Skip to Content »

What a pity Goff can’t say what Gillard is saying

  • April 5th, 2011

Julia Gillard gave the inaugural Whitlam Institute Gough Whitlam Oration in Sydney, following the devastation of NSW Labour. 

"Strengthening Labor requires us to be crystal clear about our sense of purpose. 
It is periodically fashionable for there to be outbreaks of existential angst in the Labor Party where the cry goes up ‘we don’t know what we stand for’.  Even if Labor isn’t raising the cry, media commentators raise it for us with never ending predictions of our imminent demise.
Let me say to you tonight, I am deeply intolerant of this bunkum.
I am absolutely clear what Labor stands for, what we aspire to achieve, what our culture is and our role as a party of government.
The historic mission of our political party is to ensure the fair distribution of opportunity. From the moment of our inception our mission has been to enable the son of the labourer, the daughter of the cleaner, to have access to same the opportunities in life as the son of the millionaire, the daughter of the lawyer.
Creating opportunity and enabling social mobility has required different policies in every age. We have moved beyond the days of big government and big welfare, to opportunity through education and inclusion through participation.
But at every stage in our history fair access to opportunity has been our historic mission.
And we have always acknowledged that access to opportunity comes with obligations to seize that opportunity. To work hard, to set your alarm clocks early, to ensure your children are in school. We are the party of work not welfare, that’s why we respect the efforts of the brickie and look with a jaundiced eye at the lifestyle of the socialite.

The Labor culture values effort more than status.
It prizes the great Australian tradition of informality and rejects the sort of snobbishness and obsequiousness that infect other societies."

Those were the values that drove my youthful support for Labour and my misplaced endorsement of Rowling against Muldoon. Those were the values of the Labour of Savage and Fraser.

The current NZ Labour Party is the party of status entitlements. It spent its last 9 years in office creating laws and allocating offices and privileges according to status,  in distinction to individual merit or deserts. Status categories included age, race, gender and sexual preference, as well as deemed "disadvantage".

Can Goff in opposition point to anyone in his team working on recapturing its founding values? Instead they are assisting National to cement status in as the foundation for entitlements and inherited privilege. Labour was feeble on the Marine and Coastal Act. They've colluded to protect failing schools and teachers from the kind of exposure the Australian Labor Party has used to shake up education. They consistenly defend welfare bludgers and a criminal justice system that eliminates the greatest social constraint on crime – namely shame.

I heard Goff 10 days ago claim to a Chamber of Commerce audience that the worst social  tragedy was the half of Maori young people leaving school to no work. No one in the audience thought to remind him of his recent vote against the only proven remedy for that – ensuring that employers could employ for what they are worth until they've acquired and demonstrated work ready skills – i.e. youth rates. To be fair I wonder whether that hesitation was because of National's shameful vote on the same matter.

I see no one doing the thinking that Frank Field offered the UK Labour Party. There is no equivalent to Blair. NZ Labour shows none of the vigour even a febrile Australian Labour shows. There is no sign here, even without Clark's dominating presence, of the kind of debate that blesses Australian Labor courtesy of its formally recognised left and right factions. New Zealand Labour lost its right faction to ACT, and has never regrown the severed limb.

New Zealand suffers for that. Only with herculean and damaging effort can the Right reform welfare and labour law, or education and health. Genuine reform in those areas should be for the left, so that  the parasites of the entitlement industry who have nested there have no place to hide when reform comes.

When the  Right has to do it the political dynamic allows the parasites to think they have political support, even if it is grudging, and for reasons of opposition only. It is time for a genuine Labour right to resurface. Has Shane Jones served his penitential time yet?


  • Max Ritchie
  • April 6th, 2011
  • 9:27 am

Gillard's speech should strike a chord with every sensible voter. If only these moving words were applied by the ALP! If she thinks that Labor governments, hers included, have ever made a serious effort to reduce Australia's bludger mentality then she needs a reality check. But at least she's talkning the talk which is a great first step. Oh to hear these words from a New Zealnd politician, Act excepted. No recent NZ government has done anything to reduce entrenched privelege. The wealthy are bribed, frequently with their own money, and some of my grandchildren get handouts denied to the others, based on the race of a great-grandparent. But the flawed Shane Jones isn't the answer.

  • Don McKenzie
  • April 6th, 2011
  • 1:29 pm

Amen Max


Next Government Australia is liberal conservative,
place bets here,

Leave your comments:

* Required fields. Your e-mail address will not be published on this site

You can use the following HTML tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>