Tuesday 25 January 2011

The King's ransom: Bligh and Labor must go

I've recently re-connected with the Post's illustrious Gavin King. We had a CBD revive encounter, the full story is worthy of a retelling on another occasion, needless to say, we exchanged pleasantries like two old chums.

King used his weekend column to do the dirty on the State Labor party, and in particular, give us all a reality check in the aftermath of a post-flood euphoria. It's the equivalent of Bligh sitting up in bed after doing the deed, smoking and saying: 'Wow, that was good for me.'

However, Gavin pointed out this was just a temporary hemorrhage, and the great unwashed (and unflooded) shouldn't forget the Anna and Labor party we've grown to love over recent years.

"Premier Anna Bligh deserves to be voted out of office when the state election is held in about 12 months' time," King wrote in his weekend column. "Believe it or not, it pains me to say that."

I don't believe he experienced any pain in declaring such vitriol. In fact, I suspect he probably got a little moist down below, like an under-cooked lemon sponge cake.

King went on to say that unlike the raging waters, a brief flash of leadership isn’t enough to sweep away years of ineptitude, reactionary politicking and a repeated failure to think outside the south-east Queensland square.
Is he just saying what a lot of us are thinking?

In September last year, a few weeks before I headed across the ditch to Christchurch to spend a month or so with mother, I did an expose on the best un-kept Labor secret in Cairns: Tim Grau was being groomed and coached for pre-selection as the candidate when Desley Boyle pops off her mortal coil.

It all started when Tim wrote the Cairns Post's Soapbox column one insignificant Saturday. He failed to declare his Labor connections, even though he was the chair of the Cairns branch at the time, a senior local role. Not disclosing this was a huge mistake of judgment.

However, the Post needs to take some of the rap for not printing this in the introduction. When Tim Grau defended this point, he said it was not relevant, and he was writing in a different capacity about political matters. Bullshit. It was entirely relevant and disingenuous that he thought he could have got away with it in the first place. Had he simply added a footnote to declare his political connections, we all would have read his article with a totally different perspective.

I recapped the mess on the Monday after, when Tim wrote two separate emails from two different email addresses, in order to placate his loyal colleagues and tell me, I 'd got it all wrong and I was just a naughty shit stirrer (my translation).

Tim Grau's likely nomination as the preferred Labor candidate for Cairns, also came under strong criticism from Gavin King.

"How my grandfather would turn in his grave at the power-broking elite now running the Labor Party." Kings wrote... "We need look no further for proof of this shiny new brand of Labor leadership than ALP Cairns branch president Tim Grau, long rumoured to be the anointed candidate for the seat of Cairns at the next state election should Desley Boyle retire."

"Mr Grau is a nice enough bloke, a marketing guru and former bureaucrat who appears to want the best for Cairns after a recent move north. He is everything my father isn’t: a smooth talker, a party apparatchik, a skilled schmoozer, a professional political operator who enjoys telling you what’s best for you and your community."

King says that in all his conversations, Grau appears more interested in big ticket items, like the National Broadband Network and the cultural precinct, rather than the smaller, but no less significant, struggles of suburbanites or incremental initiatives such as the new partnerships between the business and arts communities in the CBD Revive campaign."

"ALP bosses such as Mr Grau do not represent what the core of the Labor Party and its diehard supporters stand for," Gavin King says. "Sadly, he is just one local example of many across the country."

He says that Labor have lost their way and forgotten their roots.

"They have lost touch with the average Jills and Joes, the retirees, the strugglers, the hard workers, the people with their feet on the ground. The somewhat unhinged former Labor leader Mark Latham has regularly identified this loss of Labor’s identity since retiring in a blaze of bile and loathing. It was embodied in the acts of bastardry [sic] by the faceless men who axed Kevin Rudd."

Well-known veteran political activist Bryan Law, and a former card-carrying leftie, has also turned his back on the Labor Party. He lauded King's recommendation to take Queensland Labor to the gallows.

"It’s that blind loyalty and sentiment that allows machine politicians like Tim Grau to treat both Party members and voters with contempt and get away with it," Bryan Law wrote in response to what he calls 'tribal loyalty to the ALP' by party faithful who rallied against King's article. "Tim Grau will stand for Cairns at the next election as a result of factional deals already made with no regard for grass-roots members. The ALP was elected in 2009 with a secret policy of privatising assets. The ALP is in government. The ALP has failed. Someone else ought be given a chance," Bryan Law says.

Even long-time party members like union organiser Stuey Traill, who have stood up and aggressively challenged their party over privitisation, have been threatened with termination. It's a party fragmented and in a deathly spiral.
The widespread attack on Grau and Labor even dragged former Federal MP Jim Turnour out from the political wilderness. He felt compelled to defend the non-pre-selected candidate.

"The Cairns Branch of the ALP is made up of blue collar workers, unionist, pensioners, businessmen and professionals," Turnour said. "Tim Grau is a person who is successful, smart and articulate and has spent years working in support of the Labor Party. It is not surprising then that the Cairns Branch would elect him to a leadership role."

Jim Turnour says he was affronted that the Cairns Post would allow Grau to be "denigrated."

"What I find unfair and unethical is that a multinational company, News Limited would use their positions of power within the community to denigrate an individual in this way," Turnour said. "Leadership is about debate and the pursuit of ideas not character assassination. The Labor Party has problems but having members like Tim Grau isn’t one of

King says we should praise Bligh for her "extraordinary work during the flood crisis and then proceed to punish her government at the poll booths by remembering its woeful performance over consecutive terms. Maybe then they’ll realise style will never replace substance when it comes to leadership."

At least both Turnour and King agree on one thing: The Labor Party has problems.

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