The Labor party was born in the bush and in the bush it has died; there is more pain to come because the Federal Election will reinforce the message that the Labor party is about as alive as the infamous Monty Python’s pet shop parrot.
It would be uncharitable to not recognise that Colin Barnett has been a sound but uncharismatic Premier at a time when it is good to be Premier.
The team around him is poor and Barnett to one side, Labor lost this state election to a very mediocre government.
If any Labor traditions still exist, one of them will be played out at this weeks’ caucus meeting; Mark McGowan will walk into the meeting to a standing ovation and will tell the troops that it could have been worse. The polls showed they were going to be decimated and they have only lost six seats so far.
Of course none of that is true; there is no good news for Labor from this election. In this day and age, their party ideology of class and collectivism is dated, their talent is limited, and their union connection is damaging.
Aside from the consequences for Labor, this is not a good result for democracy and the real danger of this election outcome is a further dumbing-down of politics.
Our system depends on a vitalised, active and engaged opposition testing the government of the day and that is unlikely to occur with the small rump of party hacks and ambitious ex-union officials that is now Labor.
To successfully rebuild, Labor must first understand what has happened to them and from the comments on election night it is not all clear that they can do this.
Polls showing who would make the best leader have very little to do with election outcomes and voting intentions; it is not immediately obvious that changing from the leadership of Eric Ripper improved things for Labor.
It certainly improved things for the media but I am not so sure it did much for Labor.
Most overlooked the polling when his scared, unelectable colleagues removed Ripper.
The polling showed clearly that Labor was just as unpopular as he was (36 per cent); on the election results to hand at the time of writing, support for Labor has retreated further (33 per cent).
That may grow as counting progresses, but the leadership change did not deliver the sought after electoral salvation.
This election should have been about Labor restoring its base and bringing in a team of young talent to take on the next decade.
It didn’t do that and a period of staged by-elections to bring in some talent would now be really helpful for them.
Labor needs to learn from the reinvented National Party. To their credit, the Nats under Grylls reached outside their traditional base to a new constituency and won it over.
Sadly for Labor it was their regional base that was won over – and it was a self-inflicted wound.
Twenty years ago, in the Mining and Pastoral Region, Labor held the Federal seat, six State Assembly seats, three Upper House State Seats and won an additional Senate seat on the vote from this area.
By clever and astute management the arch manipulators in the back rooms of Labor removed or forced out electorally successful members; Graham Campbell, Ernie Bridge, Tom Helm, Mark Neville, Pam Buchanan, John Bowler, Vince Catania and myself.
The result is that the party has now probably lost everything in the region; the message they just don’t get is that carving seats up based on union heavies personal whims, factional membership and the sex of the candidate is a bad idea.
Another bad Labor idea is recycling old pollies – it almost never works.
This election has put Labor in a very bad place and the light on the hill that Ben Chifley spoke of, if not quite extinguished, it certainly has the dimmer on low.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.