Learning lessons

As life in Queensland rolls along without the thunder, lightning and devastation commonly associated with the apocalypse, some are wondering what all the kerfuffle was about. The kerfuffle, of course, was the monstrous hiding delivered to the Australian Labor Party at the weekend’s state election.

In the random wash-up of this momentous event there are numerous little things that make one think.

Anna Bligh’s almost immediate resignation from her own electorate despite continuously promising to serve a full three-year term. Yes, she did get the message that Queensland wanted to see the back of her.  And, yes, the ALP would encounter some difficulties in its rebuilding challenge with her still in office. But, for twelve months at least, she could have offered guidance and mentoring to her protégés. Anyone who thinks the Labor rump will not need someone to hold their hands for a while at least simply does not appreciate the human factor of politics.

An apology. Not a word from anyone in the ALP that they are repentant for so thoroughly disillusioning the Queensland electorate. There is a reason that religions stress repentance before absolution. If you cannot even express sorrow for your actions why should anyone excuse you? ALP leaders may well still be thunderstruck but unless and until they can persuade people to take them seriously again their future is far from certain. An apology is the foundation stone for the future. Without it, any new edifice may well be a house of cards.

Dr Heather Beattie. Wife of former Queensland premier, Peter Beattie, under whose leadership the ALP rot started in earnest has nominated for a Brisbane City Council ward in the local government elections next month. Yes, as an individual she is perfectly entitled to stand for office. But it just seems, well, unseemly. It shouts that her husband can neither see nor accept his role in the damage done to Labor. That he remains handsomely glued to the public teat through his lifetime pension (not for a moment forgetting his lucrative appointment by his successor to the plumb job of Trade Representative to the Americas) is surely sufficient burden on taxpayers. But, no, Heather wants to taste some more generous public funding if she wins a seat on council. Nowhere is there a sense of propriety in all this.

Lost in the real world. Prime Minister Julia Gillard fails to wake up from her imagined romantic sit-com in which the Australian people applaud her as their ideal leader and role model. She has vowed to continue managing the economy in the interests of ‘working Australians’ rather than the ‘privileged few’. So . . . would the privileged few include those who have for so long enjoyed the teat of the Queensland government? Would the privileged few include all the ALP apparatchiks who stream from university, policy adviser or union leadership positions direct into parliament? If the ALP could identify one ‘blue collar’ unionist who is now a federal MP, they might realise why they so badly fail to understand what real Australians want from government. And the Bill Shortens of this world who can marry into the Governor-General’s family and who design superannuation schemes can hardly be considered real world blue collar unionists.

Factions. Far from learning lessons at the weekend, Queensland Labor is still rooted in the past. The Left faction which claims Anna Bligh’s seat as its own will not let the Right faction parachute a potential future premier (Cameron Dick) into preselection. Aside from the strong likelihood that Dick would be beaten and tarred as a two-time loser, it simply signifies Labor’s refusal to learn that voters have said they will not be treated like fools. Oh, and an announced candidate for preselection is Jackie Trad, Labor’s assistant state secretary and an architect of the screw-up. Ya just gotta love it.

And then there’s The Mad Katter. Far from licking his wounds in the weekend debacle in which he had promised to become the third force in Australian politics, Katter’s Australian Party may dramatically swell its ranks by allowing a merger of One Nation and the Democratic Labor Party into its ranks. Words simply fail.

Oh, and then there was Hawker. That would be Bruce, once a champion campaign strategist for Labor but as a key architect of the weekend’s debacle, possibly not a future one. His seriously warped world view is that it was ‘probably’ not the right thing to let Anna Bligh carry the massively-alienating attack on Campbell Newman. So, why? Well, the premier’s the one who ‘gets the most media attention and she’s the one who gets all the questions’. Yeah, right. And, you guessed it, no apology and no acknowledgement of personal fault.

Nah, it’s hard to see a Labor renaissance anytime soon.