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Date: Mon, 4 Mar 1996 03:48:08 GMT
Sender: Activists Mailing List <ACTIV-L@MIZZOU1.MISSOURI.EDU>
From: Andrew Casey <borscase@pyromania.apana.org.au>

Oz election: we got slaughtered

By Andrew Casey
4 March 1996

We got slaughtered. Oz labor activists sitting around stunned this morning after worst election result in 50 years.

It is the end of the Accord-era.

An interesting experiment in a wages-prices agreement between govt and organised labour.

While nothing is perfect, I believe overall the formula was good in delivering improvements to working people in the areas of education, health,housing and social security. thirteen years after being elected to govt we leave Australia a more socially cohesive, tolerant and egalitarian society than when we came into power.

Our successes over thirteen years can probably be best measured by the fact that the tories could only get themselves elected by pretending to reject their New Right policies and, like wolves in sheeps clothing, adopting a social democratic stance and copying our policies.

PM Keating during the election campaign called then Tories - "the photocopy party" - because they had taken our policies so exactly and adopted them as their own.

how soon will the wolves take off the sheep's clothing? why didn't the voting public see through it? These things will be debated for a long while.

Obviously there was a feeling that it was time to give the other side a go. but also there was a feeling that the labor government - and most importantly its leader - had become too arrogant in power.

Our representation in parliament is (relatively) at the lowest it has been since the end of WWII. ( 52 MPs)

Looking for positives?

Some very good women, competent and left-reformist, have been elected and are now - because of small numbers - in a good position to influence the policy agenda.

The relationships between the two factions have changed dramatically....with the left being more influential.

The MPs who were former union officials become more influential thus tying party back more closely to its working class base.

Martin Ferguson - ex-ACTU President - is now the natural leader of the Left (Walker and Duncan defeated) and is being pushed by some in the media to become deputy leader of the party. A position he is resisting.

There is a chance that the next leader of the party will be another former ACTU President - Simon Crean. Tho that will only happen is the current Deputy Leader, Kim Beazley, is defeated in his electorate. There is a very close vote here and final counting of numbers not yet completed.

Only in the State of Victoria - where the Tories are led by a New Right leader - did Labor do ok.... in fact pick up seats. (Leith/Melanie... Jenny Macklin elected; Phil Cleary lost his seat; Julia Gillard looks like being a senator; also Sue Mackay a Senator from Tas and Carolyn Jakobsen is back from WA)

A large part of our key leadership group were defeated. It will take at least two terms to re-build.

The Federal Treasurer, Ralph Willis - (for info of HTUPers he was the first Aussie graduate of HTUP) -was entrapped in the dying days of the campaign by a complex dirty tricks scam involving fraudulent letters, probably produced by the Tories but police are still investigating. The fact that Willis was forced to publicly apologise to the Opposition fourty-eight hours before voting day hurt us badly.

Unfortunately bloodletting within the industrial wing is expected next week with calls already for the powerful ACTU Secretary, Bill Kelty, to resign over a politically inept speech he made during the campaign - warning of class-war. Polls showed that this turned off many white-collar middle-of-the-road voters.

The ACTU Executive meets in a little over a week's time.

The ACTU President, Jennie George, held a media conference this morning in which she read out a statement about the election result but refused to take any questions from the media.

The leaders of the different sections of the political wing have met already and agreed that there will be no blood-letting. The ex-PM, keating, has announced he will stand-down from leadership position...and probably leave parliament.