Saturday, March 19, 2005


ALP Corruption Marathon

It might just be starting to dawn on you by now that The Age is running a campaign against branch stacking and other corruption in the ALP. In this weekend's Saturday Age there was yet another piece suggesting the possibility of a Police investigation, and in addition the always insightful Shaun Carney discusses the ALP malaise and the context of the current fiasco in his opinion piece.

This means that since March 10th there have been 11 articles about the ALP stacking and corruption in just 9 days. Here they are:

Also there's been 8 journalists involved in this story : Ian Munro, Paul Austin, Kirsty Simpson, William Birnbauer, Jason Dowling, Farrah Tomazin, Ewin Hannan, Shaun Carney. So its not just one hack with a bee in his bonnet. The Age is putting quite a lot of resources into this. This is not some page filler. It is a campaign.

The question is why? The right faction who are the ones who recently siezed control, and are the ones principally being accused of the skullduggery, must surely be feeling the heat under this sustained media barrage. They have of course tried to serve up their counter spin. They're saying that its just the Left faction being sore-losers, and there might be an element of truth in that, but if that was all this was about then The Age would have dropped this long ago.

No. I think they know that they've got their teeth stuck into something really meaty. The stories ring true. Here's Shaun Carney on the ALP's view of itself and the stacking furore.

A lot of senior Labor figures have privately expressed a degree of
bewilderment at the media focus, a good deal of it coming in recent weeks
from this newspaper, on the party's internal battles over branch stacking.
That's because the culture of the party, with its endless soapie-style
dramas and unresolved conflicts, has so overwhelmed their world view that
they find it too hard to step outside and have a look back.

If they could take that step and get a dispassionate view of the ALP,
which is how the vast majority of Australians see it, they would find
themselves gazing at an often bewildering maze of factions, sub-factions and
tendencies nourished by inexplicable personal enmities, conflicting
ambitions and, occasionally, ideological differences.

They would see an organisation that devotes an enormous amount of time
and energy to infighting.

They would also see leaders such as Steve Bracks and Kim Beazley who
appear unconcerned or unmoved by all of the desperate claim and
counter-claim, stacking and counter-stacking that's going on right now.

They might even be able to climb into the mindset of quite a few voters,
who see the Labor Party as a sometimes great and perhaps even occasionally
decent political organisation that knows more about damaging what people now
refer to as its "brand" than just about anything else - including winning
federal elections.

Somewhere in the ALP there are enough talented people with enough good
ideas to actually make a difference to the party's fortunes. Some of them
are even involved in branch stacking.
But that will not count for much if Labor cannot climb out of the faction-ridden morass in which it has placed itself.

Its got to stop, this factional rubbish, this endless cycle of petty corruption. These are people we hope one day will be running the country, but do we really want people who's experience is this cheap, petty, corruption, running the government?

The Victorian Right faction claim they're doing all this to clean out the dead wood and get talent into Parliament. Well it does make you ask what sort of talent they are suggesting ought to be there instead? What exactly will be the primary area of expertise of these factionally annointed future parliamentarians? Do you think that the habits that they've learned in stacking school will just vanish? The rate they're going they'll be sending the next generation to the Russian Duma for some work experience under Uncle Vladimir.

The ALP claim they're the party of big ideas. Well we'd like to see some! And if we can't get that then I say to The Age, sally forth brave knights. Thrust your sword into the fetid sore and let it bleed. Expose the rot for all to see. Name the names, and if it kills the beast in the process then so be it. It would have deserved to die.

Note: 3000 character limit on comments
Superceded Blogger based Comments below:
The reason why 'The Age' is doing this campaign is clear. First it is a 'softy lefty' sort of paper - not ALP - it is important to state. The Age would be quite comfortable with Costello and happy as larry with Turnbull. That is because they would be in tune with the paper's outlook which is pro multiculturalism, republic, reconciliation, refugees etc. Issues which the 'Old style' Liberal Party has abandoned (the sort of party Rupert Hamer would have led). This of course where according to the current paradign Howard gets its strenght, from those who read the Herald-Sun anyway. It is also important to note that 'The Age' is no friend of organised Labour and Unionism. It has pushed a 'less structured' labour agenda for some time.

Anyway 'The Age' has noticed that dark clouds are gathering on the horison for the Government. I sense that the ALP has not attracted enough 'talent' to take the Government on and win an election and feels that the ALP needs to select 'talented' people who would be able to repeat the same sort of thing that happened in the early 80's. A Labor government sympathetic to capital, keeping the Unions in control and pursuing a social-friendly agenda (refugeesm reconcilaition etc) at the same time.
I can't argue with that!
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