From our readers: Labor’s small-target strategy will not win votes

Oct 30, 2021
Anthony Albanese
Anthony Albanese should be trying to win voters' confidence by showing his whole self, rather than the least he can get away with. (Image: AAP/Lukas Coch)

In letters to the editor this week: Labor’s lack of passion, Australia’s alliance with the US, and affordable housing.

Pearls and Irritations readers this week were fired up by Jack Waterford’s columns on Anthony Albanese and Labor’s chances at the next election, with many of you calling for a bit more passion and vision from the Opposition. Also in the inbox this week, we had letters in response to Richard Tanter’s series on the Australia-US alliance, and on the failure of our housing policies.

We welcome your responses to our articles. To submit a letter to the editor, please email us at, including your full name and town or suburb, and the article to which you are responding. Letters should be no longer than 200 words, and may be edited for clarity, style and length.

Labor needs a new game plan — Jack Waterford

Are Albanese and Labor really ready to govern?

A finely nuanced, and polite, article that “hits the nail on the head”: Labor’s lack of fire or passion. Simply, do they really want to win? Or, foolishly, do they think this election will be handed to them? We remember, only too well, that Bill Shorten seemed assured of a win after the Coalition’s leadership debacles (among many other policy debacles of course), in the last election, but Morrison pulled off his “miracle” win instead. Why Morrison and his administration are not more vigorously attacked for their blatant lies and corruption is a mystery. Albo should start screaming and yelling about this and keep it up right up till polling day. The Australian public needs to to be reminded of Morrison’s complete lack of ethics or scruples, daily. And, plainly put and fearlessly. — Robert Harwood, West Hobart

With Labor’s apparent ascendency in the polls, why do I feel so uneasy about their prospects of winning the next federal election? I can put it down to only one thing and that is the ineffectual leadership of Anthony Albanese with his small target strategy for fear of attracting criticism from the government. He just doesn’t appear to be cutting through with the electorate, notwithstanding the party’s positive poll results, which is evidenced by his continuing lag so far behind Scott Morrison in the leaders’ popularity, which in itself beggars belief. Remember the drover’s dog. Albanese keeps reminding us that his strategy is to kick with the wind in the final quarter, but he could well be playing into the wind if Morrison has his way. He’s the one calling the shots. In any event, the final quarter is already underway and I can see no change in Labor’s game plan. In my opinion, Labor has erred in not refining some of its core policies at the last election, such as negative gearing, capital gains tax concessions for investors and tax cuts for high income earners. The small target strategy suggests that Labor and Albanese in particular, don’t have the intestinal fortitude to prosecute their case for reform. There is obviously a risk in this strategy, but if they were smart, that risk could be minimised. Far better to offer an alternative vision to that of the current Coalition government, which may well attract some swinging voters, than to expect to fall over the line by sitting on the fence. — Ray Laverack, Epping, NSW

The Australian-US alliance — Richard Tanter

The reasons Australia’s US alliance has persisted Part 3

Your articles have removed all doubt that Australia should turn to collective security within SE Asia and the Pacific. Australia also needs to resume its peace-keeping expertise, cut off by John Howard, and abjure all nuclear weapons or nuclear power. Thank you for making clear the ANZUS Treaty was a Robert Menzies affair. It was irritating to see Anthony Albanese, not only Scott Morrison, saying that John Curtin’s government made an alliance with America. Curtin’s government opposed staying with the USA: they had seen the US designs on Australia’s car industry, and looming our aircraft development. There are many useful texts to provide this evidence, but the recent John Edwards’ two volumes on Curtin’s War are most useful. Curtin was always a peacenik, and also only felt forced to adhere to White Australia when he stood for a WA electorate under the Labor banner. When he gained office from Menzies/Arthur Fadden from two MPs crossing the floor, Australia’s defence was in disarray; Menzies only looked to Churchill. Singapore fell, as Curtin’s Cabinet knew it would, while Churchill disparaged the incredible fighting forces of Japan. Curtin had to wrench our troops from the Egyptian campaign, after Churchill’s disastrous Greek campaign. Roosevelt sided with Churchill over Curtin facing Australia’s then dire needs. It was only US Admirals King and Nimitz, and General Eisenhower, who realised Australia was the main US base left to fight its Pacific war. Canada was also angry at Churchill sending their troops fatally to Hong Kong. As Curtin was dying, he changed his mind about the USA and tried to turn to the UK to promote a Pacific Commonwealth. But Albanese knows nothing about Labor’s then fine history. — Jocelyn Pixley, Paddington, NSW

Affording a home — Don Edgar and Patricia Edgar

Housing policy is a failure for young and old

This article pays scant attention to the fundamental factor in human society — affordable access to land. Of course “land policies kept the supply down” — and still do; vide, the ubiquitous advertisements for “new land release” — a common capitalist ploy of an artificial shortage to boost prices and profits. The lunacy of the present system where successive generations spend a significant part their working life buying a piece of the country on which to live, and raise a family perhaps, cannot continue. If a couple spend 40 per cent of their combine income (probably a maximum) and the land component is, say, half the house and land combined value, 20 per cent of their lives is devoted to buying a bit of land to live on. Fine for the FIRE industries (Finance, Insurance and Real Estate) but a drag on the rest of the economy and human society. How many alternative homes, music schools, organic small holdings etc. would spring into life, enriching society if one only needed to rent the land from “us” — the community. The present situation could be ameliorated by a land value rental (LVR) payment; this would dampen land price increases and discourage holding land idle. With LVR, publicly built infrastructure becomes “investment” not “expenditure”. But don’t hold your breath; our Parliamentarians have skin in the game — they own, on average 2.4 houses each. It is different in China it seems; Xi Jinping declared “a house is for living in, not for speculation” and pursues a policy of “common prosperity”; land is owned by local authorities and long-leased to users. Here, in our Commonwealth we accept increasing homelessness as the property prices “improve”! — Colin Evan Cook, Kanmantoo, SA




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