CAMPAIGN DAY 19 – 22 TO GO
Blunder shall be followed by blunder, it seems. Today it was Peter Garrett’s turn.
It is fair to say that Garrett is an eccentric. He’s about 25 feet tall, bald as a coot and a former rock star with an Australian band. He has been known for decades as an outspoken environmental campaigner. More recently, as the Member for Kingsford Smith, he’s been squeezing himself into bland suits and party lines. Until today, that is.
Here’s the background. Though he denies it, Kevin Rudd has been accused several times during this campaign (and indeed before it) of adopting a “me too” political approach – i.e. he has frequently agreed with the government as announcements have been made. Ahead in the polls, he has sought to avoid being on the wrong side of a policy divide by playing a “small target” game; he is wary of the so-called “wedge” politics supposedly pursued so effectively against his predecessors by Howard, whereby they were forced to show differing positions on controversial issues that were ultimately less popular than the government’s position with a majority of voters. Just avoid doing anything too high profile, the thinking supposedly goes, and he can coast into office.
So, Garrett (who erstwhile environmentalist allies accuse of having sold out to tow party lines, and might therefore (a) feel frustrated and (b) have an agenda rather different to the party line that he’d like to unleash once in power) finds himself rowed up at Melbourne Airport by a journalist early in the day in an informal setting. The journalist says, this is all just “me tooism”. He replies:
“Yeah… but once we get in we’ll just change it all.”
The true face of Labor, cries the Coalition – they’re just pretending to be reasonable and uncontroversial and like us, to get in. Then, the real left will emerge.
Labor denies it, and to be fair, whilst their tax policy had a great big whiff of plagiarismo about it, their general platform – on Iraq, on industrial reform etc – is different to ours. They suggest that Garrett was only joking.
Either way, it’s certainly another embarrassing story from Garrett for Labor in the middle of a hard-fought campaign, which is undesirable for them. They are running an ultra-disciplined campaign, with their left buttoned down in much the same fashion the right of the Conservative Party constrains itself under Cameron in the UK – and for much the same reason; they’re desperate to get in and get rid of a loathed long-serving government. This is a disappointing chink in that armour for them – and perhaps symptomatic of wider feeling in the ALP…
Pretty tired now.