During my first years at university I joined the Socialist Left of the ALP. I believed that the most effective way to achieve progressive change was to join this Parliamentary Goliath. In 2013, I burnt my membership card. It was not a spontaneous decision, but the culmination of a prolonged introspection. I have never regretted it.
Following its 2015 National Conference the ALP is no longer socialist even in name, the socialist objective having been dumped. At the same time, it has endorsed refugee tow-backs and Abbott’s defiance of international law.
Progressive insiders parrot policies that supposedly mitigate this distressing development. For example, humanitarian places would be increased from 13,750 to 27,000 places over the next decade, and $450 million would be directed to the UNHCR.
Only a myopic and deluded mind could be placated by these measly wins.
On the increased intake: 27,000 pales in comparison to the general annual intake of 190,000, and is beside the point of defying international law. On increased aid: there was a bipartisan plan to increase foreign aid until Labor reneged in 2012. Abbott followed Labor’s lead and now the foreign aid budget is at a low of $4 billion.
A political party with integrity stands by its core principles and prosecutes its arguments with vigour. Invariably, the position adopted by one side of politics is painted as the extreme by the other. Rather than standing its ground against such accusations, the ALP has adopted increasingly feeble policies in an attempt to evade them. Consequently, the ALP has simply licensed the Liberals to creep further into the neo-fascist abyss, where it will follow close behind.
Self-identified progressives in the ALP cling to the sentimentality of an imagined past. They say their piece at National Conference and then fall into line to defend the asserted greatness of the party. On the outside, progressives mount the true opposition to today’s conservatism.