Labor Party Campaign Launch

According to the word count on my computer program, Kevin Rudd’s speech at the Labor Party’s campaign launch today contained four thousand, three hundred and fifteen words – slightly fewer than the four thousand four hundred and four words in the corresponding speech by the Prime Minster two days earlier.

The only specific reference in Mr Rudd’s speech to Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people was in the following paragraph:

If we are elected in ten days time, I want to be a Prime Minister for all Australians. A Prime Minister for Indigenous Australia. A Prime Minister for rural Australia, where so many of our fellow Australians are going through such tough times with the drought. A Prime Minister for our regions that stretch so far beyond our magnificent cities.

Mr Rudd’s speech listed a range of “new challenges that we face in the future”, including climate change, water, the digital economy, the rise of China and India, the challenge to fix our hospitals, “and above all, the challenge to transform our education system.”

Maybe challenges such as the seventeen year gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians didn’t get a mention because it has been around for so long that it can’t be called a “new challenge”.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be too harsh – one can’t mention every issue in a 4000 word speech. But it’s hard not to think that addressing the massive and entrenched inequality between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians just isn’t a priority for the leader of either major party.

The official ALP website details two “official election policy documents” under the heading of Indigenous and Reconciliation – one on jobs and economic development for Indigenous communities, which has the faces of Jenny Macklin, Kim Carr and Warren Snowden, and one on boosting health services in the Northern Territory, which features the faces of Jenny Macklin, Nicola Roxon, Warren Snowden and Trish Crossin.  Their formal Indigenous economic development statement is in the names of Jenny Macklin and Warren Snowden.  It’s good these policies and statements are there – as far as I can see, the Liberal Party has yet to release any policy specifically relating to Indigenous issues in this campaign – but the absence of Kevin Rudd’s, or even Wayne Swan’s, face and name from these documents just gives me the impression that these remain second order issues for Labor.

I emphasise this not to score political points, but because I am convinced that until the leaders make clear these issues and challenges are top priorities for them, we will continue to fail at removing inequalities, such as closing the disgraceful gap in life expectancy.

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  1. Must be competing with Keith Urban Senator!Or maybe they have factored it in already,like, the failed memory of Australians ,generally,day to day,week to week, when these pollies speak.For example,even though,I think I missed a day on another blog spot somewhere ,because of a lack of sleep, I seem to recall Rudd saying Defense was his highest priority.So I guess we have now from the ALP a core and non-core set of priorities.If words mean anything,and people can concentrate and remember.Seventeen years is a long time Senator!I feel that deeply, because,after all I must be one of the longest welfare recipients as a late boomer in Australia without, all these useless bloody idiots,never recognising that, some like myself,see them as hanging onto dear life themselves..and a series of beliefs that just arent tangible.Rudd called his wife Darling at a Policy election thing,whatever it is.Darling was one of those words early in the modern feminist movement that simply wasnt acceptable.Gutter crawling men’s “Hello Darling”as address to anyone not walking down the street for the sake of a particular sexual exchange,has been plied on even ,probably people you may know.I think ,now,he has measured up before election,as a stinker of a potential PM., and women will find that they will if, he is a elected have many insults,just plainly unneeded.Aboriginal women even more so.For a man that said early in his Leadership, about matters of needing help from others..todays exercise is a bloody wonder of immeasurable gumpf.

  2. Doesn’t the low-key approach to Indigenous policy by both the major parties simply reflect how important Indigenous issues are to the majority of voters?

    Changing voters’ views on this will require the sort of leadership that has been lacking from the major parties in recent years.

    And just maybe the ALP and the Libs are concerned about the possibility of losing votes to One Nation. We’re in an era of too much political pragmatism and too little political principle.

  3. Come on Andrew – he’s trying to get elected, he’s already got the votes of most of the crowd who fret about those isssues, other than those who’ll vote for you and the greens etc which will flow his way on prefernces anyway.

    Its the votes of the ones that matter that he’s after – you do know that surely.

  4. Yes, I did know that Ken. I guess it’s my point. They’re after the votes of “the ones that matter”, and they are not Indigenous people. I presume they’re polling also tells them that the “ones that matter” amongst the non-Indigenous population also don’t care greatly about those issues. They may be right, although my own experience tells me they may be underestimating middle Australia, at least to some extent.

    In any case, I wouldn’t have thought a bit of nation-building vision thing in this area would have hurt. It’s not as though the $450 million a year needed to close the health gap would have looked profligate after all of Howard’s vote buying.

    However, I’m not acting surprised or even intending to sound overly outraged. But I am still disappointed. Whilst ever our leaders fail to give priority to this issue because “the ones who matter” (allegedly) don’t care, the longer it will remain unresolved, and the bigger the harm that will flow from it.

  5. When Rudd said

    “I want to be a Prime Minister for all Australians. A Prime Minister for Indigenous Australia”

    I sat up expecting something more and was disappointed, but on reflection the message seemed to be more about what he didn’t say than what he did say.

    Howard has pressed the caps lock key on every existing division he could find and created some of his own. The message I got from Rudd was that this nonsense won’t be happening any more, but he’s not giving Howard an opportunity to have a dig at him over race issues.

  6. yes I agree Anderw, but the people running his campaign, particularly some ex from nsw, make richo look idealistic

  7. Oh Phillip for goodness’ sake .. the man calls his wife “Darling.” My Dad calls his wife “Darling”, too. My husband calls me “Darlin’ “, but he’s Scottish. :-)

    What does the use of “Darling” have to do with prostitution? Or feminism? I’m reasonably feminist, and am aware that there is more to it that what a partner calls their nearest and dearest. I’m glad that Rudd’s wife has business acumen, though I don’t myself. I don’t mind that Howard’s wife saw her job as being at home with the kids- although I resent them taking over Kirribili ouse for that. Every family works these things out for itself. The point of feminism is that women have the right to make choices.

  8. Lynette 2, I lean to your view, but must say I have taken the implicit warning yesterday in Ken Davidson’s “age article on board.
    The current generation of (state) Labor leaders have proven timid in government and Rudd will be a nervous nellie as well, I fear.

  9. “I want to be a Prime Minister for all Australians. A Prime Minister for Indigenous Australia” Lynette2 I was disappointed too! However, I did watch the celebration on May 27 last, the anniversary of the Referendum 1967, and Kevin Rudd made a commitment to apologize to aboriginal people; to reduce the discraceful gap between longevity of indigenous and non-indigenous Australians, including the horrific infant mortality rate that is almost 3 times higher than other citizens. He referred to education and the goals and aspirations of aboriginal people. There should have been more in the campaign altogether, a similar situation involves the abuse of women and children. None of the parties have included this serious situation, until this morning. I heard via ABC news, that the ALP would attend to this horror. 1 in 3 women are physically abused in an intimate relationship, and 1 in 5 children are sexually abused before their 18th birthday. The stats are worse for indigenous women and children. This is very serious and sobering behaviour. I believe that it requires a Royal Commission into the causes and most importantly the solutions of physical and sexual violence. Domestic Violence is prevalent in all cultures, age groups, professions and incomes. While there is violence in same sex relationships, the overwhelming stats are by males in hetrosexual relationships.

    Why do men use power, violence,social and financial abuse to conduct their intimate relationships. How is society raising boys and girls? How can we raise self esteem and problem solving strategies in intimate relationships that exclude violence? It must start prior to birth, as that’s when the stereotypes commence! There’s not much point thinking that feminism(justice and equality)is an option in the community, when 1 in 3 women are denied power over their own lives. We need feminism that is supported by legislation, and preceded by an education program that says “NO” to violence!

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