized by Marxists, while on the face of it the winners in this struggle, are losing their identity as a party genuinely concerned with the environment, as a brief perusal of their policy platform demonstrates.

As the Gillard government lurches from crisis to crisis, with calls even from within its own ranks to either change leaders now (likely only to postpone the inevitable), or to put an end the misery and call a general election (which seems certain to consign it permanently to electoral oblivion), it is high time for the Australian Labor Party to do some soul searching. Unless it quickly redefines itself in such a way as to become once again broadly inclusive of centre-left political sentiment in this country—a vote which has not gone away, but is merely in search of a home—it seems inevitable that it will shrivel to a rump, its days of glory consigned forever to the history books.

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29 Responses to The Australian Labor Party – A Dying Brand

  1. Dr. Dave says:


    An excellent piece of work. In many respects it makes me appreciative of our two Party system in the US. Every election cycle there are always calls to form a third Party. The results are always disastrous. The most recent example is our 1992 election when George H.W. Bush was running for reelection against Bill Clinton. Ross Perot entered the race. Perot was the common sense fiscal hawk and he siphoned off enough support for Bush that Clinton (narrowly) won the election. Most of the electorate leaned center-right, yet because of Perot’s futile run and our left-wing MSM incessant bleating we got stuck with slick Willie. If anyone today is nervous about China’s ability to launch rockets and missiles, you can thank Clinton. Everyone remembers the Monica Lewinski scandal, but few know (or remember) that Clinton was instrumental in transferring US aerospace technology to China.

    I find it interesting how labor unions are perceived in the UK, most of Europe and OZ as compared to the US. Unions are, without a doubt, prominent in the US political landscape but nowhere near to the extent they are in the rest of the Western world. I have little but utter contempt for unions. They serve as an impediment to the free market and they are invariably rife with corruption. The worst examples of unions are public sector unions. Why should a public sector employee have a right to collective bargaining? Who are they bargaining with (or rather, against)? The taxpayer! More often than not the negotiator sitting across the table is the same politician who won reelection thanks to union campaign contributions. It’s been described as a money laundering operation for the Democrat party. Labor unions are just as odious in the private sector. What have been their demands over the last half century? Wages higher than the free market would bear, more benefits, pensions, earlier retirement, more vacation, shorter working hours and job protectionism. Businesses exist to produce goods and services that society wants and needs and to make a profit, not to provide jobs for the proletariat. Unions are of the opinion that business exists primarily for the latter.

  2. Kitler says:

    The woman in the election jingle is clearly an alien human hybrid you can tell by the face shape and rather disturbing out of proportion eyes.

  3. Kitler says:

    So the Greens run Tasmania so Tasmania is a Marxist paradise? Wait until they collectivize land ownership.

    Marxist paradise: no. Vastly over-governed, with a hugely disproportionate public sector: yes – Oz

  4. Kitler says:

    I assume Tasmania is no so green they are trying their hardest to eliminate any industry including forestry, fishing and farming.

    Funnily enough, each of the industries you mention are under threat from Green initiatives; I could expend much ink telling you about it, but I know you’ve heard it all before in your own neck of the woods.

    Not that it’s all necessarily a bad thing; as an environmentalist I support measures promoting more sustainable forestry and fishing practices, for example. It’s the wanton disregard for the economy, and the relentless pursuit of programs that always – just coincidently, you understand – tend to concentrate power in the hands of the state that I object to – Oz

  5. Dr. Dave says:


    It’s interesting how political parties change and morph into something new over time. We have been a two Party state for the last 150 years (since Lincoln). Oh, we have little also-rans such as the Libertarian Party and the Green Party but they wield very little influence. At the turn of the last century we had the Bullmoose Party and we had Ross Perot and a few other forgettables (e.g. Ralph Nader) along the way, but again, in most cases they had minimal impact (except Perot). Party politics is something our founders warned against, yet here we are – ensconced in a two Party system of politics. About 100 years ago the Marxists/Progressives figured out that the easiest path to political prominence in the US was taking over one of the two major political parties. So they set about doing just that starting with Woodrow Wilson. They hit their stride with FDR, but in all fairness to FDR, many of his failed policies were little more than a continuation of Herbert Hoover’s failed policies. Hoover was a Republican but he was a central government control freak. FDR took the USA in directions she had never been (e.g. Social Security). Even the relatively benign Harry S. Truman introduced more socialism following WWII. He enacted wage and price freezes post-WWII which indirectly led to the gradual demise of our healthcare system as it spurred the growth of healthcare benefits (in lieu of wages) and the eventual establishment of a 3rd party payer paradigm. If somebody else pays, nobody cares what it costs. He also established our national school lunch program. Initially this was a sop to big agricultural concerns who had product they couldn’t move. It has since morphed into a huge program that costs the taxpayers BILLIONS every year. Hell, when I was a kid I packed a lunch every day.

    Then we had Kennedy. By today’s standards JFK would be considered a center-right Republican, but he was still too liberal for the early 60s. Most people don’t realize that the reason he went to Dallas on November 22, 1963 was because his reelection prospects were looking bleak. He was not all that popular. A lot of Americans recognized the influence of his big-money (bootlegging) family and were not crazy about the nepotism of naming his kid brother Attorney General. He went to Texas to drum up some badly needed support. He finally got it through his head they didn’t like him in Dallas.

    JFK did some smart things. He lowered taxes and the economy flourished. He involved his administration in the civil rights struggle. But he was only in office about 1,000 days. Then we were stuck with LBJ. Now…before I get to LBJ let’s take a brief detour to President Eisenhower. Many folks today don’t know that President Dwight D. Eisenhower tried to get civil rights legislation passed in 1958. It was blocked by then Senate majority leader Lyndon Johnson. Historically, from the time of Lincoln, the Republican Party has always supported civil rights and equality under the law. The Democrats fought it since before the Civil War. Civil rights was supposed to be a big priority for JFK, but he didn’t touch it legislatively during his first two and a half years in office. He wanted to win reelection and feared it would be a deal breaker. So JFK is martyred in Dallas and a corrupt LBJ defeats Barry Goldwater in the 1964 election. In 1964 LBJ signs into law the civil rights bills touted as JFK’s legacy which were, in fact, virtually identical to the bills Eisenhower tried to pass 6 years earlier but were blocked by LBJ in the Senate. Virtually overnight the Democrat party which supported slavery, supported the Jim Crow laws, supported segregation, became the Party of Civil Rights. LBJ then set about passing Medicare (whereby the healthcare expenses of mostly wealthy retirees is paid for by the struggling, productive working class), Medicaid (where the healthcare expenses of the poor and those not working is paid for by the struggling, productive working class) and his “Great Society” welfare initiative, the “war on poverty” where the the struggling, productive working class provide money, food and shelter to those who do not work. He then set about escalating the undeclared war in Vietnam. Conservatives today rail about the abuses of FDR, but in terms of real damage to the Republic, LBJ is hard to beat.

    Of course, then we got Nixon. Nixon was quite a statesman but he, too, was a central government control freak. He gave us the EPA and the Endangered Species Act as well as the DEA and the Controlled Substance Act. Over the last 40 years these pieces of legislation have been used quite effectively to deprive citizens of their personal liberty and property rights. Carter’s administration was damaging but I think it was more due to sheer incompetence than by design. Reagan repaired a lot of the damage (and won the Cold War while he was at it).

    During the Reagan years and those of George H.W. Bush the Democrat party became increasingly infiltrated with hard left-wing socialists. It leveled off during the Clinton years when Republicans won majorities in both houses of Congress. But it picked right back up again during the G.W. Bush years. The left-wing MSM was spitting furious that “their boys” (Gore and Kerry) were defeated. From 2000 on our House and Senate have become populated with increasingly radical socialist Democrats. The environmentalists didn’t have to form their own party. They simply infiltrated the Democrat party starting with the Clinton administration. Today the Democrat party bears no resemblance to the Democrats of Truman in the late 40s or even JFK in the early 60s. In fact, they would be considered radical even by the Carter standards of the 70s. The environmental left has staked their claim on our Democrat party.

    The encroachment of socialism has been insidious. Had a politician uttered “redistribution of wealth” even as recently as the 90s it would have signaled certain defeat. Obama blurts it out and wins the 2008 election. Unfortunately for Obama more and more people are waking up to the reality of wealth redistribution. They see the economic harm wrought by rabid environmentalists. They see the burden of big government. They see the corruption of labor unions. They see the utter failure of the Democrat party.

    One big difference between your two-party system and ours is the degree to which party members vote along party lines. Here, the ALP require as a condition of preselection that candidates sign the “Labor Pledge”, to never vote against the party’s direction. On some issues more concerned with morality (abortion, euthanasia, the death penalty and so on) the party will allow a “conscience vote”, which is just as well as Labor’s Right faction is still Catholic-dominated and pro-Christian more generally. The Liberal/National party don’t have a similar requirement, but instances of their members “crossing the floor” are pretty rare and are viewed as career-threatening – Oz

  6. Kitler says:

    Having lived the socialist hell of 1970’s Britain I can quite happily tell you if you see a socialist shoot them, now they are trying to turn the USA into a socialist third world shit hole and currently they are succeeding. Until they run out of money and they will in the next few years all QE3 will do is delay the inevitable for the uber rich for a year or two. America’s problem is that it has allowed itself to be colonized from the third world and these people bring some very extreme socialist ideas with them and you can thank every President since Nixon for it. America no longer gets the best and the brightest it gets the breeders and mouth breathers.

  7. toad says:

    Thanks Ozboy, most enlightening, Watching events there with bated breath.

  8. Amanda says:

    I’m only passing through real quick because it’s 4th of July and I have fireworks exploding in my ear (so to speak): put me down as up with the (essentially) two-party system for these reasons:

    1) two parties disagree around a core of political agreement, i.e. acceptance of the nation’s constitution —
    2) without which you have the parliament of the Austro-Hungarian Empire (ten languages or so and no one understands one another and they filibuster to death, resulting in their own resentment and frustration, and the contempt of observers such as Adolf Hitler, who used to attend their sessions) — and also
    3) faction, represented by the above, in which everyone is so far from agreeing on any core principles that, as in Weimar Germany, the very notion of democracy is in peril because power is a matter of coup d’etats —
    4) two parties can crystallize REAL political alternatives without being extreme, whereas splinter parties can pick up extremists at will — leading to a more extreme, volatile, and unreasonable political environment. In fact, an environment of multiple parties HAS to become more extreme in order for the parties to distinguish themselves from others (‘the competition’), rather than trying to appeal to more of the voters and thus softening/diluting/making less extreme their positions.

    I didn’t proofread this, so apologies if I have left a word out or whatever.


  9. Ozboy says:

    One thing I probably should have brought up at the top is the way in which the two-party system has subverted the Australian Senate. When the Senate was designed by the Fathers of Federation in the last decade of the nineteenth century, while paralleling the British House of Lords, it was modelled more with an eye to the United States Senate. That is, each state, regardless of size, sent the same number of senators (12, plus now two each for the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory). The idea was to protect the rights of individual states, indeed the Australian Senate is still referred to as “the States’ House”. Senators are elected under a proportional voting system for either three- or six-year terms; the purpose of this is to ensure continuity across changes of government in the lower house (House of Representatives).

    The wiki articles on Australian civics are factual, unbiased and quite a worthwhile reference if you want a good overview.

    Back in the 1890s, as I indicated above, the Labor movement was still fragmented, and a national conservative political force was still some time away. The Fathers apparently did not foresee a national Labor movement, nor any such thing as the “Labor Pledge”. Our Senate today, unfortunately, has become very much another “party house” (in both serious and jocular meanings), unlike the U.S. Senate, where as far as I can see, Senators still vote primarily in the interests of their own state.

    The introduction of a third political party into the mix makes the situation even more untenable (though in fairness, it does most accurately reflect the will of the people). As of yesterday, the Australian Greens, with just 10 out of 76 Senators, control the balance of power. Not one single piece of legislation can be passed by the current Parliament without Bob Brown’s imprimatur. And the Australian Greens are completely white-anted by unreconstructed Communists.

    See the problem?

  10. fenbeagle says:

    The wizard of Oz…

    Brillant Fen, just brilliant… I’ve let Andrew know, so you may get some Down Under traffic today – Oz 😛

    Update 15:50 Weds 6 July… Fen – Andrew has picked it up, finally:

    Now watch those page hits rise!

  11. Kitler says:

    Ozboy the US senate votes on party lines 90% of the time but they still have the flexibility to go against it from time to time mainly for political self preservation reasons. The whips are not as strong here as they are in the UK.
    It seems you have a political logjam in Oz which will only increasingly piss off the majority of the people as they are governed by the tyranny of the minority. It will just build up enough pressure to sweep it away via the ballot box or if not by other means but Oz does not strike me as a place for other means. Although like the USA the federation could fracture.

  12. Amanda says:

    I notice that the slogan is ‘Labour stands for all who work’. Well that’s out of date, for a start. It ought to be: ‘Labour stands for all who shirk’. Now you’re talkin’!

  13. Amanda says:

    P. S. Oh sorry, ‘Labor’. Where’s the ‘U’?

    Covered that in the article – Oz 🙂

  14. Amanda says:

    Oh, I see that, Oz. Surprising, all the same.

  15. Kitler says:

    Amanda yes why is it Labor as it is pronounced La-bur or where I’m from La-bah.

    It’s pronounced the latter way here, regardless of the spelling. Same goes for most words ending in er or or – Oz

  16. farmerbraun says:

    We’ve had MMP proportional representation here for a few elections now, and on the basis of the experience so far, I’m going to disagree with Amanda’s and Ozboy’s view (for the sake of argument anyway) that third parties (and fourth, and fifth) are a bad thing.
    The thing here is that I am , being a libertarian,( sort of), I am by definition an extremist in this day and age. So naturally I’m rejecting Amanda’s argument here :”splinter parties can pick up extremists at will — leading to a more extreme, volatile, and unreasonable political environment”. I see no reason why libertarian views should be unrepresented in the Parliament, if not in the government. The same applies to those at the opposite extreme, holding fascist views; if they can muster the numbers from the voting public, then they get, as a minimum, a voice.
    It is a political axiom that in opposition one moves to the centre, and while in government one moves the centre (I forget who said that; it wasn’t me).
    So I’m very much in favour of our centre-right government (accepting that socialism has become pervasive, and true conservative governments are very rare [can anyone name an example?], so that all governments are actually left-leaning, in this view), having another minor party further to the libertarian/ conservative end of the spectrum, eating away at their vote to the point where a coalition is necessary, and the combined forces can then move the centre to the desired new position.
    We have such a party, they look likely to steal a lot of votes, and the end result should be a more conservative coalition than if the major conservative party was forced into coalition with some more socialist party in order to form a majority government, with a resulting move of the centre in a leftwards direction.
    Make any sense?
    If not, don’t blame me; it will be the Krondorf 2007 Barossa Shiraz that is at fault.

    Perfect sense FB, and don’t misunderstand me: I’m not arguing generally in favour of proportional representation in parliament, merely noting one positive aspect of it (an accurate reflection of the will of the electorate).

    To even things up, look at the situation here in the Tasmanian state parliament. Here, under the Hare-Clark system, Tasmania is divided in to five electorates, each of which sends five members to the Lower House. Proportional representation is assured, but of the 25 members, we have 10 Labor, 10 Liberal and 5 Greens. We will almost never have anything other than a coalition government in Tasmania in the foreseeable future. So it’s a trade-off between “pure” democracy and practical governability – Oz

  17. farmerbraun says:

    Yep I can see that. but why do you have only three parties; at any one time we always have 5-6 parties. This number seems to effectively prevent the situation you describe; it seems that you need a true libertarian party in the mix to even things up. A three party system seems to be the problem.

    Well, that may have been the case in NZ up till now. I’m not sure more parties would solve the problem here; in fact, following the 1999 NSW election, in which we were faced with the infamous “table-cloth” ballot paper for the Upper House (Legislative Council), most jurisdictions in Australia now have quota and minimum enrolment requirements to ensure “micro-parties” don’t get anywhere near the parliament. I know in the Italian parliament, they have had up to 80 parties represented at any one time. Most people here feel we’re over-governed already, and the only way to admit representation of minor parties would be to increase the size of the parliament.

    Re the three-party scenario, the Liberal Democrats in the UK are pushing hard for electoral reform in this direction, as they know it would cement their hold on the balance of power indefinitely.

    I’ve posted it before, but this paper by Gerard Newman of the Australian Parliamentary Library is an excellent comparison of the pros and cons of the major electoral systems in the Western world – Oz

  18. fenbeagle says:

    Thanks OZ…..1,700 hits in a few hours, and rising. 🙂

    My pleasure, mate – Oz

  19. Kitler says:

    Ozboy the liberals pushed and lost the referendum on electoral reform, so that’s off the table for the next 20 years.

  20. fenbeagle says:

    3,100 and slowing down. 🙂

    That’s because it’s 3:30am here.

    LibertyGibbert’s big “viral day” was Thursday, 12th August 2010, when James ran with Locusts’ translation of the introduction to Low Carbon Plot. 3,697 is the score you have to beat. Simon from Australian Climate Madness is running with your artwork too, so it sounds like you’ll get there easily – Oz 😉

  21. fenbeagle says:

    3,369….You win! Although I don’t think much of Julia’s chances at the moment.

    Well done anyway Fen; I’m sure the exposure will do you no end of good.

    Incidentally everyone, I just noticed CommonSenseMajority has his own blog up and running; well worth a visit I’d say – Oz

  22. wow, thanks for the kind referral Ozboy. Cheers, CSM.

    No worries mate. In fact, you’ve reminded me to finally get around to setting up a blogroll of my own on LibertyGibbert, which you can view down the right-hand panel of this page – Oz

  23. Kitler says:

    Ozboy in the top picture those two women are clearly a couple, shows that Labor was way ahead on gay rights even back then.

    They’re Aussies, not Quebecois… I think you’re projecting your, um, interests, onto the imagery. I would like to be a fly on the wall when you take an inkblot test 😉

    New thread in 2 or 3 days. I’m still flat out down here – Oz

  24. Kitler says:

    Ozboy the way to mess with a shrinks head on the Rosharch tests is tell him they are inkblots nothing more.

  25. Ozboy says:

    Well, with the whole Oz house down with the ‘flu, I’ve used the forced indoors day as an opportunity to finish a new thread. Right here:

  26. Andrew Richards says:

    The problem is the Fabian Society and their infiltration and complete hijacking of the Party. As history has shown us, if the party isn’t facing kidnappings or millitary coups, sackings by the Queen’s representatives out here or having its passed laws overturned by the Crown, then it’s not acting in the best interests of the people.

    Much like the UAP which formed because individuals within the ALP felt the Bank of London should come first and the people of NSW should just starve, and would then reform itself into the Liberal Party for the sake of rebranding; the ALP is now Labor in name only. People have often spoken of factions dominating the party, and as recent years have shown

    The ALP could institute economic reforms which would allow us to survive the current economic crisis, while maximising jobs, infrastructure, and the prosperity and general welfare of the people.

    However to do so would mean acknowledging that economically centralist parties like the Citizens Electroral Council are no more radical than the Labor greats such as Curtin and Chiffley and that in fact the policies they currently campaign on a platform on are none other than the policies which these two great men tried to make law.

    It would also mean admitting that the Queen is not just a mere figurehead but a tyrant who can and has abused her power over the Commonwealth through sections 58-60 of the Australian Constitution which give her absolute power over Australian Law to the point where she makes the entire parliamentary process nothing more than “token”.

    Most interestingly though, it would mean admitting that Hawke’s economic policies were nothig short of fascist (which when you understand the nature of economic fascism, is exactly what deregulation, free-market economics and privatisation are).

    Because of this, what it would ultimately mean is politicians having to put their lives on the line and risk political assassinations, fascist armies and political assassination by the Queen through the Governor General and Governors.

    Sadly on both sides of politics, politicians lack the courage to stand up for the general welfare of the people when their political careers are at stake, much less their very lives and the lives of their families.

    G’day Andrew and welcome to LibertyGibbert. Another Australian political viewpoint would be most welcome around here – Oz

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