Whatever the illness was that hit her with a sudden and vengeful effect after she stepped off her plane in New York, it appeared to have passed. But just as the PM was showing stoic powers of recovery, Lindsay Tanner came along and spiked the Kool Aid again with his musings on what is wrong with the Labor Party.

Cartoon: Valdman

While the PM and 140 word leaders were gathered at the United Nations talking about weapons of mass destruction, her colleagues back home were engaged in acts of self destruction.

As if anyone in Australia needed reminding about just how structurally dysfunctional federal Labor has become.

One man who knows better than anyone in Canberra about Labor’s propensity for flagellation is Bob Carr. He was also in New York helping the PM convince world leaders that Australia should be given a seat on the UN security council.

If any of them had bothered to read the Australian press this week, they may have thought twice about where their vote may go.

Whatever virtues Gillard may have argued before the great hall of the general assembly, none of which could be disputed, there are few countries in the developed world that engage in the internal antics this Government has made a hallmark of its governance.

In fact, there were very few officials here in New York who could make any sense of it. How can voters elect a leader and then allow the government to elect to remove them, is a question often asked.

Try telling them that some in the government are thinking of trying to do it again.

You have to wonder whether the Labor Party is infused with a dodgy gene that eats away at it like an ever-present tumor.

It doesn’t matter that Lindsay Tanner is probably right, the issue is why he has decided to tell everyone he thinks he is right, now.

Carr said if was time for senior figures in the Labor Party to stop offering gratuitous criticism.

This is what he said when asked about it in New York: “We went through a stage where every galah in a pet shop had an opinion about what was wrong with the Labor Party. Now I’m sick of that. I think the public is sick of it, we’ve got to talk about what the Labor Party has got right and there are a lot of things it’s got right in government and talk about what Tony Abbott and the Liberals have failed to do and got wrong.

“I think the Labor Party has been anatomised to the last fibre. Everyone has volunteered to say what’s wrong with the Labor Party.”

Everyone including Carr.

Carr was a key author of a post election report into what is wrong with the Labor Party. And before he became Foreign Minister, he was calling for its full release. Labor’s refusal to do this is surely a contributor to the constant self analysis that has endured since the 2010 election.

Carr said yesterday he stood by his call, despite the risk that it could simply bring the whole show down.

Carr also made an unintended comparison by backing former Premier Morris Iemma to make the move to federal politics.

He made the point that Iemma had been very poorly treated by his party when they dumped him over electricity privatisation.

Tanner was making the same point about Rudd, although both are clearly different personalities.

But both were executed by backroom players and a gutless Cabinet who used polling numbers to justify their decision. The hypocrisy in Tanner’s analysis is that he was in that Cabinet and he now appears to have changed his mind since the release of his last missives when he accused the cabinet of being a dysfunctional disaster under Rudd.

He now thinks this criticism, when delivered by others, is exaggerated.

This latest eruption of internal dissent underscores the fundamental problem facing the party - namely that it didn’t have a hard-wired agenda, other than obtaining power and staying in power when it came to office.

Labor appears to be in a constant state of internal dispute which can be linked back primarily to its structural ties with the trade union movement and the tribal nature of its organisation. When members of the tribe leave, like Tanner, they dump all over it.

Seriously, has Labor learned nothing from the disaster of NSW Labor? It’s not as if they were not given enough warning.

The undeniable reality is that the rot that has infected the soul of the party started to set in when Iemma was dumped for pursuing a policy that he believed with honesty had Labor values at its core. It was the self interest of the Labor patronage club that destroyed him.

Federal Labor could not inoculate itself against the NSW disease - because it already had it. It just lay dormant.

So when the bruvvers and their parliamentary benefactors - and beneficiaries - removed Iemma they changed the rules and said that it was okay to have their internal disputes in government. Why anyone in Labor thinks this sort of navel gazing is a good idea, or more importantly good for the country, is an absolute mystery.

Clearly it only makes sense to those who are members of the ALP.

Comments on this post will expire at 8pm AEST.

Most commented


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    • Super D says:

      05:57am | 28/09/12

      Well Labor will have at least a decade in opposition to figure it out.

    • Babylon says:

      02:47pm | 28/09/12

      Ive heard there was no one of any significance in the room when Gillard spoke.

      She is snubbed by Europe after she attempted to lecture them on Economics and Finance.

    • acotrel says:

      04:58pm | 28/09/12

      Could you imagine Abbott in those circumstances ?  What a joke that woiuld be, but I wonder who would be laughing ?

    • Grey says:

      06:00am | 28/09/12

      “the issue is why he has decided to tell everyone he thinks he is right, now.”

      Err, because he had just published a book and was doing the promotional activities as agreed with his publisher.
      What was he supposed to say?  “The last Newspoll proves my analysis in this book is completely pony - don’t waste your money - and btw that government of which I was a key minister was a barry crocker Just thought you ought to know.”

    • marley says:

      06:59am | 28/09/12

      Yeah, but it’s the timing of the release of the book that matters.  Why now?  Why in fact write the book at all, if you’re not trying to undermine your former colleagues?

    • Al says:

      08:03am | 28/09/12

      marley - “Why in fact write the book at all, if you’re not trying to undermine your former colleagues?” thats an easy question to answer, it’s money and possibly also infamy.

    • TimB says:

      08:01am | 28/09/12

      Because it’s topical now Marley. That means more sales.

      The later it’s released the more of a historical curiosity it becomes.

    • marley says:

      10:48am | 28/09/12

      @TimB - of course.  My point was more that, if his loyalty to the ALP were all it’s cracked up to be, Tanner wouldn’t have written the book, or at least not now.

    • nihonin says:

      06:12am | 28/09/12

      But, but, but, the Liberals, they’re just as dysfunctional, if not worse. wink

    • Fed Up says:

      07:14am | 28/09/12

      He’s telling us what everybody already knows…that Labor under Julia Gillard is the worst party that has ever ruled and that Labor in general is toxic.
      I can’t wait for the Libs to win the next election and get this country back on track.
      I’m not saying i would never vote Labor again…im saying i would never vote for the fools running it now.

    • Craig says:

      07:31am | 28/09/12

      If the government wanted to keep Tanner from writing about his views then they should offer him a well-paid position in some remote corner so he doesn’t need to write exposes for a living.

      Sure there may be a daylong hoo ha from the media galahs, but it will then disappear & be forgotten by everyone.


    • Mahhrat says:

      07:50am | 28/09/12

      “140 word leaders”

      Sums it up, actually.

    • Too late says:

      09:43am | 28/09/12

      Damn, you beat me to it.

      bunch of twits…

    • Joan says:

      08:11am | 28/09/12

      Laugh - Carr the original of ` Worths circus` does a Les Paterson act in New York - the ocker from down under ` the galah in pet shop``.  . The gace of Australian brand on world stage NY   the woman who knifed people PM Rudd overnight and an unelected foreign minister seeking position on Security Council.

    • james says:

      10:35am | 28/09/12

      Who elected sinodonis?

      Your comprehension is horrid, as per usual Joan, a.k.a Moan

    • je says:

      12:10pm | 28/09/12

      My guess is Carr won’t be hanging around very long once labor are in opposition next year

    • Old Cobber says:

      01:48pm | 28/09/12

      How dare you equate “Worths circus” and Sir Les Patterson with Bob Carr—a failed,loudmouthed ex State Politian !  Worths performers are professional,clever, hard working people and Sir Les may be a lovable larriken but he doesn’t lie, doesn’t flash his credit card at Tarts or hang around staff toilet doors.  The rotting fish of the A L P is on the nose to Australians who are crying out—-ENOUGH!!.

    • RANK FRANK says:

      08:10am | 28/09/12

      Im sure Abbott feed her a bait.
      He gets the blame for everything else.
      Or maybe it was Kevin in retaliation for the backstab.

    • Borderer says:

      09:19am | 28/09/12

      Rudd and Abbott in the luch room with the poison…. parlimentary Cluedo is easy for the ALP, it’s always Abbott….

    • tez says:

      11:12am | 28/09/12

      Are you sure it wasn’t Joan.

    • fml says:

      08:34am | 28/09/12

      “You have to wonder whether the Labor Party is infused with a dodgy gene that eats away at it like an ever-present tumor.”

      So, where are the “Liberal” sycophants who say this site is a pro Labor, fabian socialist, pro commie rag?

    • Gianna says:

      09:03am | 28/09/12

      More likely that the timing of book release was coincidental, I reckon.    But it was going to happen sooner rather than later.  I still remember the expression on Lindsay Tanner’s face, on the day he announced his retirement.  The anger behind the calm facade and usual excuses for retiring, was palpable.  He is one of the few Labor politicians that has real emotions, and I think the anger and hurt that he felt, simply spilled over in his book.

    • BruceS says:

      09:19am | 28/09/12

      Thank you Simon, and thank you very very much Lindsay for demonstrating for all to see that, Labor truly is the party of chronic malcontents and cranks.

    • jimbo says:

      09:26am | 28/09/12

      The cast of characters starring in the political arena in Australia today is brilliant. We have folly, intrigue, pathos, hilarity, stupidity, vulgarity, bombasity,and incredulity.  Our government has it all.  Politics has never been so entertaining before.  Remember when you could have government fuctioning in the background for years, getting things done while you got on with your life?  Now it is a day to day serial saga that involves all your waking hours.
      Please, will all pollies just do what you are paid to do and try acting like adults and stop running OUR country for YOUR benefit.

    • Phil S says:

      09:26am | 28/09/12

      “How can voters elect a leader and then allow the government to elect to remove them, is a question often asked”

      Haven’t we been through this enough? It was a move allowed under our political system, and has been done before. It isn’t Labors fault that people in other countries (shall we say America?) are too self absorbed to realise things are done differently in other countries (and for very good reasons).

      God help us if we end up with the american style of politics (we’re already too close as it is)

    • Anna C says:

      09:32am | 28/09/12

      The Labor Party is a disfunctional and diseased beast that needs to be put out of it’s misery.  The sooner the better.  This would provide a good opportunity to start a new party.

    • Alfie says:

      09:45am | 28/09/12

      “This would provide a good opportunity to start a new party.”

      Or, just have a party. lol

    • AdamC says:

      09:47am | 28/09/12

      All political parties are, on one level at least, mechanisms for distributing patronage. The ALP is much more formal in operating this patronage machine than the Liberals, Nationals or Greens (or political parties overseas) and there is, in effect, a defined career path for Labor politicians. (You know the drill: unionist, union lawyer, political staffer to MP or, if you are really rubbish at campaigning, Senator.)

      Because of the high level of organisation of the party, and the fact that people see involvement in Labor politics as part of a career path, it is quite easy for well-connected people within the movement to develop patronage-driven power bases within the party. For example, Paul Howes exercises far more influence within Labor than your average cabinet minister. This party structure weakens the role of the parliamentary party and, as a consequence, weakens the status of the parliamentary leader.

      As such, someone like Kevin Rudd was fine so long as he was messianically popular. When his approval ratings came back down to earth, it was quite natural for the party apparatus, and its ‘faceless men’ string-pullers, to assert themselves. Where the bruvvers miscalculated was in failing to appreciate that voters can get quite angry when they are effectively overruled by party strongmen, many of which hold no elected public office at all.

      However, Labor’s fundamental problem is policy, not party organisation. On the other hand, it probably wouldn’t hurt to restrict the role of unelected union aristocrats in the ALP. Widening the ‘gene pool’ of Labor candidates would also be a good idea.

    • Reggie says:

      10:04am | 28/09/12

      ” there are few countries in the developed world that engage in the internal antics this Government has made a hallmark of its governance.”

      What’s that simon? Couldn’t think of any and just thought you’d throw it out there?
      How’s that Rudd challenge project you’re working on going? What are you doing differently this time? Think you’ll get it up before Christmas?

      Why don’t you tell us a little bit about the impact Dr. NO is having on investment in Australia and our bid for a seat on the security council? What’s that, nothing to say? Geeez simon talking to you is like talking to an empty chair.

    • Luke says:

      12:32pm | 28/09/12

      “While the PM and 140 word leaders were gathered at the United Nations talking about weapons of mass destruction, her colleagues back home were engaged in acts of self destruction.”

      ... and you are the Chief Political Reporter ... sigh ...

    • JB says:

      03:26pm | 28/09/12

      Julia Gillard is leading Federal Labor down the same path that Anna Bligh lead Queensland Labor down!
      Can’t wait for this lying election promise breaking troll to leave the lodge!!!!
      I love it that the “New” asylum policy is working and that is how Labor sells it as “New” when really it is the same policy that was working that THEY DISMANTLED!!!!
      Does Labor have ANY members that are not former Union officials and do any of them hold actual degrees that will help this nation???

    • Robert S McCormick says:

      05:23pm | 28/09/12

      It just goes to show how lacking in talent the Federal ALP is. When Rudd stood down as Foreign Minister Gillard had no-one to take his place so she dragged out of retirement Bob Carr & popped him into the Senate. At least with Rudd we could get a smile out of him & smile at his mangling of the language.Bob Carr takes himself far too seriously, maybe it’s what he thinks the job calls for. Like him or laothe him at least Alexander Downer has a sense of humour! Can you imagine Carr lowering himself to slip on a pair of hole-filled fishnets? Of course you can’t! The problem for the ALP is: “If we dump the dismal failure Gillard has demonstrated she is, who the Hell have we got to replace her with? A bad & short-tempered Bill Shorten? God forbid! The dancin’, singin’ Craig Emerson? The World’s Worst Treasurer, Wayne Swan? Craig Thompson? Smith? Combet? Garrett?.
      The only really viable option would be the ever-serene, supremely intelligent Penny Wong but she’s in the Senate & they’d have to find her a nice, safe seat in the Reps and given that thanks to Gillard the ALP is about as popular as a bad attack of genital herpes they might have to wait a few years until Gillard & Co are well & truly out of the picture & the ALP had a chance to restore it to the Great Political Party it once was.


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