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Bob Ellis on Labor’s NSW Right #auspol

While incorrectly ascribing former NSW minister Ian Macdonald to the NSW Right, Bob Ellis does make a good argument about the moral panic surrounding them and NSW Labor generally at the moment.

He writes:

The New South Wales Right gave us Chifley, Whitlam, Wran, Hawke, Keating, Beazley, Carr, Clare, Burke, Rudd and Gillard who gave us, in turn, Commission Houses, university scholarships, Medibank, Medicare, homosexual equality, the social wage, women’s rights, the Shooting Gallery, an end to our participation in the Iraq and Vietnam wars, the NBN, the Carbon Tax, the child abuse enquiry, the sequestering of a hundred National Parks and the redistribution of the waters of the Murray.

The New South Wales Right gave us most of what we are proud of.

It also gave us Obeid and McDonald. But the man who accused them and sought and briefly achieved their sacking and disempowerment, Graeme Wedderburn, is also of the Right and the smartest political talent of our time.

I’m not sure what the fuss is all about. From time to time there will be crooks in politics, as there are in sport, and scandals like the Deputy Prime Minister, Mark Vaile, giving two hundred and ninety-seven million dollars to Saddam Hussein will occur and investigations will be launched into the size of them, and imprisonments be attempted. But to say this means a party or a faction is in itself essentially crooked or gangsterish is drawing a long bow.

Was Whitlam a gangster? Really? Should Vaile’s National Party be abolished? Really?

What the fuck are you talking about?

As messy as the Obeid/Macdonald saga has got, and as successful the ICAC process is at muddying names while finding out little that prosecutors would consider useful evidence, as Ellis argues, mostly, the NSW Labor Right has been a tremendous force for good in the history of this country and without it, the ALP would have been much less electorally successful, much less pragmatic and, therefore, much less able to deliver some of the big reforms and innovations that Labor boasts as its own.


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