Friday, January 13, 2006

Why Labor Sucks

Grrr .... You see, this is why people are deserting Labor. They won't adopt firm policies but they will criticise those who do. They're a bit like Homer:

Marge: You know, Homer, it's easy to criticise.
Homer: Fun, too!

I've previously expressed my appreciation of Lindsay Tanner, ALP member for Melbourne, but this is rank cynicism that disappoints even me.

Original QP email:

Mr Tanner,

As somebody who has previously agitated for legislative reform to benefit same-sex couples, I'm wondering why you have remained quiet in the last few weeks on the issue of civil unions as debate has been initiated by Liberal backbenchers?

Will you be following the lead of Tanya Plibersek anytime soon and coming out in unqualified support for same-sex civil unions? If not, why not?

This seems to me to be a perfect opportunity to expose a wedge in the Liberal Party and I'm wondering why otherwise strong supporters of same-sex couple rights in the ALP - yourself, Anthony Albanese, Michael Danby etc - are not jumping on this opportunity.

Regards etc

Tanner reply:

Thankyou for your email of January 9 2006.

As a senior front bencher and co-ordinator of labor's policy process I'm a bit restricted in my ability to speak publicly on issues outside my portfolio (particularly when my position is different from the official ALP position). And occasional public outbursts in the Australian don't count for much. I'll continue to push for a stronger Labor position, as I have done since the issue first surfaced in 2004.

QP response:

Thank you for this reply although I'm now a little confused in a couple of places - does this mean your position in favour of civil unions (which I know previously you've supported or at least suggested should be debated) is contrary to the official position of the ALP?

Also, are you suggesting the coordinated and repeated statements of Mal Washer, Judi Moylan, Warren Entsch, Peter Lindsay and Petro Georgiou in favour of civil unions are merely "occasional public outbursts in the Australian"?

For what it's worth, their speaking out on this issue counts a lot for me as a gay man who never has nor ever will vote Liberal but who can understand how difficult it would have been for them to come out in open support of civil unions contrary to John Howard and I imagine the majority of the party room. I'm sure I'm not the only one who appreciates what they've done.

Regards etc

Tanner retort:

Thanks for your email of January 10 2006.

Labor does not have a policy of support for civil unions (nor is it officially opposed to them either).

I accept your point about the significance of individual MPs speaking out, but it's not that hard for backbenchers who are never going to be ministers. In some respects it suits the interests of government, allowing them to maintain their position while possibly keeping some Liberal voters who support gay marriage on side with the thought that change in the party's position is possible.

Yours sincerely etc

And of course, the ALP would never stoop to playing both sides of the field, would it?

Would it kill Tanner - I mean literally, would he suffer multiple heart attacks on the spot and keel over and die - if he just said: "you know what? What these Liberals have done is a commendable thing. We support them and acknowledge their attempts at agitating for reforms we in the Labor Party have been bleating for years that we're the only party capable of achieving."

But maybe that's why Tanner's grumpy, because some Libs have stolen his party's thunder.

I know this is the ugly reality of Australian politics. I know unqualified bipartisan support for any significant policies or reforms is almost non-existent; that the Big Two will go out of their way to find some contrary position to argue or find fault with either the concepts put forward or their proponents, even when they're concepts that the party itself principally supports.

But none of that makes any of this less frustrating - nor, for that matter, does it address my original question of why Tanner, Albanese, Danby, Lawrence etc aren't following Plibersek's lead and remaining so deafeningly silent.

To paraphrase Tanner himself: it suits the interests of the ALP not to commit explicitly to same-sex civil unions while possibly keeping some Labor voters who support civil unions on side with the thought that change in the party's position is possible, as well as placating Labor voters opposed to civil unions who hope the party's position will not change.

I read a quote once from some random tabloid journo along the lines of getting splinters up your arse if you keep sitting on the fence. Never has a truer summary been made about the ALP in its current state.


At 13/1/06 2:20 pm, Blogger JahTeh said...

I'm beginning to despair of Labor. They've got nothing to lose by speaking out but no-one seems to have the guts to do so. I'm about to write another letter to Crean and if I don't receive an answer, I'll keep sending it every day until I do.

At 13/1/06 2:33 pm, Anonymous Bazza said...

As two former members of the ALP, Lindsay Tanners responses are exactly why we and others had to leave. We will be working and supporting an ALP member at the next SA State elections, as Frances Bedford as worked hard in pushing her Same Sex equality legislation in the SA parliament, she has had obstacles put in her way, but has never given up. Her electorate is marginal and also the home of The Paradise church (Family First), who are out to get her. So if there is anyone in Adelaide who can give Frances support :8263 2666.
Forget the party system, look after them who look after you.

At 13/1/06 3:27 pm, Anonymous maddy said...

Like you I had some admiration for Tanner. His responses just confirm why the ALP is in such trouble, which is sad. If the ALP would just have the guts and come out and outline their policies on a wide range of issues I am positive they would garner a lot more support. I must say I think the ALP tends to play the "whatever the governments position is we will say the opposite" game too much.

You mention in your email you would never vote Liberal (why - because of their policies related to homosexuals?). You are no longer a Democrat member and you seem to despair at the ALP. Who the hell are you going to vote for?? The greens?

At 13/1/06 3:35 pm, Blogger Sam said...

maddy: the jury is out on the Greens until I confirm or discount the appalling rumour I've heard that they did a preference deal with Family Fist for the SA election later this year.

And no, it's not just their policies on homos that stop me voting Liberal, many other factors included - IR, refugee, union, tertiary, environmental policies + archaic views on euthanasia, republic, indigenous people + corruption of its members generally and Howard's continued refusal to discipline them and enforce his own code of conduct, for starters.

At 13/1/06 4:44 pm, Anonymous Bazza said...

Sam. That is a very disturbing rumour regarding the Greens SA. Lets hope it is'nt the case.

At 13/1/06 8:28 pm, Anonymous Bazza said...

May clarify your concern for the Greens SA

At 13/1/06 9:26 pm, Blogger rohide said...

Mr Tanner and others are just sticking their collective heads in the sand.
We know, of course, what happens to people to stick their heads in the sand - they end up being used as bicycle racks!

At 14/1/06 7:43 pm, Blogger Ron said...

It looks like Rainbow Labor has very little influence in the ALP.

I feel disenfranchised in Australia today as I will not vote for the Liberal Party or the Alternate Liberal Party. Yet, to do this, is to waste my vote. We seriously need a third party that is large enough (and preferably leftwing :-) )to stand up to the LP and ALP.

Didn't Fielding get into the Senate via a deal with the Victorian ALP?

When Nicola Roxon addressed a christian taliban marriage forum in Canberra in 2004 and was cheered, I knew the 'Australian Lip-service Party' was not the party of the rainbow people.

By the way, Roxon is the only politician who has deleted my emails unread and on more than one occasion.

At 15/1/06 2:52 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the Greens can continue to add 2% or so to their primary vote at every federal election (as they did last time) they may well become a significant "third-force" in Aus politics before long.

Would be good to have a hard-core left-wing party garnering a more substantial segment of the vote as it would probably drag the major parties to the left (if only to try and steal the Greens ground away from them) just as the success of One Nation dragged the majors to the right a few years back.

Given the moribund state of the ALP I owuldnt be surprised if the Greens continued to improve their vote at every election (it already looks like they will rob Labor of majority government in the Tassie State election). CW

At 15/1/06 8:56 pm, Anonymous Bazza said...

If you are an Australian living abroad and you make the choice of wanting to marry the guy you have met. It would appear you will be presented by the Australian Government with another hurdle.
Read Rodney Croomes blog.

At 16/1/06 11:21 pm, Anonymous maddy said...

On a totally unrelated matter: Did I spy your purty face in the latest iss-ewe of SX?

PS No I am not stalking you..

At 17/1/06 9:36 am, Blogger Sam said...

*sigh* yes. More people appear to have recognised me from that pic in the last week than have in the whole year I've been writing a column for that mag. Talk about buying it for the pictures :-/

Contrary to the pose, too, that blond chap is just a friend of mine who moved here from Adel. But apparently I still look like a very possessive boyfriend.

This is why I don't like being in photos.

At 17/1/06 3:54 pm, Blogger Ron said...

Not fair to people who don't live in Sydney and can get SX.

We, the country people, demand access to Sam's sexy photo!

At 17/1/06 4:47 pm, Blogger Ron said...

I'm not as deprived (depraved ?) as I thought: SX editions are online at their website and nicely presented.

Well done.

At 16/1/07 11:53 am, Blogger zzymurgy said...

I know it's late, but the Greens have never and will never make preference deals with either Family First or the Liberals.

They are both unfounded rumours spread by the ALP, who are running scared because they've run out of left cred.


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