Federal Election 2019: Meet the Australian Labor Party

Summary

Website: https://www.alp.org.au/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LaborConnect/
Slogans:
A fair go for Australia
Themes: Centre left economic and social policies.  Pro-worker, will take action on climate change.  Generally likes putting money into education and health.  Do you actually need me to tell you what the ALP is about? No, you do not.
Electorate:
Upper House: All of them
Lower House: All of them
Preferences: Labor has put the Greens either second or third on all of their how to vote cards.  Hinch gets second billing in VIC, and independent Craig Garland gets second billing in TAS.  Animal Justice is in third place everywhere except the ACT and the NT, where they aren’t running, and in WA, where they are third, behind the Western Australian Party.  Amusingly, HEMP appears in their top six in four states.  The Democrats show up in fifth place in Victoria and SA, and the LDP  make it into the top five in WA and SA.  There are guest appearances from Sustainable Australia, Katter’s Australian Party (!!), the Secular Party, The Women’s Party, ICAN, the Centre Alliance and the Lambie Network.

In the states with smaller Senate papers, the UAP and the Liberals or Nationals are turning up at the end of the six, allowing them to avoid preferencing Fraser Anning in the ACT, and Rise Up Australia, Fraser Anning and the CEC in NT.  In WA, the Nationals are evidently considered a better choice than either the right wing nut jobs or the more anarchical left wing parties like the Pirates or the Socialists.

These strike me as pretty solid, respectable how to vote cards.  Evidently at the senate level, at least, Labor has decided that the true enemy is the extreme right, not the Greens.  Long may this last.  They clearly don’t adore the extreme left, though it’s interesting to see that the AJP is apparently now considered somewhat respectable, and I’m still highly amused at HEMP’s presence on their how to vote cards.  There is no real excuse for Katter, but what can you do?

Previous reviews

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Victorian State Election 2018 – Meet the Australian Labor Party (ALP)

I don’t have time to read all of this!
The Basics

alp

Website: https://www.viclabor.com.au/
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/VictorianLabor/
Current leader & Campaign page: Daniel Andrews
Themes: Centre left, a bit more left than other Labor branches.  Big on infrastructure, especially public transport, education, hospitals.  Pro-union.

With friends like these…
The Group Voting Ticket

Like many other parties this year, the ALP are more consistent in who they don’t like than who they do.  All of their tickets put the Australian Liberty Alliance last, and the Liberal / National Party second last.  The Democratic Labour Party and Australian Country Party are also always in the bottom five, but the fifth member varies a bit.  Wherever there are ungrouped independents, they are in the bottom five.  Other contenders are Hudson for Northern Victoria, Health Australia and the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers.

At the top of the ballot, there is more variation.  Fiona Patten’s Reason Party and Transport Matters are almost always in the top five.  I’m pleased to see that in South Eastern Metropolitan, they put the grouped independents who are campaigning to end violence against women first on their ballot.  Sustainable Australia, Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party and the Animal Justice Party tend to be in the top five a fair bit, as do the Socialists.  The Greens are either in the top five or just outside it.  Once or twice the Liberal Democrats and the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers make it in.

I’m getting a bit of a sense again that some of the variation in these ballots relates to what is likely to be popular with voters in that region, but I can’t be certain.

The Body Politic
Policies, Snark, Terrible Theme Songs and Other Observations

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Meet the (not so) Small Parties: Australian Labor Party

OK, so I’m going to assume that you know who the Australian Labor Party is, right?  They’re that big party that likes red ties and is a bit scared of the Greens (as opposed to the other big party that likes red budgie smugglers and is a bit scared of the Greens.  I know, it can be hard to tell them apart sometimes).

Alright, that probably wasn’t fair.  But I’m guessing that doesn’t matter too much, because really, you are going to be getting chapter and verse on the ALP’s policies from the media anyway.  If you’d like to know how all their policies are rubbish, you should probably read The Australian.  If you would rather know how great they are, I’d stick to The Age.  And if you like to read Andrew Bolt… then I am truly amazed that you are reading this blog.  You must feel as though you have stepped onto an alien planet.  I hope you aren’t too traumatised by the experience.

Now that I have insulted everybody and also reduced the entire media to its lowest common denominator, let’s get on and look at this sensibly, shall we?

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Victorian Senate Group AD: Laboring for Australia

We pause in our tour of teeny tiny parties to take a brief peek at the ALP.  As with the Coalition, I will not be reviewing the ALP’s policies here, because most people are already either aware of these policies or able to find out about them from other, better-informed sources.  Besides, the purpose of this project is to help people figure out which party is which – I think, on the whole, most people know which one the ALP is.

(Hint: they are currently most of the government)

But I will, of course, have a quick look at their preferences, as these are often illuminating, and if there’s going to be a repeat of the Family First debacle from 2004.  Good Lord, that’s ten years ago.  Have I really been doing this for ten years?

The ALP’s Group Voting Ticket in Victoria actually preferences the Greens first of all (take that, Coalition).  And in all honesty, I think that’s a good move – the Greens are closer to Labor than either party would like to think, and I think the ALP membership are generally to the left of the leadership, and would approve of this preferencing.

The ALP then sends any remaining bits of votes to the Sex Party, the Democrats, the Socialist Equality Party and the Pirate Party.  In fact, it’s all the little lefty parties, then the saner libertarian parties, and then the more dodgy right wing ones. Family First turns up at 73,-75, followed directly by the Liberals and the Nationals.  The very bottom of the ticket is reserved for Independent Darrell Morrison – can’t wait to find out what he’s done to earn this – and to the grouped independents Nicholls, Nicholls and Webb.  Directly above these we have One Nation, Rise Up Australia, and the other ungrouped Independent, Lyn Gunter.  The Climate Sceptics are at 87-88 and, fascinatingly, the Secular Party are at 85-86, making them the only left-wing party who isn’t near the top of the ballot.  An attempt to distance themselves from the famously atheist Gillard, perhaps?

I actually quite like this ticket, and may well end up using parts of it as a template for my own ticket, when I get to creating one at Below The Line.  There seems to be a good sense of which parties are the scariest preserved in their rankings, and I like that in a Senate ticket.

Politics: Who Stole Labor’s Votes?

Certain die-hard Labor supporters are turning me into a rabid Greens voter (as opposed to a mildly enthusiastic Greens voter). There is far too much unseemly rejoicing over the Liberal Party putting the Greens last on their HTV cards, tinged with a smug feeling that after all the Greens aren’t a real party and this will keep them in their place. Grown-ups don’t vote for small parties, one gathers. Sensible people realise that Australia only has two real political parties, and a vote for anything else is just a protest vote, a sign of immaturity. As for uppity small parties that try to become big parties, well, they need to be put in their place.

(and no, I am not impressed by the Liberals, either, who have expressed themselves in deeds rather than words – but then, that’s the Liberals for you. I’d hoped for better from Labor.)

As a connoisseur of small parties, this is making me furious. (Actually, it’s also hitting all my angry feminist buttons, too – presumably it’s that whole notion that the Greens are gettng ideas above their station and need to be put back in their box, which sounds awfully familiar from the feminist context.)

The thing is, the Greens did not steal my vote from Labor. Nobody did. Labor lost my vote all on its own. Not as much as the Liberal Party lost my vote, but then, the Liberal Party never really had my vote to lose. But I am not a die-hard voter of any stripe. If the Labor Party actually started acting more like the Labor Party and less like Liberals Lite, then I might well consider voting for them. If the Liberal Party developed a social conscience, I would even consider voting for them (though they probably wouldn’t be the Liberal Party any more).

If Labor wants to regain the votes of people like me, it needs to stop assuming that a vote for the Greens is a protest vote (if we are all protest voting, why are so many of us voting Green, rather than distributing our votes among such admirable protest vote choices as the Sex Party or the Socialist Alliance?), or a sign of immaturity. It needs to stop defining Green votes solely in relation to Labor, or as Labor votes gone astray (believe me, I’ve scrutineered for the Greens and Greens voters do not follow How To Vote cards. Most of them put Labor before Liberal, but there are definitely some Green Liberals out there too). Above all, it needs to stop reacting and start *thinking* about why so many people are voting Green. What values do the Greens espouse that Labor does not? Maybe these are things that Labor quite legitimately has decided it doesn’t believe in. Then again, maybe not.

But you can’t cynically move your policies closer and closer to those of the Liberal Party on the one hand, and then complain when voters flee in droves to one of the few sane parties espousing something different. It’s hypocritical.

The Greens are not, in any real political sense, a threat to Labor. They are not going to achieve government in their own right. Even if they get the balance of power, they are hardly going to support the Coalition – they have almost nothing in common. However far to the right Labor has moved, it is still closer to Green policy in almost all areas than the Coalition is likely to be. The only threat the Greens present is a moral one – by existing, by having sane and humane policies about immigration, healthcare, public transport, workplace relations, human rights, and, yes, the environment, they remind voters of what Labor used to stand for, and how far it has moved from there.

No wonder the Greens are making Labor nervous. If Labor wants to recapture those votes, they are going to have to move back towards what they used to stand for, and that’s scary, because judging by their current trajectory, Labor secretly thinks that Australians really want to vote Liberal.

Which is an indictment in itself.

Personally, I think the Green threat could be just what the Labor Party needs.

Politics: Federal Election – Meet the Australian Labor Party

Backing rapidly but cautiously away from the CDP, we come to what by now appears an oasis of sanity on the ballot paper – the Australian Labor Party.
On their policy page they inform me that ‘The Gillard Government has a comprehensive agenda to take Australia forward’. Normally, this would be reassuring, but I must confess in my current fatigued state it fills me with forboding. A quick glance through their site (which works, incidentally, and is markedly free of rude remarks about the Coalition) shows that they have more policies than anyone, even the Greens. I’m not even going to pretend I can cover all of them, and will try to just pick out the more interesting ones.

Labor, or at least Victoria’s branch of it, appears to have learned from the fiasco in 2004 that landed us with Steve Fielding as a Senator. This time around, they have actually put Greens second on their ticket, which pretty much renders their other selections moot. Still, you might be interested to know that directly after the Greens come the Democrats, Senator On-Line and the Carers’ Alliance. The bottom five parties on their ballot are the Liberals, Christian Democratic Party, Climate Sceptics, the Citizens’ Electoral Council and One Nation. Given what my personal ticket looks like, I can only approve of this arrangement.

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Politics: Asylum Seekers – this is not what I had hoped for from the ALP

So, apparently our spineless excuse for a government has decided that we shouldn’t process applications for residency from Afghani and Sri Lankan refugees. Because clearly when we all voted against John Howard and he lost both the election and his seat in Parliemtn, what we really meant was that we wanted more of the same.

I am absolutely livid. Admittedly, I’ve been cranky all day, but this really infuriates me beyond belief.

Anyway, I’ve just channelled an entire day’s worth of bad temper into an email to Chris Evans, via Getup. If you’re an Australian resident and feel at all strongly about refugees, I urge you to do the same.

My (probably incoherent, since I was and still am furious) email is below. It doesn’t cover any of the suggested talking points. Sod the talking points. Our entire immigration policy is filled with racism, xenophobia and a complete lack of compassion and it’s an utter shame, which I, for one, have had enough of. Anyway, if you find anything in it useful, please feel free.

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Politics: In which I do not join the Labor Party

I am not going to join the Labor party. I went to a branch meeting last night, and it was very interesting, and the people seemed very good. But for some reason it left me with the most incredibly depressed feeling. Partly, I felt like an imposter. For no concrete reason I can define, I also felt incredibly strongly that I should not be there, that it was wrong for me to be there, that I did not belong. I can’t even articulate it. It was like being back at school.  Or worse. Which is odd, because the people there seemed very nice and some went out of their way to be friendly and welcoming. No idea why I felt so intimidated. But I left with the strong conviction that I had to go join the Greens. Which I am also not going to do until I’ve sat in on one of their meetings. I suspect, though, that it might be the same, even though I didn’t feel like an imposter when dealing with them.

I suspect that party politics very strongly do not suit me. It’s that nasty feeling of being pressed into a mold which I don’t fit (hence, no doubt, the family-feeling). The same thing as being at a rally – by being there, you are, with your body, showing agreement for everything that is said – even the bits you don’t agree with. A political party should be less like that, and probably is. But I could still feel the press closing in. It’s not so much that you have to feel exactly the same as everyone else… Hell. I really don’t know how to define it.

And that’s setting aside the gloomy conclusion I reached that it is Really True that to get to a position in politics where you can actually make a difference, you have to play so much politics that you can’t act on your convictions anyway. Unless you have a very, very strong personality and an amazing ability to keep it subdued to your own ends. Or your name is Joyce, and let me take a moment to breathe in the refreshing feeling of a Senator turning around and basically saying, I don’t care about party politics, I’m here to represent my constituents, and I’ll do so whether or not this is in line with party policy. Almost makes you want to vote National…

I recall my friend Paula saying something about politicians having to reflect the will of the constituents, and therefore not being able to be at the vanguard of change. Actually, she may not have said that, but that’s how I interpreted what I remember about the conversation. And I remember feeling utterly depressed by this – who else can change things, after all, and where is the idealism, or the chance to make Australia a better place? This is, of course, silly, because I complain loudly when people in power whose ideals I disagree with try to impose these on the rest of us… Yet, there has to be a way to do better than the lowest common denominator while still being true to your constituents. Perhaps Joyce has the solution, at that. A move away from party politics, towards a more individualistic approach, in which politicians truly attempt to reflect the needs of their constituents, and make only temporary alliances with those whose constituents have like needs. Let’s see our politicians crossing the floor, voting on principle and not on party policy. I probably still won’t like the results. I’m ornery like that. But I suspect it would be a better system.

(although without parties, where would people get money and support to run? My system is not perfect, and it is characteristic of me that it falls down on economics…)

Politics: ALP Policies for the 2004 Election

I don’t know why I am suddenly quite so fascinated by Australian politics. But I seem to have decided that I must now find out everything I can about all the parties I dug up yesterday, and report back. We’ll see how long this enthusiasm lasts. In passing, I note that my friends appear to be quite a politically active mob. On quite a lot of different sides, too. Definitely a good thing. I am currently trying to arrange to do how to vote cards at the same booth where another friend is handing out cards for Labor. My evil side can’t help wondering if I can convince my democrat, liberal, socialist alternative and Scary Christian friends to hand out cards at the same booth… keep each other company, you know. Because surely it is a good thing when people on all different sides of politics can find common ground? This is, of course, a hobby horse of mine.

I also wonder why politics is meant to be such a Thing Not To Discuss. My parents didn’t even discuss it with each other, and my mother got quite upset once when I asked her how she had voted. It just Wasn’t Done. Partly, I think, because my father was a swinging voter with working class sympathies and my mother was much more conservative. But it seems to have been a wider social rule. Maybe I’m just lucky in having friends who are happy to discuss politics non-heatedly. Or maybe it’s just that everyone who knows me has by now realised that I ask out of rampant curiosity, not to pick a fight.

Anyway, if you don’t ask the people you respect who they are voting for and why, then how are you supposed to find out what the different parties have to offer people of intelligence and integrity? Or why a particular person feels represented by a particular party?

Back to the policy documents.  I’m going to start with the ALP, because I went there yesterday.

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