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Albo asks for my help

Regular readers will recall that I am on the hotline from our government members and they are always seeking my support for the important changes that they wish to make for the betterment of our country:

Dear Iain,

Labor people have always been champions for local community services.

Roads and footpaths. Parks and gardens. Sports clubs and community centres. Childcare. Help for seniors. Festivals and events. Community gardens.

For more than 40 years, federal governments have given funding to local councils to ensure our communities have these vital services.

Despite this, our most important document – the Australian Constitution – doesn’t recognise this.

That’s why I’ve just made an important announcement with the Prime Minister that on September 14 we are planning to hold a referendum on recognition of local government in our Constitution.

We need to add a few words so that federal governments can keep supporting vital services. It’s a small but important change.

If you support your local community services, can you share this with your friends?

This isn’t about politics. This change to our Constitution has the support of all the major parties – at this stage, even Tony Abbott.

Our challenge is to make sure our local communities know if they want to say “yes” to local services, they need to say “yes” to changing the Constitution.

Help us spread the word about this important opportunity.



Of course there have been two previous (failed) attempts to make this sort of change to the constitution and both have been soundly defeated. I totally understand  why Albo is seeking an endorsement from yours truly, he must realise that without my support that  this referendum question has about as much hope as his beloved Julia has of winning another term in the lodge. That said I wonder just how necessary such a change to our constitution is. After all our cities and towns have got along quite well without it up until now  so is the status quo broken enough to require this change?

Cheers Comrades

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the Labor Party dilemma

There are actually quite a few Labor thinkers that I admire and respect and Lindsey Tanner is one of them so it will surprise no one that I cite him today from his piece in the Fairfax press:

There are three fundamental factors that have made modern Labor what it is.

The first is affluence. Our aggregate level of wellbeing, taking into account wealth, income, opportunity, personal security, environmental amenity, health, life expectancy and recreation, is probably higher than it has ever been. It is hardly surprising that much of the sting has gone out of Labor’s historic mission – redistributing wealth and income to ordinary working people – when many of those people are among the richest citizens in a globalised world.

The second structural factor that has changed Labor is the emergence of serious competition on the left of the political spectrum. As the focus has shifted from material concerns to more abstract issues of environmental degradation, international co-operation and human rights, the Greens have prospered at Labor’s expense. While our record on such matters has generally been good, the Greens can always outbid us because they are not weighed down by the need to deal with material concerns and to win majority support in order to form government.

The third fundamental shift is the emergence of a distinct class of political professionals, who now heavily influence the Labor Party. This group is extremely adept at the mechanics of politics, but largely uninterested in its purpose. Continuous interaction with our toxic media has magnified its innately self-serving, cynical approach to politics.

In previous times when Labor has been weak, it has been sustained by grassroots idealism and the institutional strength of the trade union movement. If we find ourselves out of office all around the country in a couple of years’ time, we will have very little to fall back on. Rebuilding needs people, resources and purpose.

There is only one way to deal with this challenge: a complete root-and-branch rethink about why we exist. What is our purpose? What is it we are seeking to achieve? When our answers to these questions no longer contain the empty shibboleths of a bygone world and vacuous appeals to defeat the conservatives, we’ll know we are on the way back.

This is the essence of the task facing the Labor party and its actually rather sad that it will be facings its own demons without straight shooting clear thinkers like Lindsey Tanner.
Cheers Comrades

Bob Brown’s Paranoia about the USA

If  Greens like to think that they are a party of the future why is it that their thinking is so much in the past? Take Bob Brown’ intention to make a fool of himself when we have the long awaited visit from Barrack Obama. Not that making a fool of himself is anything new for our Bob, he does so every time he goes on like pork chop about just about everything. The thing that I find truly stupid is that he really seems to believe that being a snivelling coward on a global scale is in  Australia’s best interest.

The far from Christ like Bob Brown (click for link)

The global reality is that this country won’t be attacked by China or by our nearest neighbour either because we make our long-standing alliance with the USA stronger and more overt Islamic Jihadists will still hate us and consider us a viable target (think of the bombing of our embassy in Indonesia and the Bali bombings) so nothing changes in any real sense. The Chinese clearly realise that they can achieve the hegemony that they so clearly crave through the use of their factories and their under-priced currency, Indonesian lacks the ability to invade, or even attack us, India well its far to obsessed with its eternal struggle with Pakistan to even consider attacking us. So just where does Bob see the “increased threat” coming from?

Maybe the Greens leader has been enjoying too much of another kind of “Greens” and that smoke coming from the chimney of his cottage was not in fact coming from a heating fire at all. There must be some reason for his silliness …

Cheers Comrades


Go North young farmer, Go north

This should be a new and positive agenda item from the Coalition and it should ignite an interesting debate about the direction that the country should be moving towards into the future. Of course the Greens are going to be horrified that anyone would be suggesting that we build dams and flood vast areas of wilderness so that even bigger areas of that same wilderness can be put under the plough.

Click for source

If you think that a prospective government has to have a big vision for the future then this is it, while all that Labor has to offer is Tax and more tax so that they can attempt ever more intrusive social engineering from the far left song book.Well I for one applaud this new initiative from Tony Abbott et al because is shows that rather than being , as their critics keep insisting, a party that just keeps saying “no” they are clearly a party who are saying yes to a development future and that has to be a good thing for our future and the future of humanity on this planet.

Cheers Comrades

The most important function of your house is to keep you warm when it is cold and dry when it rains

I am utterly horrified by just how much it costs to rent a house  in the big smoke these days, as a home owner without a mortgage hanging over my head I look at the amount of cash that people have to outlay to get that roof over their heads and I am amazed at just how much the cost of that necessity will enslave. But I am also well aware of how the choices that are made about the life they want to lead have more effect on their housing prospects than an so called “affordability crisis” in housing:

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 Colin Barnett is right about the sort of houses that so many new entrants into the home buying game are desiring, we should all be happier with more modest digs but two things get in the way as far as I can tell, the first has a great deal to do with wanting our abodes to display a greater social status than we may have earned (so the bigger and more ostentatious the better) and the second one is the rather silly belief that one’s home should be treated first and foremost as a tool for creating wealth, as an investment. Reality check folks; the most important function of your house is to keep you warm when it is cold and dry when it rains…

So in many ways less is more. Less conspicuous consumption and more modest aspirations is the answer…

Cheers Comrades

A glimpse of Bess Price’s world

Although I’m just a simple whitefella I am very concerned about the plight of our indigenous people which is why I have written about the topic on a fairly regular basis here at the Sandpit. It is also the reason that I have been rather scathing of the lefties who have done such a great disservice to the most disadvantaged Australians by focusing on a rights agenda rather than seeking good practical outcomes and a real future for the original inhabitants of this wide brown land. This has led me to respect and admire people like Noel Pearson and Bess Price. It is the latter that I want to highlight today.

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I was lying in bed early this morning listening to Radio National when the repeat of “Background briefing” came on. Please listen at my link or read the transcript for a most sensible argument about what has to be done to give the first people of this country a chance at being part of the future rather than a sad footnote from our past. Clearly its not the rights agenda driven aborigines by choice who are going to provide salvation for those desperate people in remote Australia, its people like Bess Price who understand that not every part of Indigenous culture should be immutable or given undue deference in the face of modernity.

  Much respect Comrades

Compare and contrast

There is a certain irony that as our avowed republican prime minister prepares to enjoy the Royal knees up in London the leader of the opposition who supports the monarchy  has been hob knobbing with the elders of Alice springs’ indigenous people. The hope is that that a way forward may be found that can hopefully address the terrible social problems that are so evident in the red heart of our country.

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The thing that our Latte sipping friends just can’t get their heads around is that there is a necessity for a continuing intervention and no amount of whining about a rights agenda is going to cut it when our most disadvantaged people continue to live a nihilistic life style. On another level this is just another example of how Tony Abbott is gaining ground from Labor’s  heartland. What with his recent beers with miners who once would not have given any Tory the time of day and now this, its not looking good for the lady in London even if she manges to find a notable frock for today’s nuptials.

Cheers Comrades

I can't for the life of me see a cure for the NSW disease anywhere on the horizon

The first time I voted it was Gough who led the party and I was passionate about being able to give the ALP my vote. The party just seemed to have all of the correct ideas that suited my sense of fair play the idea of Medicare, ending the White Australia Policy and ending our commitment to Vietnam were things that inspired voters like myself, and I went on to be a very loyal Labor voter for many years. Then I found that I was voting for them out of a sort of despair. Despair that they were at least not the Tories and that they would do some good things for the ordinary people, But then I started to see then degenerate into an incompetent rabble. The last Labor leader that I respected was Keating and since then it has just been one disappointment after another and now, as I have completely turned my back entirely on the party I am beginning to wonder if the once great Australian Labor party is in its death throes. Which brings me to today’s little gem of an Op ed piece from the Age by Michael Pearce who also seems to think that the party if not already dead is at least gravely ill.

Many on the left have turned to the Greens for that articulation. However, the Greens sit outside the broad consensus on economic policy and, while they remain there, will struggle to win mainstream support. The dilemma for Labor is that to move outside the consensus makes it unelectable, while it denies its history and its raison d’etre by staying within it.

As a result, this once great party has become little more than a vehicle for political careerists, drawn mainly from the trade union movement. While the majority of the workforce were trade union members, as they were up to the 1970s, the link to the union movement enhanced the representative nature of the party. But today less than 20 per cent of the workforce are trade union members and the link now serves only to highlight the party’s unrepresentative nature.

The increasing professionalisation of politics has bred a cadre of party officials and MPs who have never worked on the shop floor, run a business, practised a profession (other than politics) or done anything outside of politics. Many have been parachuted into safe Labor seats or won preselection by stacking branches. Few have any real connection to the communities they notionally represent in Parliament. Indeed, many do not even live in their electorates. With caucus members no longer in the position to work out what voters think, is it any wonder the party has become reliant on focus groups to supply that information?

This is the modern Labor Party: a hollowed-out institution lacking any coherent and relevant ideology, propped up by the increasingly marginalised trade union movement with a dwindling active membership. Can anything be salvaged from it, or is it time to say the party is over? This is the real, existential question that the ALP and its members need to ask.

Michael Pearce is a Melbourne lawyer and has been a member of the Labor Party since 1976.

We need to have a viable dichotomy to keep an incumbent government focused and hard working but Labor seems to be so incompetent in power and that has more than anything undermined any of its good social ideas and it is the reason that it has seriously declined in its standing with the public. I can’t for the life of me see a cure for the NSW disease anywhere on the horizon but there is one thing that I do know ant that is if they don’t find a cure soon the party will continue to wither and die . The Greens like to think that they will raise to fill the political space thus created but I think that this is wishful thinking because they have peaked and now that they have enough prominence to warrant closer scrutiny they have been found very deficient in that most important currency of political capital, moral consistency.

Hard times ahead for the left, even those of the moderate centre Left like the ALP.

Cheers Comrades

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