Labor frontbencher Clare O’Neil:
“When … Labor people of a lifetime tell us they feel they are not allowed to question new social standards that seem to be reset every other week, I think we need to listen.
There is a culture developing in the progressive movement where membership is granted with a box of ideas. And if you don’t accept one of the ideas in the box, you do not merely have a different opinion, you are obviously wrong, probably stupid and possibly subhuman.
Not everyone with a concern about the immigration rate is a bigot. Not everyone with a hesitation about changing gender roles is sexist. Not every social change is inarguably a good one.
If Australians feel they can’t question assumptions and positions in conversation with us, they will find someone else to talk to about it.
Since the 1980s, Labor’s economic approach has been to grow the economy by opening it up. With a fair labour market and a good education system, all boats would rise together. Today, that model — it is broken. For the first time, our country is getting richer but ordinary families are going backwards. We have not told a sufficiently compelling story to Australia’s two million small businesses, or to our friends in digital.
I don’t think we are winning hearts and minds out there talking about policy this way. If an election is about whether a family will be 4 per cent better off in five years under one leader and 6 per cent better off under the other one, I think we are missing the mark.
Politics is about offering a compelling story about our country: who we are, where we are going. One of the most upsetting things I have heard in speaking with people after the election, especially in the regions, was how we sounded on the doorstep. The impression of many was that progressives were talking down to them. I know this is not what was intended, but if our voters hear sanctimony, that is what matters.”
This could a breakthrough. It takes an act imagination such as this open up new possibilities.
But it is not enough to stop talking down to people. You have to listen them as well.
Remember, all Labor has to do to win the next election is climb off the floor in QLD where it holds just six of thirty seats. That state has been lost by Labor to nationalist parties that stand for stronger borders in terms of immigration, economic policy and national security.
It won’t be enough to just pretend to care about such things. Policy must shift too.
It’s very easy to do. Just commit to a halving of immigration to boost wages, take pressure off house prices (dump negative gearing reforms if needs be), decongest cities and protect national security. These are all easily incorporated into a Labor agenda aiming to lift worker’s living standards.