Flat White

Has our right missed the story of the week?

14 November 2016

1:00 PM

14 November 2016

1:00 PM

Sydney Film School Film Festival ScreeningsAll Trumped out? No excuse. The Australian right has not only failed to capitalise on the story of the week. It appears to have ignored it, let it sail straight through to the keeper.

Sure, events in the United States of the past few days have been important. But it brought them right back home here by explaining in no uncertain terms how our major parties are failing to communicate a message of any worth to voters — one in particular.

The story? It was Paul Keating’s comments in The Weekend Australian where he turned on Bill Shorten Labor:

“The Labor Party today has not taken ownership and leadership of its own creation: that is the huge and wealthy middle-class economy which Labor exclusively created,” Mr Keating says.

“Labor has now, and has had, the core Labor program, and it’s now got the core Labor vote, which is about 35 per cent.

“Labor is now being attacked by the Greens in the capital cities, where votes are being sheared off. And it is being attacked by people like Pauline Hanson, who are pulling away blue-collar workers. But it is not getting concomitant support from the centre, which is locked up under the Coalition’s 42 per cent of the primary vote — and that is because it has lost the ability to speak aspirationally to people and to fashion policies to meet those aspirations…”

He argues that Labor, in government and opposition, has been unable to develop policies that appeal to the majority of ­voters who favour “an open, ­competitive, cosmopolitan” country with an enlarging vision for the future. At the last election, Labor received a dismal 34.7 per cent of the primary vote. After the defeat of the Keating government in 1996, Labor essentially walked away from the Hawke-Keating legacy …

Mr Keating believes the party has, for the most part, not returned to its centrist bearings. “It’s never been back there since we left,” he says.

Mr Keating believes the reversion in Labor thinking extends to the union movement, which exercises too much influence in the party and is no longer sufficiently focused on national economic interest as it was in the 1980s and 90s.

He argues Labor is under too much sway from factional bosses and party officials who have “an unerring sense of what they believe is right” and “lord it over the parliamentary party”. He suggests Labor lacks the broad, diverse membership it once had and its parliamentary ranks need to be refreshed with new talent.

Yes, he had some typically Keating comments to make about the Coalition too — but that’s no reason for them not to have leapt on his other remarks.

Indeed, it was yet another measure of the Prime Minister’s general uselessness that he failed to invoke them while seeking to portray Shorten as weak during his Sunday press conference on immigration policy.

For Paul Keating has nailed the very people who masquerade as his heirs to the wall.

Memo to Chris Bowen: it takes more than an Hermes tie.

In Keating’s eyes the ALP have made themselves an irrelevance, a union dominated irrelevance that has deserted the centre and is losing support to both the left and right as it clings to an ever diminishing base — lead by a man who lacks ‘the “vision”, “imagination” and “ambition” that the nation demands’.

‘The only thing I want is to observe the economic and social progress,’ Labor’s greatest ever Treasurer told The Weekend Australia.

It’s clear he doesn’t expect to see it under Shorten.

And Malcolm Turnbull’s useless government has missed the free kick. The free kicks, plural. Think what they should have been able to do with those union lines alone, given the supposed justification for the double dissolution.

Keating’s comments didn’t even seem to get a proper airing on the blogs or much circulation outside social media.

Don’t repeat the mistake. Read it.


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