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'New Labor' giving way to 'Old Labor'

By Tim O'Hare - posted Wednesday, 17 December 2014

The recent Victorian election has sparked commentary that a one term government is not immune to electoral loss what's missing is analysis of the implications this has on Labor's electoral strategy.

The previous Labor Leader to win government Steve Bracks campaigned in 1999 as a 'social progressive and fiscal conservative' distancing himself from the high spending of the John Cain Labor government and offering himself as a more conciliatory alternative to the brash Kennett.

The new Premier Daniel Andrews, who served as a junior Minister in the Bracks government, is a world apart.


He comes from the Socialist Left with alleged ties to the militant CFMEU and unlike Bracks, who had a diverse background in business and teaching, Daniel Andrews' entire career has been as a staffer and party organiser.

Where Steve Bracks offered a tight working relationship with the business community and sometimes took the side of the employers against striking workers, Daniel Andrews owes everything to the union movement as evidenced by their financing of his formidable campaign.

Six years ago the New South Wales Labor Premier Morris Iemma and his Treasurer Michael Costa were prepared to stake their positions on electricity privatisation, today such principled devotion to a major economic reform would be unimaginable.

In fact New South Wales Opposition Leader John Robertson is now running a campaign against the very thing which Iemma and Costa stood so stridently for, now being pushed by the Liberal government of Mike Baird.

Likewise in Queensland the Labor Opposition is standing against asset sales which, in government under Left Faction Premier Anna Bligh, they were mature enough to begin.

In the short-term, this reversion to traditional instincts has proven to be effective.


Despite offering very little alternative for addressing the $48.5 billion dollar deficit and refusing to reduce the rapidly ballooning health and education expenditure, the Bill Shorten-led Labor Party remains on track to defeat the Coalition at 52/48%.

Daniel Andrews defied history and ousted a single-term government with interventionist policies such as $100 million dollar fund to businesses to incentivise their hiring of disaffected workers along with a $200 million Future Industries Fund and a $200 Regional Jobs Fund.

In Queensland Labor has come from behind to lead the Liberal National Party 51-49 according to the latest ReachTel, which although in the margin of error, is a considerable turn around given the 2012 election where Labor was reduced to just 7 seats.

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About the Author

Tim O’Hare is a Sydney-based, freelance commentator, originally from Brisbane. He has written about a range of subjects and particularly enjoys commenting on the culture wars and the intersection between politics, culture, sport, and the arts.

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