We asked our readers for their view on the ALP Leadership battle between
Simon Crean and Kim Beazley.
Here are some of your responses:
I have an idea that Kevin Rudd will try next!
Labor wins on quality policy not quality polling.
I am a middle-aged disenchanted former Labor party member.
Regardless of who leads the party, the choice at the moment is a dismal
one. Kim's weakness over Tampa will dog him for life. Simon's inability
to connect and to constructively present a real alternative to Howard
is sadly inadequate. The guy has no charisma and presents only a scowling
complaining and oft shot down image of himself and today's Labor at question
Labor needs to stand up, be heard, be united and be fair dinkum. Or
Howard will still be there selling the joint off in ever larger chunks
than he already is in another 5 years time!
Kim Beazley. There will be no beauty contest.
Roger Price MP (ALP)
Federal Member for Chifley (NSW)
A pox on both their houses.
I'm afraid the leadership contest between contenders within the Federal
ALP holds little interest to me. I am firmly focussed on the issues of
importance to the electorate of Tamworth and have not had the question
raised by a single constituent.
Peter Draper MP (Ind)
Member for Tamworth (NSW)
For the Country - Kim B.
For the Liberals - Simon C.
Kim Beazley took away Labor's soul and stripped it of its core beliefs.
The same machine men who ran him then run him now.
I support Crean, for all his faults. He's started reforming the party
(nothing under Beazley, a lazy captive of the NSW right) and he's started
getting on the front foot on policy and principles to genuinely contest
the political agenda with Howard.
A vote for an unrepentent Beazley, who still says there was no small
target strategy and whose record is one of cowardly refusal to take on
the big, hard issues and convince the public of the Labor way is a vote
to end all hope for the true believers. Without true believers, there
is no party.
Beazley's only chance was a big mea culpa, a commitment to lessons learned,
and a major speech setting down Labor's core beliefs and principles. We
got nothing bar "'Vote for me, look, I'm a salesman and I reckon
the Australian people would buy a used car from me!".
It's the small target strategy again. Has he taken a look at Howard
lately? It's big target stuff. Beazley and his machine still want to glide
into office without earning the right. At least Simon's prepared to do
the hard yards.
This leadership contest could be the making of the man in the public's
eyes, and give him the confidence to relax and be himself.
I really have little interest in the battle for the ALP leadership!
I do not think either can lead the ALP to victory at the next election.
Kim has had two cracks at it without so much as landing a glove on the
Howard/Anderson team, and Simon has a credibility rating as low as Australia's
interest rates - some would say both as a result of John Howard's leadership!
Simon could take some cold comfort from Bob Carr - Bob's credibility
was almost as low in the run up to the 1995 state election, a victory
which he snatched from the jaws of defeat. But I wonder if John Howard
will make the same mistake that Greiner and Fahey did in 1994/95? I think
I believe it is time for a new leader to emerge from the pack, and while
there are a few wolves growling at each other, I do not think anyone is
game as yet to come out and take the others by the throat.
Hon Rick Colless MP (Nat)
National Party Whip
Parliament of New South Wales
Neither could run a two-bed brothel
I think Crean will win, and that he deserves to win.
The challenge has been a botched exercise, and has not done Beazley
any favours at all. Mr Beazley wanted to surf back into government on
John Howard's failures and unpopular policies, and now wants to surf in
on Mr Crean's hard policy and party reform decisions.
Labor has been in opposition for seven years and still does not quite
know what it believes in. At least under Crean Labor is beginning to find
some base policies to differentiate it from the Coalition.
I agree with MARGO KINGSTON's suggestion that Beazley spend the next
few months making some "headland speeches" to tell the Australian
people what sort of Prime Minister he would be. Australians have to be
very familiar with a leader before they are prepared to hand them the
The time for Mr Beazley has still not come.
I don't think it matters. Howard has to fall over to lose the next election.
In other words it is not in the hands of the ALP.
I think the battle for ideas is the most important requirement at this
time. But of course charisma is a potent tool. Have either that requirement?
I prefer Kim Beazley for the very same reason as he is running. Simon
Crean will never have the affection of Australians, and, even though he
is probably a very nice man, he doesn't have the charisma necessary to
win an election.
Keep Simon Crean, he is one of our best allies. If he keeps going like
this for another election or two it could mean that we never have to worry
about the federal labor party again.
Howard should name Kim Beazley as Governor General. His chubby, cheery
attitude would be a lot better than another wooden bugger like Dixie Deane.
The latter had the effervescence of lead.
Beazley and Crean are both princelings. Both had Cabinet Ministers for
fathers and they are intrinsically in the family business, politics. Howard
should be slogging them for their background. Neither have held a proper
job although Kim was a university lecturer if that can be regarded as
Pinocchio Wayne Swan has been on the mid-day news defecting to Beazley.
He is another who has f-all real life experience. Politics in Oz are sad.
Can you name a member of either the Senate or House who had much success
outside of politics. All that I can recall is John Brown and Julian Beale.
Too many lawyers, too many apparatchiks, too many party appointed members.
What a load pf crap.
Strategically JWH should keep the pot boiling to show the party's instability.
Eventually they will settle on Lindsay Tanner.
Beazley or Crean?
Beazley or Crean?
Beazley or Crean?
I'd rather have a Lateral sphincalotomy.
Well of course the press are beating it up, but the dreadful thing for
the Labor party is that the supporters on each side (including people
who are presently senior shadow ministers) are making significant negative
calls on the two protagonists which they will find hard to shelve and
which people will quote back to them over and over again once the leadership
is resolved. Maybe after this battle leadership by either of the present
protagonists will be untenable...and maybe that is the real agenda of
those backing Beasley.
It should not be overlooked that on a 2 party preferred basis (the
most recent Newspoll), the Labor Party with Simon Crean is only 1% behind
the coalition (49/51)....so to an extent Crean's appalling personal rating
is irrelevant to the issue of which party the voters want.
I would choose neither Beazley or Crean - as they are both as hopeless as each other.
Who are the ALP kidding? A choice between a policy free zone and a personality free zone is a "no-go" zone. Depending upon your point-of-view, Crean has started annunicating some policy ideas; principally from his budget reply speech. However, his (and his party's) problem is that those ideas need to be effectively communicated by someone seen as a credible leader. Crean's languishing in the Better Prime Minister opinion polls indicates that he doesn't have this credibility. So, no matter how good his ideas are, they are not likely to be considered seriously by the Australian people.
Cuddly Kim Beazley has the opposing problem. He is seen (or was seen) by the electorate as some-one with a base level of credibility, but did not have the ideas and policies to convince the Australian people that he was a credible alternate prime minister (do you remember Barry Jones' "bowl of spaghetti")? ALP caucus members must have serious reservations about re-installing a man who has had two opporunities and come up blank.
I am a firm believer in the battle for ideas. It is what distinguishes the Liberal party from the ALP. The reality is, however, that you need a combination of both ideas and communication (beauty contest) skills to succeed. Neither candidate for the leadership of the parliamentary ALP possession the necessary combination of ideas and the ability to sell those ideas. That is why Monday's leadership ballot is meaningless - the ALP are headed for another defeat at the next federal election.
In 'Whatever it Takes' Graham Richardson quotes someone's as saying something like, 'in politics, you can always put your money on self-interest over principal.' For that reason I expect Beazley to win and Crean to crumble. And I think Beazley will be fairly competitive in the election.
Crean is a pragmatist and shows very little affection in his mannerisms. He is seen as a hard cold nosed ex union boss who battled big business, government and courts all the way and he has never been able to shake this image.
If he needs policy he needs to shake the fundamentals out of the bag.
He needs to attack a big taxing big spending government who will not listen to the peoples' sentiments a la the War on Iraq, the asylum seekers issue. Deceitful practices need to be attacked also.
Beazley is charismatic, warm, friendly but without the mongrel in him. His need is to rely on the deceits while bringing out clear policy agendas which are opposite to the government. The practice of staying on to win an election only to give up hurt Hawke/Keating when they tried it and this needs to be elaborated on in any electoral campaign.
WHO WANTS COSTELLO? Ok Mrs Costello you can put your hand down now. That is what we face.
Concentrate on the debt blow out under the current government with our trade deficit not getting enough publicity together with levels of personal debts.
The one who can sell this is Beazley.
I would like to see Crean win by three.
I note the discussions in relation to Lindsay Tanner and would probably be the worst possible result for us as Liberals. Forget the Beasley polls, he has a problem if he wins he will now have enemies inside the tent and he has been there done that without success what has changed. He wont have the GST to help him as in 1998 he went backwards in 2001.
Simon Crean is one of the most unlikeable people I have ever witnessed
on the public stage. He never knows what is the right thing to say - he
is either poorly advised or doesn't take good advice - either way, somebody
who aspires to be the PM should have better political skills themselves
- the man is without talent of the kind that is necessary to appeal to
a mass audience.
I watched him last week as he said that Kim Beazley had to understand
that it is not a popularity contest, but a policy contest - no-one who
had any fair idea of politics could have seriously made such a statement
- as a person with a reasonable level of understanding of the machinations
of politics and public perception, I find Simon Crean a professional embarrassment.
There is no doubt Beazley has more appeal and more natural ability, but
he should only see himself as a way of toppling Crean so someone else
can have a go - I cannot see Labor winning the next federal election -
it's not impossible, but the current outlook based on a normal lead up
to the election, as opposed to the Tampa/Sep 11 kind of lead up, would
result in another Howard/Liberal victory, regardless of whether the Labor
leader is Kim or Simon.
Given the right timing, Labor would do well against a Costello lead Liberal
party, but very unlikely this time around with Howard as the Man at the
Hon David Oldfield MLC (One Nation)
Member of the NSW Legislative Council
Kim Beazley has made the ridiculous claims, "I know I can beat John Howard" and "I can communicate with the Australian people".
These assertions are beyond belief. On what can Kim Beazley possibly be basing these on? Surely not past experience?
In some senses, the "popularity contest" is an important aspect to the leadership decision. There's no doubt that Simon Crean is unpopular with the electorate, and it's likely that Kim Beazley may achieve some comeback sympathy due to his affable nature rather than scorn by being a two-time loser. After all, Gough lost more elections than he won - both before and after being Prime Minister.
However, the noblest option for Labor is to choose the policy and ideas route. Political analysts of all persuasions are surely in agreement that John Hewson fought a strong battle and his election campaign in 1993 helped steer the Liberals back on course.
Similarly, a strong Labor election fought on credible and alternate policy would do well to bolster Labor's standings and morale.
Nevertheless, I'm not persuaded Crean or Beazley are capable. Crean wants to pitch himself as the policy man - but what has he shown besides a similar flip-flop small-target mentality?
At the end of the day, Labor are falling apart to work out just who will lead them to their next electoral defeat. No matter who wins the leadership challenge, one side will be sure to blame their continued exile in opposition on the other.
My thought is its entirely a matter for the Labor Party.
I'll be voting for Simon Crean next week for four reasons:
1. UNDERSTANDING THE CAUSES OF THE 2001 DEFEAT
Simon Crean understands that a key factor in our 2001 defeat was that we were not bold enough. Our policies and strategy were too timid and we failed to explain to the Australian people how they would be better off under a Labor Government. Kim Beazley said during that election campaign, and said again in a radio interview on Friday, that Labor had over 100 policies on its website. With the greatest of respect to Kim, who was a fine Minister in the Hawke and Keating Governments and would have made a great Prime Minister, it's no bloody good having your policies on a website. They have to be inside voters' heads.
2. PRODUCING THE POLICIES
Simon's Reply to the Budget showed we are now producing policies which will enable our MPs and candidates to win over voters. Our fully funded commitment to save Medicare and restore bulk billing, our plan to save the Murray River by restoring environmental flows, and our opposition to higher university fees all received strong public support. Those who want to talk about Opinion Polls have little to say about recent two-party preferred polls showing us either in front or just behind at 51 / 49.
In my own Portfolio of Environment, Simon has supported simple but powerful policies which go to the core of our environmental challenges - halt landclearing, save the Murray River, ratify the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change, and increase our renewable energy target. There are more such effective policies on the way.
3. GOOD POLITICAL JUDGEMENT
Simon has produced clear responses to the issues of the day, such as the war in Iraq, and Governor-General Peter Hollingworth. He was right about Hollingworth, and the questions starting to flow about the existence of the weapons of mass-destruction suggest he will be shown to be right about Iraq too.
4. POLITICAL COURAGE
When Simon became Leader he brought in a new team. It was overdue, but it made him political enemies. He then set about modernising and reshaping the Labor Party through the Hawke-Wran Review, which led to the historic change from 60% trade union say at party forums to 50%. That made him political enemies too.
Should they be allowed to drag him down? Not in my book. Does that kind of courage make him Prime Ministerial material? Absolutely.
Kelvin Thomson MP (ALP)
Federal Member for Wills (Vic)
Crean or Beazley? Or is as they say in the advertisement 'surgery or
cream', presumably it will be the same outcome for the punters. A painful
Australians are not always lucky with our leaders. This pair are amongst
the least attractive despite Beazley giving the Coalition a fright last
time. Beazley is a waffler who has little idea of what he stands for and
the punters know it but he is a jolly fellow who regularly practices a
big laugh. Kim would be a great coffee and doughnuts companion but that's
it. His background is the usual school-uni-parliament;always paid from
the public purse; no decision-making or real life experience but ever
ready to opine with that wild-eyed look he gets when he is in his huffing
Crean is from the uni-actu-parliament route, no better or worse than
many others in the Federal Parliament. He lives in a highly privileged
world where he has always been paid by the public, be it the ACTU from
members subscriptions or in Parliament from our taxes. Crean is the armchair
socialist who will say or trade whatever he has to in order to get the
job. We have bred a generation of socialist royalty with the Creans, Fergusons
and the Beazleys, with the Beretons and McLeays hot on their heels.
Crean or Beazley? I'll pass up.
How ironic that Simon Crean now preaches policy over the popularity
of the polls. It is precisely because of Crean's lack of policy on Iraq,
choosing the populist path of following the polls and abandonment of bipartisan
support for American alliance that has got him into this predicament.
If Crean wins on Monday he & Labor look set to lose the election.
Either way Labor look set to repeat their mistake of 1998. Then they ran
a scare campaign on the GST, now its Medicare. Reviving old Whitlam style
'policies' that even Hawke & Keating avoided is not the answer for
Modern Australia. Surely the voters will once again see through this.
Since there haven't been any ideas coming out of the ALP for quite a
while now, it's hard to envisage this as a battle over ideas. As for a
beauty contest, I pity the people who have to choose between Crean and