Flat White

Labor’s campaign of contempt

14 April 2022

4:00 AM

14 April 2022

4:00 AM

With Australia on its way to what is likely the most important election it has ever had, it is crucial that voters understand how each party and its members will treat them if they come into power.

In previous articles, I have written about problems with the Liberal Party and how they are a far cry from what they should be.

Now, it’s Labor’s turn…

The Australian Labor Party has long-held itself to be the party of the worker – of the little guy – but over time it has moved away from its roots to a place where Green-left radical ideas have taken hold. 

The ALP are quite skilled at coming up with policies that they cannot explain or implement. The latest of these comes in the promise of employing more nurses in aged care facilities. The original pledge, made by Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese, was that 24/7 nurses would be mandated in aged care from July 2023. The problem is that there is a significant lack of nurses in Australia. 

When asked where Labor was going to find all these nurses, their MPs (including Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers and Shadow Health Minister Claire O’Neill) could not provide a reasonable answer. Chalmers admitted they would ‘need more nurses’, and the best O’Neill could come up with was to pay nurses more to attract them to employment. 

Days later, Albo’s Budget reply speech pledge was walked back, with a clarification made that aged care providers would be given ‘flexibility’ if they could not find enough staff. In other words, Labor discovered they couldn’t pull nursing staff out of a hat.

The walking back of comments made by their leader is not the only thing the Labor Party has done recently that is reminiscent of the Biden administration. Last week, it was revealed that the ALP sent a letter to its candidates, press secretaries, and key members ordering that all talking points and media engagements must be approved by a team of campaign directors. Talking points are to be drafted in advance by Labor HQ and MPs must adhere to these when discussing policy. 

In addition to this, rather than MPs committing to regular appearances on news programs or television shows, all media appearances are to be subject to approval by campaign headquarters based on the media context on the given day. This means that if it just happens to be a bad press day for the Labor Party, they can all go into hiding instead of fronting up to the people and answering important questions. 

Sound familiar? That is because it is exactly what has been done for US President Joe Biden. He is given a list of talking points, and questions from the media are tightly controlled. Much like Biden’s Presidential campaign, Albo and his MPs will be hiding out in the basement, only to be let out when their handlers deem it necessary. Even then, they will be tightly controlled by party bureaucrats. They will not even be able to speak to their electorates with media present due to concerns about mixed messaging. The reasoning behind this strategy, stated by campaign head quarters is to ‘keep our daily message clear’.

We have already seen this play out with the now viral moment from Anthony Albanese’s media conference in Perth alongside Mark McGowan (featuring a truck driving around sporting a banner depicting Chinese President Xi Jinping voting for the Labor Party). An everyday Australian walked up and asked Albo if he would be willing to answer a tough question. At first, Albo appeared to be okay with it, but when the man began asking his question, Albo shut him down saying that they were only answering questions from journalists and that if he did not adhere to that the Media Alliance would get upset. He also claimed the questioner was with the people driving the aforementioned truck around the area. The operators of the truck stated the man was not with them. 

This was nothing short of a lazy cop-out, a way for Albanese to squirm his way out of answering to the people who essentially employ him.

This does not exactly give the air of a party that is confident. If the Labor Party were truly planning on governing for the people, they would not be afraid to face them. After all, the voters will decide their fate. 

The ALP’s recent displays of hypocrisy also fail to assist their public image. The above example, when compared to Scott Morrison’s interaction with a man in a pub in Newcastle, comes off looking much worse. Labor made sure to point Morrison’s confrontation out as a failure of his leadership, yet when it came to the questioner in Albo’s press conference, campaign headquarters omitted the exchange from the official transcript provided to journalists after it had concluded. 

The most obvious and downright egregious display of hypocrisy has been Labor’s attitude towards bullying within the party. When bullying claims or claims of unfair treatment are lobbied against the Liberal Party by members or candidates past or present, Labor is the first to jump on them, demanding accountability and investigations into the claims. In recent times, they did so when sexual assault claims were made against former Attorney-General Christian Porter, and more recently when Scott Morrison himself was in the firing line in regard to a preselection battle with Michael Towke 15 years ago.

However, when it comes to claims directed at Labor, the party failed to live up to the standard it wants everyone else to adhere to. The way it has handled the allegations of bullying made by the late Senator Kimberley Kitching against her colleagues, including Penny Wong, Kristina Keneally, and Katy Gallagher, (which all three deny) has been disgraceful. Instead of undertaking an investigation like they would demand of any other party, the ALP decided that it would not be appropriate to do so given Senator Kitching’s recent passing. Albanese stated when asked about an investigation:

‘Out of respect for Kimberley, I think the idea that people go into who might have had a disagreement here or there is totally unbecoming.’

So should we really be surprised that Labor has contempt for the people of Australia when they are some of the worst hypocrites in the nation who cannot even adhere to their own apparently high standards?

Yes, the Liberal Party appear to be a mess, and their recent preselection debacle demonstrates significant changes are needed, but the Labor Party is no better. It is ironic that the ALP constantly call for a Federal Anti-Corruption Commission when not only have they voted against previously proposed iterations, but they refuse to investigate issues within their party.

As it stands, Labor and Liberal are as bad as each other. The Liberal Party need new leadership, democratisation, and a purging of the moderates. The Labor Party need to actually demonstrate they can respect the people of Australia and live up to their own standards.

Given the duopoly this nation falls under, a choice will have to be made. One party will have to be put above the other on the ballot paper. And while both are terrible options, the Labor Party are just that little bit worse.

Joel Agius is an independent writer. If you would like to read more of his work, you can do so at JJ’s Outlook or check out his new podcast The Agius Hour.

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