September 23rd 2000

  Buy Issue 2592

Articles from this issue:

Cover Story: Singapore’s changing direction

Editorial: Free trade: it’s time to fight back

National Affairs: East Timor: Whitlam was the culprit

Agriculture: Deregulation cuts a swathe through dairy industry

Law: Why Coalition will keep UN Committees at arms length

Eyewitness Report: S11 protests win few friends

Globalism: Australia out in the cold as three economic blocs form

South Australia: Hindmarsh Island bridge saga continues

Canberra Observed: ALP heads back to the future

National Affairs: Manufacturers, farmers: a natural alliance

Straws in the Wind

New Zealand: From basket case to “case study” ... and back to basket case

The Media

Books: 'PAPUA NEW GUINEA: People Politics and History since 1975', by Sean Dorney

Books: Pioneer police: 'Sand and Stone', by Kevin Moran


Books promotion page

Canberra Observed: ALP heads back to the future

by News Weekly

News Weekly, September 23, 2000
The resurrection of Carmen Lawrence to the Opposition frontbench, and more significantly to the important industry portfolio, is a long overdue appointment, according to Kim Beazley.

But what appears perfectly logical to members of the Federal Labor Party these days can often defy belief in the rest of the community.

Beazley's faith in Carmen is shared by many in the blood-loyal Labor Party who believe she is one of Australia's most hard done-by politicians.

In feminist circles, Carmen Lawrence is a kind of Western Australian Joan of Arc who was but singed at the stake by Richard Court and her Liberal Party tormentors.

Her fans extend to the media. Prominent Sydney Morning Herald political commentator, Alan Ramsay, recently reported, without hint of irony, that it was “near criminal” that Lawrence was still languishing on the backbench.


The truth is, for Beazley and the Labor Party, Lawrence’s re-appointment is more about righting injustices inflicted by her political opponents than any considered political judgement, renewing the frontbench, or getting the right team in place for government.

Lawrence’s comeback is the final triumph of Labor in a battle which goes back to Prime Minister Paul Keating’s insolent defiance of all pressure to make Lawrence stand aside during the Penny Easton affair, despite the extraordinary damage it was doing to his Government.

Of course, no one in the Labor Party was reminding Beazley that while a State minister, Carmen Lawrence became the mother of mandatory sentencing in Australia — that now most despised form of injustice in the Australian legal system.

Or that she was the only prominent Labor Party figure in Western Australia who refused to be a character witness for former Premier Brian Burke, who was facing a jail cell at the time.

Or that she went from a non-aligned MP to join the Socialist Left faction of the ALP to advance her political career.

Or that she was at best an average Federal Health Minister.

Lawrence’s problems are that she has a number of ghosts in her cupboard not just her well-documented memory shortcomings. It is possible that she will, by sheer force of her acclaimed intellect and “talent” overcome her past and prove to be an effective performer.

The task should not be hard. The gigantic Industry portfolio is a basket case for the Liberal Government, including falling investment, a black hole in research and development, a hands-off approach to the decline in Australian manufacturing, at the same time overseas companies are supported with Australian taxpayers’ money.

Lawrence’s opponent, Senator Nick Minchin, is a smart political strategist, a conservative, and one of the hard men of the Liberal Party, but he needs to bring more direction to his portfolio.

The Government’s Resources policy (which is now under the umbrella of Industry) is non-existent and has been inexplicably delayed for something like two years — virtually without comment from the Opposition.

So there is scope for constructive criticism from the new Opposition industry spokeswoman.

The real problem with Carmen Lawrence is that she brings back all the worst memories of the Keating Government. At the very moment Beazley is under pressure for lacking the direction and the ideas of a future Prime Minister, Lawrence appears to be a case of back to the future.

Join email list

Join e-newsletter list

Your cart has 0 items

Subscribe to NewsWeekly

Research Papers

Trending articles

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE Memo to Shorten, Wong: LGBTIs don't want it

COVER STORY Shorten takes low road to defeat marriage plebiscite

COVER STORY Reaper mows down first child in the Low Countries

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE Kevin Andrews: defend marriage on principles

COVER STORY Bill Shorten imposes his political will on the nation

CANBERRA OBSERVED Coalition still gridlocked despite foreign success

ENVIRONMENT More pseudo science from climate

News and views from around the world

Menzies, myth and modern Australia (Jonathan Pincus)

China’s utterly disgraceful human-rights record

Japan’s cure for childlessness: a robot (Marcus Roberts)

SOGI laws: a subversive response to a non-existent problem (James Gottry)

Shakespeare, Cervantes and the romance of the real (R.V. Young)

That’s not funny: PC and humour (Anthony Sacramone)

Refugees celebrate capture of terror suspect

The Spectre of soft totalitarianism (Daniel Mahoney)

American dream more dead than you thought (Eric Levitz)

Think the world is overcrowded: These 10 maps show why you’re wrong (Max Galka)

© Copyright 2011
Last Modified:
November 14, 2015, 11:18 am