Thursday, September 02, 2010


Simon Benson's Betrayal is a tale that is meant to tell of the betrayal of Morris Iemma by Kevin Rudd, but is ultimately an insight into the betrayal of Karl Bitar and Mark Arbib that subsequently Kevin Rudd himself experienced.

A part of that story was the relationship that developed between these two players as Secretary and Assistant Secretary of the ALP, and the other Assistant Secretary - the position bequeathed to the Left under the "power sharing model" in NSW, Luke Foley. In reporting on Foley's maiden speech in the Legislative Council the Australian refers to the fact that "Mr Foley was notable during his tenure at the party's Sussex Street headquarters for the close working relationships he formed with his right-wing counterparts."

It is therefore deemed newsworthy by the Oz that Foley has "In his inaugural speech in state parliament yesterday, Luke Foley slammed the "empty pursuit of power" that has characterised NSW Labor machine politics in recent years." In reality he didn't - in his speech the comment was in reference to his support of party politics, and the important role parties played in making sure democracy wasn't just a parliament of the rich.

Yes he did say;

Above all, I am Labor, committed to equality, solidarity and social justice. I believe in the principles of the party and in a party of principle. I have been a member of the Australian Labor Party for 22 years. I served the party in a full-time capacity as Assistant General Secretary of its New South Wales branch from 2003 until June this year. I have some experience of Labor's remorseless internal politics. I have always felt that our members and supporters deserve a party machine worthy of Labor's message. Political power is a means to an end; it should never be the end in itself. I reject the empty pursuit of power. There is no honourable political future for a Labor Party that will not uphold courageously the principles from which it draws life. My political involvement has a purpose and a direction. My idealism imagines a better kind of world.

In this he was doing the very standard new member speech as the prelude to talking about "the principles" he wanted to "uphold courageously". What were they? "My values are social democratic values." To paraphrase Foley

Providing these things (that are so often the preserve of State Government: modern schools, state-of-the-art hospitals and community health services, accessible public transport, safe streets, a flourishing artistic and cultural sector, social housing, and our natural environment protected for all to enjoy) which only the community, not individuals acting alone, can provide—should always be the essential purpose of any State government.

It is that essential purpose that led this State's very first Labor Government, Jim McGowen's, to build the garden suburb of Daceyville to provide housing for working-class families. It is that essential purpose that led the Cahill Labor Government to build the Sydney Opera House, and it is that essential purpose that has led this Labor Government to rebuild or upgrade nearly every major hospital in this State since 1995.

Hardly a ringing endorsement of a grand social democratic vision. Of more interest was his rejection of the "totalitarian right" where he said;

I do not believe that, in today's world, human rights are the exclusive preserve of Westerners. Anti-totalitarianism is at the heart of my politics. Today a totalitarian movement of the far Right is threatening pluralist democracies and the lives and freedoms of people in many societies, including our own. This global Islamist movement is misogynist, racist and homophobic. This movement's extremist ideology is, of course, based on an utter perversion of the Islamic faith. Too many progressives are silent about this or deny this. Governments everywhere have a profound duty to protect their citizens from the threat of extremist Islamist terrorism. I intend to maintain an active interest in this over my time in this place.

Meanwhile writing about the last minority Government in the Oz was the great Rodney Cavalier. Worth a read, but the detail on Rod said "His book, Power Crisis, on the crisis of organisation and belief facing the ALP, will be published in October." Now that should be worth a read.

Historical footnote: Rodney Cavalier was also a member of the Senate of the University of Sydney with the two males in this photo.

Novae Meridianae Demetae Dexter delenda est

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