Lazarus With a Triple Bypass?

For my money, Michael Gordon’s piece in The Age is the best op/ed article on the Labor leadership contest published to date. Writing of Beazley, Gordon comments:

But others are more sceptical. They see Beazley as a caretaker leader who will see the party through tough times, but are keeping open the prospect of another change before the next election. A respectable loss by Rudd in next week’s ballot would position the Queenslander as Beazley’s likely successor. Rudd’s ambition and unconscious ability to alienate colleagues have damaged his prospects in the past, but his capacity, intellect, work ethic and media savvy make him impossible to ignore.

He also writes:

More than one Labor insider expressed the concern yesterday that, if returned to the leadership, Beazley would heal the post-Latham wounds and promptly “put the party to sleep”.

Possibly a good sleeping tablet is what the ALP needs right now.

Of Gillard’s chances, Gordon says:

Julia Gillard is also being urged to stand by those who supported Simon Crean and then Latham against Beazley in earlier ballots. But although she is one of Labor’s best parliamentary performers and a proven team player, her inexperience and membership of the Left count against her.

The general theme coming across in press coverage is that Beazley is an experienced leader who has public respect and would put the party’s dissension to rest. That’s probably true, but I remain sceptical about his ability in the other key task Gordon identifies – to formulate new policy. Beazley is a social conservative and hasn’t given too much evidence of thinking outside the square in past incarnations. I also remain deeply disappointed in his lack of – yes, ticker – in caving in to the prevailing climate of fear that swirled around the 2001 campaign. Julia Gillard has demonstrated policy nous, a killer touch in Parliament against Abbott and Ruddock, and is a good communicator. The Liberal Party will most likely have a new leader in 2007, possibly leaving Beazley adrift as a man of a previous era. I can see the arguments for the Labor Party to make the safe choice, but I do think that opting for a leader who could inspire and invigorate would be a better move. Does anyone really believe Beazley would have won the 2004 campaign on his third outing against Howard if he’d beaten Latham?

About Mark Bahnisch

Mark Bahnisch is a sociologist and is the founder of this blog. He has an undergraduate degree in history and politics from UQ, and postgraduate qualifications in sociology, industrial relations and political economy from Griffith and QUT. He has recently been awarded his PhD through the Humanities Program at QUT. Mark's full bio is on this page.
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Francis Xavier Holden
2022 years ago

I always thought Big Kimbo would be a good Prime Minister but not much of an Opposition Leader. Some people are like that.

He disappointed me last time. Especially on the refugee / boat people issue. It was time for a policy that is more humane than “lock em all up and throw em back” and isn’t as sloppy as “let’s take anyone who makes it”.

What I don’t know is whether he was severely on the leash last time and if let off might show a bit more spark, spontaneity and a touch of Elvis. Or was that the real Kim?

mister z
2022 years ago

If Beazley is seen as a caretaker inside the party and therefore open to challege before the next election — like Crean was — I think the ALP might as well down the whole bottle of sleeping tablets.

Still if he’s prepared to take a third tilt that should put the ‘ticker’ comments to rest if nothing else.

Brian Bahnisch
Brian Bahnisch
2022 years ago

I don’t think ticker was ever a problem. He made a judgement that if they took a line opposing Howard on Tampa they would have been wiped out. It is unpalatable, but i think he was right. Crafting a new policy on refugees under those circumstances would have been impossible.

Beazer claims he had a big input into Gillard’s policy on refugees, which would explain why Carmen seemed so pissed off with him.

Could he have won the 2004 election? Who knows. The interest rate thing was the biggest factor.

I tend to agree with Mark on policy adventurism, but they are all pretty conservative.

Ron
Ron
2022 years ago

“Possibly a good sleeping tablet is what the ALP needs right now.”

And if the ALP elects Beazley,that’s is what they will have as far as public support goes.

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

The Leader is much exagerated. John howard won in 96 despite preferring Keating as Leader.

for those Labor supporters imitating the Liberals of 93 read my old compadre from the financial markets Ray block on Henry Thorton concerning the economy.
No-one really knows how far rates have to rise to impact the economy. It certainly appears the RBA is scared of raising rates.
A prospective current account deficit of 6.8% of GDP must be scaring them to bits!

An interest rate scare only works once.
1) the next time the ALP takes the issue seriously. There will be no complacency

2) bring up history. who was in power when the largest drop in interest rates occured. who was treasurer when bill rates were over 23% etal

You talk about where fiscal policy will be going under Labor. You must leave the specifics until Treasury gives them the parameters to work with
which is normally the second week.
This way people won’t believe you are spending more money than the government when you are spending distinctly less.

Like the ALP in 93 the Liberals are quite vulnerable. Neither party realised this in 93 and they don’t this time round.

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

the ALP were looking at the worst ever defeat in 2001 until voters realised that they supported the Tampa legislation.

Then their vote rose until the last week of the campaign. what was the major issue of the last week!

Kalpa
Kalpa
2022 years ago

Is there any speculation within labour about getting an outsider to take over leadership? I don’t think anyone in the party is ready for the spot.

My understanding is that the ALPs best leaders historically have been imported.

Scot Mcphee
2022 years ago

the alp’s best leaders imported? chifley, curtin, whitlam, hawke and keating? imported?

the alp distrusts outsiders. no chance of importing a leader. unless you mean an already alp-member-of-long-standing like a state premier.

Joel Parsons
2022 years ago

Carr for Canberra, anyone?

brian
brian
2022 years ago

“The Union makes strong” was the motto of the Australian Union movement. Equally applicable in Elections is the saying ” Disunity is death” The ALP must finally elect a Leader either Rudd or Beazley and then set to work in a unified fashion and not only craft a set of modern relevent policies, but democraise the Party within and promote the concept again of a mass movement party.A potential P.M must show the way and have the desire and courage to impliment change from within and only then will the electorate respond at the ballot box.

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

Disunity is death.
from 93 to 96 the Libs had three leaders.
Who won in 96?

figures always beat slogans

derrida derider
derrida derider
2022 years ago

Yep, Howard’s history is a cautionary tale for those who want to write Beazley and the ALP off. When Downer was deposed the chances for the Libs seemed every bit as dismal – turning to “boring, safe” Howard was seen by all as an act of desperation. And the Bomber’s record to date is far more impressive than the Rodent’s was in 1995.

I actually think Mad Dog didn’t do a bad job at all, and I say that as a long-time critic of his. 2004 (top of a boom, facing a familiar and experienced government) was always gonna be very, very tough for the ALP to win. One misstep in the last week of the campaign was all it took to make the rodent’s win comfortable.

trackback
2022 years ago

The Ironman is dead, long live the Bomber

As I’m sure you all know, Mark Latham has quit politics on the grounds that his health no longer up to the job, and he is therefore going to lead a more normal life outside politics. As sad as I am to see him go, staying around with something as bad …