Flat White

Labor’s desperate sales pitch

9 October 2017

4:16 PM

9 October 2017

4:16 PM

Nothing says desperation more than calling on the Bob Hawke to do your selling and evoking the memory of a labour showdown from more than a century ago. Alas, this is what the modern Labor party has come to in order to try and win some bush seats at the next election.

Last weekend’s Queensland Country Labor spectacular in Rockhampton featured a video of the Silver Budgie talking about the Labor party being founded in the bush with reference to the shearers’ strikes of the 1890s as prime evidence of the Labor Party’s love of country folk. No doubt Joel Fitzgibbon dusted down an old Akubra and blended right in at Australia’s beef capital.

According to Joel, “The Labor way is to create both opportunity and equality of opportunity in our regions.” Unfortunately, this wasn’t the view held by Labor when they devastated the cattle export industry because of a one-sided documentary shown by their good friends over at their ABC.

I suppose Labor is hoping that this can be swept under the carpet and all will be forgiven. You can be sure that ‘equality’ and ‘opportunity’ in this context means government tax and spend programs rather than tax reduction and removal of government impediments.

It is an interesting choice of historic event to reference as it does indeed recall a time when the ALP actually represented working people. Its power and force derived from the labouring man who believed that political representation was the road to security and wealth. Calling on a leader from a time when Labor was politically sensible shows they’re desperately trying to take the focus off the current leadership and focus on a man who was prime minister more than a quarter of a century ago.

If they a needed previous PM, why didn’t they pick Kevin Rudd? He is a Queenslander, after all, and quite recent. Plus, if you ask the Labor party, he saved us all from the GFC. I’m sure that reminding the bush that you spent billions of dollars on school halls and gave millions to the UN will be a sure winner in country Queensland. And while they were at it, they could give us an update on his 2020 Summit. What a lost opportunity to inform Maranoa on how the outcomes are progressing.

At the time of the shearers’ strike, agricultural industries dominated economic life in this country. That is no longer the case, although our primary agricultural industry is sizable, as a percentage of GDP, agriculture sits at 2.3 per cent. Mining, finance, construction and education are all larger slices of the economic pie. The economic power now lies elsewhere and so does Labor’s power base and this is the true crux of the matter for the Labor leadership. Although they may have started in the bush, their heart and soul is no longer there and hasn’t been for a long time.

They are now the party of the inner city activist. They are the party of the academic who has no interest in the struggles of taxpayers. They are the party of the environmentalists who wants to return Australia to wilderness, empty every farm and kill every mine. Labor is trying to walk a tightrope and be both the party of Birchgrove and the party of Broome. This is not possible if you are being honest with the electorate. It is only possible if you promise lavish debt spending and boost your employment numbers through government largess. You cannot simultaneously expand energy prices and expand manufacturing. You cannot give a job to UN bureaucrats and jobs to kids in Ipswich.

For Australia to grow, Canberra must shrink.

The modern Labor party is mainly detached from the bush, their concerns and their priorities. Shorten has tied Labor’s wagon to gay marriage, the republic debate and a host of policies that look suspiciously like motherhood statements. Every day he seems to be veering closer to Corbynite territory and seems unable to keep at bay Labor’s ever-growing distaste for Israel.

By recalling the past and basing their pitch on long-gone historical events, they are somewhat similar to an absent father who, after many years of neglect, now wants to reconcile. They turn up on the doorstep and ask, ‘remember me?’

The answer is yes; they do remember you, but not the way you’re hoping.

Stephen Cable writes at cablecritique.com and Liberty Works.

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