The end of big ideas Labor
People used to be frightened of the Labor Party because it they were all about Big Ideas. The Liberals were most successful when they whipped up fear of these monsters. Look at Whitlam, and how all those ideas stuffed into the bottom drawer over 23 years of opposition (even by deep thinkers like Lance Barnard or Freddie Daly) led to whole new departments and tax hikes.
Now it's clear that the era of Big Policy Labor is now over. Rudd and Rees and all those other four-letter words one might use to describe Labor leaders today show us that Labor has bonsai'd itself into irrelevance.
With the Emissions Trading Scheme, Rudd has produced a weak effort that is not backed up with any sort of social transformation: no new energy-generation industries (and associated jobs, comrades), no education on how you can cut back on your power bills (yes, it's petty but we all have a role to play - in other words, some national leadership would be nice), no incentives for existing renewable-energy technology - and worst of all, no moral leadership in addressing the environmental problems that affect our climate for the worse. Not a scrap of passion from that extinct volcano, Peter Garrett - no power either.
The same thing happened with the Aboriginal apology: yeah, Rudd got the headlines, but nobody is any clearer about what problem the Northern Territory Intervention is trying to solve, let alone how well it might be solving it. Once Labor would have been all about looking at and addressing the causes of Aboriginal injustice and disadvantage: now it's all off-message, look away, look away.
What about all those other Big Issues for which Labor is supposed to be the flame-guardians and standard-bearers? A republic? No. Universal healthcare? There is an idea that has stalled since the recession of the late 1980s, hardly going to get a run now. Immigration reform? Yeah, right. Promise me that the Cordelia Rau/Vivian Solon cases could never recur now, go on. Labour market reform? Arts funding? Substantial reform in education? 15% super? Anything at all?
We could, I suppose, blame all these foundered dreams upon the Global Financial Crisis, but that would be a crock. Whitlam too faced global economic crisis but either crashed through or (mostly) crashed, suggesting there was something of substance in either case. Nowhere is there any evidence that there are big plans to be put on hold. Nowhere is there any evidence that, if the economy bounced back, the Big Ideas would get a red-hot go.
The less said about Rees in NSW, the better. Working people are suffering more in hospital, less well served by schools and dithering about in unsuitable transport because of the Carr legacy (advised by Rees) of government by press release - a pose replicated in other states. Queensland, WA and SA cannot water themselves, Melbourne has Sydneylike transport problems and Brisbane is heading that way too. Tasmania and NSW have governments wholly owned by spivs, as happened in WA under Burke and Joh's Queensland. If Jack Lang could build the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the very teeth of the Great Depression, Rees has no excuse playing silly-buggers with light rail. SMH cartoonist Alan Moir is right to draw Rees with a garbage bin for a head.
All that remains now is for Labor to be shunted into Opposition and to wonder what it was all for, and to struggle for motivation to go on beyond one's own ego - just as is happening with the Federal Coalition.
Yeah, the Federal Coalition. The only power they have these days is the power ascribed to them by Labor for their own inaction - but even that is bogus.