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Byron Shire
March 5, 2024

How disappointing has Labor been, so far?

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Aspirational political parties are judged on how they deliver dreams. Vision politicians are judged according to how many of their visions turn out to be mirages. The task is much harder for the ALP at a federal level than a party like the modern Liberals, who have no apparent aspirations apart from making rich people richer, and making poor people feel guilty for not being rich.

If their recent budget is anything to go by, Labor also has the well-being of the wealthy at heart, but it was elected promising to address a long list of other issues. Their website says, ‘Labor will deliver a future where no one is held back and no one is left behind.’ So who is being held back and left behind, so far?

Certainly not the big fossil fuel companies, whose $40 billion of subsidies have remained sacrosanct, in spite of Labor talking big on climate change.

Green leader Adam Bandt says Anthony Albanese simultaneously has his feet on the accelerator and brake pedals when it comes to climate, but from here it looks like gas gas gas. Giving more support to renewables is not going to do anything significant to address the climate emergency, in isolation.

Consider Labor’s plans for the NT, with billions of public money earmarked for the gas industry there, even though these companies are already reaping unprecedented windfall profits due to the international situation. Here in NSW, gas development in the Pilliga will also be accelerated, according to Labor Resources Minister Madeleine King, whose statements would be at home coming from any government of the last ten years, and ignore both the science and the stated wishes of local farmers and traditional owners.

Also never mind that this area is currently underwater, along with vast regions of south-eastern Australia, due in part to the spectacular greed and stupidity of the fossil fuel lobby and their political enablers.

Meanwhile energy prices at home continue to skyrocket, as most of our fuel is exported to enrich the small group of multi-national companies who exploit most of this country’s resources.

That’s if you have a solid home at all, as an increasing number of us don’t. Labor has promised to do something about this, saying it intends to build ‘one million new, well-located homes over five years from 2024’ – if the private sector comes to the party. Meanwhile interest rates and inflation continue to rise, and one problem may not solve the other.

In terms of foreign affairs, traditionally an ALP strength, Minister Penny Wong moved quickly to shore up relations in the South Pacific and Europe after an insular decade, but Australia still has no clear role in the world apart from being the deputy sheriff of a fading empire. The US facility at Pine Gap is being expanded, with no local oversight, and there will soon be B-52s in Darwin, unfortunately not the Love Shack and Rock Lobster variety, but with nuclear weapons.

There are more swings and roundabouts in other areas.

While the prosecution against the lawyer of whistleblower Witness K has been abandoned, there has been no public progress with Julian Assange. We are edging towards a Federal ICAC in Canberra, but much of its important business appears likely to be conducted behind closed doors, and there has been zero movement towards addressing dirty political donation laws.

In Tanya Plibersek, we have a new environment minister who appears to at least know what the word means, but when she went to Tasmania recently, she refused to visit the Tarkine wilderness, but instead the miners intending to damage it.

Some asylum seekers have been freed, but most of the underlying policies which led to their imprisonment remain.

The Indigenous Voice to Parliament appears destined to become another political football.

Live animal exports continue, despite promises, and seem to be well down the government’s to-do list.

In terms of the big picture, prioritising business interests over human needs and science looks set to continue when it comes to most ALP health, education, tax and employment policies, while the dangerous myth of endless economic growth as the solution to anything and everything remains entirely unchallenged.

While many of Labor’s problems can justly be laid at the feet of the preceding government, and a worsening international situation, it cannot be said that the new government has lived up to its promises, so far. There is plenty of room for improvement. But most of the people in Cabinet at least appear to care.

As the man of a thousand hats fades into the rear view mirror, consider the revelations of week one of the Robodebt Royal Commission. No matter how disappointing the Albanese Labor government might ultimately become, it’s hard to imagine they could possibly be as bad as the government that produced and sustained this illegal and hare-brained scheme for five long years, until the whole, cruel catastrophe came crashing down.

The only possible way is up.


David Lowe
David Lowe – photo Tree Faerie

Originally from Canberra, David Lowe is an award-winning film-maker, writer and photographer with particular interests in the environment and technology. He’s known for his work with Cloudcatcher Media as a campaigner against unconventional gas and coal.

David has also written Australian history. Many years ago, he did work experience in Parliament House with Mungo MacCallum. David has lived off-grid in the Northern Rivers since 2008.


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20 COMMENTS

  1. How can people in our region vote for labor knowing they accept dirty donations and knowing that they waste billions on subsidies to climate wrecking industries who caused the damage here. I’m really interested to know how labor voters reconcile this? Are they living in hope that labor will stop supporting coal and gas? Or are they content with the pace Labor are going to eventually phase out coal and gas? How can they reconcile the latter when global and local experts recommend a faster transition?

  2. Yes sure thing, Labor has been very disappointing! The least we could expect would be for them to immediately announce the cancellation of the Stage 3 tax cuts and take the consequences of the media onslaught about high taxing Labor and broken promises – all the way and reaching fever pitch prior to the next election (Remember Juliar?)

    Think all those commentators saying it’s the only responsible thing to do aren’t already sharpening their pencils?

    Next they should immediately close down all coal and gas-fired power stations, let the bastards freeze in the dark and commerce/industry grind to a halt.

    That should keep the Greens happy and ensure the Tories take over again for at least the next ten years. During this time we can be assured the issues of climate emergency and wealth, race and gender inequality will be top priorities.

  3. Just an afterthought- is the headline: “ Political comment: How disappointing has Labor been, so far?” just a little loaded? A prime example of how media agendas manifest?

  4. Their doing alright at moment as my blood pressure is still down and the morning paper read / news is not describing another crisis or wedging attempt. Except for those who read the outrageous Murdoch press ( sky and the Australian/ telegraph)

    • Oh Rod ..how intolerable to have a different view
      Point ..or Read the Telegraph or watch sky ..
      My blood pressure went through the roof this morning watching the impartial ABC Mr Michael
      On News breakfast special guest a Democrat
      From America..that insufferable Mr Michael
      Not once have given the Taxpayer’s a health
      Check not only on how biden is suffering from
      What seems like dementia..but how when
      The biden administration took office the
      Economy was booming ..two years later
      America has never in it’s history been in a worse
      Position under Biden ..Not F..ing once has our ABC
      Told us the truth regarding America’s trouble’s
      By the way all Trumps fault of course.. Crime
      Out of control all MOSTLY PEACEFUL. borders 5 million illegal immigrants
      All Democrats states pay paying huge power bills
      Inflation.. and top top it off Trillion dollar
      Green deal for what ? Americans are voting in recorded numbers to vote the most enept
      Government in history.. Its a referendum on biden .
      But will be Trump Fault .

      • Obvious barrow too much sky after dark. Need to broaden your horizons and not depend on just the Murdochs for your news. And we are discussing Australia, not the anti democratic activities of trump and his republican cronies.
        By the way how d I’d those midterms go?

  5. Can we throw this to the local Federal ALP member for comment .

    What ever her name is , it’s been too long since the Election to remember.

  6. David,David,David,
    You do realise that this government is composed of politicians ?
    Politicians say many, many things ,… that is a prerequisite for these fabulously well remunerated liars and con-persons.
    These people are forced to say what they must, to get elected, then do what they must to stay in office, obviously they are the victims here !
    These poor ‘ servants of the public’ are forced to abandon all semblance of honour, personal integrity or even common humanity in order to commit to the ‘Party line’ and must rely on the paltry couple of hundred thousand salary, and the gold plated retirement plan with ongoing private army protecting them from any just retribution, while they must pocket as many back-handers and bribes as they , with limited resources , can fernangle .
    Be they Labor, Liberal , Greens, Teal or even what passes for ‘National’, we must treat them with due compassion and mustn’t judge them.
    Cheers, G”)

    • Yes let’s not have politicians. Let’s not have a parliament. Let’s have …?

      And one should never contemplate participating, certainly not to the extent of standing for office. It’s obviously a much better solution to maintain a superior aloofness to it all – and very Byron Shire.

  7. I do feel disappointed by the Labour Govt but Thankyou for the perspective: that they do, overall, seem to at least care, and couldn’t possibly be as bad as the previous Government! Oh gee, I hope they manage a “claim to fame” that surpasses that! And fingers crossed that they can develop some “teeth” to tackle the big issues… It’s good to see powerful business owners like Andrew Forrest turning towards addressing climate/ environmental issues: of course, he is part of the problem, as we all are, but he certainly has the power, money and ability to influence!

  8. Labor can only do what they are given the votes to be able to get done. If Labor are unable to legislate real change, it’s because we have not given them enough votes to do so.
    So in fact, it’s really your fault not Labor’s. We have an election in NSW in March, how about we all commit to an LNP introduced pest extinction event on mainland Australia, by getting Labor enough votes to do some real legislation in NSW as well.
    Labor with the help of voters have already removed the LNP from every State and Federal Govt on mainland Australia bar NSW!
    Let’s do it in NSW in March! We all need to vote Labor, but if you must vote Green for whatever reason, preference Labor 2nd or you will only be voting for another LNP Govt economic and environmental catastrophe, like all the last election failures?

  9. $40 billion in subsidies. Editor, why do you continue printing this lie. Labor know its a lie . Sensible Greens know its a lie . You have gullible readers who believe this nonsense.

  10. In view of the international and domestic economic challenges ,the Labor government has not only hit the ground running but acted responsibly to address the economic challenges . The cabinet is qualified and competent compared to the shambolic other mob .
    It takes at least a term in government and several budgets ,to properly and fairly assess any governments performance and strategy.

  11. I am extremely disappointed with Labor as I thought they promised to bring in an anti corruption commission first up!

  12. I’m a died in the wool believer in equality, equity and intergenerational justice. Thus I have voted Labor and independents all my life. No more, with tax cuts for high income earners (read pay rise for all politicians), no compromise on negative gearing, so massive housing inequity…. the next generation will, in the majority, spend their lives buying their wealthy peers second and third tax exempt investment homes. Don’t even talk about climate, pollution, resource give away and non tax paying internationals. No more voting for Labor for me they are the same colour just a lighter shade. (A bearly perceptible hue)

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