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More Labor Pains

November 30, 2010

Some will dismiss Michael Costa’s essay on the ALP in today’s ALR, recalling his undisciplined moments as a State Minister. But he reminds all the party rhetoricians and windbags that talk about our sacred Labor values can’t ignore the one great underlying reality of government : how you allocate scarce public resources given the endless demands and the hostility to any revenue measures.
He’s also right in seeing the 1997 State conference decision blocking electricity privatization as the fatal mis-step for NSW Labor. The only future for Labor is to re-embrace the Hawke-Keating economic reform agenda – he’s right there – and see the NSW Right evolve into something broader – my words – and something beyond brutal union control.

He overlooks the value of environmental leadership in the package. He did as a minister and does in his analysis.

Nor do he and others appreciate there is only one ingredient that can bridge the gap between inner city and working class constituencies and that’s clever-footed, smart, improvising leadership al la Wran,Hawke,Keating. Others as well.

  1. December 2, 2010 10:39 am

    I could not agree more about Mr Costa but the real problem was his personality. Leadership does not have to suffer fools gladly but it does need to be open to other ideas. Costa treated too many people with contempt. He gave arrogance in Government a face. It was a shame because it detracted from a message that was sound.

  2. Bob Carr permalink
    December 2, 2010 1:37 pm

    Agreed. I’d like to think he’d agree that his very attendance at the 2008 state conference was a mistake, let alone the speech he gave. What was needed was a statesmanlike and virtuoso rendition of the case for privatization rather in the manner of Keating selling privatization of the Commonwealth Bank or Qantas at a national conference.

    On the other hand I was unable to win the case in 1997 over the opposition of Bernie Riordan so, on the bottom line, I can’t criticize Morris Iemma or his ministers for falling short.

    The party conference was determined to do the wrong thing. And nothing was going to stop them.

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