So it came to pass. John Robertson was elected as the leader of the thoroughly decimated NSW Labor opposition. I was going to say emasculated which felt, although mysoginistic, somewhat more appropriate. I suspect that by doing so NSW Labor has condemned itself to at least eight years on the Opposition benches and probably condemned Australia to a Coalition government whenever the next Federal election comes about.
Why do I think this? Ever since I became entitled to vote (aged 21) I’ve been a staunch Labor voter, State and Federal, because of the belief that Labor was more about representing the general populations’ interests and well-being rather than that of business, the business elite and an apparent ‘born to rule’ arrogant mentality in Liberal/National Party politicians. I’ve also voted Labor because it was Labor policies in the Whitlam era which enabled me to move from a ‘blue collar’ wages working life, obtain a higher degree at university and have a rewarding and interesting scientific career. It was subsequent Labor policies which enabled me to prosper and lead a reasonably comfortable lifestyle based on regular and interesting work, careful money management, and an intent to build a good capital base for my eventual retirement. Each time we had a Coalition government I saw my efforts take a backward step, or the principles of fairness and equity get bastardised. Each time Labor returned to government only part of that bastardisation was redeemed.
Come NSW Labor and over the past (probably) 10+ years I’ve watched a party for which I had a great respect become increasingly debauched by the Sussex Street Machiavelli’s, internal NSW Labor right machinations, corrupted by union thuggery and nepotism, self-interest, corrupt practices and a contempt for those who placed their faith and hopes in Labor. Gone was the respect for the Labor constituent, principle vanished beneath spin and deals based on political expendiency replaced honesty and fair-dealing. I’ve watched this party ride rough shod over the desires of branches and dump union hacks into safe seats according to the machinations of Sussex Street, watched personal scandal after scandal in its so-called political professionals, as well as its weak-kneed dealings with the developer and alcohol lobbies etc, etc.
Finally in a show of complete contempt for their constituency and with the proper management of NSW, internal power plays result in the destruction of quality Labor politicians and a ring-around the rosie of replacing Premiers. The final insult being the cynical placement of Kristina Kenneally as Premier to lead the party to near extinction. The look and body language messages I received from watching Ms Kenneally suggested that this was falsity and political manipulation at its most crass. It raised the additional question of whether Ms Kenneally was also the stooge and scapegoat to protect others. The election of John Robertson, who had literally vanished during the election, confirmed in my mind that this was, indeed, the case. Ms Kenneally moving to Federal politics will totally confirm the view I’ve formed.
The outcome of this behaviour? For the first time ever I voted Liberal with the sole intent of maximising my contribution to removing NSW Labor from the office that they no longer deserved. Labor is no longer the party I once respected. How they deal with the current debacle and re-invent themselves will determine whether they regain that respect, and my vote in the future. They have the opportunity to reinvent themselves and return to their principles or to continue on a path to marginalisation. Paul Keating, Bob Hawke, and many of the old guard are right, Labor, especially NSW Labor, needs to remove the garbage, reduce the union based domination in the party and return to being a proper representative of the principles that it once respected. I suspect that there are many Labor supporters in the electorate who are like me and to lose this constituency places Labor on the slippery slope to oblivion.