A new sign of the ineptness of the Federal Labor Opposition is the campaign by Tony Burke, Opposition business manager, to pressure Government backbenchers in marginal electorates over voting to shut down debate in parliament.
The killer message: they have been too busy silencing the Opposition to pass legislation.
Daniel Hurst (The Guardian 2 February 2021) wrote that: “Ahead of the resumption of parliament on Tuesday, Labor has sought to directly target Coalition backbenchers over ‘Trumpian’ chamber tactics that are decided by more senior government colleagues.”
Portentous roll of drums: “Guardian Australia understands the opposition has contacted hundreds of media organisations – including print, online and radio – in 22 Liberal and National-held seats to highlight the incumbent members’ voting records.
Given the state of local media post-Covid it’s surprising that there are hundreds of media organisations to be contacted. Indeed, that sounds as illusionary as the campaign.
“The tailored press releases or letters to the editor from the manager of opposition business, Tony Burke, attempt to tar the MPs for being ‘part of a government obsessed with shutting down democratic debate and silencing its opponents’.”
To add to the ineptness one of the MPs they are targeting is the retiring Leichhardt MP, Warren Entsch. As he won’t be there when the next election is called why bother?
Another, more fundamental question is: who cares? It rather looks as if the Opposition is, in the euphemistic words, disappearing up their own fundamental orifice.
One can imagine how an Opposition business manager can get excited about manoeuvrings in Parliament. It is sort of his job.
Equally he might be agitated about what legislation gets passed or not but the vast majority of Australians gave up many years ago on expecting legislation to benefit them or even bothering to follow what goes on in the Parliament.
And few of them would be surprised to learn that ‘senior government colleagues’ tell them what to do in Parliament. Rather they would stunned if they had the gumption to stand up for something they strongly, or even weakly, believed in.
It is also moot if Leichhardt voters feel as concerned as Tony Burke.
There are more females than males in the electorate; a higher proportion of 29 to 64 year old than the Queensland average; 60% of couples are either not married or in de facto relations (higher than both the Queensland and Australian average) and it is reasonable that they have some urgent priorities Burke has missed.
Indigenous people represent 16.6 % of the electorate considerably more than the average Australian electorate. It would also be reasonable to think they are also more concerned about land rights, recognition and the Uluru Statement than parliamentary tactics.
Secrecy, inequality, corruption, incompetence, jobs for the boys and girls, climate change (FNQ voters are also concerned about the Reef as well as mines) – all seem good prospects for marginal seat campaigns.
Perhaps they are proceeding somewhere else and The Guardian hasn’t been told about them. But why focus on something which might engage a tiny minority while leaving the majority of Australians cold and then promote it as some sort of clever plan?
There are a few final year students in communications courses around Australian universities who could come up with better strategies and be more than happy to do it as heavily exploited interns without pay. They couldn’t do any worse at least.