NSW election: New beginnings at Sussex Street?

At long last, after all the slightly nutsy talk in the media about “recall elections” and what seems now like an endless litany of scandals, the people of New South Wales have spoken. Save for at the margins, what they had to say wasn’t surprising, but that’s because the performance of the government induced them to scribble down their rightful invective on speech cards several years ago. It is difficult to recall an election campaign in recent Australian political history that has been quite so one-sided, quite so predictable. The obvious conclusion to the election hung heavily in the air during the campaign, with the major players saying their pieces to camera knowingly, like trainers before a horse race agreeably fixed in advance.

Following on from Kim’s initial round-up then, what next, for NSW Labor? Rank and file supporters of the party in New South Wales have been repeatedly slapped around the head by the state parliamentary party during the course of the last few years. We’ve been left on a hiding to nothing, often vainly defending the practically indefensible. Despite the fact that a number of good, hard-working MPs have been unfairly swept away in the carnage, it’s hard not to feel a sense of closure and relief in the election aftermath, as if the gloriously democratic detox that has long been needed has finally arrived. The people’s doctor has arrived in Sussex Street clutching a kit bag full of tennis ball-sized suppositories, and although what has ensued hurts, bloody hell, they sure are needed.

Let’s first consider the state of play. Yes, Labor has been routed in the Legislative Assembly, and stands to hold just 21 of the chamber’s 93 seats at best – around 22% of the house. The good news is that some very talented people have been retained: Linda Burney is safe, and at this stage it seems relatively likely that both Carmel Tebbutt and Verity Firth will keep their seats for the party. John Robertson is a somewhat polarising figure, but there is little doubt that he is the kind of person capable of cutting through in his attacks on the O’Farrell Government. Nathan Rees and Kristina Keneally, despite their strong association with the problems of the last four years, are clearly capable political operators and the electorate holds no great personal disdain for either of them.

The question of who will lead the party will no doubt dominate the media shortly (it is likely to be Robbo), but strangely enough I don’t think who leads is particularly important. What is important is that the party makes an honest and open effort to reflect on the mistakes that it has made during the last eight years, perhaps through a public consultation process, involving both rank and file members and indeed the general public. The image that many people have of Sussex Street at the moment is a kind of malignant kleptocracy; this image needs to be smashed and remade through a transparent program of reform. If not now, with plenty of time to play with and nothing to lose by embarking on a period of controversial change, then when?

Former Assistant General Secretary Luke Foley MLC and Bob Hawke have already indicated a worthwhile starting point for consideration: the 2010 ALP National Review Report delivered by Bob Carr, Steve Bracks, and John Faulkner. The NSW branch’s very young, worryingly malleable General Secretary, Sam Dastyari, has already hinted that the reform of the party structure in New South Wales is needed, including the factions. All three are on the money, but need to go in quick and hard on internal reform: building a united policy front can wait. Contrary to what Tony Burke has suggested, policy doesn’t matter a fig right now. It is irrelevant. If NSW Labor wants to have any hope at all at even being competitive in 2015, it needs to first make a fist of the hard internal reforms that are long overdue, while the wounds inflicted by the electorate are still fresh and the polls don’t matter.

More broadly, what I would like to see is the party actively asking for the public’s involvement in setting in train its internal reform program. This physician is clearly incapable of healing itself alone. Whoever is eventually anointed as Opposition Leader should extend a hand to the people who have just rejected them, and humbly ask for their help in reforming the party, in rehabilitating a party organisation that is spluttering and wheezing under the myriad pressures being brought to bear on mass political parties in the 21st Century. The membership “amnesty” suggested by Dastyari is hardly going to bring anybody back: the party clearly needs to reach out to new people. It sounds incongruous and unlikely, but as part of a program of “new beginnings”, I think the time could well be ripe for a party membership drive, perhaps with reduced-price memberships and more of an emphasis on having the sorts of candid “by-the-barbie” interactions that this party desperately needs to start having more of with ordinary folks.

In short, there has never been a better time for reform and renewal within the NSW branch of the Labor Party. A rebranding of Sussex Street is only going to work if the product being sold to the people over the next four years is fundamentally different; more of the same “faceless men”, big party miasma just won’t cut it with people anymore.

ELSEWHERE: Shaun Carney rather optimistically heralds the end of “Richo-style” politics and Eddie Obeid has a retrograde crack at defending the indefensible.

This post relates specifically to the structural challenges facing the ALP; please try and avoid discussion about federal politics, other parties or indeed the leadership of the NSW ALP (at least as much as feasible!) on this thread. Ta.


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184 responses to “NSW election: New beginnings at Sussex Street?”

  1. Liam

    I don’t know if it’s proper to circulate it, but Luke Foley MLC (who you’ll remember from the ABC’s election night coverage) sent an email to all Party members which was, in rather stronger terms, identical to your last two paragraphs.
    If I see a copy freely circulating on the internet I’ll link to it.

    It makes me feel dirty to say it, but Eddie’s column is a surprisingly accurate and honest look at power relations in the NSW ALP over the last two years. He’s right. The “factions” aren’t the problem, it’s that the larger body of Party members don’t play any political role, and haven’t done for an easy two decades. (If they did, of course, it would mean creatures like Obeid would be unnecessary).

  2. John D

    ABC unleashed had an interesting analysis of the reasons for the Labor collapse:

    Former NSW premier Morris Iemma, along with his renegade treasurer Michael Costa have taken to the media claiming it was the party’s failure to allow the privatisation of electricity (read, influence of the unions) that was at the root of Labor’s demise.

    A more sober analysis of the poll data suggests the opposite may be true, the reason Labor got hammered was that 39 per cent of people who identify themselves as Labor voters could not bring themselves to vote for this government. And for many of these voters, the power sell-off was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
    Many of these were voting Liberal or National not just for the first time in their lives, but the first time in their families’ accumulated political lifetime. As one woman in a focus group noted earlier this year ‘my father will be rolling in his grave when I vote’.

    A large number of these voters were also union members. When we polled union members in December on voting intention, only 25 per cent said they intended on supporting the ALP with more (27 per cent) saying they would vote for the Coalition.

    While most commentators see this period as the product of unwarranted interference in the parliamentary wing by Sussex Street, there is an alternate storyline that has not been properly appreciated. If the premier and treasurer had been allowed to ignore the vote of Conference and the party’s platform, the Labor Party itself would have been no more.

    Those entrusted with managing the ALP could not have allowed a dispute over privatising power to be a proxy means of changing the fundamentals of what the Labor Party was, a partnership of local branches and affiliated trade unions.

    Over the past two years there has been no doubt that Labor was going to lose the election; the real game should have been to minimise the loss by consolidating its base. And again, the government’s obsession with power privatisation derailed this strategy.

    In December when we asked voters what Coalition policies concerned them, ‘privatising electricity and water’ rated streets ahead as the prime point of concern. Amongst the general public. Opposition to such a sell-off ran at 49 per cent with just 19 per cent supporting it; amongst Labor ID voters it was even greater: 16-59. And amongst Labor voters who were planning to vote against Labor at the election the result was even more definitive; 62 per cent of voters opposed the policy with just 14 per cent supporting it….

    So what did Labor do to win their heartland back? Articulate a proud and public commitment to public assets? Of course not. Instead it pushed through a slap-dash vanity sale of power company retailers; sparking board resignations, the early suspension of Parliament to avoid scrutiny and an Upper House inquiry that seemed to last all summer, every day reminding Labor voters ‘these guys are selling off power’.

    There is a message here for Bligh.

  3. Incurious and Unread

    It seems to me that change must start from the top rather than the bottom. Look at the recent succession of young, ambitious General Secretaries: Arbib, Roozendaal, Bitar etc. They all seem to be about politics and power, rather than about policies and people.

    Who has carriage of the soul of NSW Labor?

  4. Fran Barlow

    The analysis sounds right to me John. In every election I’ve attended booths and in all my discussions with ALP-leaning folks, privatisation has been the first and loudest thing mentioned. ALP voters felt as if the government had jumped ship to do things even Liberal voters weren’t keen on. Once they believed that, everything else they did was interpreted through that prism — one of a government that was indifferent to them and what they wanted and run by spivs.

  5. Labouring the Point

    golly gee,

    John Robertson to be the Opposition Leader.

    wow what reform

  6. Liam

    Of course the other toxic issue was the perception of corruption around planning decisions and donations. We’ve done work on the matter of donations (to an extent) but honestly, a lot of the ALP’s reform is going to have to be unfucking our local government practice.
    Looking at you, Wollongong.

  7. sg

    what do you mean “perception” Liam?

  8. Amanda

    I circulated Foley’s letter, Liam, proper or not – far and wide because it is important that Labor leaning people know a beating heart still exists and they can look for great efforts being made from within to bring the party back to where they can happily support us again. Damn right that should be circulated.

    I excerpted an inspirational bit.

  9. Incurious and Unread

    John D and Fran,

    Why is it that government has to own power stations? They’re just big factories that make electricity. Anyone can build them and many do. It is just a historical accident that government has inherited electricity production but not, say, gas or petrol production.

    Get over it.

    The contract cleaner on the minimum wage (see @10) has far more to do with Labor ideals than a few hundred power station employees enjoying their cosseted existence.

  10. Erica

    There has been very little commentary in the media about how badly the Greens performed. They should have won at least two seats.

  11. Mark Bahnisch

    @12 – On the contrary, Erica, there has been an enormous amount of such commentary. And it’s off topic on this thread. If you want to discuss it, take it to Kim’s relevant thread (see link in Guy’s post).

  12. Sam

    the soul of NSW Labor

    Oxymoron of the decade.

    perceptionof corruption around planning decisions

    Like this, from Joe Tripod’s Wikipedia entry

    During an ICAC investigation into Wollongong City Council in 2008, it was revealed that a former Council officer against whom corruption allegations had been made was a personal friend of Tripodi’s and had subsequently appointed to a senior position in a department in his portfolio

    Or from Obeid’s Wikipedia entry

    The Herald alleged that Obeid had attempted to solicit a A$1 million payment in return for promising NSW Government support for the Canterbury Bulldogs Leagues Club’s A$800 million Oasis housing development in south-western Sydney.

    One should add that subsequent ICAC investigations found that neither man had a case to answer, but these perceptions do tend to stick.

  13. Sam

    Oops, that should be Joe Tripodi, not Tripod. (I have no idea – none whatsoever – how well he is hung.)

  14. Fran Barlow

    Guy said:

    I don’t buy for a minute the argument that if Labor hadn’t stuffed up electricity we wouldn’t be sitting here facing the prospect of 4 years of the O’Farrell Government.

    There are no certainties in politics, and as a number of people have rightly noted, the bar is set very high for a government trying for a fifth term. Yet the privatisation was thematic and defined all subsequent actions of the government, crippling their ability to get out a positive message on anything and making the key question the government’s internal workings. It seems implausible that any ALP figure could have believed they had the proverbial snowflake’s chance in hell after that, and their conduct after that point had a “last days of Rome” look about it.

    What the government needed to do was to reinvent themselves as the ALP that hard-bitten ALP supporters dream of having — one committed to equity in public policy, protection of the rights of working people and the severing of links with property developers and spivs in general. They needed to reject the Carr legacy really explicitly and really early — ideally on the morning after their victory in 2007. They had to do a mea culpa, admit they were on their last chance and decalred the Howard-Carr approach was dead and from this point forward, they’d be rebuilding NSW.

    Had they done that, there’d have been a rough chance of them holding on because they would at worst have held their tribals and their fringe. They’d have given them something to fight for rather than inviting them to simply keep their heads down. Instead, they went, predictiably one might say, in the opposite direction, admitting in effect that they had lost. With the crew they had, what else could they do? Past practice came to collect its debt.

  15. Andreas De Bruin

    As an ex member previously of 20 years standing, Why on earth would I want to re-join? Branch membership is pointless, occasional discussion and a beer once a month – otherwise it is fund raising, letter stuffing and door knocking.
    I can Write policy on policy committees that is promptly ignored by the party when they run for election. Be a member of the constituency council that has effectively no power except to enact factional decisions – decisions not made at the constituency level but at the Union hierarchy level. Be a faction member and realise that it is the union heavies up the front that make all the calls.

    Been there, done that, realised it was pointless. Even been to National Conference and seen how stitched up everything is. Labor membership – waste of time and effort

  16. Paul Burns

    It seems to me the various attempts at privatisation of electricity was the last straw. The far left was not far wrong in naming its election campaign – “Don’t Sell Off NSW.” The privatisation of electricity, both times was the big vote changer, because it proved Labor might as well be Liberal. As far as internal reform is concerned, the Labor Party has to become the Labor Party again, not just a pack of ersatz Libs, and this can only be done through policy change, presumably from the branches, not any one else.

  17. wilful

    I and U, this isn’t about the rightness or otherwise of privatising electricity generation, its about respecting the wishes of your potential supporters, and if you think they’re wrong, selling to them the case, not charging ahead and ignoring them.

  18. Martin B

    I don’t want to even pretend to know anything about internal ALP politics, but I can’t help wondering if there’s a fair dose of wishful projection in the number of people claiming that this result will see the end of Sussex St power. Surely in a decimated party it is even easier for a small, dedicated and ruthless group to maintain influence?

  19. Liam

    MartinB, by the same token, in such a small Opposition there are also far fewer prizes to be distributed and patronage to dispense—the traditional function of men like Obeid/Tripodi and the organised Party factions.
    This weekend, by the way, I’m heading along to this event. I know a couple of the signatories and they’re decent people; we’ll see how the meeting goes.

  20. Paul Norton

    Sam @14 & 15, nobody is going to believe that was an innocent typo.

  21. derrida derider

    I see the headlines in the OO this morning are “Labor left $4b black hole”. In the Canberra Times its “Labor cooked the books”.

    Gee, what a disappointment. Sadly, now that’s he’s been able to have a look at the books for the first time that nice Mr O’Farrell won’t be able to deliver all his election commitments. In fact he’ll probably have to put the axe through services in his first year to fix it. Who could have predicted that the new government would discover a shocking budget black hole left to them by their evil opponents? <>

    Folks, cheer up – the Libs are shaping up to be a really bad government. As distinct fromn the bad government that just lost office. Whatever have the people of NSW done that made them deserve both lots?

  22. Sam

    DD 23, I am shocked, shocked that Barry would play this card.

  23. derrida derider

    The privatisation dispute was only one of many things that went wrong. The reason it was so damaging has little to do with either the merits or popularity of the proposals, but simply that it was a dispute in which the unions repeatedly rolled the elected government.

    You’re kidding yourself if you think this debacle was due to a failure to abide by old-fashioned socialist principles. The “faceless men” jibe is a very damaging one electorally – and rightly so. I never voted for these people.

    And as for Robertson’s union members, what sort of a deal are they going to get now when the Libs sell everything off? They were mugs to stop the privatisation outright rather than bargain for compensation.

  24. Incurious and Unread

    Wilful @19,

    Actually, it is about the special pleadings of a few unionists protecting their cosseted members and preventing the Labor party from developing and selling a policy that would be in the public interest (as Keating describes in his leaked letter).

    Having said that, I would agree that going ahead with a half-baked privatisation that was neither effectively sold nor even in the public interest was crazy.

  25. Incurious and Unread

    Sam @14

    “the soul of NSW Labor – Oxymoron of the decade.”

    No, I think it is being kept safely somewhere, like the monks preserving the classic texts during the dark ages. Maybe Linda Burney has it, or Carmel Tebbutt.

    Or perhaps the Greens have stolen it.

  26. Fran Barlow

    Derrida asked:

    Folks, cheer up – the Libs are shaping up to be a really bad government. As distinct fromn the bad government that just lost office. Whatever have the people of NSW done that made them deserve both lots?

    Many decades of political disengagement with public policy? Acceptance of the two-party system? A lack of interest in issues of transparency? A lack of interest in a fair voting system? A predisposition not to read (much less think) beyond the headlines? A focus on one’s own perceived short-term interests? An obsession with getting rich through housing investment?

    NB: I don’t accept the concept of just desert. I leave that to those who believe in metaphysics of one brand or another. I’d say that the above attributes of NSW voters have authored this consequence.

  27. Fran Barlow

    Maybe Linda Burney has it, or Carmel Tebbutt.

    What a laugh. They ran trying to hide the ALP “soul”. They hoped the monks could keep it hidden.

  28. Sam

    They ran trying to hide the ALP “soul”

    Best story of the campaign. Verity Firth’s minions were doorknocking in Balmain. A 40 year Labor voter starts giving them the rounds of the kitchen about the Labor Party.

    “But we’re not Labor”, they protested, “we’re Verity Firth”.

  29. John D

    The ABC link I quoted @2 has a table showing how people who identified as being supporters of a particular party said they were going to vote in a recent poll. If all those who identified as ALP had voted that way the ALP primary vote would have been at least 38%, not 23%. By contrast, 93% of those who identified as coalition intended to vote coalition.
    Of those who identified as ALP who didn’t vote ALP, 44% voted coalition and only 30% voted Green, which suggests that the problem was not ALP voters who thought the party wasn’t progressive enough but workers who felt that the party had deserted them.
    The other point the article makes is that the organizational structure and right wing factional dominance has been there for years. The problem was not how the decisions were being made but what decisions were being made.
    My impression was that, when Howard realized that there was a real chance of losing decisions were made that were beneficial to their core supporters. (The changes to the superannuation system leap to mind.) But what did NSW ALP do? Privatize power generation, a privatization that their core was strongly against.

  30. Incurious and Unread

    Sam and Fran,

    You seem to be confusing the ALP soul with the ALP brand.

    The kleptocrats got hold of the ALP brand and sold it piece by piece to the highest bidder. Nobody out doorknocking wanted to be associated with its ugly and pitiful remnants.

    When the renaissance arrives, the brand will have to be painstakingly rebuilt, one piece at a time.

  31. John D

    The news is looking worse and worse. Paulin Hanson close to shock win in New South Wales Upper House!!!
    Looks like appearing at Abbott’s Tea Party Rally didn’t do her any harm.
    We really need to replace the Senate and NSW upper house system that allows parties to distribute the preferences of voters to vote above the card. It would be more democratic to allow voters to allocate preferences above the card instead. (And make it optional.)

  32. Liam

    But John, the NSW system doesn’t have group voting tickets like the Federal Senate. You can allocate above the line preferences.
    If Hanson wins it’ll be because she got a lot of votes, not because of the voting system.

  33. Lefty E

    Yes, its a concern, but here’s Pollbludger’s take. One to watch:

    qMonday. It is clear enough that the Coalition will win 11 of the 21 new seats, Labor five, the Greens two, and the Christian Democratic Party and Shooters and Fishers one apiece. The final seat is a tussle between Labor, the Greens and, improbably, Pauline Hanson. As of today the ABC computer projection has Hanson in front, but this projection assumes no preferences, which is a very unsafe assumption where Labor and Greens candidates are involved. The most likely result is that whoever out of Labor and the Greens is excluded will deliver the seats to the other on preferences – especially if it’s Labor which is excluded, given their how-to-vote card directed preferences to the Greens. However, as Antony Green notes, Pauline Hanson does uniquely well among minor candidates in polling strongly on the below-the-line votes that remain to be counted, so there is some chance she could get up thanks to exhausting Greens votes if Labor stays ahead of them.

  34. Incurious and Unread

    Lefty E,

    Does Hanson really do well in below-the-line votes? Can many Hanson supporters even count up to 16?

  35. Chris

    After the greens criticizing labor for getting Stephen fielding elected due to preference deals theyre going to look a little silly if Pauline Hanson gets elected because the greens refused to preference labor in the lc.

  36. Lefty E

    She has name recognition, I&U – which wont hurt her BTL chances at all. However, when you read Antony’s blog, you’ll find that the Green candidate is actually quite a long way ahead of the ALP contender, making it more likely ALP–> GRN prefs will ultimately scotch Hanson.

    http://blogs.abc.net.au/antonygreen/2011/03/legislative-council-update.html#more

  37. Sam

    Can many Hanson supporters even count up to 16?

    Most of them. If they’re men, they count the number of women whose children they have fathered. If they’re women, they count the number of men who have fathered their children.

  38. Frankie V.

    Incurious and Unread @ 36

    Can many Hanson supporters even count up to 16?

    That would be 15, Numeracy Boy.

  39. Incurious and Unread

    From Lefty E’s link:

    At the 2004 Queensland Senate election, Hanson ran in an unnamed group and polled one-third of her vote below the line, 37,888 voters who bothered to number the required 50 preferences.

    Astonishing. I was stupid enough to vote below the line once in a Federal election: from memory there were around 80 candidates that all had to be numbered. I found out that this is far from straightforward.

    Does Hanson draw a large measure of her support from accountants?

  40. Incurious and Unread

    Frankie V,

    I stand corrected.

  41. Razor

    @33 – better still – get rid of Upper Houses everywhere. Keating was right.

    John Robertson adds value. Is that an attempt at Gallows humour?

  42. adrian

    I am truly shocked that BOF would reveal such a massively huge and monstrous black hole, that is bigger than any before seen.
    And I thought that Max the Axe was hanging around Liberal HQ for the free drinks and polite chit-chat.

    And wilful is correct – the privatisation fiasco merely reinforced existing perceptions of arrogance and incompetence, but wasn’t the determining factor.

  43. Russell

    There seems to be some consensus that the ALP needs to attract more members, and that those members be given a greater role …. but what’s to attract anyone to join?

    Surely first there has to be a fairly clear idea of what the party wants to achieve, and how it will go about it. Even on this thread you can see a split over privatisation which reflects quite a difference over what the ALP should be doing. It isn’t just about ‘explaining’ a policy.

  44. Paul Burns

    Gust think. If Hanson wins she’ll be around for eight years.

  45. Kim

    This is off topic. Please discuss the post.

  46. akn

    I’m not a member of any political party, have always been union active, and take the view that the collapse of Labor NSW is due to far wider changes in the material conditions of class politics and the political economy of production and distribution.

    First, the working class has changed character irredeemably. It is no longer capable of its own class acculturation; manufacturing, once the absolute core of the industrial working class in Australia, has been exported from Australia to nations without unions. Absent this factor and the sort of mass consciousness of a class in and of itself that was produced by living in working class suburbs and working in working class conditions the old politics of class no longer exists.

    Class politics remain but they are radically different these days. Labor has not yet cottoned on to this historical change.

    Second, the ecological crisis is real; we appear to me to be at the commencement of the end game by which I mean the battle for planetary habitability. Not just for a planet capable of sustaining life but a planet capable of sustaining a life worth leading. Labor remains apparently unaware of the significance of this development. Labor, for example, in the course of the election in inner-west Sydney, made no commitments or suggestions that it was on the verge of grasping the seriousness of the situation. That’s Firth and Tebbutt, folks. That the Greens didn’t knock them off comes down entirely to Green Party political hubris and incompetence.

    Social democratic politics in a party captive to specific fractions of the working classes who overwhelmingly represent masculinist superemacist interests (ie, some unions in some industries)is a waste of time and energy. Don’t imagine for a minute that union membership is at an historic low of 20% for no reason – they are generally internally undemocratic and have failed for the last 50 years to represent the interests of women and NESB migrants.

    I take the point made by A de B @17 well having also been there and done that and this despite numerous spot fires calling for left renewal by joining at this critical juncture, entrism, re-entrism or whatever.

    ALP renewal demands a lot more than has so far been discussed. Failing imagination and a real capacity for historically informed analysis based on real material conditions (the environment, stupid) it’s gonna be more of the same.

    In the meantime those with enough of the gumption that used to characterize working class rebelliousness would be better off acting intuitively on those feelings by simply rebelling in whatever way they can. Look to the historical examples of the IWW and other independent organisations for inspiration because the ALP offers us none at all.

  47. Russell

    Well said, AKN. One of my fears is that the existing left-ish party capable of taking government will splinter further (counting the Greens as one ALP splinter) and we’ll end up with something like Italy.

    For nearly all of my green-voting life I felt OK giving the ALP my (preference) vote, as the best alternative capable of forming government. It’s only the last few years that they seem to have drifted off into some malign collection of individuals that I just can’t vote for.

    In that sense I wouldn’t need a total revolution in order to give them back my preference vote – just some sense that they broadly represent the interests of most of the community.

  48. Kim

    I’ve just read Essential Research’s Peter Lewis’ piece John D linked to:

    If this is to be achieved, the party needs to be honest with itself and accept that it is not a party of technocrats who manage asset sales for the benefit of foreign corporations and advisers working on success fees.

    If the talk about re-energising the party branches is to be more than fluff, then party policy has to mean something.

    Here, if anyone missed it:

    http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/45698.html

  49. Guy

    Hmm, well a few interesting thoughts here, although many straying off-topic. Thanks Mark and Kim for valiantly trying to steer things in the right direction in my absence.

    Fran @16: Maybe you’re right that things could have been turned around had the party taken a robust approach to electricity, but that doesn’t in any way forgive the other internal problems that need fixing, or the other sackfuls of scandals the government has provided us all.

    Andreas @17: I think your view is completely understandable – hence the need to thoroughly remake the internal structures of the party.

    AKN @48: I’d like to agree, but sadly I don’t think the environment/climate change was a key political issue for people outside the inner city at the NSW election. If you’ve been hanging on to your baseball bat for a couple of years, waiting to use it, you tend not to really care about what unfortunately seems like so much scientific esoterica.

    At the risk of drifting OT on my own post, I don’t think Hanson arriving in the Upper House makes much difference either. She has remained around the fringes of public life for the last decade – the media have given her plenty of exposure regardless of whether or not she has been in parliament anyway.

    These views exist in Australia, whether we like it or not.

  50. Fran Barlow

    Guy said

    Maybe you’re right that things could have been turned around had the party taken a robust approach to electricity, but that doesn’t in any way forgive the other internal problems that need fixing, or the other sackfuls of scandals the government has provided us all.

    It doesn’t forgive them, but it does help explain them, or more precisely, the privatisation issue was in turn a manifestation of tendencies immanent in the regime built up over the Carr years that also fostered the “internal problems that need fixing, or the other sackfuls of scandals the government has provided us all”. Privatisation merely became a giant instance of hey look here we’re in an absolute mess and have had enough of what you lot think because we reckone we’re going to lose. It became the header for all of the other stuff in the public mind. That instance of Matt the Police Minister jumping about in his underwear was the soap opera analog of it. It ought to have been trivial but of course it could only have happened in a regime that was entirely demoralised.

  51. Guy

    Fran, not sure the electricity privatisation was so much a manifestation of the internal problems with the ALP as yet another manifestation of what has been the economic orthodoxy for the past 2 decades, but I can see how the two would be linked in the minds of some.

  52. Russell

    Guy – has not the economic orthodoxy of the past 3 decades brought us increasing inequality? If so, doesn’t that orthodoxy contradict what should be a key principle of the ALP?

  53. sg

    I agree with akn at 48, his comment describes the ALP’s problems very nicely, and Kim’s quote summarizes the broader problem for social democracy. Until these parties work this out they’ll be stuck with the kind of bullshit we see them spouting now, where beating the greens by a bees’ dick for what should be an ALP stronghold is somehow reconstituted as a serious defeat for the greens.

    Fran, I think electricity is a tiny symptom of a much bigger problem. The ALP were dead in the water the day after they opened the cross city tunnel, and all it needed was an opposition capable of sending a final torpedo. They were lucky that the opposition imploded and decided it would rather turn to the christian right than be elected. Otherwise we’d have been under (enlightened) liberal rule (in the form of John Brogden) for years by now.

  54. paul walter

    No, no, no!
    How do people as intelligent as Derrida Derida get this so wrong. The discussion has already exposed the fact that electricity privatisation was something coming “top down” rather than from the grassroots,explained to thepublic, or wanted or needed by the public in general (given the silence).
    The public already well and true knew what a shonk the previous series of privatisations across the country had been.
    So it was raised and rejected resoundingly when first proposed by that ideological zealot, Costa.
    Ok, that should have been it, unless Costa and his neolibs could prove to the public that privatisation of electricity would do anything but harm, or shut up.
    But no. Costa, the black shirt,, having failed to persude by logic, probably because he had no decent case to offer, then tried to barge arse the thing through before an astonished electorate, ensuring the resistance DD blames on the unions.
    Like wise Anna Bligh.
    The thing is put up at election time and creates such a stink that Bligh is force to repudiate it publically as an election proposal.
    They win the elction resoundingly, on this repudiation.
    So, what happens next?
    Bligh and co ram it through any way, without adequate explanation and but for the freak of nature that allowed her to escape from her self-inflicted situation through a media blitz, with the floods, she’d be on the way out, also!
    As for Obeid, its relative nonsense, like “rustbucket” Carr’s rubbish in the OZ yesterday, but there are “insights to be gleaned from it”, as Tig Tog might say.
    I think FB and the rest here have done a bit better in apportioning blame and I think this posturing narcissistic neolib guff at head office, personified by Costa, is the reason for the rupture with the rank and file and society generally; we smell a rat and heaps of graft, as with all the rest of neolib pol-economics.

  55. joe

    Great article, Guy.

    “Glorious democratic detox!” (It was a hell of a party, wasn’t it?!!)


    Good luck with the party reform, Liam! It is important and you guys are fighting the good fight. Make the most of this opportunity to make Labor mean something again.

    I’m rusted on, I must admit, although I have voted Greens in the upper house on occasion and been involved in anti-logging activism.


    Great comment akn. Our communities need more equality, it’s as important as that. We need more dialog, and the respect for each other and the community in general to have that dialog. People need to be active in their communities (not just their jobs) and the community needs to take care of it’s members.

    Like PC said the other day, ‘to each according to their ability.

  56. Incurious and Unread

    Well, most other Labor parties around Australia and the world seem to have worked out how to live in the “new” world (ie the world that most of us have been living in for the last 30 years).

    But our NSW party found it all too hard and decided to turn itself into a “malignant kleptocracy” instead.

    Yep, that explains it.

  57. Mark Bahnisch

    anti-logging activism

    I read that as anti-*blogging* activism there for a second, Joe! 😉

  58. joe

    I’ve probably done some of that as well. I apologise, Mark 😀

  59. Mark Bahnisch

    All good, Joe! 🙂

    Now, on topic, I think, paradoxically, Labor actually does have a significant opportunity here, if only because going on as usual has been so thoroughly discredited.

    I’d also comment that, for once, Bob Ellis is right on something to do with New South Wales politics. The Labor identifiers from the Essential Research poll Kim and John D linked to won’t need too much to go back to the ALP, if (and it’s a significant if) Labor is able to reform itself and not just articulate political values, but a politics which connects to and progresses those values.

    Conversely, I doubt that the Liberal party is capable of putting down deep roots in Western Sydney, Newcastle and the Illawarra. They can bang on about “aspiration” all they like, but your typical Young Lib is not going to find the Parramatta Leagues Club a natural home.

    More generally, I think the history of big landslides shows that you have to do quite a lot to retain first time voters, and there may also be tensions within a huge Liberal backbench – the interests of North Shore and Vaucluse residents are not necessarily easily squareable with those of Penrith residents, and the “big end of town” stink that attached itself to the Labor deal makers disguises the fact that business will in fact now be making a stack of demands on *their* party.

    So it’s not difficult to see what an effective opposition could make of this, if Labor is able to reconnect to its values, its communities and articulate a new model of political action.

  60. Guy

    Russell @54 – Certainly the economic orthodoxy of the last few decades has coincided with an increase in inequality, but I think you’ll find if you take almost any few decades since records were kept, there has been an increase in inequality. Tough to nail down a specific causal link to that one.

    Mark @61 – I think you’re right there, although I am perhaps a little more pessimistic about the prospects of the Libs putting down roots in Western Sydney. I also think that only true internal reform is capable of driving the change in attitude that would be required to turn things around in 4 years. Without fundamental reform, the Labor brand has been wrecked too much to hope to win in 2015.

  61. Mark Bahnisch

    Guy, I think electing someone other than John Robertson would send a useful signal. The monstering he’s had from people like Paul Keating and Frank Sartor may or may not be fair, but, whichever way the cookie crumbles, he may wear the stink of the schemozzle that was the party/government implosion that saw Iemma off. I also noted Tanya Plibersek’s very lukewarm comment on him last night.

    Personally, I’d have liked to have seen KK stay.

    You’re right that much more than leadership choices are at stake, but conversely, you do need a leader who’s capable of driving forward a renewal/community re-engagement strategy.

  62. Guy

    Mark, indeed, there’s no avoiding the link between who is leader and how much reform is likely.

    I’d like to think that Robbo would be capable as leader of driving a sweeping process of reform, but I’m probably somewhat guilty of wandering towards the fanciful. Perhaps the Left could broker an agreement with him that sets in trains a process of reform in return for their unqualified backing.

  63. paul walter

    So Plibers doesn’t like Cap’n Jack?
    A different faction explains part of that. But Robertson has indeed had all sorts of accusations levelled at him over the years, too.
    And why didn’t Kenneally stay on for a bit, until things stabilised?
    Already fighting over the spoils of defeat, one conjectures.

  64. Fran Barlow

    Just out of curiosity — is there a need for the ALP to have a new leader in the next few months? Couldn’t they all just be spokespeople on the various things and decide a policy by consensus?

  65. Nickws

    Paul Burns @ 18: The privatisation of electricity, both times was the big vote changer, because it proved Labor might as well be Liberal.

    If O’Farrel and his ex-HSBC treasurer don’t sell-off eveything that isn’t nailed down I’d be very surprised.

    I’ve said it before—the next NSW Labor govt. won’t have to worry about privatisations, just like the recent Labor govts. in WA, SA and Vic haven’t had to worry about all that. That’s actually something of a political blessing, even if it’s a result of Kennett-style Liberalism being able to set the agenda when they’re in office with powerful majorities.

    Mark B @ 61: Conversely, I doubt that the Liberal party is capable of putting down deep roots in Western Sydney, Newcastle and the Illawarra.

    I bet there are a whole bunch of seats they’ve picked up that won’t even be marginal in the next decade, they’ll all be safely back in Labor hands.

    Prediction: every surprise seat that the state Labor parties in Victoria and Queensland have won this decade will continue to be marginal, even if the Libs win them back. That’s not the case with the NSW conservative landslide, not unless BOF is able to make his party move away from kulturkampf and devil-takes-the-hindmost ideology (something I have know doubt he’s at least considered, before deciding it’s beyond his leadership abilities).

    And what about all that excitement about the Coalition finally doing well with Asian voters? They’ve been spinning that hard. They really, really want a permanent realignment there.

    Guy @ 64: Without fundamental reform, the Labor brand has been wrecked too much to hope to win in 2015.

    Guy, as a matter of interest, you’re coming at all this from a well-connected NSW Labor perspective, right?

    I have to say the fact you’re at least equivocal about Labor’s chances for next time (not all doom and gloom) strikes me as just one more sign that your state branch culture really is different from the rest of the country.

    If Victorian Labor had just suffered this level defeat all the talk would be about how this was the last state ALP govt. we’d see for at least a generation.

  66. Mark Bahnisch

    On the leadership again, I’m wondering if the various calls for factions not to meet before caucus does indicate a desire for a more open process, rather than an anointing of John Robertson.

    If, after all, the Right faction met and a majority supported Robertson, and thereby the minority were bound to support him in a caucus vote, he would be elected, if the rest of caucus opposed him despite only a minority supporting him (which is how faction solidarity and ballot swapping work in Labor votes), that would be a travesty.

  67. Guy

    Nickws @67 – “Well-connected” not so much, but probably connected enough in fits and spurts to glean a reasonable amount from the situation. Hopefully!

    I think I’m probably allowing myself to be a bit aspirational about 2015. I am sure the more pragmatic commentary that we will observe over the coming months and years will be that Labor is destined to be locked out of government for at least two terms. Most of that commentary will assume that NSW Labor doesn’t embark on a serious program of internal reform, however, and decides to continue with the same old stodge.

  68. GregM

    Just out of curiosity — is there a need for the ALP to have a new leader in the next few months?

    I expect there would be Fran, if BOF calls Parliament together as soon as he learned that Labor had no leader, which he surely would do, just to exploit the hilarity that would follow him convening it with no-one on the other side willing or able to step up to the plate on the other side of the Assembly to lead the opposition to him.

    Couldn’t they all just be spokespeople on the various things and decide a policy by consensus?

    Theoretically they could but when did that last, or ever, happen in the NSW ALP?

  69. Liam

    #68 that’s how I and others I’ve spoken to have interpreted Dastyari. The NSW Centre Unity in Parliament does not after all need to meet to make a binding decision—that’s done for them extramurally. That’s the case even with a secret ballot as Luke Foley’s called for; there was a secret ballot (as far as I can be aware) when Keneally replaced Rees.

  70. Mark Bahnisch

    That’s a worry, Liam.

  71. Chris

    Mark @ 72 – well thats how parliament in general works too isn’t it? There may be a small majority of people in the ALP that support a policy, but all of MPs are bound (at risk of expulsion from the party) to vote for that policy. Which means that a policy which can have a minority of support of the MPs in the parliament will still pass

  72. Mark Bahnisch

    Chris, that’s true, but then, in Parliament, the Labor’s party’s adversaries are the Coalition. I think it’s more than open to abuse for internal Labor party decision making.

  73. Liam

    It wouldn’t necessarily be a travesty in the method of election, though, after all Iemma, Rees, and Keneally were all elected Leaders of the Labor Party (and therefore Premier) in the same just-get-enough-votes-in-the-Right fashion.
    What’s the line about revolutions consisting of elites not being able to govern in the same old way? If Robbo’s not successful on Thursday, we’ll know there’s been one.

  74. Fran Barlow

    GregM said:

    I expect there would be Fran, if BOF calls Parliament together as soon as he learned that Labor had no leader, which he surely would do, just to exploit the hilarity that would follow him convening it with no-one on the other side willing or able to step up to the plate on the other side of the Assembly to lead the opposition to him.

    But would this, if he tried itb e all that significant? The next election is exactly four years away. Nobody is going to want to hear anything from the ALP for at least 12 months, and if they do they will just snort derisively. They are going to be expected to do an extended period of self-evaluation, internal reform and mea culpa and sometime after they have carried that off convincingly, if they do, when BOF drops the ball, they will get a bump in popularity if they respond effectively.

    Until that happens though they might as well play small target. Let’s face it — what will BOF attack if there’s nobody to swing at. He might get away with calling them a rabble for a couple of days, but if he keeps doing it, people will start to think he’s not focused on getting the governance thing done. And really, from his POV, what would be the point? He has 2/3 of the seats in the parliament and just won 52% of the primaries, will probably get a 70% preferred premier rating if there is an opposition leader in the next poll … where is there to go from there but down? If the election were 12 months out I could see that, but 4 years? Let’s face it — whoever gets the gig now probably won’t lead the party to the next election anyway.

  75. Mark Bahnisch

    No, not a travesty, Liam. But it would be a good idea to have an open ballot (and a contested one) nevertheless.

    Does Verity Firth get a vote if it’s on Thursday?

  76. Terry

    Fran @ 66, the interesting precedent here is the UK Labour party after the May 2010 election, whose support went up consdierably once Gordon Browm retreated to West Fyfe, and Harriet Harman acted in the role until the party decided which Miliband eould take up the fight to the new government.

    That said, it is very un-ALP to have that kind of non-leadership model. You only had to look at Paul Keating on teh 7.30 Report tonight to see someone who expects to be able to eyeball the boss. Even Robbo’s greatest enemies would rather have him in charge than no-one in charge.

  77. Liam

    I’ve no idea, but she wouldn’t be the only one up in the air. I know they’ve held over the Deputy position in case she wants to run for it.
    On the matter of deciding Labo(u)r leadership, I’m becoming more and more convinced of the UK model daily. If head office and the major unions want to play, let’s have an open ballot that includes them with the other major stakeholders; the caucus and the membership.

  78. Mark Bahnisch

    They could always refuse to accept KK’s resignation!

  79. Mark Bahnisch

    … and yes, Liam, I agree. I’ve been arguing for it for a long time. With a party desperately needing to re-engage its members and supporters now would be a great time to flick that switch. Have someone warm the seat while the campaign goes on.

    Jeff Seeney’s probably got some time on his hands, and recent experience. 😉

  80. Liam

    Heh. Or Sam Dastyari could impose himself as head of the [ahem] State Executive and declare an extra-Parliamentary Leader from a popular area—I belive that’s how it’s done these days in Queensland.
    Come on down, Mayor of Baulkham Hills, Tony Hay!

  81. Mark Bahnisch

    Yes, and if you don’t actually try to get the new leader in parliament, you can avoid things like this:

    http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/lnp-boss-faces-bribery-probe-20110329-1ce9s.html

  82. Liam

    Always subtle, up North, aren’t they. Next it’ll be kebabs for breakfast in Wollongong.
    As theological scholars, incidentally, do you or Kim have a view on whether the LNP shenanigans constitute sedevacantism? Seems like the only heresy recent politics has managed to escape to me.

  83. John D

    Fran @16: You hit a major point when you said:

    They had to…. declare the Howard-Carr approach was dead and from this point forward, they’d be rebuilding NSW.

    Part of the problem was that all sides of politics caught the Howard disease and what happened in NSW was just part of the clean-out. “Balance the budget, don’t increase taxes and if there isn’t enough money after you have done both these things just let the state run down and provide second rate services.”
    I think by the way that part of the problem was that the power balance between head office, cabinet, caucus and grass roots got out of wack. You need head office to occasionally parachute a star outsider into an electorate but it should be rare and not used to help factional mates. You need cabinet to be able to respond quickly at times but there is also a need to give both caucus and the grass roots a chance to inject ideas, offer comments and set boundaries.
    You also need a mix of mp’s from different walks of life. There are too many lawyers and advisers and not enough people who have broader life experience to offer.

  84. Nickws

    Guy @ 69, the more I learn about the rhetoric of NSW Labor internal criticism the more impressed I am. You people realise you’re committing good government reformist activism, don’t you? Very odd from my Victorian PoV.

    Thought experiment: Someone like Verity Firth as NSW Labor Leader, elected by a new grassroots electoral college of some kind in future. Hmmm, that would seem to blunt the Greens’ long march through ALP territory.

    There’s you possible rationale for Sussex Street embracing party reform.

  85. Mark Bahnisch

    @84 –

    sedevacantism

    Absolutely, Liam!

    With Joh as The Last True Pope.

  86. Paul Burns

    Sedevacantism? Presumably that means at some point when he really blows it, Newman has to cover himself in ho;y oil and set himself on fire. Or am I being too influenced by the strange mind of Dan Brown? 🙂

  87. Mark Bahnisch

    Can’t say I’ve ever read any Dan Brown (the movie was too horrible to go on watching), Paul, but all you ever wanted to know about Sedevacantism – and more – is at Wikipedia, for once: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sedevacantism

    /Sorry, Guy!

  88. Paul Burns

    And yes. I think it would be an excellent idea to refuse KK’s resignation. (Unless there was some sort of deal done that she’d step down if the ALP lost, when she was elected party leader and premier. Can’t welch on deals. Not in the ALP.

  89. Guy

    Ah, it’s a rare thread which aint improved by a spot of sedevacantism, Mark 🙂

  90. Mark Bahnisch

    Hahaha! 😉

  91. David Irving (no relation)

    Jeez, Mark @ 89 (and others), you Catholics are a larf-a-minute.

    Makes me pleased I’m a lapsed (atheist) Anglican.

    I agree about Dan Brown, though. I read his crappy book, and I’ve been regretting the hours I’ll never get back ever since.

  92. Paul Burns

    The movie wasn’t bad, for the kind of film genre it was. Trying to read Brown’s writing is abit like trying to wade through watered down treacle.I can never past page 2. My knowledge of the Brown version of sedvacantism comes from the book. I think the man has some kind of odd animosity to Catholics.
    Sorry, Guy for going off thread.

    Now, for Sussex Street. Is Keating a cunning old dog and haa he put the mockers on Robinson? (I notice his letter from 2009 [?] is getting quite a run.) I sort of hope so and that either Rees or Daly get up.

  93. sg

    David Irving: I discovered a newfound respect for Reader’s Digest condensed versions after I received a condensed version of Dan Brown’s first novel. I read it on the plane from adelaide to sydney, and got all the good points (the story, the cool conspiracy theory) without any of the crap (the writing).

  94. tigtog

    Now, for Sussex Street. Is Keating a cunning old dog and haa he put the mockers on Robinson? (I notice his letter from 2009 [?] is getting quite a run.) I sort of hope so and that either Rees or Daly get up.

    Nah. Let Robinson drink deep of the chalice now, while he’s in no position to do anything actually harmful, and end up doing his dash well before the next election. He’s total rubbish, but he needs to be seen more widely as total rubbish before he can be convincingly cast aside as a credible leader.

  95. Andrew E

    John Robertson is a somewhat polarising figure, but there is little doubt that he is the kind of person capable of cutting through in his attacks on the O’Farrell Government.

    Garbage. If he’s polarising within the ALP he won’t lay a glove on the Coalition.

    Here’s the 2015 election framed for you already, Guy.

    Who are you going to vote for? Barry O’Farrell is doing his best. John Robertson is a boofhead, people who’ve worked with him for years hate his guts, and he whinges every time O’Farrell does anything.

    First-term local members tend to get the benefit of the doubt, and guess which site has more of them? Governments get caned harder for doing nothing than for having a crack.

    Not that it will come to this. A few bad polls and Robertson will no longer cut through, the plotting will start, &c.

    Nobody disagrees that reform is necessary. What the various players are trying to do is ensure that reform keeps their position secure, and the fact that Robertson is even a serious candidate shows that those who led the party to this point can’t be responsible for leading it to the sunlit uplands.

    I think the time could well be ripe for a party membership drive, perhaps with reduced-price memberships and more of an emphasis on having the sorts of candid “by-the-barbie” interactions that this party desperately needs to start having more of with ordinary folks.

    In other words: condescention will attract people who are already repulsed by condescention and failure to address real, longterm issues. The idea that people who are part of the problem will accept such newbies as there are wanting to turn things upside down – watch for jowl-wobbling outrage about 120 years of tradition, &c.

    Nobody hates Kristina Keneally in the same way that nobody hates those people who spruik stuff in ads. Nobody is going to believe Keneally is going to do root-and-branch reform because “she didn’t, couldn’t do it when she had the chance. I’ve worked for bosses who just don’t get it, and who get to a point where you can’t raise serious issues with them because they just go off their tree and nothing changes anyway – it’s best to be rid of such people, not to recycle them. Why would you want a leader who is ignored?

    [email protected]: because Roozendaal’s figures were always rolled-gold reliable, so of course the BBH is a farce.

    The whole idea of Labor’s “soul” implies that Labor is something other than what it did when in office. When governments lost office it was easy to sweep away old farts and start afresh – but those who led Labor to perdition aren’t old, and aren’t going anywhere far from where they can influence things. None of them will skulk away like whipped dogs and do something useful.

    The fact that you feel the need to refer to Robertson as “somewhat polarising” shows that you can’t bring yourself to face up to the issues and make the hard decisions necessary for true reform.

    The lesson Guy has failed to learn is that the state is more important than the party. The mistake that NSW Labor has made is to believe that to manage the party is to manage the state (e.g. to manage the RTBU is to manage public transport), and Guy still believes that in the face of all evidence. Voters showed that given a choice, they will dump the party and entrust the state to others. Your recruitment drive is my stack, Guy, particularly if those “ordinary folks” actually want to change things.

  96. derrida derider

    Err, Andrew E, I was being sarcastic @23.

  97. Terry

    Let Robbo have what will be the worst job in NSW for a while now. He can’t recover from the lashing Keating gave him on the 7.30 Report last night, which was so eminently quotable, and will be endlessly quoted in the State Parliament.

    It may be worth noting that one interesting consequence of Labor’s drubbing is that 11 of its 19 remaining MLAs are female. As a result, the face of the NSW ALP will begin to change even if Sussex Street chooses to hang onto old practices.

    I woudl say there are several good reason why Carmel Tebbutt is not putting her hand up for the leadership job at present.

  98. Paul Norton

    I also noted Tanya Plibersek’s very lukewarm comment on him last night.

    This may be related to Robertson’s enthusiastic endorsement of Michael Thompson’s misogynist manifesto for Howard, Labor Without Class, which Tanya severely and rightly criticised at the time it was published.

  99. Incurious and Unread

    Labor needs to hit rock bottom before it begins the long, slow climb to recovery.

    With Robertson as leader, it is likely to get there.

  100. Paul Norton

    There is one other comment I will make, which relates to the results in Marrickville and Balmain. In her cups, Carmel Tebbutt is almost certainly far more strongly anti-Zionist and pro-Palestinian than Fiona Byrne will ever be. Likewise Verity Firth vis-a-vis Jamie Parker. The ALP hard left is historically the heartland of anti-Zionist and pro-Palestinian sentiment in Australia, a tradition which the four Labor councillors in Marrickville upheld by voting for the BDS. It will be deeply ironic if both Tebbutt and Firth retain their seats on the back of this issue.

  101. David Irving (no relation)

    This is a hoot! David Barnett really is in his dotage.

  102. Sam

    DI(NR), I thought David Barnett was dead.

    Let Robertson be leader. Labor is about to enter the cycle of nothingness that engulfs parties that endure crushing defeats. This means a series of failed leaders, before one emerges who can lead the party to victory.

    The Labor Party in NSW is currently eating what is left of itself. Look at the past few days: Keating, Obeid, Sartor, Iemma, Richo etc letting it all hang loose, with no restraint. The recriminations will go on for years. Who would want to be leader now? In a couple of years time, Robertson will be a footnote, if that.

    Paul 102. How do you know what Tebbutt and Firth think on the issue, other than what their faction has traditionally thought? It’s a long bow and a broad brush that you wield.

  103. Terry

    Paul @ 102, even if what you say is accurate, and I do note that Julia Gillard went to israel last year, then that is simply the difference between being politicl professionals and political amateurs. No one cares about the issue after the election – the issue was that Fiona Byrne allowed herself to be hung out to dry on it during the campaign for Marrickville.

  104. Liam

    Paul at #102, though I haven’t met Fiona Byrne or Jamie Parker, I have met both Firth and Tebbutt and I can vouch for the accuracy of your comment as it pertains to them.
    I’m agnostic, myself, on the matter of BDS, but you’re right—it’s deeply ironic that the Greens allowed a State election campaign to get hung up arguing about the Middle East.

  105. Paul Norton

    Liam and Terry – basically agree. State election campaigns are a time for talking about state government issuea.

  106. Sam

    Well, as Terry said, if Byrne was dumb enough to get trapped on the issue, that is her problem. There’s a lesson in this. Managing the development application of the Mung Bean Co-op on Enmore Rd is one thing. Handling the harsh exposure of a state election is another. It’s always wise when people stick to their level of competence, in all walks of life.

  107. David Irving (no relation)

    It’s always wise when people stick to their level of competence, in all walks of life.

    Which takes us back to David Barnett, Sam.

    If you’re right about him being dead, that would explain a lot.

  108. Incurious and Unread

    Sam @108

    Incompetence at campaigning (you might more generously regard it as “inexperience”) does not necessarily mean incompetence at running the State.

    Labor was competent enough at campaigning to win 4 elections on the trot. And look where that has left us.

  109. Sam

    I&R 110

    I agree, though Labor was helped by a risibly shithouse opposition for most of that time. How soon we forget Collins, Chikarovski, the bloke who tried to top himself (I forget his name) and Debnam.

    But … the fact is, Byrne was not a candidate who should have been fielded by a serious party in a winnable seat. I suppose in fairness, all parties do it. There was the Labor candidate in Turnbull’s seat in 2007 – what was his name? – who was a bigger disaster than Byrne.

  110. Paul Norton

    Sam, the Labor candidate was George Newhouse. The unfortunate Liberal leader was John Brogden.

  111. Sam

    Thanks, Paul. You saved me some googling.

  112. David Irving (no relation)

    George Newhouse … didn’t Caroline Overington try to bite him, or something?

  113. paul walter

    114, attacked him in a polling booth and bitch-slapped him.
    Whoaah.

  114. paul walter

    102, so Labor keeps up its recent tradition of locking its more talented performers from the left out of the truly key jobs?

  115. Paul Norton

    Sam @113, no problem.

    Sam @111, surely the bottom line is that the Labor Party in NSW has being doing it in epic proportions for the past several state elections.

  116. Amanda

    Byrne’s handling of the BDS pushback hurt her more than the BDS itself. Supporting the idea of a similar Council boycott of China(!) hurt her more than the BDS itself.

    Defending the decision with things like this:

    “I don’t know the full ins and outs of the [Israel-Palestine] situation, because I’m not an expert, but I support a peaceful solution, two states or otherwise.”

    does not help. Make a controversial decision and defend it by throwing up your hands and saying “hey, but I’m no expert!” does not make you sound like a very serious person who should be elevated to higher office even to people symapthetic to the goals of the BDS.

    But seriously, that China thing is flying under the radar with all the BDS talk but the idea of Marrickville Council buying nothing from China and having no links with China cuts through to the mass of people and makes them doubt your political qualities way more than the Israel issue. That was an own goal, she didn’t have to say it.

  117. Paul Norton

    Amanda @118, your last par is very salient given the demographics of Marrickville.

  118. Sam

    Paul 119, why is that? Are their basket weaving supplies made in China?

  119. Paul Norton

    Sam @120, I’m led to believe that Marrickville has a fairly significant population of Chinese ancestry, and that this was why Kevin Rudd took the time to visit the local Chinese community and speak to them about the election in Mandarin.

  120. Andrew Reynolds

    Sam,
    The pity is that people do not stick to their level of competence. It is the nature of any large organisation to promote into incompetence. If someone does a job well, they get promoted. If they are not doing well they stay where they are. Therefore people get promoted until they cannot do their current job.

  121. Sam

    Paul 121

    I see. And here was I thinking Marrickville was just full of Greeks. Little did I know that it had places like these.

    Although I believe that the term “Mandarin” is archaic, with standard Chinese now referred to simply as “Chinese” (as opposed to, for example, Cantonese – no, I don’t know whether it is a dialect of Chinese or a language in its own right.)

  122. Paul Norton

    There is one other potential factor affecting the statewide election result (but probably not Marrickville) which I haven’t seen discussed anywhere. This is that the relationship between the Federal Labor government and the Greens may have led a non-trivial number of voters to conclude that a vote for the Greens in NSW carried the risk of a lifeline being thrown to the State Labor government, and that some such voters who may have considered voting Green decided instead to go all the way with the Coalition to avoid a situation where they had scotched the snake, but not killed it.

  123. Paul Norton

    Andrew @122 has reminded us of the Peter Principle.

  124. Sam

    Paul 124, they could have voted Green and preferenced the Liberals.

  125. Paul Norton

    Sam @124, they could indeed have done that, but I find that a surprising number of people (including some with high levels of formal education) don’t get preferential voting.

  126. Paul Norton

    I meant Sam @126.

  127. Labor Outsider

    I think the Greens’ underperformance (in the sense of not taking much of the lost Labor primary vote) is readily explainable by the fact that in elections such as this, when the government has lost all credibility and the overwhelming majority of voters want a change in government, most will go straight to the party they want to form that government. A reasonable proportion of the Green vote (and the Democrats before that) has always been a protest vote. The Greens benefit in particular from elections in which there is a “pox on both our houses” sentiment. The last federal election is a good example of that. This election was different. Voters wanted Labor out and the Liberals in, while most people that really believe in the Green mission had already voted for them last time.

    Personally I don’t give a rats who is leader of Labor in the current parliament. Labor will most likely be out of power for 12 years after this result. Labor will chew through at least 2 and probably 3 leaders in that time. The next Labor premier is not in parliament and may not even be there following the next election. Labor is yet to reach its nadir in NSW. The balance of power has not shifted enough and the lessons of the last 16 years still haven’t been fully absorbed.

  128. Fran Barlow

    Andrew said:

    The pity is that people do not stick to their level of competence. It is the nature of any large organisation to promote into incompetence. If someone does a job well, they get promoted. If they are not doing well they stay where they are. Therefore people get promoted until they cannot do their current job.

    That’s pretty well attested. The paradoxical thing is though that until you promote people, you don’t know that whether they can do the target job well or not. Fairly obviously, everyone who was promoted because they were doing well in their job and succeeded in their new and more responsible role was the result of a successful and hopefully low risk gamble. It would be very bad to have an organisation in which fear of failure led to organisational stagnation. Far better to promote those who on balance seem fit to step up, give them extra support and training if their weaknesses are minor and transitional, and demote/sack them (depending on the circumstances) if it doesn’t work out. Ideally, everyone works close to the edge of their competence, but not beyond it. That keeps morale and productivity high. Since competence is a fuzzy and dynamic concept, you can only find it by “suck it and see”.

  129. Fran Barlow

    While I don’t agree with LO’s timeline of 12 years, the assessment is otherwise reasonable.

    It seems to me that 8 is most likely and if BOF screws up really badly and early, then maybe four years, assuming the ALP can recompose itself with some speed. Those are two big “ifs” and one wouldn’t want money on them. The ALP hardheads are not called hardheads for nothing.

  130. Jenny

    “… but that’s because the performance of the government induced them to scribble down their rightful invective on speech cards several years ago.”

    I’m curious. I know that the Daily Terror, Opposition Organ and the Parrot have been letting rip for years. And I know that the ALP’s incompetence and scandalous behaviour has been accepted wisdom for nearly as long. But is NSW actually going so badly?

  131. tigtog

    Jenny, The Punch had a post just before the election making exactly the point that, on the usual indicators, NSW is not mostly in bad shape at all, even though the ALP has been corrupt and arrogant.

    BOF really only has to get out the old spit and polish and tidy a very few things up to look absolutely brilliant for fixing stuff that wasn’t actually badly wrong.

  132. PatrickB

    @129
    Spot on. The current round of public bickering is testament to the boneheadedness of Labor and not just in NSW.

  133. Andrew Reynolds

    Paul #125,
    Yes – I am also re-reading Parkinson’s Law today. It’s only a short book but it is one of the finest treatises on how bureaucracies really work, and nicely pre-dates the Peter Principle.
    The Dilbert Principle version of Peter is probably more apposite to Sussex Street – “leadership is nature’s way of removing morons from the productive flow”. To be a little light about it for a moment, the problem with NSW Labor is that “leadership” was the productive flow of the organization. Perhaps someone better with words than I am could come up with a reformulation.

  134. Terry

    Applying BDS to China would really test the mettle of Marrickville Council. Ratepayers would quickly notice the extra costs of pens, staplers, hole punches, tape disepnsers etc. etc. as it would impact upon their rates. Sourcing stationery from outside of China is quite a logistical feat these days.

  135. paul walter

    Andrew R,135, that’s gorgeous, heavens to betsy!

  136. Sam

    Sourcing stationery from outside of China is quite a logistical feat these days.

    No it isn’t. You can get stationery from any newsagent and most supermarkets.

  137. tigtog

    @Sam, if that stationery at the newsagent/supermarket is stamped “Product of China” then it would fall under any putative boycott of Chinese goods, wouldn’t it?

    So where would the council source these things instead?

  138. FDB

    TT – you source your stationery at the newsagents.

    They source it from a warehouse somewhere out in the boondocks, and they source it from China.

  139. Guy

    Andrew E @97 says, on Robbo:

    Garbage. If he’s polarising within the ALP he won’t lay a glove on the Coalition.

    Polarising, you mean, like Paul Keating in his hey-day? Like Malcolm Turnbull is today within the Liberal Party? Are you suggesting that these guys never laid gloves on their opposite numbers?

    Being polarising or not has no relationship on someone’s ability to cut through. I used the phrase “somewhat polarising” to describe Robbo because that’s what he is. Just because you dislike him or most of the commentariat snubs their nose at him doesn’t mean everyone thinks that way. There’s a lot of folks out there in Western Sydney who if anything, have a generally positive opinion of Robbo, as someone who is going to be direct, no-nonsense, and feels more like one of them than the average state Labor politician who has floated into Macquarie Street direct from student politics. He’s a leader you can see yourself having a beer with, and that’s arguably a rare quality in politics today.

    And then:

    The mistake that NSW Labor has made is to believe that to manage the party is to manage the state (e.g. to manage the RTBU is to manage public transport), and Guy still believes that in the face of all evidence.

    I don’t think that’s the point I was trying to make at all Andrew – the point is that without addressing the internal issues that are rendering NSW Labor politically dysfunctional, managing the state can only be a goal of the distant future. Managing the party is a necessary pre-requisite for governing, and not in any way equivalent.

    Do I think that if NSW Labor addresses its internal problems it is a shoo-in for 2015? Hell, no. But it has an infinitely greater chance of being competitive than if it coughes up more of the same guff that the public have just dismissed.

  140. Andrew E

    [email protected]: yeah, but I’m struck by how quickly and easily Roozendaal has been let off the hook.

    [email protected]: I think anyone could be justified in deciding that they could do a better job than their incumbent ALP member, particularly if that member had been a senior member of the government that put NSW where it is today.

    [email protected]: You and Guy at the top have no grounds for your optimism. O’Farrell is not Greiner, he is not the Howard who went all giddy over his Senate majority – this isn’t to say that he won’t make mistakes, but if you want to know a key reason why the Libs spent 16 years in Opposition, it’s because they sat around waiting for their opponents to fall over. Never mind 12 years, do I hear 16?

    [email protected]: Marrickville Council is used to the big foreign policy issues, being a nuclear-free zone. With all those missiles hurtling between Waverley Council and Ashfield Council (“we are at war with Ashfield; we have always been at war with Ashfield”), it’s quite the achievement that not a skerrick of fallout is present anywhere in the Marrickville municipality – well, except the radiotherapy isotopes at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. Go on, sneer.

  141. Andrew E

    [email protected]:

    Polarising, you mean, like Paul Keating in his hey-day?

    Real power doesn’t mean having no enemies. Real power is making such enemies as you have shut up. Keating in his hey-day convinced the ALP to stop whinging and backbiting and get behind him – and he had the perks of government to smooth ruffled feathers. Robertson lacks these personal qualities and has nothing to work with even if he could, as it were, flick the switch to vaudeville.

    Being polarising or not has no relationship on someone’s ability to cut through. I used the phrase “somewhat polarising” to describe Robbo because that’s what he is.

    Fine, now re-read your paragraph substituting “Robbo” with “Pauline”. Doesn’t it sound like you’re making excuses?

    Just because you dislike him or most of the commentariat snubs their nose at him doesn’t mean everyone thinks that way.

    I’ve never met the man, but people who have worked closely with him over many years think he’s a turd. It is unlikely that those people will rally to his side even for the sake of the Labor cause. I bet Robertson has what you would consider a moment of weakness and indiscretion; I bet that sticks in people’s minds when they think of this man, while all the good that he does is buried along with his bones. If a cream-puff like Alexander Downer can get lumbered with “the Things That Batter”, imagine what will happen to Robertson.

    He’s a leader you can see yourself having a beer with, and that’s arguably a rare quality in politics today.

    I can imagine having a beer with Barry O’Farrell, or Michael Daley or Carmel Tebbutt or Andrew Stoner; but I doubt they’d turn and try to glass me or hit on my wife (if you’re going to justify your man by imagining what “folks” might do …).

    I don’t think that’s the point I was trying to make at all Andrew

    I don’t care whether it is or isn’t your point, I stand by that sentence as a key reason why Labor lost the election so badly.

    Managing the party is a necessary pre-requisite for governing, and not in any way equivalent.

    There was a time, not so far into the past, where it was in government and it did make the very error – repeatedly – that I described. Pretending it didn’t happen or that it shouldn’t happen gives no confidence that Labor will stop it from happening again.

    Do I think that if NSW Labor addresses its internal problems it is a shoo-in for 2015?

    Was that a point I made? Are we setting up rhetorical questions in order to answer them? Did it work for Kevin Rudd? Could Kevin Rudd become NSW Opposition Leader? Given all the “open letters” and interviews and what-have-you over the past three days, what grounds can you have for confidence other than sheer whimsy?

  142. Nickws

    Paul Norton @ 102: In her cups, Carmel Tebbutt is almost certainly far more strongly anti-Zionist and pro-Palestinian than Fiona Byrne will ever be. Likewise Verity Firth vis-a-vis Jamie Parker. The ALP hard left is historically the heartland of anti-Zionist and pro-Palestinian sentiment in Australia, a tradition which the four Labor councillors in Marrickville upheld by voting for the BDS. It will be deeply ironic if both Tebbutt and Firth retain their seats on the back of this issue.

    Are you sure about this? We’re talking about the NSW establishment Left here. For example Firth is a Left legacy, she didn’t get to where she is be getting her first step on the ladder via student politics, Paul. She was born into it, not unlike Martin Ferguson.

    Liam @ 106: I have met both Firth and Tebbutt and I can vouch for the accuracy of your comment as it pertains to them.

    Liam, are you saying that two parliamentary comers like Tebbut and Firth have talked to you (& presumbaly others) about Israel while they’ve been MPs?

    I don’t see where the advantage is there for either, not unless they were dogwhistling to low info prog voters in their respective electorates.

    IMO if either Firth or Tebbut were so inclined on this issue they’d just go public about it, like Plibersek does.

    Andrew E @ 142: O’Farrell is not Greiner, he is not the Howard who went all giddy over his Senate majority – this isn’t to say that he won’t make mistakes

    Andrew, if you look at the figures RE the electricity privatisation Kennelly pushed through you’ll find that it’s projected to raise 5 billion dollars for the govt., while the original Iemma/Costa plan was to have reaped a payday of 15 billion dollars (as it involved selling off the whole plant).

    IMO Liberal partisans better hope that BOF brings back the old privatisation legislation, as I have a feeling that that $10,000,000,000 has long since been entered into the Coalition’s confidential spending plans, and it’s above and beyond whatever revenue can be raised via putting a razor through the budget/begging Gillard for more. They either go the full Costa on the grid or privatise a bunch of other little things.

    But that’s only one example I can think of where Kennettism must surely get it foot into the O’Farrel government door. There must be others. Face it, the man is going to have to be putting out all kinds of ideological fires on his side if he’s to succeed as a ’09 model Cameroonian whilst in office.

  143. gianni

    Andrew, if you look at the figures RE the electricity privatisation Kennelly pushed through you’ll find that it’s projected to raise 5 billion dollars for the govt., while the original Iemma/Costa plan was to have reaped a payday of 15 billion dollars (as it involved selling off the whole plant).

    But what came out at the upper house hearing was that the Keneally/Roozendaal privatisation won’t yield $5 billion. The net benefit to the NSW government is on the order of $400 million. It’s bugger all of not much.

    The best way of restoring the public’s faith in the integrity of the governance practices by the executive in NSW is for Barry O’Farrell to make the judicial review of the power sale as open as possible. He should especially make public all the cabinet papers relating to whole sordid process. Let’s put Joe Tripodi’s assertion that NSW has well governed over the last four years to the test.

  144. Nickws

    But what came out at the upper house hearing was that the Keneally/Roozendaal privatisation won’t yield $5 billion. The net benefit to the NSW government is on the order of $400 million. It’s bugger all of not much.

    Ah, well, if this is the case then I think that’s the excuse the new government has for going back to the original sell-off plan. Though of course there’s this: “Opposition treasury spokesman Mike Baird has said a coalition government would consider reversing the sale of the state’s power assets, if it won the state election on March 26.”

    Okay, so I admit my knowledge of this issue hasn’t been very up to date, but c’mon. We all know where this is headed.

    As for the ex-government’s abuse of process, doesn’t really matter at this point outside of Liberal rhetoric blaiming everything on the previous occupants, and we all accept that’s nothing but shadow theatre.

  145. Russell

    “Sourcing stationery from outside of China is quite a logistical feat these days.”

    No stationery fetishists here? This is what the internet is for. There are loads of producers in Europe.

    But if I were the PM I would have my office get all its paper from Euraba

  146. akn

    Ah well, at the end of the day it may be that the election of La Hanson (is she in yet?) to the Upper House will be the best possible result. With her, psychopathic/shrivel dick shooters and ranting homophobe christians holding the balance of power then we will at least be guaranteed a circus. A Fellini circus. Hooray. O’Farrell will hopefully be held to ransom by this grab bag of nutz.

  147. Razor

    The ALP have obviously taken the message from the electorate seriously.

    NOT!

    Well done on electing your new leader.

    How many terms do you want to stay in opposition?

  148. Guy

    Ok Razor, supposing you “were” the NSW ALP caucus – who would you have selected as leader to minimise time in Opposition?

  149. Incurious and Unread

    Guy @150,

    Surely Razor would elect himself. Indeed, there would be no other choice.

    A scenario in which Razor is the last NSW Labor MP left standing is an amusing one, though. That would certainly be a great opportunity to drive change in NSW Labor.

  150. Guy

    I & U – I’m sure Razor is only a boozy Chinese lunch or two away from a shadow ministry if he wants one. 😉

  151. Sam

    who would you have selected as leader to minimise time in Opposition?

    It’s a good question. Who is left standing? Carmel Tebbutt is probably the best of the lot, but a) she carries the baggage of being the previous Deputy Premier b) she carries the baggage of being Mrs Anthony Albanese c) why would she want to take on a career suicide mission like being the first Labor leader in opposition? d) she has never shown any interest in the top job before, indicating that she might recognise her own limitations – nothing wrong with that; if only more people could, and e) she carries the baggage of being Mrs Anthony Albanese.

  152. Incurious and Unread

    Sam,

    I reckon that Tebbutt has refused the leadership (repeatedly) for the same reason that BOF did in the past.

    She is prepared to wait until the party is worth leading.

  153. Sam

    John Hatzistergos has announced that he is leaving the parliament. Saints be praised. Now we are talking renewal of the Labor Party.

  154. Paul Norton

    In the latest update, Jamie Parker is ahead in Balmain.

    In comments on a couple of threads, Kim has stated that the direction of Liberal preferences to Labor ahead of Greens will have made inner-city Labor seats safe and made it difficult for Adam Bandt to retain Melbourne. This is true if the Liberals come third in such seats and Labor comes first or second. If, as appears to be happening in Balmain, Labor drops back to third behind the Libs and Greens, such seats fall to the Greens on Labor preferences. The logic of inner-city gentrification is squeezing Labor in such seats by expanding the constituencies which will either tack to Labor’s left on social and/or environmental policy grounds, or tack to Labor’s right for reasons of material self-interest.

  155. Sam

    The logic of inner-city gentrification is squeezing Labor …

    This is what happens when you sit on the fence. All you get is splinters in your arse.

  156. Incurious and Unread

    To put the Balmain situation into context, this is pretty much the worst Statewide Labor result in history and yet the Greens are only about half a percent ahead of Labor in Balmain.

    It is not necessarily the shape of things to come.

  157. Sam

    I&U 158

    Probably true. But a redistribution that carved out the more working class parts from Balmain, plus a good performance from Parker as local member, could see him consolidate his position.

  158. Lefty E

    Yeah, a few days ago I was hearing all about what a ‘historic disaster’ etc it was that the Greens didnt win Balmain or Marrickville.

    Then they won Balmain. With a 1.2% primary,and +5.9% 2PP swing. They must be spewin’ blood and these successes!!

    Can we please drop all the nonsense now. It was a ‘quite good’ election for the Greens – and this is now pretty much self-evident.

    For the record, I also now believe the 3rd GRN will go on to take the final Leg Council seat from Hanson.

  159. Incurious and Unread

    Sam,

    Agreed. “Consolidation” is what the Greens need, now that they have some beachheads.

    I’m not sure, though, that there are many working class areas left in Balmain (the suburb or the electorate) to be “carved out”.

    Certainly, when I lived in Lilyfield 5 years ago, the gentrification wave washed over me (well, I guess I was part of it).

    I reckon it would have reached Parramatta Road by now.

  160. Paul Norton

    I think a good rule of thumb for predicting final election outcomes for the Greens would be to take the percentage of votes and the number of seats the MSM is calling for the Greens on election night, then add 0.5-1% to the former and 1 or 2 to the latter.

  161. Lefty E

    Indeed, Norto. In fact, to get a bit psepho here, it does seem now that the lesson (from several datapoints) is that the GRNs do ‘above par’ on postals and absentees.

  162. Sam

    I&U, it’s all relative, but I’m thinking Camperdown, Haberfield – these sorts of places.

  163. akn

    I’m delighted at this outcome for the Greens in Balmain and possibly also the Upper House. I live in the inner west and saw the effort put in by the Labor Left to “keep Verity” and heard the anti-Parker meme too often (“he’s an opportunist”; “I don’t trust him” etc). Major effort at slagging him.

    In today’s SMH someone from the ALP was ranting about The Greens not preferencing Labor in the Upper House to which a Greens spokesperson noted that collected ALP preference sheets at several booths did not direct preferences to The Greens as the ALP claimed that it would.

    Anyway, first Green in the lower house expected. Good.

  164. akn

    Sam, by the way, Haberfield has changed its name to Habistan becuase it has become the Federation Holy Land.

  165. Fran Barlow

    I stand by my claim that it would have been better, or at worst, no worse, for the ALP to have simply passed on the idea of having a leader.

    This is a time for reconnecting with those we turned away from, they could have argued, rather than implying that we have worked out how we got ourselves into this mess and have a solution to offer. Our next parliamentary leader should be chosen only when we can speak with clarity and rigour about the needs of working people and the policies we wish to take forward to address these needs.

    If they had stuck with that, then BOF would have been deprived of a target. The ALP could have turned a weakness — the reality that few will be taking their claims about policy or objections to BOF policy seriously — into a bulwark against criticism or bringing up the past. They could have been officially doing their penance. That policy would not of course have stopped individual ALP members taking potshots at individual cockups by the new regime, and the party could have used these to test the wind.

  166. Sam

    the GRNs do ‘above par’ on postals and absentees

    Is this because they’re away, trekking (5 star comfort, but no carbon footprint) in Guatamala?

  167. Sam

    Guatemala

  168. tigtog

    @Fran,
    I’m curious as to how having no opposition leader could possibly work in a modern Westminster system parliament. It would seriously disorder the procedures of the House.

  169. Sam

    It wouldn’t work at all. Fran is just being a Spart.

  170. Kim

    @156 – Paul, yep, good point.

    However no one would want the Liberal vote to rise too high in such seats. Cf – Brisbane in 2010 at the federal election where The Greens were close on the heels of Labor, but the Libs won the seat:

    http://results.aec.gov.au/15508/website/HouseDivisionFirstPrefs-15508-156.htm

    There’s probably an element of gentrification/demographic change there, and a straight out swing away from a Labor government losing popularity.

    In Balmain, the Liberal polled first. Under optional preferential, you can win from that position with about 5 or 6 % clear, particularly if no one else is recommending preferences.

  171. Kim

    Note also in Brisbane Labor + Greens topped 50% of the primary, but the Liberal candidate won. And that’s with compulsory preferential.

    People also have a tendency to overlook the 1 Greens 2 Liberal vote.

  172. Razor

    Who would I select as Leader of the NSW ALP?

    I am not going to nominate anyone but I can tell you who it wouldn’t be – someone who has played an instrumental role in the internal machinations that have created the cesspool that is the NSW ALP now.

    Surely there must be a cleanskin who, given the opportunity, would relish the chance for an early crack in the leadership seat in the full awareness that it is going to be a long haul and the likelihood of them reaching the Premier’s seat this time round is very low.

    And surely those elected can understand that?

  173. Razor

    And I’d like to point out that I am more inclined to a Singapore style leadership position.

  174. David Irving (no relation)

    Ah, yes, Singapore. More democratic than Burma!

  175. Fran Barlow

    tigtog asked:

    I’m curious as to how having no opposition leader could possibly work in a modern Westminster system parliament. It would seriously disorder the procedures of the House.

    How so? The caucus has a tactics meeting prior to going in. It decides who is speaking and asking questions or putting motions. How would it “disorder” proceedings, exactly?

    @Sam

    How exactly is opposing having an opposition leader for an indefintie period of time when the opposition isn’t credible “being a spart”?

  176. Paul Norton

    In Balmain, the Liberal polled first. Under optional preferential, you can win from that position with about 5 or 6 % clear, particularly if no one else is recommending preferences.

    Indeed. The Liberal in Balmain would be winning if he had 5 or 6% daylight between Jamie and himself on primaries.

  177. Lefty E

    Thats right – the key in Balmain is that the Lib simply isn’t far enough ahead. This is something that could indeed happen in 3-corner contests though, especially with OPV.

  178. Andrew Reynolds

    Lefty E,
    But then, if Greens or ALP voters can’t be bothered writing a few more numbers and then end up with a member not to their taste, I think they get what they deserve.
    Even worse – if the parties recommend a “Just vote 1” strategy and this causes a Lib to win then again – they get what they deserve.
    A Lib winning in Balmain may have been enough of a wake up call for them to change their strategy.
    Personally – I hope not, though.

  179. Joseph.Carey

    Deborah Piccone, D-G of NSW Health, has been sacked.

    Oh happy happy day.

  180. paul walter

    Yes. Lefty E’s comment about Greens v Labor left fights for inner city seats.
    Why are not labor lefties given safe suburban seats, for “balance” and the right-hacks forced to combat the Greens in these places?
    Don’t worry, I’ll work it out.
    Sad, counter productive, Pyrrhic…

  181. Fran Barlow

    Personally, had I been in Balmain, I’d not have preferenced beyond Parker. If that had meant the Liberal had won, so be it. The ALP has no business expecting to benefit from hostage voting. The tendency of leftists to reflexively vote ALP when rightists do not is one of the driving factors in the rightward drift of the ALP, because in this as in so many areas of life, if no costs attach to misbehaviour, then misbehaviour will persist. We saw where that went with Carr-Iemma-Rees-Keneally.

    Also, I really resented Verity Firth pretending she was an independent. That’s not verity. That’s fraud.

  182. Lefty E

    GRNs are now *ahead* of Pauline Hanson on their 3rd Leg Council quota, before distributon of prefs.

    Looking v good.