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What Federal Labor Must Do

September 2, 2011

The NSW experience showed that the public has no tolerance for successive changes in a party’s leadership. Changing leaders is now a political cliché, nothing more than a knee-jerk response to bad polls. The public won’t buy it.

You cannot throw a new leader – without preparation, mentoring, coaching or plain old fashioned political blooding – into a leadership breach and expect him or her to reverse the party’s fortunes.

The carbon tax is unpopular. Entrench it in law and let the public see it won’t wipe-out Whyalla and spike the price of cornflakes. The mining tax has critics. Spruik BHP’s record profits and tell Australians they need to plan for the day when we haven’t a resources boom. The boats keep coming and the High Court junks government policy. It is not the first time the unexpected has happened. If you want certainty join the Benedictines.

Adopting a new Prime Minster while the big policy questions are yet to be hammered into place just won’t work.

“Hi. I’m your new Prime Minister. My faction made me your leader.”

Forget it.

Hard slog. Stick at it. Get the legislation in place and ask Abbott what he will do to reverse it.

Next year it will be a different conversation.

Ignore the polls, or pretend to.

Hold your nerve.

  1. September 2, 2011 12:55 pm

    Good news Bob. Bill Shorten has already come out in support of Ms Gillard, saying “Julia Gillard is the right person, at the right time, for the job.”

    I think that says it all. There’s more chance of Julia Gillard lining up at full-forward for the Bulldogs than there is of a change in leadership.

  2. September 2, 2011 1:19 pm

    Thank you for your wisdom. You are absolutely spot on here. (:

  3. Ralf Kluin permalink
    September 2, 2011 1:29 pm

    I agree with you Bob. And I would add, that telling the electorate, that our High Court might have got it wrong, only makes the PM look silly. If I were in the caucus meeting right now, I’d be suggesting a better communicative process with all elected ALP members. The members (branch-members) are the people who must continually get out to campaign. You know, as well as I do, that risk for any political party in a democracy arises when the electorate feels uncertain about the future. This is where the Malaysia thing, from my observation, was badly managed. Ministers should continually ask themselves, what is the likelihood of something happening which cabinet may or may not want to happen? And what will the consequences be if any one or all of the things which could happen do eventuate?

  4. Brett permalink
    September 2, 2011 2:49 pm

    If Gillard stood up for herself she could reverse the polls in a matter of weeks. The public are notoriously fickle. Look at QLD. After the floods, Anna Bligh was hailed as a hero and loved by all. A few weeks later, the floods were forgotten and her popularity was in the toilet. Gillard should take Abbott on in a big way. Australians will love her for it. Abbott has nothing behind him (but Rupert Murdoch) and she needs to expose that.
    And of course she has nothing to lose at this point.

  5. September 2, 2011 2:49 pm

    Thanks Bob – make sure all the Labor pollies read it and take heed because we members are becoming disgusted with the nervous nellies in the Party.

    The PM has shown enormous courage against an impossible media and a braying Opposition. She doesn’t, and we don’t, need it from inside the Caucus.

  6. September 2, 2011 3:18 pm

    Couldn’t agree more.

  7. September 2, 2011 3:53 pm

    excellent comment on what is happening right now. I couldnt agree more than Mr Carr’s comments. We need to hold the line. Carbon pricing, the resource boom tax and population policy are all significant reforms that this country needs. Only labor will and can see it through. Like floating the dollar, like tariff reforms, like banking comp policy like increase working aussie savings by 30% with the uplift in super.

  8. Watson permalink
    September 2, 2011 3:57 pm

    Good advice! Sure the Government looks bad at the moment, especially according to the braying of the opposition donkey and their media monkeys. But the fact of the matter is, the Liberals (according to their stated positions at least) would have minimized the stimulus package and maximized the recession, unemployment and slowed the recovery.
    We would have no Resource Rent Tax and no prospect of it, so our long term economic future would be as a worked out quarry, with 90% of the once only national heritage revenue squandered locally or remitted overseas,
    Education would still be underfunded (except for the wealthy private schools)
    There would be no NBN and no prospect of it, save what privatized telecom companies could cobble together in order to maximize their profits on minimal expenditure and service.
    There would be no action on climate change and no prospect of it. Australia would be racking up a carbon ‘debt’ that would see sanctions imposed when the world wakes up (too late) to the fact that CO2 is frying the planet, and decides to impose crippling restrictions on the use of fossil fuels.
    The flood of refugees that will accompany catastrophic climate change would cause Nauru to sink without a trace.
    And we’d get WorkChoices Mark II – without the benefit of a growing economy.

    While we continue to fool ourselves that we live in a ‘really lucky country’, and believe that we can just ‘throw another coal mine or gas well onto the barbie and ‘she’ll be right’, we will never elect and support a government that will be able to act in our best interests.

  9. Realist permalink
    September 2, 2011 4:33 pm

    Obviously common sense.
    The PM is focusing on the threat of Work Choices.
    Why isn’t everyone else?
    Federal politics is not about reality tv style evictions.
    The business of government is much more considered than that.
    Thank goodness it is or we would never be able to safe guard
    against unintended consequences.
    These baseless ructions send messages to domestic and overseas markets,
    influences diplomacy and other matters.
    Could others please assist by focusing on Work Choices and Rights At Work.

  10. Anthony Porter permalink
    September 2, 2011 8:23 pm

    Every point you make Bob is spot on. The Electorate will respect Labor and Gillard more for going all the way with these tough issues. That is why they still talk about great Labor leaders of yesterday, they had their backs to the wall were able to deal with the really touch issues. Changing leaders in times like this demonstrates weakness, not strength, and it wont wash.

  11. russell permalink
    September 2, 2011 10:02 pm

    Bob Carr for PM !

  12. boy on a bike permalink
    September 3, 2011 9:48 am


    At work, I sit surrounded by a bunch of Q&A watching, SMH reading luvvies. They never read The Aus or the Telegraph, and none of them subscribe to Fox or listen to Alan Jones. They don’t read blogs at all, especially conservative ones. They all voted Labor at the last Federal election. I am the token conservative. And the token straight bloke.

    It’s a small sample, but they now totally despise Labor federally. They have come to hate the Gillard government even more than the recently departed NSW Labor government. They sit down in the morning and openly mock it and ask “What will they screw up today?” They can’t wait for an election to throw them out. The depth of hatred and contempt is something to see. They hated Howard with a passion, but they respected him. They have no respect for Labor – only bitter and unrelenting contempt. We don’t banter about sport any more – the only source of gossip and chat is the latest Canberra clusterf*ck.

    We have a TV in the office. When the PM comes on, they turn the sound down and hurl abuse at the screen. They don’t want to know what she’s talking about. It’s good that Wayne Swan appears rarely as they tend to go feral when he shows up. Their mockery is very un-PC, and suggests that he has the IQ of an amoebae. Betting started weeks ago on when there’ll be a spill and who the new Labor leader will be. Turnbull is the clear favourite.

    When Abbott comes on, they ask to turn the sound up and they listen to what he has to say. They then argue ferociously about what he said, but at least they’re listening. They don’t like him much, but they tend to agree with what he says more than they disagree. It’s been quite an eye opener.

    If the PM promised on Monday to put a chicken in every pot, the first thing they’d say would be, “Why is she doing that? Has she got a warehouse full of 5 million salmonella infected chickens to get rid of? How many people will she kill this time?”

    I see the same thing with the P&C work crew that I’m a member of. I live in what used to be a staunchly Labor electorate. Everyone in my P&C crew voted Labor without fail up until the NSW election. They spent all last year moaning about how bad Labor was in NSW, and how they were going to hold their noses and vote Liberal – and they did. I never thought they would, but they did. They now view federal Labor as even worse. I can’t have a quiet beer after a hard day’s work on the school grounds these days without a gaggle of rusted-on Labor voters telling me how badly they want to get rid of this lot.

    The one thing all of them say is that Labor policies suck. Forget the presentation and spin – they just hate the policies.

    • Anthony Porter permalink
      September 4, 2011 5:50 pm

      Boy on a bike, you really sound like you have fallen off and hit your head too many times and the damage is obvious.

    • September 4, 2011 8:50 pm

      Anthony, I mix with a wide variety of people, so I don’t live in an echo chamber. I’m just telling you what I get bombarded with day in, day out. I have landed on my head a few times, but since I wear a helmet, I haven’t banged the skull up too much.

      One other thought – the punters at work liked Kenneally, but they still voted against her. I had a soft spot for her too. However, Gillard is another matter altogether – they really can’t stand her.

      Bob, what you have to remember is that when you were in office, you had policies that weren’t toxic, had a team behind you that had plenty of competent players in it and you exuded confidence and control. This mob are nothing like that. You want to know how bad it is? The gay blokes I work with don’t want to see gay marriage introduced because if the Gillard government brings it in, they think it will tarnish it forever.

      Now if you’ll pardon me, I have to go fall off my bike again.

  13. September 4, 2011 11:55 pm

    Boy on a Bike
    Sorry son but for a bit there I was interested then you had to overdo it.
    The gay blokes dont want Gillard introducing gay marriage. BUL#*#*T.
    The would take it any way they can get it, and if they think Mr live celibate Abbott of the strict catholic upbringing and seminary learning will, then they are morons. And so are you if you believe it,
    What you have are a bunch of pretentious drama queens carrying on over nothing.

    Very intelligent blokes which is proven when they turn down the tv to ensure they dont get both sides of an argument. And I gaurantee they may not listen to Jones or read the telegraph but you should ask if they listen to and read Andrew Bolts biased rumor mongering. If they say yes run before the stupidity infuses your body, if its not to late already that is.

    And for the record most of Labors policies that “suck” were drafted with the support and assistance of the Liberals, and were scheduled for implementation they only blocked and opposed them after Abbott didnt get his job. Go study health and ageing for one example.
    But you probably wont and they definately wont because its too easy to listen to rumor, lies and BS from the Liberal supporting media.
    Ask them if they know about that.
    Better yet get some beers and ask the around then have them watch senate question time 24/8 and 25/8 and open their eyes and minds at what they see.
    Just a thought.

  14. Michael Mizzi permalink
    September 7, 2011 1:03 am

    Are you channelling Winston Churchill Bob? His motto during WW2 was “Hold fast and we win”. It inspired the Maltese in their part of the defeat of the Nazis. Pity Churchill was a Tory though.

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