An open resignation from the Australian Labor Party

I’ve put this off for far too long, so I’ll be sending the following away in the mail some time soon, solving my printer-cable issues just to fire off this one letter in the mail.

resign

How to save on membership fees.

Dear South Australian Labor Party,

I’ve been a rank and file member of the ALP now for a good part of my life now. Not out of any kind of personal ambition, but simply to support the party with the most ties to the tradition of the Australian Union movement, and out of some degree of hope that the party would at least engage in a meaningful philosophical dialogue amongst its members.

My political activity has always been somewhat informal and thus never caring to leave my mark, I’m largely unknown in the party. Like most members.

I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve never needed to tie myself down to do what I want to do, and familiarity with the more Machiavellian parts of the party culture is best avoided especially if one can manage to do so without compromise.

A balance between compromise and reaching political objectives to our own favour, as an approach is at worst pragmatic. It needn’t be a cynical exercise at all and I think it’s what I find in common with the better nature of the party.

And that’s why I’m writing this resignation from the Australian Labor Party. Less and less have I had to operate within the party and more and more it seems obvious that the network I have within the party will persist even if I do resign. More to the point, I’m deeply compromised by the party.

Increasingly, my political activity involves my writing. Indeed, this open resignation is being published on my blog so I can openly sever my ties to the party. I’m wondering how many people will read it. Last federal election, I got to a lot more people with my piece entitled ‘The Myth of the economic credibility of the Liberal Party‘ than I ever would have handing out how-to-vote cards or letter-boxing.

I’ve been compromised and embarrassed by a number of things the ALP has stood for, accepted or otherwise involved itself in.

  • Confusing the separation of church and state at a Federal level (where sect. 116 of the Commonwealth Constitution is all that holds the Government back) and outright violating the separation on a state level (where there are no constitutional barriers).
  • Doing senate preference deals with candidates with no dedication to (or even understanding) of liberal democracy.
  • Young Labor idiocy, which has become more Machiavellian than ever and also almost entirely intellectually threadbare. Not that I ever got involved back when I was young enough (it was bad enough then) but some experience with the current crop has been less than encouraging!
  • The party’s treatment of Phil Palmer and the ambos that he watches out for (I really do hope that the Rann Government learnt something from the last exchange).

I could go on at length with more examples, but there is one example that has been the proverbial straw. One more example that I can’t chalk up to real politik.

Stephen Conroy with his unworkable, expensive and dangerously undemocratic filtering schema, and the disgusting lengths he goes to in order to silence dissent (further demonstrating that he is a willing opponent of liberal democracy) cause me the worst of compromises that I’ve experienced from the ALP.

The “clean feed” fails by its own standards as testing has found, although it would still be an adequate obstacle to free speech. You need only a few harmful sites to get through to invalidate the filter, but you only need to block a few harmless sites to violate democratic discourse.

Industry experts (i.e. people Conroy should be listening to) predict that the terms of the filter could be broadened at a whim to buy the passage of bills through the upper house; a concern validated by Senator Fielding and Senator Xenaphon’s expressions of interest in the technology (to place adult content and gambling on the mandatory block-list respectively).

If good old Brian Harradine was still in and had the balance of power, euthanasia advocates would have something to worry about, no doubt. If a rabid Hansonite gets the balance, look out Islam and anything possibly (spuriously) associated with eco-terrorism.

The federal government has taken the right tact in regard to UN moves that could stifle the ability for people to criticise religion. But then the UN doesn’t have a senate seat.

The real problem is one of child welfare, but that’s not what the policy is about. It’s about externalising consequences onto the breadth of Internet users, the consequences of something that is a matter of individual responsibility – parental responsibility at that.

The Internet isn’t, nor was it ever a babysitter. The failure of the Internet to perform as such isn’t a failure of the Internet, it’s a failure of parenting. It is child neglect. All Internet sessions need supervision by a responsible adult.

The fact that Conroy hasn’t the political cajones to front up to the public and tell it like it is, that he overlooks this child neglect, makes his “protect the children” line of rhetoric utterly vapid. Why is it always about sexual content and paedophiles? The former raises uncomfortable questions for some parents and the latter wouldn’t even be mildly inhibited by the proposed filter even if it worked. Why is there a disproportionately small amount of time given to textbook horror cases like the televised, uncensored, visceral Bud Dwyer suicide?

It’s because Conroy and his supporters are being insincere.

But the insincerity isn’t the worst of it. It’s Conroy’s attack on Mark Newton of Internode that I’m talking about.

I’m an acquaintance of Mark’s through the local open source community. As someone with only one subject to go in a science degree that will make me an IT professional, I’m happy to know there are colleagues like Mark out there. He makes articulate, valid points based on fact, acquired though experience and an inquisitive mind. Much more so than what I’ve witnessed from the bulk of ALP members, which isn’t an insult – Mark is quite good. I’m a happy customer of the ISP he works for and I’d be an unhappy one if they were to do anything silly like firing him.

Encouraging an industry professional body to have a concerned talk with Mark’s employer (i.e. to threaten his employment) was a stupid idea executed with bumbling form by one of Conroy’s over-eager apparatchik. So bumbling that it could be traced back.

It wouldn’t be so bad if the party disciplined Conroy and made him pull his head in. But no, he’s had a pat on the head and shows no sign of pulling out.

Sure, the policy isn’t being supported by NSW Young Labor, which gives some hope, but what of the man’s conduct? I can’t reconcile it with my own politics, nor can I reconcile the apparent lack of control the Prime Minister has over him.

Yes, this is some time ago now, but I’ve been intent on formally resigning ever since. Consider my complacency a comment on the priority I place on the party.

Now I’ve probably spend far too many words on a letter that will likely just be discarded. At least, discarded by whoever is processing my membership. I gather, or rather I hope at least some of my readership will find interest in it.

I’ve said my piece, so I hereby resign from the Australian Labor Party!

~ Bruce Everett (Member #20631).

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42 thoughts on “An open resignation from the Australian Labor Party

  1. Well, said Bruce. I have submitted your letter to StumbledUpon – it is getting wide circulation in Twitter and posted a link to it on my own website.

    This is a short link to your story – for anyone who wants to copy the link and email to their friends http://is.gd/eJHd

    This is a short link to my own letter to Conroy – again, for anyone who want to copy the link and email their friends. http://is.gd/dG3C A copy has also been sent to the Prime Minister.

    We CANNOT allow the Federal ALP to censor free speech in Australia in this way.

    Lesley

  2. I wish I was a member as well so I could resign. Don’t forget the way the Rann government treats teachers. Once industry and states like WA have recruited all the best teachers away from SA they will look everywhere to blame except themselves.

    I am from a Labor family and a traditional Labor voter. I don’t mind that the ALP has become centrist on economic matters. I never was a hardcore socialist. I do mind that they are now ultra-conservative on social issues. I don’t like the Greens economics and I am open minded on nuclear but I think the economy can look after itself for a bit. They are the only party in Australia with any sort of commitment to freedom and progressive social values so they are getting my vote until the major parties change.

    Either the ALP becomes a social progressive party again as they were under the likes of Whitlam and Dunstan or the Liberals ditch social conservatism and become a true liberal party. At the moment I have a choice of voting Catholic or Catholic. If I wanted my life to be ruled by the Pope I would be attending mass every Sunday.

    My apologies if Catholics feel offended. I am married to one. They are not universally bad. I deeply resent the way Church and State have become intertwined in Australia. It feels deeply undemocratic and un-Australian.

  3. Well done. I lost faith in Labor and they lost my vote several years ago, probably starting with Rann, although Rudd isn’t much better.

    The Newton episode demanded some sort of slap on the wrist, which suggests Rudd fully agreed with the way it was done.

  4. Hi Bruce,

    Thank you for your sincerity and for standing up for what you believe in. The Rudd government (including Conroy) are treating the Australian public with contempt. A mandatory censorship is merely a form of “guilty until proven innocent”. The whole country is treated like a bunch of criminals in order to curtail a disproportionate minority of individuals who abuse it.

    If only people like you stayed, and Conroy et al decided to leave.

  5. Sir, it takes insight to questions one’s convictions … it takes true courage to act upon those convictions!

    I applaud you for your stance – it is a tribute to your character.

    With my sincerest respect,
    Paul

  6. Good for you Bruce.

    Perhaps the only good thing about this internet censorship issue is that it has galvanised supporters of free speech and opponents of unaccountable government.

    This Rudd cabinet has learned all the wrong lessons from Howard.

    Curse their zealotry.

  7. Good on you Bruce for having the convictions of your own beliefs to stand up to this monstrosity in charge of our country. I thank you for your honesty and for having the integrity to post your opinions despite the ALP.

  8. Integrity, Sincerity and Authenticity.
    Those are most important attributes in a civilised society.

    I for one admire your decission.

    “The only thing necessary for evil to succeed is that good men do nothing.”
    Bourke.

  9. Nice one Bruce! Lets hope more follow in your footsteps, the political parties need to start listening to what the people want again rather than following their own agendas.

  10. http://notallpoppies.wordpress.com/2009/01/07/caution-nudity-included-here/

    I have published a post that shows the complete absurdity of the Clean Feed rules.

    It would have the site from which I sourced the link BANNED – go and have a look, have a laugh and then tell your local Federal Member that Australians do not want censorship that would put us amongst the top 10 most censored countries in the world – including Korea and Iran.

    Australians have the right to view these pictures and to appreciate this art.

  11. I’ve commented as follows when I linked your blog to Newsvine
    http://tzumli.newsvine.com

    “The vulnerability of new comers to the internet to receiving pornography is an indication of the skills and knowledge one needs to learn to steer their way through the hazards of the internet.

    These skills are properly taught to children by parents, because it is exactly the same as learning the pitfalls of society in general with its spivs, sharks, thieves, con-artists, politicians, used car salesmen and spin doctors, and who would trust any one of those to teach our youngsters without buttoning down our wallets?”

    Excellent piece I thought.

  12. I go out in the morning with no comments, and get home after midnight to this! Awww, schucks. I’m going all red now.

    Thanks for the kind words everyone. I’ll have to do a follow up post addressing a few people’s critical points (more points in the comments welcome in the meantime) from both here and on whirlpool.

    On the formal side, the new printer is up and running, the resignation is printed and signed and I just need to mail it in the morning and it’s a sealed deal!

    I didn’t expect quite this level of interest (I’m somewhat chuffed about the number of page views and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down at all despite the hour), so I’ve added a PS to the printed copy I’m mailing off pointing out your demonstrated interest. That’ll give ’em something to put in their pipe and smoke on!

    Thanks again, folks!

    Bruce

  13. Censorship never works positively – just look at the classic “Drinking Rum and Coca Cola” made very famous by the Andrew Sisters in the midst of other harmless songs being censored out .

  14. god one Bruce. I too resigned fromthe ALP over this, after 15 years of membership. I too have an IT degree. I too was actively involved in letter writing in support of the ALP. It’s a sad day when I start to feel that the Libs were not so bad after all, compared to this, and all that i fear that it implies for the future of this country.
    Either they have no idea of the real world, or they are being controlled by forces other than democratic ones. Time will tell. Now we have the option to vote freely, I for one will most likely vote for Greens and, knowing how prefences are taken for granted by the ALP (the Greens opose this filtering), will be voting below the line so that they do not automatically flow to the treacherous ALP.

  15. Good for you Bruce!
    It is pathetic that the ALP is going to enforce such a crappy idea on all of Australian internet users.

    Again I say good for you!
    🙂

  16. Fantastic work Bruce, Labor = history. I hope people will consider voting for a minor party at the next federal election. It’s unlikely any politician will ever get “it” right, but they need to be sent a strong message that many of the political ambitions of the party (and it’s lack of delivering key election promises) are not in line with the wants and needs of the Australian community.

  17. We need a new party to vote for, with some decent values, I’m actually looking at voting greens and below the line next federal election, something I’d never thought I’d do.
    The last federal election was ‘more of the same’ or ‘more of the same with a slight twist’
    The labour and liberal party have no great distinction between party values any more, so I can’t see the liberals standing out against some form of censorship on the internet in the long run, tho I hope this filter joke gets thrown in the bin where it belongs in the senate.

  18. I thoroughly enjoyed that letter and hope it has made some sort of impact within the ALP. My only concern is that when people willing to stand up for their convictions against their party leave, the party is left with those who are happy to move forward with their boneheaded ideas.

    Any plans to focus your political efforts on something other project?

  19. To be honest Sam, I’m content to continue with a bit of grass-rootsy stuff and stones at glass houses from this blog. That’s basically how it’s been for a while, just as an ALP member.

    For me, there is little in the way of practical change, just that I don’t have the ALP logo stuck to me any more.

  20. Well done Bruce,

    I know how intellectually empty the Labor party can be sometimes, especially these days. It’s good to see that you have the courage to change your mind about something and leave the party.

    If I hadn’t already left them because of the rampant stupidity and lack of forethought in the grassroots, I would have left over this.

  21. It’s good to see that you have the courage to change your mind about something and leave the party.

    I’d made the decision a couple of months ago. As for Conroy, I’ve never liked the way he operates. As for the filter, I’ve always seen it as a bad idea since when it was first brought up in politics in the 90s (I openly criticised the idea before the 2007 Federal election I might add).

    Not so much mind-changing going on here.

    Anyway, back to my real world responsibilities. break is over.

  22. Well done. I myself after more than 20 years recently resigned as a member of the Socialist Alliance, a party I have supported since they were the old SWP, the reason? their alignment with the Islambic religion and their confusion over what is Racism and what is Ideology, as to the labor party, well they have been a joke now for decades……..KRUDDS overt religious perfunctity is an embarrassment..

  23. “The Internet isn’t, nor was it ever a babysitter. The failure of the Internet to perform as such isn’t a failure of the Internet, it’s a failure of parenting. It is child neglect. All Internet sessions need supervision by a responsible adult.”

    I call this the “Mothers aren’t allowed to pee rule”. We’re all sitting around at home, while the washing hangs itself on the line, the dishes pop themselves in the dishwasher and the floor never gets dirty and there is never a stinking nappy to deal with and the whole place stays hygienically clean and safe without the need to ever take your eyes of the kids. So we can supervise the internet, the TV, the pool gate, the balcony, the door latch and the myriad of other things that represent danger, because, after all, we’re superhuman mums who have eyes in the back of our head, can do six things at once and never need to pee.

  24. Polyquats, I suspect Bruce will craft his own reply to that copmment; I just want to note he was careful to say supervision by “a responsible adult” – not “responsible mother”.

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