More winning suggestions for Labor to take on board

Dec 9, 2021
Labor leader Anthony Albanese
Appointing Tanya Plibersek as deputy leader would improve Anthony Albanese's chances at the election. (Image: AAP/Mick Tsikas)

Our recent 10-point plan for an ALP victory at the next election prompted a reaction that shows many voters desperately want Labor to stand for something.

There is probably nothing quite like making suggestions for Labor policies as a catalyst for generating even more suggestions. Indeed, it seems there are so many people out there with ideas about policy that it’s amazing Labor isn’t picking up on some of them rather than persisting with a series of inchoate and unconnected announcements which have no overall framing or narrative.

Admittedly, Labor is being persistent on Scott Morrison’s record of lies, but you don’t need to be a genius to work out that line of attack.

Anyway, some readers quickly contacted us to make suggestions and highlight omissions in Rob Gerrand and my recent 10-point election plan for Labor. One issue was housing policy, with readers suggesting that if Labor was not courageous enough to do something about negative gearing then it could look at a regional development policy which built on current trends. Our view was that any expert review would inevitably highlight the problem which would make it unnecessary to campaign on the issue.

This suggestion was an oft-made one which has developed some natural momentum in recent decades but could be accelerated. One reader recommended:

“There has to be a grand vision for developing rural and regional Australia. governments have played with decentralisation policies for decades and achieved very little. All of my research over the past 15 years has shown how disadvantaged these communities are and how it is possible to generate employment and other opportunities in the regions with a sustained, long-term plan. Housing prices in key regional areas have increased but are still affordable compared to capital cities.”

Another reader called for the billions of dollars wasted on offshore detention to be redirected to provide humane care for refugees and assist regional communities.

One respondent added three points to our 10-point plan to make it a baker’s dozen and then came back with another to make it a plain old 14. The additions, which we should have included ourselves, were:

11. Indigenous voice to Parliament

Labor will address the Turnbull-Morrison government’s woeful response to the Uluru Statement from the Heart and undertake to create a mechanism to establish an Indigenous representative body to advise Parliament (or at least the Indigenous affairs minister, an option which wouldn’t require the desired but feared constitutional change). And to establish a funded Aboriginal body to boost education and skills learning and to really “close the gap” in health.

12. Gender equality

The mistreatment of women in politics, parliament and Australia generally has never been so much in the spotlight and the voices of women have never been so clear and staunch. It’s time for government and political parties to react with real workplace reform (especially in Parliament) and a serious attempt to place skilled women in leadership/ministerial roles. This also means giving women’s affairs a prominent position in government over the coming generation or more. After all, the next election may well be determined by the lack of gender equality and Morrison’s shoddy treatment of the Brittany Higgins and the Christian Porter issues (and Tony Abbott’s unforgettable speech in front of the “ditch the witch” sign).

13. Bureaucracy

Covid shone a spotlight on the inadequacies of state and federal bureaucracies and national health funding like never before. This requires expert analysis resulting in real change to the professionalism of government departments across the country and to the complex interplay of responsibilities between federal and state governments on health, border controls, quarantine, etc. We muddled through this time and should do better next time.

14. Sincerity

We see in Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese’s presentations the well-practised, back room-crafted duelling points that lack passion and sincerity. Compare these to Senator Jacqui Lambie’s speech against the stupidity of One Nation’s anti-vaccination requirements bill, which is again dividing the Coalition. It’s not just that she spoke the truth about social responsibility, it’s not just that she trammelled a cause she disagrees with, it’s that she spoke with real fire and sincerity, something our federal leaders have lost in the theatre of the 10-second grab. Lambie stirs emotions and because of this her speech went viral.

Victorian Labor under Steve Bracks and John Brumby fought elections with the slogan “Labor Listens”. Perhaps Albanese’s Labor needs to do some listening to the voices of all the people who want them to win but desperately want them to stand for something.

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