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72 responses to “Ferguson without class”

  1. paul burns

    Rudd’s essay on the GFC was socialist??? Ah, well, you learn something new every day.
    I s’pose if the spill did one good thing: Marn is gone.
    I don’t even think the comments about the 457 visas are class war. Bashing the Irish, maybe – apparently the majority of 457s are Irish – who are presumably exceedingly dangerous because they’re from the North. Though I’d be more worried about the leprechauns they bring with them stealing me milk.
    I quite like the ALP supporting the unions – isn’t that what they’re is about – looking after the worker?
    A Labor Minister who upset business when he resigns …. OMG!
    Enough said.

  2. Helen

    I wrote back in 2006 about the dreadful website The New City, maintained by the Ferguson bros and others in the Labor right. Their main thesis was that Labor belonged to the routine workers and that “so-called knowledge workers” were chardonnay-sipping class traitors. Marn was a university lecturer with other white-collar appointments including, of course, politician, but that was DIFFERENT.

  3. Helen

    Sorry, “routine workers” should have been in quotes since it was their phrase, not mine.

  4. Melbournehammer

    Green supporter in whack at Martin ferguson shock.

  5. Alison

    Labor socialist? Not.

  6. patrickg

    Nice takedown from that intellectual bankrupt. The events of this week were a bummer for anyone hoping for a more progressive Australia from September, however Marn’s resignation was the silver lining, to be sure.

  7. Liz

    I don’t think anyone will miss Fitzgibbon much, either.

  8. akn

    I rather liked Rudd’s Monthly essay mainly because it didn’t raise socialism at all and tried to place the state’s capacity to tax within a context of globalisation and discussions in the US, and elsewhere, between communitarian and other types of liberal.

    These are the death throes of socialism within the rotten corpse of social democracy. Far more constructive to start framing the political dialogue in terms of liberalism.

    A starting point:


  9. Terry

    The class struggle at Jupiters Casino

  10. Terry
  11. Paul Norton

    His move to the backbench brought out the heart in an often-maligned industry, as lobby groups eulogised his loss.

    The Queensland Resources Council labelled him dignified and enlightening, while national counterparts – the Australian Mines and Metals Association named him an insightful statesman.

    The only line they missed was “Christ-like in his compassion”.

  12. Terry

    Sure, but people who work at mines are people Labor would like having vote for it. It also was electorally competitive in central and northern Queensland six years ago, but unlikely to be so now. There is a real cost to setting yourself up as an anti-mining party if you want to win seats across the nation, as was very apparent in the WA elections.

    Ministries like Minerals and Energy, Agriculture and Defence are tricky for Labor governments, as they largely deal with people who don’t vote for them, unlike, say, Education, Human Services or The Arts. I am still unsure about why having the confidence of key players in the sector you are responsible for is such a bad thing. If being loathed in the sector you are responsible for is a plus, then Stephen Conroy is the Government’s most successful Minister, with Wayne Swan a close second.

  13. FDB

    I am still unsure about why having the confidence of key players in the sector you are responsible for is such a bad thing.

    In and of itself, such confidence is just peachy. But what if you were in government, trying to enact policy unpopular with key sector players? Which is nonetheless the right policy for the country you have been given responsibility to govern?

  14. Salient Green

    It’s a shame that trying to get mining companies to pay a fair share of their profits to the nation they made them from, to ensure that no major damage to the environment occurs, to pay for such damage when it does occur, to train their own employees and employ Australians first wherever possible, to provide housing for their own employees, to support local communities and compensate them for major disruptions and financial loss due to mining activities, to use Australian businesses wherever possible as subbies and general suppliers, to NOT subvert our democracy by unduly influencing/corrupting our government, to clean up after themselves, to pay for their own infrastructure…. are all seen as ‘anti-mining’.

  15. Terry

    My point was that Martin Ferguson had good relations with the industry he was dealing with, and had he and Rudd renegotiated the mining tax before Rudd was deposed, there may have been a better result all around. The lessons are about how reform is undertaken – there is little point in doing it badly.

    Anyway, the Greens position is mutually inconsistent, as they seek simultaneously to get higher taxes from the mining industry and to close it down. When wind farms start going up in Newtown and Fitzroy, I’ll find the Greens’ energy policy more convincing.

    At present, it is about foisting the cost of change onto the sections of the population that don’t vote for them (wind farms in rural electorates), which you can do as a minor party, but not as a party of government.

  16. faustusnotes

    Terry, that’s rubbish. Wind farms go up in rural electorates because that’s where the wind is, and that’s where they can safely be placed in a cost-effective way. They need space, you know, and land in cities is kind of at a premium.

    It’s also not hypocritical to tax an industry you want to see the end of. See, e.g., the tobacco industry for an example of this. Also the Greens don’t want to see an end of the mining industry, they want to see it behave in an environmentally and industrially responsible way.

  17. mindy

    As a resident in a rural electorate I can tell you things aren’t that quite clear cut Terry. Farmers are a lot more ecologically aware than people often give them credit for and don’t just vote for the Nationals because, not everyone is anti-windfarm although those that are are quite vocal, and the Greens are becoming more important politically out here although many people are concerned that they are city based and don’t have that good an understanding of rural issues. They do like what they are doing on fracking though.

  18. Terry

    The Greens have long wanted to close down the coal industry, and are also opposed to uranium mining. That means a lot of wind farms and, again, it is easy for a predominantly inner-city based party to say that other people should have to put up with wind farms. Its like the politics of aircraft noise.

    Anyway, putting Martin Ferguson to one side, mismanagement of the politics of the mining boom has opened the real possibility of the LNP getting workable numbers in the Senate to be able to bypass Labor and the Greens.

    Any study of the WA state election numbers shows that Scott Ludlum faces the real prospect of losing his Senate spot to the LNP, and while the LNP will not get four spots in Queensland, the real chance for the sixth spot is the Katter Aust. Party. If Hanson-Young loses to Xenophon in SA, then that is taking the Senate numbers very close to ones where LNP policy support becomes contingent on KAP, the DLP and Xenophon.

    Julia Gillard is now not the only leader looking worried. The anxiety on Christine Milne’s face is starting to show.

  19. Salient Green

    Terry, your first para is a good point well made. Why did you have to go silly in the next two?
    The Greens do not want to close down the “mining industry”, just the parts that mine the most polluting fossil fuels and in a timely, orderly way. Fossil fuels have uses too valuable to burn.
    Wind farms in built up areas is a nonsense suggestion as you well know.
    Farmers are well compensated for wind farms and rural communities already have electricity poles, wires, substations, massive pylons, roads, signs, buildings etc, all blots on the landscape to a greater degree than wind turbines if we weren’t so used to them already.

  20. Terry

    UK evidence is showing growing opposition to wind farms, albeit in the context of opposition to all forms of energy generation, leaving open the question of how exactly people are expecting their TVs, fridges and fair trade coffee grinders to operate

  21. Salient Green

    my #19 is a response to Terry #15

  22. faustusnotes

    Terry, you said “the mining industry” at 15. Now you have changed it to “the coal industry.” These are different things. But no matter, here is the Greens’ policy on coal:

    No new coal-fired power stations or coal mines, and no expansions to any existing power stations or mines, plus the development of programs to assist coal dependent communities to make the transition to other more sustainable sources of economic prosperity.

    Not quite what you say, is it? Also, closing the coal industry doesn’t have to mean “lots of wind farms” – it can mean, e.g., lots of gas, or solar, or geothermal, or…

    You also can’t tar the greens with this “inner city party foisting wind farms on the country” rubbish unless you can come up with an alternative policy in which wind farms are placed in the centre of the city. Please do tell us how this is possible?

  23. Salient Green

    Terry, I’m really not happy with your integrity. You make erroneous assertions about Greens policy and the placement of wind farms, erroneous comparisons between wind farms and aircraft noise, claim to be concerned about Xenophon in the senate when he and you are both against wind farms (the only blot on his character IMHO), and made an erroneous comparison between the tiny island of England and the huge expanses of Australia in relation to onshore wind.
    Anyway, if you want to take this further we should go to the overflow.

  24. Jacques de Molay

    I’m not sure why the ABC bother with regular Bolt Report guest right-winger Cassandra Wilkinson. Hearing her constantly banging on about ‘the dignity of work’ in continued defence of Gillard’s welfare quarantining/knifing single mothers is tedious.

  25. Paul Norton

    The ink Terry provided @20 shows continued majority support for wind farms in the UK alongside growing majority opposition to coal and nuclear power plants. Also, just because the UK publishes a lot of the newspapers that cluey Australians like to read doesn’t necessarily make it all that important in the greater scheme of things. I’d attach more weight to what’s happening in continental Europe, North America and China.

  26. Paul Norton
  27. Paul Norton

    Jacques @24, agree. Wilkinson is a reactionary ignoramus from Labor Right central casting, and the seamless movement of such people between the world of the Labor Right and the Murdoch Press is one of Labor’s morbid symptoms.

  28. Paul Norton

    OK folks, I’m going to rest my ailing feet now. Play nice.

  29. faustusnotes

    It’s also not like the politics of aircraft noise, Terry, because the inner city people in question already had an airport, and were simply asking for the expansion of the airport to happen somewhere else, i.e. asking rural people to share the load that the inner city bore.

  30. jumpy

    Wind power and demand. Not quite there yet.

    From HERE.
    I notice capacity and output are very different.

  31. Terry

    I note that Tasmania is the only state in which the Greens have been in a coalition government, yet wind power only accounts for 4.7% of its energy output. So I’m not seeing much evidence there of a preparedness to install wind turbines in the electorates of one’s own voters.

  32. jumpy

    [email protected]

    The Greens have long wanted to close down the coal industry

    Yep, down to the last detail.

    A fascinating read.

  33. faustusnotes

    Terry, another point you need to take into account is that the vast majority of the processes behind the coal industry already happen in urban areas: coal exporting facilities, coal storage facilities, and coal-fired power stations tend to be clustered near the sea in urban areas. When rural communities use energy they often use energy generated in the city. So how can you say it’s wrong to foist wind farms on rural communities?

  34. Terry

    I did think it was Greens’ policy to close down the coal industry, so that is useful. Its clearly not Labor policy to close down the coal industry, so that is presumably the problem with Martin Ferguson. If Gary Gray takes over the portfolio, it will be the problem with him as well. But the Wattle Alliance of 2011 is now dead, so that doesn’t matter so much any more.

    I’m interested in the ‘transition programs” for “coal dependent communities”. Are these to be outback baristas? Gallery attendants for the Emerald Museum of Modern Art?

  35. selzick

    @ Terry, wow one statistic re Tasmanian energy output to make a point… Political correlation does not imply causation. Boring. How about Tasmania having access to cheaper power from hydro, power from Vic via Basslink and that wind power generation in Tasmania is significant in respect to state population size. Is there a need to ramp up installation?

  36. Terry

    It may be time to take discussion of wind farms to the Overflow Thread. Their relationship to Martin Ferguson is tangential at best.

  37. Paul Norton

    It may be time to take discussion of wind farms to the Overflow Thread. Their relationship to Martin Ferguson is tangential at best.

    I so rule, but not before I take my pound of polemical flesh.

    Terry @31:

    I note that Tasmania is the only state in which the Greens have been in a coalition government, yet wind power only accounts for 4.7% of its energy output. So I’m not seeing much evidence there of a preparedness to install wind turbines in the electorates of one’s own voters.

    The figure cited is for wind as a fraction ofTasmania’s energy output in 2010. The current Labor-Greens coalition State government was formed in that year. Wind farms typically take 12-18 months to construct, and construction is preceded by an approvals process. Tasmania’s wind power capacity in 2010 was the product of decisions taken by Labor majority governments and Hydro Tasmania.

  38. Paul Norton

    As a matter of interest, here is the latest evidence we have of the voting behaviours of the inhabitants of the town nearest mainland Tasmania’s wind farm.

  39. Helen

    When wind farms start going up in Newtown and Fitzroy

    Terry, there IS a small wind farm in Fitzroy, at the top of a building. And if it’s effective I’m sure there will be more. I will take a photo next time I walk past if you don’t believe me.

  40. Fran Barlow

    Anyone who has ever stepped off the top of the escalator from platform 25 at Redfern must surely wonder why there aren’t Savonius style wind turbines on the ceiling near the exit gate from the station.

    It feels as if there is a 40 knot headwind there every time I enter the area! 😉

  41. Terry

    Helen @ 39, great. I’ll draw on that energy to grind some Timor-Leste beans when next in Fitzroy.

  42. Brad

    After reading Bramston’s Looking For the Light on the Hill and listening to Wilkinson on The Drum the speech Menzies gave at the founding of the Liberal Party always comes to mind:

    ..what we must look for, and it is a matter of desperate importance to our society, is a true revival of liberal thought which will work for social justice and security, for national power and national progress, and for the full development of the individual citizen, though not through the dull and deadening process of socialism

    Of course, the Liberal Party seem to have forgotten about the social justice part!

    Gillard also seems to have a similar philosophy. She never talks about equality, while Wilkinson and Bramston talk about “equality of opportunity” without realising that philosopher GA Cohen (in his little book Why Not Socialism? distinguished between three different equalities of opportunity. And the Gillard phrase that most annoys me is “Labor is the party of work.” That is a very different thing to being a party of the workers, those who live by selling their labour. The party of work sounds like the party of capitalists who want people working overtime on low pay while they reap the rewards.

    I always thought that what distinguished social democracy in parties like Labor from more extreme socialism was that it sought different means to similar ends.

    Then again, it’s hard to get a cushy job on the board of a big company or commenting on politics in the media when you’ve fought against their interests while you were in politics.

  43. Paul Norton

    Well said, Brad.

  44. Paul Norton

    On Insiders, Gerard Henderson has described Martin Ferguson as the “standout performer” in the Gillard cabinet, and he and Nikki Savva have called for the admitted climate change denialist Gary Grey to succeed Ferguson.

  45. Liz

    Terry, it’s interesting that you see wind farms as a terrible imposition on country people, but apparently those no downside to coal mines for those same people.

    FWIW, I have family in Warrnambool, so I spend quite a bit of time down. They’re building wind farms down there and people seem pretty happy about it.

  46. Martin B

    I am still unsure about why having the confidence of key players in the sector you are responsible for is such a bad thing.

    Surely it rather depends on why you enjoy that confidence eg if you are seen as an honest broker, intelligent, engaged and responsive, able to clearly an honestly state the framework you are coming from but able to take a wide range of advice before making a decision; or if you are seen as ‘their man’ at the cabinet table and can be trusted to use your position to advance their interests within government by insider mechanisms as well as policy.

  47. Paul Norton

    Martin B @46, that’s an important point. There’s a difference between having someone’s confidence because you’ve earned their respect and having their confidence because they’ve captured you. Also, unless one sees the only legitimate stakeholders in a policy realm as the private corporations within the relevant economic sector/s, it is clear that Ferguson didn’t have the confidence of all stakeholders in his portfolio.

  48. Sam

    Looks like Gary Gray, ex Woodside, is going to be the new Minister for Resources. Readers might recall that Bolt outed him as a climate sceptic some years back. Clearly, he is an upgrade on Marn.

    As always, be careful what you wish for. Not that it matters much now, as we head for climate policy by Exxon Mobil and social policy by Cardinal Pell. Should be a laugh a minute.

  49. Paul Norton

    Sam @48, Gray outed himself as a climate sceptic in 1991 at about the time he became ALP National Secretary. He was quoted in one of the Fairfax weekend supplements as calling climate change “pop science”.

  50. Terry

    Well, did we think that Christine Milne was going to suddenly switch sides, and take up the mantle of Labor Minster for Resources and Energy?

    The whole argument is based her upon a false premise, which is that Labor should really be adopting the Greens’ policy towards the mining sector, and should be ruthlessly condemned in so far as it doesn’t. As there is no coalition agreement between the two parties, this defaults to political posturing.

    The two parties have quite different histories, different policy platforms, different constituencies, and different interests. Actual Labor voters don’t want the coal industry closed down.

  51. Sam

    It will be ironic if he loses his seat due to WA anger over [c’mon – really?]’s carbon tax.

  52. Sam

    Terry 50, what Milne is doing is no different from what Abbott and, especially the Australian and Financial Review, are doing, which is condemning Labor for not adopting the policies of their opponents. For some reason Gillard et al are incapable of just shrugging their shoulders and saying, “so what? They’re not our policies”. Instead they are always on the backfoot, just about apologizing for not adopting the policies of their opponents. It’s dumb politics at the best of times, but extremely dumb when you are simultaneously apologizing left and right. It makes them look incoherent.

  53. Terry

    I would say that Gary Gray, Stephen Smith and possibly Melissa Parke are gone, unless West Australians like the Federal ALP a lot more than they like the State ALP. How Labor rebuilds in WA is quite a challenge.

  54. Sam

    Paul, if it was you who censored me, you have no sense of irony.

    Terry: Labor is dead meat in WA for the length of the resources boom, which according to Treasury has decades to run. WA will be to the Liberal Party what Tasmania has been to the Labor Party, the difference being that WA is growing while Tas is shrinking. It’s just as well for the ALP that s.24 of the Constitution guarantees each state a minimum of five House of Reps electorates.

  55. Terry

    Tasmania won’t be whatever it is to the ALP for much longer. Perhaps you mean WA is to the Libs what the ACT is to the ALP … um hang on, perhaps what Marrickville is to the ALP, no, try again …

  56. Sam

    Labor might be able to hang on its four Tas seats, and maybe even back Wilkie’s, if it can mount an effective scare campaign on the distribution of the GST to the states. Tasmania has a huge amount of lose if Colin Barnett gets his way, and WA punches hard in the modern day Liberal Party.

  57. Paul Norton

    Sam, I didn’t censor you. Perhaps the moderation filters were being overzealous.

  58. Paul Norton

    Oh, now I see.

    Sam @51:

    It will be ironic if he loses his seat due to WA anger over [c’mon – really?]’s carbon tax.

    Sam, what did you intend this to say? I’ve got no idea how the bit in the square brackets got into the act.

  59. Sam

    It will be ironic if he loses his seat due to WA anger over Juliar’s‘s carbon tax.

  60. Lefty E

    Terry, it’s interesting that you see wind farms as a terrible imposition on country people, but apparently those no downside to coal mines for those same people.

    Or more pertinently, coal seam gas, which we know country people are up in arms about.

  61. Liz

    Very true, Lefty E.

  62. Paul Norton

    Ah, the J word.

  63. Sam

    You got some automatic thingy there that censors the J word?

    It’s got me thinking. A right-thinking (actually left-thinking, but you know what I mean) blog like this should have an Index of Banned Words and Phrases that automatically get the Bulli.

    (Dunno why I am thinking an Index of Banned Stuff. Could it be the imminent ascension of you-know-who to the Lodge, and more to the point, of Cardinal you-know-who to a position of huge influence? Anyway, I digress.)

    Other than the J word, what else is unspeakable?

  64. Paul Norton

    Folks, for future reference if we intend irony in a comment can we bear in mind the pitfalls of conveying ironic intent online and take appropriate precautions (e.g. judicious use of quotation marks, etc.)?

  65. Paul Norton

    Sam, our last two comments crossed.

  66. Sam

    Paul. do you really think I could have meant calling the PM Juliar as anything but ironic, especially in the context of the comment?

    That’s it. I’m offended. I’m going to complain to Ray Finkelstein.

  67. Sam

    Julia (no r) has announced the new ministry.

    Here’s the kicker: the Department of Climate Change has been abolished (actually merged into the Department of Industry, which has become a Ministry of Everything). If that isn’t a sign of the times, what is?

    Cop that, Greens.

  68. Paul Norton

    Sam, you can complain to me instead and I’ll try to clear this up.

  69. Paul Norton

    It would be easier to call it the Department of Barry Jones.

    More seriously, under other circumstances the incorporation of an environment/sustainability agency with industry, science, research, education, etc. could create positive possibilities that might exist with stand-alone environmental agencies confronting unreconstructed developmental ones. In the current circumstances I think Sam is close to the mark. Also, the devil in such things is in the detail.


  70. Sam

    Abbott said that he would abolish the Department of Climate Change. As the programs are still in place, and will be until they are undone (which takes time) this was a totemic nod to the climate change deniers — devaluing the importance of climate change policy by not having a stand alone minister and a stand alone department.

    It seems now that Julia (no r) is intent on implementing Abbott’s policies even before he wins the election. That’s very considerate of her. It’s also, of course, part of the de-Greening strategy that Labor hopes might save them a couple of seats.

    Next week: abolition of Medicare funding for abortions and announcement of a referendum entrenching heterosexual-only marriage in the Constitution.

  71. Jacques de Molay

    Keep in mind folks Antony Green said after the WA state election he doesn’t expect Labor to lose any of their federal seats in the election later this year.

  72. Sam


    That was before the latest debacle.