An open resignation from the Australian Labor Party

I’ve put this off for far too long, so I’ll be sending the following away in the mail some time soon, solving my printer-cable issues just to fire off this one letter in the mail.

resign

How to save on membership fees.

Dear South Australian Labor Party,

I’ve been a rank and file member of the ALP now for a good part of my life now. Not out of any kind of personal ambition, but simply to support the party with the most ties to the tradition of the Australian Union movement, and out of some degree of hope that the party would at least engage in a meaningful philosophical dialogue amongst its members.

My political activity has always been somewhat informal and thus never caring to leave my mark, I’m largely unknown in the party. Like most members.

I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve never needed to tie myself down to do what I want to do, and familiarity with the more Machiavellian parts of the party culture is best avoided especially if one can manage to do so without compromise.

A balance between compromise and reaching political objectives to our own favour, as an approach is at worst pragmatic. It needn’t be a cynical exercise at all and I think it’s what I find in common with the better nature of the party.

And that’s why I’m writing this resignation from the Australian Labor Party. Less and less have I had to operate within the party and more and more it seems obvious that the network I have within the party will persist even if I do resign. More to the point, I’m deeply compromised by the party.

Increasingly, my political activity involves my writing. Indeed, this open resignation is being published on my blog so I can openly sever my ties to the party. I’m wondering how many people will read it. Last federal election, I got to a lot more people with my piece entitled ‘The Myth of the economic credibility of the Liberal Party‘ than I ever would have handing out how-to-vote cards or letter-boxing.

I’ve been compromised and embarrassed by a number of things the ALP has stood for, accepted or otherwise involved itself in.

  • Confusing the separation of church and state at a Federal level (where sect. 116 of the Commonwealth Constitution is all that holds the Government back) and outright violating the separation on a state level (where there are no constitutional barriers).
  • Doing senate preference deals with candidates with no dedication to (or even understanding) of liberal democracy.
  • Young Labor idiocy, which has become more Machiavellian than ever and also almost entirely intellectually threadbare. Not that I ever got involved back when I was young enough (it was bad enough then) but some experience with the current crop has been less than encouraging!
  • The party’s treatment of Phil Palmer and the ambos that he watches out for (I really do hope that the Rann Government learnt something from the last exchange).

I could go on at length with more examples, but there is one example that has been the proverbial straw. One more example that I can’t chalk up to real politik.

Stephen Conroy with his unworkable, expensive and dangerously undemocratic filtering schema, and the disgusting lengths he goes to in order to silence dissent (further demonstrating that he is a willing opponent of liberal democracy) cause me the worst of compromises that I’ve experienced from the ALP.

The “clean feed” fails by its own standards as testing has found, although it would still be an adequate obstacle to free speech. You need only a few harmful sites to get through to invalidate the filter, but you only need to block a few harmless sites to violate democratic discourse.

Industry experts (i.e. people Conroy should be listening to) predict that the terms of the filter could be broadened at a whim to buy the passage of bills through the upper house; a concern validated by Senator Fielding and Senator Xenaphon’s expressions of interest in the technology (to place adult content and gambling on the mandatory block-list respectively).

If good old Brian Harradine was still in and had the balance of power, euthanasia advocates would have something to worry about, no doubt. If a rabid Hansonite gets the balance, look out Islam and anything possibly (spuriously) associated with eco-terrorism.

The federal government has taken the right tact in regard to UN moves that could stifle the ability for people to criticise religion. But then the UN doesn’t have a senate seat.

The real problem is one of child welfare, but that’s not what the policy is about. It’s about externalising consequences onto the breadth of Internet users, the consequences of something that is a matter of individual responsibility – parental responsibility at that.

The Internet isn’t, nor was it ever a babysitter. The failure of the Internet to perform as such isn’t a failure of the Internet, it’s a failure of parenting. It is child neglect. All Internet sessions need supervision by a responsible adult.

The fact that Conroy hasn’t the political cajones to front up to the public and tell it like it is, that he overlooks this child neglect, makes his “protect the children” line of rhetoric utterly vapid. Why is it always about sexual content and paedophiles? The former raises uncomfortable questions for some parents and the latter wouldn’t even be mildly inhibited by the proposed filter even if it worked. Why is there a disproportionately small amount of time given to textbook horror cases like the televised, uncensored, visceral Bud Dwyer suicide?

It’s because Conroy and his supporters are being insincere.

But the insincerity isn’t the worst of it. It’s Conroy’s attack on Mark Newton of Internode that I’m talking about.

I’m an acquaintance of Mark’s through the local open source community. As someone with only one subject to go in a science degree that will make me an IT professional, I’m happy to know there are colleagues like Mark out there. He makes articulate, valid points based on fact, acquired though experience and an inquisitive mind. Much more so than what I’ve witnessed from the bulk of ALP members, which isn’t an insult – Mark is quite good. I’m a happy customer of the ISP he works for and I’d be an unhappy one if they were to do anything silly like firing him.

Encouraging an industry professional body to have a concerned talk with Mark’s employer (i.e. to threaten his employment) was a stupid idea executed with bumbling form by one of Conroy’s over-eager apparatchik. So bumbling that it could be traced back.

It wouldn’t be so bad if the party disciplined Conroy and made him pull his head in. But no, he’s had a pat on the head and shows no sign of pulling out.

Sure, the policy isn’t being supported by NSW Young Labor, which gives some hope, but what of the man’s conduct? I can’t reconcile it with my own politics, nor can I reconcile the apparent lack of control the Prime Minister has over him.

Yes, this is some time ago now, but I’ve been intent on formally resigning ever since. Consider my complacency a comment on the priority I place on the party.

Now I’ve probably spend far too many words on a letter that will likely just be discarded. At least, discarded by whoever is processing my membership. I gather, or rather I hope at least some of my readership will find interest in it.

I’ve said my piece, so I hereby resign from the Australian Labor Party!

~ Bruce Everett (Member #20631).