The answer is Albo
I can tell the admirable ALP candidate for Batman, Ged Kearney, precisely why “are they voting Green, or why have they left Labor” (Martin McKenzie-Murray, “Holy Labor crisis, Batman”, February 24–March 2). Even though the Greens couldn’t run the proverbial in a brewery, Labor has lost the convictions they once held (think refugees and Adani). I was impelled to become a member of the Labor Party from 1974 to 1983 when, with a huge sigh of relief at a job well done, I welcomed Bob Hawke as PM. Since then I have continued to vote Labor, but with ever-increasing misgivings since Julia Gillard. Bill Shorten has not once been anywhere near Malcolm Turnbull in preferred prime minister polls despite the latter turning out to be the most inept prime minister since Billy McMahon, and Turnbull’s government trailing by up to six or seven points for 27 continuous polls. And here’s the punchline: Martin McKenzie-Murray notes that the Greens have not been able to encroach on Labor’s hold on Grayndler despite a demographic similar to Batman. Both the Greens and Labor put this down to Anthony Albanese’s popularity. Surely I am not the only voter in the whole of Australia to see the blindingly obvious solution to Labor’s “crisis”?
– Ian Nowak, Subiaco, WA
Caucus at the heart of ALP problems
Regardless of Ged Kearney’s ideological credentials, the voters of Batman are clever enough to know that the ALP’s policies are not determined by the MPs or the party members, but by the ALP caucus. The caucus is behind the ALP’s support for coal companies, is beholden to the donations of developers and vested interests, reinstated offshore detention on Manus and Nauru and, when in power, did not dismantle John Howard’s intervention in Aboriginal communities. I routinely call ALP offices asking for the refugees on Manus and Nauru to be brought to Australia and am met with hostility from Labor staffers. The cancer at the heart of the ALP is the fact that a very small group of people in a closed room decide everything and nothing and no one else gets a look-in. If it was any different Bill Shorten would not have become and would not still be Opposition Leader.
– Di Cousens, Mount Waverley, Vic
What the Greens do differently
The Labor insider quoted in Martin McKenzie-Murray’s feature on the Batman byelection unwittingly revealed why Labor is bleeding votes to the Greens here. The source concluded Labor “could not do more to appeal to Northcote voters” after losing that byelection with a progressive platform “months” in the making. How about actually standing for something besides being in power? How about policy driven by principle rather than polls, or by which electorate needs pandering to in the moment? The insider’s comments illuminate Labor’s identity crisis; the party’s first point of reference is the balance of winning and losing votes on its left and right flanks. Bill Shorten does not make authoritative pronouncements, but rather floats ideas to check which way the wind is blowing. People are fed up with this lack of leadership from both major parties. The Greens, by contrast, start with core values and see where that takes them, which is proving a more authentic, sustainable and appealing approach.
– Brett Taylor, Alphington, Vic
Alex Bhathal has my vote
I refer to the article written by Martin McKenzie-Murray. I am a Batman voter and was a lifetime ALP voter until a hardline policy was adopted on asylum seekers. The Greens will have my vote – and many others – until the ALP grows a heart on this issue.
– Robyn James, Clifton Hill, Vic
Dutton for punishment
While our prime minister was unable to sack Barnaby Joyce, despite his destructive policies, there is no excuse for allowing Peter Dutton to give full rein to his fascist leanings. As you point out in your Editorial (“Hypocrite to child’s care”, February 24–March 2), Malcolm Turnbull’s only concern is keeping his own position. Dutton not only wants “a uniformed dystopia” but an uninformed one. Thanks to a partisan media, many Australians are ignorant of the terrible conditions, the ill treatment, the injuries, the complete injustice and hopelessness asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru endure. The UNHCR has condemned Australia’s treatment of refugees. Dutton pursues these evil policies and the government cravenly ignores his crimes. The asylum seekers should be brought to Australia, rehabilitated and accommodated.
– Gael Barrett, North Balwyn, Vic
Right was on journalist’s side
Mike Seccombe could have been far more critical of ABC managers and far more fulsome in his praise of Emma Alberici (“Frank and fearful”, February 24–March 2). The managers were guilty of far more than excessive managerialism. Emma showed them what it means to exercise the cardinal virtue of fortitude, which was so lacking in their surrender. She had the courage to face the danger of doing what she knew to be right.
– Mark Porter, New Lambton, NSW
A critical point
Helen Razer’s flip assertion that Christopher Hitchens lacked “edginess in later life” seems to ignore his struggle with a brutal terminal illness (“Stowaway to heaven”, February 24–March 2). Endured almost to the last, and with impressive clarity, he continued to do verbal combat with the legions of smug religious apologists foolish enough to take up the challenge. One hopes Ms Razer, or indeed any one of us, would do as well in similar circumstances.
– Paul Fuller, Richmond, Vic
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Mar 3, 2018. Subscribe here.