Labor’s tactics in the new Parliament

I was interested by an aspect of some of the coverage of the opening of Parliament on Lateline (not so much by Joe Hockey displaying the rather meagre results of his researches into John Curtin). It appeared to me that while Tony Abbott was orating on the necessity for a ferocious contest of ideas, or whatever the current euphemism for being an opportunistic wrecker is, the Labor benches sat and heard him in silence. By contrast, when Prime Minister Gillard was speaking, there was the usual roar of interjections from the Coalition benches.

Now, perhaps that’s a misleading impression, as all I saw were a few grabs on Lateline.

But it occurred to me that either way, it’s a good look for Labor. Abbott’s hectoring style was accentuated by the lack of noise from members opposite. What if the ALP decided to be on their absolute best behaviour throughout the session?

It would send quite an interesting message to the public on the tv news, I think, as well as throwing into confusion all the journos who delight in the “biffo”. It might be well within the ALP’s power to do a bit of New Paradigm-ing without the opposition, and to gain some political advantage from it.


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45 responses to “Labor’s tactics in the new Parliament”

  1. BK

    Kim, I am absolutely sure that the ALP are under very strict instructions to curb their enthusiasm and respond to the Whip’s crack, so to speak. BTW, how was Leigh Sales’ rapid fire interview? I’d say she has her eye on Kerry’s job. It was the best interview I’ve seen for some time on the ABC and I hope a sign of things to come as journalists awake from their soporific performance during the election.

  2. Lefty E

    Agree Kim – it will work too. Watch Abbott slowly dig his own grave should be fun.

    While we’re on tactics, my Slipper theory: its part telling Abbott to go jump (while sticking to the agreement) but also something else too.

    The ALP can always ‘force’ a pair on a tight issue by having Jenkins bugger off for any particular vote. The the LNP deputy is in the chair and cant vote either.

    My guess is Slipper has agreed not to go missing or otherwise play up in such a circumstance. To do his duty.

    Gillard will have her pair when she needs it.

    Meanwhile Phoney is looking like the school bully everyone cant wait to tear down. The entire cross bunch told him to get stuffed today, Katter and Crook included.

  3. Brian

    Gillard sound prime-ministerial every time she says anything. Abbott sounds like a sore loser.

  4. Kim

    Lefty E – Katter’s got no time for Abbott I suspect. I think his statement that he’ll vote when he sees fit is a response to the pairing nonsense. His support for Abbott to form govt was because of his list of demands. He’s as good as called Abbott a liar twice.

    I think his vote on confidence and supply will be there and he’ll probs vote with Labor a fair bit.

    Mate of KRudd too.

  5. Lefty E

    I’ve never doubted that Kim – in fact, I suspect Katter wanted an ALP govt, but just didn’t want to be formally part of the deal that stacked it up.

    My point is on the “wy Slipper” question – given he hasnt offered to pair or committ to supply. Suspect its playing ball on Jenkins doing a disappearing act when required.

    As I say, a pair is always there, soon as Harry leaves the chair. Abbott’s won nothing but opprobrium.

    Like Katter says – he’s blown his cred on small issues.

  6. Tosca

    @1 BK Leigh made me sit up and listen tonight because of the better quality and focus of her questions.Joe looked a little bit shell shocked at the conclusion.

    Kim thanks for the link back to “First time as farce, second time as …” I was reasonably sure that Paul Burns had verified that Curtin did give Menzies a pair but I could not remember where he had posted the fact. Pity that Leigh had not had the benefit of Paul’s knowledge on these matters to make Sloppy Joe look completely pathetic.

  7. Lefty E

    This story outlines precisely just how badly the LNP got rolled today. LOL!

    Their plan was to nominate no-one for deputy, to avoid the forced pair.

    Once again: Abbott ‘talks tough’ etc, but gets put on the floor by Gillard in the first round.

    He’s pathetic in this situation! Surely the Libs will put hm out of their misery. Despite all the “best oppo leader eva” hype, I give him 9 months before he’s rolled.

    http://www.smh.com.au/national/ambushed-slippery-pete-rats-on-abbott-20100928-15vuk.html

  8. Lefty E

    “I imagine Harry and Pete will be going off to lots of International Speakers’ Conferences and such?”

    Indeed Kim! The reserve double pair trick!

    Fact: Abbott got his arse whupped today.

  9. Nick

    180 degrees of spin from Shanahan:

    “For his part Abbott is trying to defend his right to criticise and oppose as Opposition Leader while not being continually negative.”

  10. Tosca

    Who was the wit who scheduled the Mad Monk to read 1 Corinthians 13: 4-13 at the Ecumenical Service for the Opening of Parliament? That’s the bit about

    Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

    Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

    Gotta love Captain Catholic!

  11. CMMC

    Guess all this storm and tumult makes them sound like makes them sound like a kindred foe, when they are actually a sordid and malignant rabble of sundry haters.

  12. Diogenes

    Dennis Shanahan wrote:

    Julia Gillard and Anthony Albanese took every opportunity to attack Tony Abbott for being a wrecker, a dishonorable cad who wouldn’t keep his word even if it was written down.

    Above, you have written the following, Kim:

    It appeared to me that while Tony Abbott was orating on the necessity for a ferocious contest of ideas, or whatever the current euphemism for being an opportunistic wrecker is, the Labor benches sat and heard him in silence. By contrast, when Prime Minister Gillard was speaking, there was the usual roar of interjections from the Coalition benches.

    I believe in your version, Kim, and Shanahan should be prevented from wearing dark glasses and ear plugs when in the gallery.

  13. PinkyOz

    Well, It’s not a bad strategy to be honest, It may even work. It might depend completely on how the media choose to report it though, how Labor deals with that may be more important.

    A little less rabble in parliment suits me of course. It might mean that I can hear the speaker for once, just a shame it’s Tony Abbott.

  14. MIKE

    LEFTY E – The other key factor is that slipper has a huge incentive to make sure that the present parliament runs its full course, because after that, he’s cactus. Self-interest will basically make him pair with Jenkins.

  15. MIKE

    LEFTY – And poor old Alex, he doesn’t get to go on any international speaker’s conferences at all. I can hear his teeth gnashing from here.

  16. Sam

    It’s not surprising that Albanese managed to pull a fast one on Abbott. Before he went into Parliament he was the Assistant Secretary of the NSW Labor Party, the only left winger in Sussex St head office. He had to live off his wits to survive in an extremely hostile environment. (Think of being the only Sunni in an office full of Shiites, or the only Croat in an office full of Serbs.)

  17. Andos

    The way you describe the Government’s behaviour in the House was generally the case in the last Parliament, too, Kim.

    Most exchanges were typified by the Government benches sitting quietly while Opposition members made their contributions (with a few exceptions, of course), and by the Opposition benches eliciting loud and frequent calls for “Order!!” from the Chair during Government contributions.

    The Speaker was even made to ask for “Order” during the PM’s contribution congratulating him on his re-election to the Chair.

  18. MikeM

    We are seeing Tony “People Skills” Abbott at his skillful best.

  19. jane

    Perhaps Gillard could slyly tell Smuggles that the carbon tax promise was a non-core promise and therefore shouldn’t be a problem for the opposition to accept as it is one of their core beliefs.

    What can the Smuggles Set say to that? It’s OK when we do it but immoral, deceptive and manipulative if anyone else does it?

    Should also leave the RWDB cheer squad with their feet in their mouths; bit hard to condemn the other mob for what you have been proven very publicly to have done in spades.

  20. joe2

    “Perhaps Gillard could slyly tell Smuggles that the carbon tax promise was a non-core promise and therefore shouldn’t be a problem for the opposition to accept as it is one of their core beliefs.”

    Jane she needs to do no such thing.

    You seem to have bought into the Liberal/media nonsense about a broken promise. Designed, of course, to draw attention away from Abbott walking away from a signed, sealed and undelivered agreement.

    You should read this piece in the O.O. from before the election where her position, then and now, is clearly spelled out. Even if it was a likely attempt to lose her votes.

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/julia-gillards-carbon-price-promise/story-fn59niix-1225907522983

  21. jane

    @24, you’re quite right, joe2. We all know it’s not a broken promise, but the PM’s words are being drowned out by the Smuggles Set and the evil publishing empire; this would be a great way to silence them with their own weasel words.

    They can hardly continue to rant about broken promises when, to use their very own words, they were non-core promises.

    With luck they’ll have to shut up or be exposed even to the RWDBs for the hypocrites they are, otherwise they’ll keep on with the drumbeat until once again it’ll be registered as a fact, like BER=waste, debacle and incompetence, insulation=deaths, fiasco and incompetence.

    Trap ’em, skin ’em, cook ’em and serve ’em up with an apple in their mouths and egg on their faces, I say!

    Let’s also not forget Smuggles accused Garrett of murder on the 4 deaths which occurred and he almost got away with it! Since then, the deaths have been attributed to employer negligence, but where is that being trumpeted?

    This sh!t has to nipped in the bud right now, imo. No more Ms Nice PM!

  22. Polyquats

    Andos @21 said

    The way you describe the Government’s behaviour in the House was generally the case in the last Parliament, too, Kim.

    That’s how I remember it on the occasions I managed to watch. Of course, ABC News (don’t watch the others, they probably don’t report QT anyway) always managed to present the view that everyone was rowdy and the Opposition ‘won’ on the floor of the house.
    The best summary of QT always came from Grog. I hope he gets to continue.

  23. joe2

    Yes, Jane, Labor really needs to be on it’s toes to counter this kind of constant, repetitious, misinformation; though, I am not sure it is possible to do a huge amount until something is done about the ABC.

    The first cab off the rank with the “broken promises” meme was not, in fact, the evil empire but dear Aunty with Michelle Grattan coming in a close, mimicking, second.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/09/18/3015416.htm

    Our national broadcaster is actually freelancing talking points for smuggles and somehow managing to keep it’s head down while all the fingers are being pointed at Newscorp.

  24. Wozza

    Jesus, Joe2, even by the current standards round here of whatever it takes, Julia you go girl you can do no wrong, that attempt at pretending the current antics to suck up to the Greens on carbon pricing are not a broken promise is pathetic.

    Did you even read the piece you referenced @24 to “prove” your case?

    It quoted St Julia as saying specifically and clearly “I rule out a carbon tax”. What is the carbon committee now charged with doing? To quote from her press release of 27 September, it is to “explore options for a carbon price”, specifically defined as including “a broad-based carbon levy”.

    Well I suppose it’s possible that the committee is designed to be a complete waste of time and money, exploring an option that she will refuse to enact. It would be entirely in accord with the Government’s proven uninterest over 3 years in implementing anything.

    I would be interested also in the reactions from some of those in awe of the tactical genius of the ALP in manoeuvring Parliament into doing its will to the fact that the geniuses have just contrived to lose the first vote of this term on the floor. But I suppose it will be as easily explained away as having as little reflection for the cheer squad on the genius in question as breaking a promise on carbon pricing has on, well, breaking a promise.

  25. Sam

    Wozza 28, on the distinction between tax and levy:

    You might recall it was Tones who just a few months ago planned to impose a “levy” on businesses to pay for his parental leave scheme. He vehemently denied it was a tax.

    For this, he was roundly denounced by Peter Costello. “Of course it’s a tax”, he huffed.

    In 2001 Captain Smirk himself levied a tax on airplane tickets to pay for the Ansett bail out. “It’s not a tax”, he said at the time. “It’s a levy”.

    Do you see a pattern here?

  26. Wozza

    Yes, I do, Sam.

    The pattern being that of claims that black is white as long as people want it to be.

    Do you yourself think that there is a distinction sufficiently unsemantic between a tax and a levy to justify Joe and Jane’s ingenuous belief that there is nothing at all dodgy consistency-wise in the various Julia statements about a carbon price? I don’t, regardless of who uses the words.

    I wouldn’t have thought that many around here would be comfortable with claiming Peter Costello’s use of language as the definitive case for the defence of anything. Just another instance of whatever it takes these days though, I guess.

  27. Paul Burns

    Wozza,
    The ALP lost the first vote on the floor because Tanya Plibesek didn’t make it into the chamber in time for the division. Its no big deal. And I suspect over the next 3 years or less we will see a lot of this from every side of politics,

  28. Fascinated

    Wozza
    There is a difference with what a govt expects to be able to do with a majority and what it can actually do when it finds it has to work in a minority situation.

    In order to be in government, the ALP had to negotiate with others. That meant it had to reach agreement with them – what it might have promised to deliver in a majority situation, after an election, was by necessity, highly likely to be modified in a minority. Don’t be under any illusion that the Coalition would have acted any differently.

    This is not rocket science.

    I want a black suit. The shop has suits but they are grey. I need a suit. There are no other shops available. I buy a grey suit (and still wear black shoes and socks, and even a multi coloured tie).

    Its called necessity and compromise. Its also what grown ups do.
    Suggest you also take a closer look at what the government also won today (by losing the vote).

  29. Sam

    Wozza, I hold Julia to the same standards displayed by her predecessors. Make of that what you will.

  30. jane

    joe2 @27, thanks for the info. I rarely watch the ABC these days and am pretty much restricted to the evil empire for print media. I never watch Fox.

    I actually rely on sites like LP, Crikey, Cafe Whispers etc for news rather than traditional sources like print media, because I know I’m far more likely to get the truth and it’s far better for my blood pressure.

    The evil empire has been particularly disgraceful for some time and they don’t even have the saving grace of a decent form guide.

    Wozza @30, I think you are the disingenuous one, not joe or me. Gillard’s situation has radically changed since the election.

    She now has to accommodate and negotiate a range of different views from outside the ALP if she wishes to govern. None of the people she relies on to support her is bound by her election promises, nor can she impose party discipline on them.

    Had she won a clear majority, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

    Further, we both know she didn’t promise there would be no carbon tax. Quite the opposite it seems.

  31. Steve at the Pub

    Jane #34:

    Further, we both know she didn’t promise there would be no carbon tax. Quite the opposite it seems.

    Hmmm…. and Julia Gillard says in the linked article:

    “I rule out a carbon tax.”

  32. Marks

    Jane @ 25

    “Let’s also not forget Smuggles accused Garrett of murder on the 4 deaths which occurred and he almost got away with it!”

    Annabel Crabb in the drum today reported that:

    “Mr Rudd rose, and opened with an acknowledgment of Australia’s responsibility to help Pakistan recover from its dreadful floods.

    “When you have a friend in need…” he began.

    And then drew breath. Which gave an Opposition heckler just enough opportunity to holler: “Don’t call Julia!”

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/09/29/3025300.htm?site=thedrum#comments

    Millions with their lives ruined, deaths and starvation in Pakistan and the coalition thinks it a good time to make a joke ha ha ha.

    So much for them giving a stuff about those killed installing insulation.

    Australia is, to its credit, making a big donation of aid to help people in Pakistan. The opposition makes a joke that could well end up trashing a fair bit of the good will that aid would otherwise engender.

  33. joe2

    Indeed, [email protected] Julia ruled out a carbon tax in the next term, before the election, unless consensus could be found.

    Right now her government is not in a position to introduce one, by itself, if it wanted to. So she cannot break the promise.

    However, a new climate change committee has been formed that is beyond her control so who knows what that might bring?…consensus?

  34. Fascinated

    Marks @ 36.
    Yes, it was particularly churlish, unthinking behaviour from those opposite.

    It is enough that we have Australians (military and civilian) and allies engaged in an awful war of attrition on Pakistans borders; our athletes in an already tumultuous environment nearby; not to mention our diplomats, business representatives, and 21 million Pakistani souls affected so dreadfully by a natural calamity.

    For a party born to rule, Lord Weasel’s wabbits are a warren of worry. Which of them would you seriously make Foreign Minister (save for Malcolm)

    How long will it be before obviously decent MPs like Ken Wyatt, young Mr Roy and a few others start to realise that they can think independently.

  35. Dr Good

    ABC, OO and now SMH running with “government suffers first defeat since 1941”.

    Here is a reference to the loss of a vote (a confidence vote no less) by the newly installed 1975 Fraser minority (and temporary) government in the HOR.

    “The House agreed to a motion expressing its lack of confidence in
    the newly-designated prime minister and requesting the Speaker to ask
    the Governor-General to have Whitlam again form a government.”

    page 107 (towards the bottom) of

    Bach, Stanley. and Australia. Parliament. Senate. Platypus and parliament : the Australian Senate in theory and practice / Stanley Bach Dept. of the Senate Parliament House, Canberra, A.C.T. : 2003

    available from the Parliament House Library online.

    http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/pubs/platparl/contents/report.pdf

  36. drsusancalvin

    @14 Gotta love Captain Catholic! Is it spooky that Tony has his birthday on the eve of Guy Fawkes day?

  37. David Irving (no relation)

    Ah, Dr Good, but your counter-example is irrelevant, because it wasn’t an ALP minority government.

    Get with the programme!

  38. jane

    Marks @36, indeed. The Smuggles Set couldn’t give a ff about the installers who died during the insulation program or those who’ve died in workplaces at any time.

    Their behaviour during Rudd’s report on the situation in flood areas in Pakistan, just confirms their complete lack of sensitivity and absence of compassion for people in dire need of help if they’re not the right colour or religion. They are disgusting.

  39. Trevor

    I believe the Christopher Pyne has been sin binned this afternoon for conduct unbecoming. Harry Jenkins continues to climb in my opinion.

    This is going to be interesting if the shouting and hissing brigade which is the opposition try and take on the speaker under the new rules. Will they consider another approach?? Do they know another approach?

  40. Chris

    Dr Good @ 39 – strange the ABC is running that line since they mentioned the Fraser no confidence vote and how Abbott had missed it during the PM radio news last night.

  41. Andrew E

    The idea that biffo=ratings (both in meeja and political terms) is a thing of the past. If Keating was so dominant in Parliament why didn’t he win in ’96 (or Costello, ten years later, convince his Liberal colleagues etc)?

    I reckon Slipper would have voted for Costello, and Somlyay would have if Costello had offered him something.

    The problem with Abbott’s “ferociously to account” thing is that whenever Gillard drops one of her own policies and pinches one from the Coalition, he’s buggered rather than vindicated (esp. when he stands by his grab-bag of policies rather than developing a consistent theme in preparation for government).