June 17, 2013

Ship of fools: we the reluctant passengers

Having picked the wrong lifeboat, Labor seems set to clamber back on the Titanic. With the mast broken, the rudder lost and the rocks looming, the backbench's panic is understandable: and their despair is far more credible than Julia Gillard's claim that the raft really is afloat and making headway.

Gillard's problem is that like all regicides, her legitimacy rests solely on being able to deliver for her backers; with that in tatters, the result is mayhem not seen in federal politics since the collapse of the Scullin Labor government in 1931. But at least that government shattered on matters of principle; bereft of principles from the outset, the Gillard government has none over which to brawl. Little wonder its death agonies have all the dignity of a fight between rabid dogs.

But far from managing those threats, Gillard seems intent on entrenching as many bad policies as she can, while locking in one unaffordable spending commitment after the other. Captive to the unions that created her, her goal is to spoil Tony Abbott's pitch, regardless of the costs.

Even more than the scandals that have swirled about her, it is that willingness to undermine our prosperity that makes Gillard unfit to govern. Even more than the chaos that surrounds her, it breaks faith with the electorate, compromising its right to change course. And even more than the repeated failures, it is why Labor's only refuge is on the ship of fools.

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