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Byron Shire
February 27, 2021

Where’s Labor’s legacy?

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If anything symbolises the parlous state of our politics, and especially Labor, look at how they respond to the inevitably of defeat. Are they taking this opportunity to really do something good, those things that don’t win votes but go to the heart of ‘traditional Labor values’? No.

Second in a two horse race is still last, by a millimetre or a mile. What will be remembered, or not, is how you ran the last furlong. Labor has the opportunity to go where it counts socially, where there are no votes.

This impending disaster is an opportunity: To help up the poorest and disenfranchised. To protect the environment and genuinely confront climate change. To really level up the justice system so that a poor woman can get justice in a rich man’s court. To create real, equitable access to healthcare. To give small business a real chance against global corporates. The list goes on.

This is a chance for Labor politicians to follow the Labor heart and soul, to do the politics they joined up to do, and to really piss off those they would normally be grovelling to about now for campaign contributions. Act or not, the Liberal/National remonstrations will be no less vociferous, so Labor members can at least own the undignified cat calling. Is there a Leonides in the cabinet to lead a Labor 300 as emperor Abbott comes to Thermopylae? I fear not.

His Budgieness will continue to complain about the debt left by Labor, so give him something to really squawk about. And give him the massive headache as he tries to explain why he’s dismantling social justice. That’ll take at least his first two terms and boxes of ammunition in opposition.

Labor has two choices. To go like Gough – love him or hate him, no one can deny he did it with style (40 years later we’re still talking about it). Or, go like NSW Labor – the petulant, spoiled brat who finally got told ‘NO!’

So Labor can tinker with super of the top percentile of salary earners, to keep senior public servants happy. They can tinker with the media laws to soften the commentators’ critique and salve the soon to be heavily bruised egos. Or they can do something that doesn’t win votes or campaign contributions but creates a legacy we will respect.

Labor’s gunna lose anyway so do something good with that, something real.

 


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