Monday 20th of May 2024

The ALP: who can we trust?

This afternoon I was talking to a very traditional Labor voter, who happens to have become very, very furious with John Howard lately, especially because she's been supporting some families who survive on a Temporary Protection Visa - but who are nonetheless seriously damaged as a result of their time in detention, and the 'semi-prison' they live in with their curtailed 'rights' while on a TPV.

My friend phoned her local ALP member in Western Australia this week after the good Petro Georgiou and Judy Moylan had announced their Private Member's Bills initiative. She told me she had confronted her MP by asking him the rhetorical question: "Who do you think I'd be voting for if Petro Georgiou was my local member?"

I can imagine the silence on the MP's end of the phone line.

There are serious questions about the ALP's commitment to just asylum policies, in fact, I think a considerable section - or should I say 'faction'? - of the Federal parliamentary ALP is just as complicit as many in Howard's inner circle, if only through their silence about what we're doing to refugees since Tampa - and the complicity starts with Immigration spokesman Laurie Ferguson MP. As soon as it was announced that in Mark Latham's line-up Laurie had won the portfolio, I started the Educating Laurie campaign here, and hundreds of folks emailed Laurie here and here.

This issue raises the question of trust in the ALP, and the intention of this Blog item is to establish with your help a list of those who we can trust in the ALP, backed by public evidence or public statements. First though, back to the issues at stake this week: the Georgiou/Moylan initiative, and how Labor and Beazley responded. Yesterday I wrote a Blog about Beazley's response here, but Mike Steketee's opinion piece in The Australian on Thursday is so well crafted, it deserves to be read in its entirety. Here's an extract.

Labor missing in action

Mike Steketee, from
The Australian
26 May 05

WHAT does it tell us when it takes Liberal backbencher Petro Georgiou and a few colleagues to defy the Prime Minister and make the running on relaxing the Government's brutal policy of mandatory detention?

That once again, the Labor Party is out of touch and has been left behind. The Opposition could have taken the opportunity offered by the divisions in Government ranks that have been evident for many months. It could have taken the initiative on an issue in which humanity has long demanded a different approach and on which, in any case, community opinion has swung away from a lock-'em-up-and-throw-away-the-key approach.

But then Labor would not have had its heart in it, not judging by the attitude of its spokesman on immigration, Laurie Ferguson. When it comes to refugees and mandatory detention, Ferguson is a hardliner, whose real views are closer to former immigration minister Philip Ruddock than to many people in the ALP -- certainly those on the Left of the party to which he nominally belongs.

There you are. Beazley's attitude this week was disturbing enough for Labor for Refugees to start its own campaign "to send a message directly to the Federal ALP: Labor should support these Bills as a step towards a more compassionate policy for asylum seekers".

Labor's most trusted list

So let's make a list of who we can trust on truly restoring decency in asylum seeker policies. I'll start with Carmen Lawrence, who stepped down from the front bench over asylum policies two years ago.

If you care to contact any ALP members, ask them the one simple question - and demand an answer:

"If Labor would have a conscience vote on the Georgiou/Moylan Bills, would you vote for them, YES, or NO?"

Dr Carmen Lawrence - Member for Fremantle
(several pages on our website copy Carmen's speeches and articles, you could start on this page)

Electorate Office:
62 Wray Avenue, Fremantle, WA 6160
Phone (08) 9335 8555
Fax (08) 9336 1059

Postal Address
PO BOX 1224, Fremantle WA 6959

Parliament House Office:
R1 97 Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600
Phone (02) 6277 4181
Fax (02) 6277 8501