Federal Labor needs to rethink its approach if it is to survive beyond the next decade or two.
LABOR’S leadership since the Hawke years has remained unimaginative, so it’s understandable that a growing number of its front and backbenchers fear the Greens.
But such defeatism is inexcusable.
Those primarily responsible for it are Kevin Rudd, his deputy and replacement, Julia Gillard, current deputy and treasurer, Wayne Swan, and South Australia’s Senator Penny Wong, because they spent 2007 to 2010 being de facto Greens.
Without realising it, this quartet copied the failed tactic adopted long ago by the Australian Democrats, which also tried to out-green the Greens.
Not surprisingly, that contributed significantly to the Democrats’ demise.
If 110-year-old Labor continues meandering thoughtlessly down that same failed path of fighting on someone else’s turf, it will be similarly marginalised.
What’s urgently required of Labor’s leadership is an entirely new strategy to ensure the party remains politically relevant up to and beyond about 2025.
Instead, it has opted for a ploy that has meant Labor’s disastrous Rudd-Gillard years bequeathed the Greens nine senators plus a lower house member, former Murdoch University leftist activist Adam Bandt, now the Member for Melbourne.
Several more seats could follow at election 2013 – in just 36 months.
Heading the Greens’ hit list are NSW seats – Sydney, still held by minister Tanya Plibersek, and Grayndler, held by another minister, Anthony Albanese.
Labor’s primary vote in the seat of Sydney was just 44 per cent, with Greens at 23.5 per cent, while in Grayndler Labor won 46 per cent and the Greens 25.5 per cent.
Another Victorian Labor seat, Batman, although registering 53 per cent for minister Martin Ferguson, also shouldn’t be seen as eternally withstanding Greens challenges.
The Greens also performed well in the seat of Brisbane, which the Liberals managed to snatch from Labor’s Arch Bevis, who won it in 1990.
And if the Greens hadn’t fallen-out with newly elected left-of-centre Tasmanian independent Andrew Wilkie, who once stood as a Green, they’d have also taken Denison from Labor.
Melbourne Ports, held by right-of-centre Labor MP Michael Danby, is another approaching a green brink.
If election 2013 goes the way Greens hope and Labor fears, Australia’s next hung parliament will have five lower house Greens (if Mr Wilkie could be attracted back into the fold).
With five lower house and nine Senate seats – the latter are already assured from July 1 onwards – and if Labor continues down its downward path of seeking to out-green the Greens, Australians should ready themselves for their country to be re-named, Tastralia or Ausmania, since it’s from Tasmania that advancing greenism hails.
Labor would, under such circumstances, certainly have to surrender at least two, perhaps three, cabinet posts to the Greens since they’d have about 15 MPs, a number that certainly warrants sizeable cabinet representation in a Labor-Green coalition.
State Scene’s guess is the Greens would demand, and get, the environment and resources portfolios – the latter meaning control over climate-justified taxing, coal mining, gas extraction, and restricted electricity generation.
No prizes for guessing the impact upon those sectors and the economy when that happens.
After those two portfolios it’s anyone’s guess.
If the Greens were smart they’d opt for education to ensure they can mould the minds of Australia’s next generation of voters through careful refashioning of the curriculum, along the lines pioneered by Sweden’s Social Democrats since the 1930s.
Nothing here is fanciful.
Election 2013, not election 2010, as many presently believe, will be Australia’s climacteric 21st century ballot.
There are several reasons for this. State Scene offers just one, since it will probably be overlooked but shouldn’t be.
Say your political inclinations are left-of-centre, and you’re contemplating a political career after about 2020, since you’re presently holding down a big-paying legal job, as Mr Bandt was.
Where would you be tempted to look for possible pre-selection in say three, six, or nine years – Labor or the Greens?
You can bet increasing numbers of well-healed inner-city professionals – the backbone of greenism – will keep spurning Labor to join the Greens.
There are several other similar overlooked developments State Scene could highlight if space permitted.
Let’s therefore ask the penultimate question, the one Vladimir Lenin asked (and answered) early last century, after which he steadily helped propel his old Bolshevik pals into power against all odds.
“What is to be done?”
What Labor must first do is abandon the Rudd path of obsequiously carping about the climate warming hoax, since that’s been playing right into Greens’ ballot papers.
After that it should do something that State Scene recommended long ago – convene a scientifically based commission somewhat like that into the loss of HMAS Sydney to the German raider, Kormoran, off Carnarvon in November 1941.
We mustn’t have stacked citizens’ assemblies or panels where the ideologically motivated and uninformed would get their way.
For decades thereafter a group of way-out people claimed an unknown, unidentified and never-seen Japanese submarine sunk the Sydney.
Historically researchers repeatedly said this was a silly contention and asked for evidence that never came.
Finally, after years of lobbying by many, a commission was convened where testimony was taken under oath and had to be backed with evidence.
No evidence confirming the way-out Japanese submarine theory surfaced because those promoting it didn’t have any.
But for reasons best known to them they continued proselytising it.
The now decade-old anti-carbon crusade over unsubstantiated claims of climate warming, upon which so much of the Greens’ success rests, should be subjected to the same form of treatment, with climate warming crusaders being required to provide empirical evidence for their contentions.
Remember the late Professor Aaron Wildavsky’s words, quoted here last week: “Global warming is the mother of environmental scares [which] … dwarfs all the environmental and safety scares of our time put together.”
Without this scare the Greens would flounder and slide into electoral oblivion.
But what’s likely to happen? Nothing. Why? Because Labor’s leadership is unimaginative.
Instead it will continue to have its inner-city seats, increasingly inhabited by well-healed professionals, taken from it by Greens candidates, instead of doing something as sensible and farsighted as convening an expertly advised open inquiry into the climate hoax that’s so fertilising greenism.
Labor’s leadership seems incapable of realising that this “mother of environmental scares” could so easily be countered.
Clearly, for Labor to get to that point it must firstly find within its ranks several brave MPs, like the Liberals did with South Australian senators Nick Minchin and Cory Bernardi and Western Australians Dennis Jensen and Wilson Tuckey.
They saw their leadership, meaning primarily Malcolm Turnbull, who is still behaving like a de facto Green, taking the Liberal Party into oblivion.
So they said ‘enough’s enough’.
And it was that which gave present Liberal leader, Tony Abbott, gumption to say no to carbon taxing, and gaining time for the “mother of environmental scares” to abate, as most scares, panics and hysterias invariably do.
In the meantime, Labor would be smart to hasten abatement along by moving for the convening of an evidence-based commission of inquiry.
That, among other things, would force way-out climate hoax crusaders to confront producing evidence they don’t have, thereby paving the way for Labor’s survival beyond about 2025 – something that’s presently far from assured.