October 11th, 2004


Australian Politics

There's quite a bit of misunderstanding of the nature of Australia's political parties at the moment with the Liberal Party dubbed "conservative" (which it can be) and the Australian Labor Party dubbed "liberal" (which it can be).

Australia's "Liberal" party attracts two kinds of people - those who are socially conservative and those who "small-l" Liberal.

While the ALP may attempt to pass itself of (or be thought of) as a "Liberal" party it is true to say that there are many ALP core supporters who are in no way Liberal. Some of the most socially conservative thinking has it's origins in the ALP. The fact that Gough Whitlam in just over two years of government shifted the party from a very conservative base is often forgotten.

I have posted elsewhere that the "ultra-conservative" Brian Harradine (who has now left politics) was for many years a stalwart member of the Trade Union movement and a leading figure for many years in the Australian Labor Party.

The traditional "blue collar" "hard-nosed" ALP supporter (as noted in today's press) rejects things like gay rights and funding for "high faulting arts" (such as Opera)..

John Howard to his credit has remarked that whatever the outcome in the Senate members of his party are encouraged not to take advantage of their win but govern not only for those who voted Liberal but for those who voted otherwise.

There are many people in the Liberal Party who are open to ideas and who do not have rigid conservative views.

There are many in all parties who do have conservative values. Some people staunchly hang on to the idea the "Liberal" is bad and "ALP" is good. This just isn't the case.

I voted for the ALP with some trepidation. They are (as per their written constitution) "the political arm of the Trade Union movement" which can and does flex it's muscle if given the opportunity. Simon Crean (son of Frank Crean), once leader of the Australian Council of Trade Unions was not a good choice for treasurer. I believe he is to be replaced.
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