Sunday, 25 March 2012

A new era in politics after Queensland

The greatest landslide in Australian political history.  The election of 2012 will go down in the annals, and will be debated for decades to come.  I believe it is a watershed.

Time for a new party

Two weeks ago on Q and A, this question was asked by audience member Ralph Panebianco to Malcolm Turnbull:

"Malcolm, I think there should be a new political party in Australia. It should be socially progressive and economically rational... will you create it for us?"

Mr  Panebianco is right.  The Roy Morgan State of the Nation for 2012 reported that: As a nation, Australians are increasingly open-minded and ‘liberal’ and 'Australians are becoming more progressive'.

It also reported that after economic issues, the most important issues facing Australia are government, political and human rights.

So, we need a party that considers BOTH the economy and Australia's liberal and progressive social attitudes.  That sort of a party would represent most of us.  And it just doesn't exist.

Labor represents a dying breed

There are some very good people within the Labor Party (as there are also within the Liberal party and the Greens), but the Labor movement itself is far less relevant any more.  It was born from an era when manufacturing was the largest employing sector.  It isn't any more, and it is shrinking all the time.

It was also born in an era when workers viewed the bosses as the enemy, and power was heavily biased in favour of the employer.  Labour unions were needed. In the late 19th century and much of the 20th century, the power struggle between workers and bosses continued.  This was a hallmark of the Industrial age. Labour parties fought for and achieved much needed rights for workers. Indeed, because of the changes the ALP has achieved in IR laws in Australia, the balance of power is more equal.  The ideals of the labour movement are still relevant, but the movement itself has achieved most of its goals.

Now, the Industrial Age is over in advanced economies like Australia.  We are now in the Information Age, and the power relationships between workers and bosses are thoroughly different.

Queensland could never have voted this way if Labor was as relevant as it was 

Yes, there were very specific Queensland issues that influenced the rout yesterday.  Yes, Anna Bligh's government was punished for a raft of actions that were condemned by Queenslanders. But even some of the safest Labor seats fell.  This is virtually unthinkable.  The numbers don't lie - only the staunchest of Labor supporters stuck by the ALP.  And there are far fewer staunch supporters of the ALP, because the labor movement isn't relevant to them any more.

We need a new political movement.  We need a party that represents what Australians actually want - rational economics and a progressive society.

Let me know what you think

Mark S


  1. 100% in agreement Mark, and it's not just Australia, it's most of the western world.

    Even so much of it is still perception, with many parties no longer beholden to their histories but voters still attributing particular positions to them - for example the view of US Democrats as anti-business and pro-tax.

    OZ Labor seems to have regressed though. Under Hawke/Keating they never seemed too much in the pocket of the "faceless men" of the Unions but that seems to have changed, especially post-Rudd.

  2. Thanks David, you've added some good detail there. How do you think this could change?

    I theorize that there are two options: On one hand, if we get enough disgruntled MPs, they could split off and create a new party while they have a seat. On the other hand, a benefactor could appear and sponsor the development of a new party.

    Which do you think is more likely? Or do you have a third suggestion?

  3. I think it's difficult in a 2 party system without proportional representation. Still, the Australian Democrats, One Nation and others have shown it's possible to be at least influential, at least for a short time.

    It needs a charismatic well-known leader and money. Turnball could do it, but frankly I don't think he has the guts to go it alone, and probably still believes (with some justification) he may yet become a Liberal Prime Minister.

    I can't think of anyone else.

    So that leaves trying to influence the existing parties.

    In Australia, and elsewhere, the right seems to be getting influenced by the US (once upon a time extreme) right, the Tea Party types as well as the evangelicals. If Turnball becomes leader of the Libs again, then they have hope. Labor was certainly heading in the right direction, may even have been there under Keating and Rudd, but seems more union and faction controlled than it has been for decades now.

    What's needed is probably a new face, perhaps as part of the Australian Democrats, and perhaps encouraging defections, but I think they're unlikely.

    Where's the political messiah?