September 11th 2004

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: Battle lines drawn for October 9 Federal poll

EDITORIAL: Issues for the Federal Election

FAMILY: Better deal demanded for families

NOT SO DRY CONTINENT: Australia has water options

FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Taiwan faces continuing threats from Beijing

POPULATION: Falling birth-rates stir action in Taiwan, Singapore

INDIA: The economic test for India's new government

PEACE-KEEPING: Sudan and the progressive mind

OPINION: The case for new states in Australia

STRAWS IN THE WIND: Howard versus New Class Labor / Tap Tap. Who's there?

CINEMA: Bus 174 - A jolting, two-hour masterpiece

CLIMATE: Global warming - the sceptics have won

DEMOCRACY: Lay your hammer down

Labor's foot-soldiers (letter)

Mondragon: a rejoinder (letter)

The West and Islam (letter)

BOOKS: The Last Valley: Dien Bien Phu and the French defeat in Vietnam

BOOKS: 7 Myths of Working Mothers, by Suzanne Venker

Books promotion page

Howard versus New Class Labor / Tap Tap. Who's there?

by Max Teichmann

News Weekly, September 11, 2004
Howard versus New Class Labor

Now that John Howard has called an election, I hope you'll study Katherine Betts' paper in People and Place entitled "People and Parliamentarians: The Great Divide". To quote from her preliminary summing up, "Most candidates for Federal Elections, hold values on economic and social questions that are unlike those of most voters. However, Coalition MPs and candidates are much closer to their members and voters than are Labor's."

Labor has, as Betts says, a relatively small number of new-class social professionals and a relatively large number of people in traditional working-class occupations.

Labor MPs and candidates share the values and social ambitions of the former, not the latter. And as Betts observes, Labor professionals' socio-economic ideology is almost coterminous with that of the Greens. So really, Labor is presiding over a Green Left parliamentary party.

How do they explain this to members and to voters generally? What do they tell them?

The answer is, they aren't telling them or explaining anything. They have been first relying on not announcing policies, then reluctantly, half-baked motherhood generalities which could easily be dropped later.

Then there are the me-too follow-ups to unarguable conservative proposals; finally, the kind of blocking and filibustering which has gained the Senate, its committees and the smaller parties such contempt from those with an understanding of the Federal system.

It is the Coalition's duty to force the Labor Party to show its hand: what it intends to do, what changes it would make.

This tactic is starting to work: Labor under Latham is beginning to attack private medicine under the pretext of saving Medicare.

The only attacker of Medicare is the medical profession led by the Labor doctors, as it was when Hayden first introduced it; but then it was the conservative doctors led by the specialists. Some even told me at the time that Hayden was having a mental breakdown. Seriously. Whereas I diagnosed sciatica of the hip-pocket nerve for them.

Same snake - only different skins.

But private medicine is under threat from the loony Left who have been calling the shots. And we still don't know what the ALP wants to do about private schools.

People should stop kidding themselves about the gravity of these threats to our institutions.

And the remarkable victory of Howard on same-sex marriages and foreshadowed changes to Family Law and greater rights for fathers and children, has raised a cold fury among that ten per cent who think that they are born to rule - and to rule immorally.

Labor under Latham is certainly likely to move to undo all those changes, while blocking any further reforms foreshadowed in the present Parliament.

It is as well that the election has started, for otherwise we would have had to endure day-in and day-out, beat-ups, conspiracies, leaks (i.e., the theft of state documents), and regular appearances of ejected, rejected, dejected or just superannuated ex-public servants, diplomats and military bureaucrats, who are "at last free to tell us the 'real' story". If this Government had sat on, we could get the Pyjama Girl Case reopened.

To be frank, there are some Saturday morning sausage sizzles run by the Lions etc. that need recruits of mature age. Better that than stumbling up and down the Corridors of Impotence, networking and complaining. Like some of my ex-colleagues from the universities.


Of course, Labor's convening yet another Senate committee inquiry into - wait for it - children overboard, which they had hoped to run through the election period, is a gross abuse of a political process; but the ALP has long regarded the States' House as little more than a propaganda forum. There is an article or a book for someone on this whole matter.

From viewing mug-shots of some recent groups of senators, you might think that this was an identification parade at police headquarters or one of Vyshinsky's show-trials. Disgraceful.

And in their ideological desperation, Labor's spin doctors are producing as "stars" ex-Labor leaders, each responsible, in his own way, for some of the most disastrous policies and attacks on our core values and the Australian polity since Billy Hughes. They haven't changed, won't admit or say sorry. If they are influencing Labor again, hold on to your hats. And sew up your pockets.

As to the never-ending line of ex-Liberal pollies who hate their old party and smooch up to Labor, anything to be noticed, to feel important again. These immigrants started from Ian McPhee and Fred Chaney, and have been running ever since. Perhaps Don Chipp was the first decommissioned bridesmaid?

Katherine Betts' new class in fact runs across the parties, but the Libs are still trying to contain theirs. The present behaviour of this class in general is one of a piece with the privileged classes in Venezuela (and earlier, Argentina). People who won't recognise any electoral result challenging their self-conferred hegemony. These Venezuelans had soaked away their country's great wealth and left the poor poor; whereas our new class and their rich buddies have made a great many Australians poor, who weren't poor before.

It is ultimately irrelevant to our analysis whether these people call themselves Left or Right. These terms are given for safekeeping to their propagandists, and useful idiots hoping to scrounge a dollar.

Finally, some of the state Labor governments are now performing quite badly. On the other hand, there is no reason for Tasmanians to worry about Richard Butler.

I propose that they replace him with Hans Blix, to maintain the tradition so brilliantly set in place by the recent incumbent.

But one thing stands like stone: in 2006 no politician will live in poverty - no culture czar, no Age property editor. But, as to the lower order - just wait your turn, comrades.

Tap Tap. Who's there?

As we expected, Victoria's Bracks/Hulls Party are twisting and turning to put some credibility into the Ombudsman fiasco, while the Police Minister dreams up new ways of harassing our understaffed, overworked police. His Big Brother move to impose rapid response times on the police has created a perhaps unusual coalition of the opposition, the Police and the Police Commissioner. Their call is for the Bracks Government to fulfil a key electoral promise to supply 600 extra police and properly manned stations. We have a mere 100 and the stations are in crisis.

Until that promise is fulfilled, all else is mere provocation. And prevarication.

But if you can't keep order or maintain legitimacy in your own seat, how can you do it for the rest of Victoria?

Complicit silence

Meantime, in defiance of the powers to tap phones, being held exclusively by Canberra, Bracks is determined to give his Ombudsman such sweeping powers. I have little doubt George Brouwer is a man of integrity, but he could be replaced tomorrow and another government could use such powers as it saw fit. But as to this government's fitness; quite seriously, who would wish to entrust them with such powers?

Amazingly, our civil libertarians who dined out on the evils of phone tapping for years, maintain a total, complicit silence. Like our feminists when the Afghan girl led her team in the Olympic parade. The first one ever. Not interested. Having screeched with the best of them about the US body bags certain to come out of Afghanistan, our feminists seem to have lost all interest when they didn't appear. Sod Afghanistan.

The truth is, feminists, homosexuals, Greens and civil libertarians should be looking, urgently, for new leaderships who will speak for their various causes. Not the self-promoters who regularly disappear into the Labor patronage systems, but keep using up the faithful and still hanging on to their old medals.

  • Max Teichmann

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