My final speech

I’m giving my final Valedictory speech in the Senate this coming Wednesday evening, around 6pm. News Radio should be broadcasting the Senate at that time, or you can listen in online through  There’s another story in today’s SMH exploring where the Democrats went wrong. I might write some stuff here on that topic later, but there’s no shortage of material when it comes to the party’s achievements so I’d rather the final week of the Democrats’ 30+ years in the Senate focused on that rather than why it has ended.

Link to the text of my Valedictory speech is here.

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  1. Andrew are you serious when you lightly dismiss and blame Aden Ridgeway for not taking on the leadership of the party back in 2001-2 by simply saying “he chose not to”? Come on Andrew, Aden did not contest the leadership because he did not have the support of the National Executive after the shock decision they made to put Senator Brian Grieg as acting leader even after Aden was the deputy leader. Many believe Aden Ridgeway was blocked from the leadership due to a hostile and completely irrational National Executive lead by one of your strongest supporters.

  2. Andrew,

    1. Being drunk on the floor of the Senate wasn’t important in terms of Australian political history. It was important in decidng whether you had the character and sobriety to ‘keep the bastards honest’. The Dems main platform has always been one of character, honesty, principle. You set the standard high and then failed to meet it. You lost my respect, and subsequently my vote.

    It was the final straw, not a petty quibble. That you can’t see that’s a valid reason not to keep a shaky faith and vote for you betrays a closed mind.

    I’m one of many who votetd Dem because I believe in the Senate’s role as a house of review, not Dem policies, many of which I disagreed with completely. But I did believe in NSD, Janine Haynes, and others who could put their minds to work effectively when faced with big party policy sloppiness.

    I also lost respect for you over your comments on the Big Brother ‘turkey-slapping’ farce. Over the years I saw you acquire an arrogance and thick-skin that allowed no new ideas in. This may be necessary in dealing with the personal abuse and invective you get form the Karls and Pauls but it also insulated you from the personal respect (and votes) of people like me.

    I’m not having a go at you. I was trying to thank you for your efforts while being clear about the reasons I see the Dems are defunct, which I truly regret.

    2. Thanks for refreshing my memory overey Aden and NSD’s leadership. I remembered it wrong. But getting holier than thou over the racism thing isn’t engaging honestly with my misperceptions. Calling you an a**hole would be offensive. Misreading the party’s internal politics isn’t.

    3. I’m not trying to score points in a debate. I genuinely appreciate the hard work you and the Dems did. Beyond the ‘drunk in the Senate’ nonsense I don’t blame your leadership for it’s demise. By the time you became leader it was probably too late to win back many voters like me. Why don’t you acknowledge the reasons you think the Dems fell?

  3. “Socialist?”

    It’s ludicrous to call the Dems and Andrew socialist. They simply weren’t. They looked leftist in the last few years simply by comparison because Howard dragged politics hard to the right.

    Personally, it was their compassionate championng of unpopular issues – immigration, refugee detention camps etc – that made me hang in there for many years and continue to vote Dem.

  4. I agree with Aristeas … with all their flaws, hte Dems at least stood up for what is left of our supposed national ethos of everyone having a fair go – the record of Labor on refugees is enough to make me cry, though I lean that way more naturally. As I have said before the GST on books and the pathetic non-renewal of the sunset clause on the exemptions underlined for me what depths we have fallen to as a nation … but the scramble to blackguard the Tampa victims and the Siev X tragedy will live with me forever.

  5. Karl said “Many believe Aden Ridgeway was blocked from the leadership due to a hostile and completely irrational National Executive lead by one of your strongest supporters.”

    Well Karl, “many” may believe it (although I haven’t heard anyone ever say so before now), but if they do they are patently wrong. Who did and didn’t support me at the time is irrelevant. Nat Exec had no power to block anyone from contesting a leadership ballot of members, and didn’t try.

    I don’t expect you to understand Democrat processes – a fair few professional journos have enough trouble – but trying to invent history out of thin air six years after the fact is still pretty lame.


    If I “have a thick-skin that allows no new ideas in”, I wouldn’t bother with this blog. I am prepared to acknowledge my mistakes, but I also retain the right to put my side of the story or stand up for myself when I think I am being unfairly criticised.

    Personally, I find it far more offensive for the party I led to be accused of opposing a leadership candidate out of racism far more offensive than being called an a***hole. I wasn’t intending to be “holier than thou”, I was intending to thoroughly refute any suggestion that such an accusation was credible.

    I agree with you that by the time I became leader it was probably too late to recover things – short of Natasha returning as leader perhaps. The party’s vote never recovered from the destruction that occured around the ending of her leadership.

    As for your question as to “Why don’t you acknowledge the reasons you think the Dems fell?” I think acknowledging the many achievements of the Democrats is a better thing to focus on at a time like this, although I thought I’d already given a fair indication what I think the problems were.

  6. Dear Andrew,
    Just to add my best wishes, & thanks, for all your work over the years.
    I’ve just sent invites to your blog to a bunch of facebook colleagues & friends, especially expat- Australians, as I think reading what you have to say is always a great way to hear a truthful & thoughtful perspective on issues that many of us are either too jaded or exhausted to wade through via the mainstream press filter.
    I admire greatly your dedication & commitment to doing what you can to make our world a better place for all, especially the most marginalised of us, who sometimes wonder whether our society is a fit place to live in anymore.
    I watched Mandela’s birthday party last night, & was moved by the Sudanese young man who sang of the British Aid Worker who ‘rescued’ him. (I have the footage if you’d like to see it, email me).
    It reminded me of all the individual people whose lives are transformed by the work of those of us who take to heart, in the words of Peter Gabriel, the commitment “I will do what I can do”.
    Thanks for talking as much as you have, & all those questions you’ve asked, and for standing up to be counted, The ever-continuing (hi)story of Social Justice in this country will, I hope, judge you well.
    Love&Peace (back by public demand),

  7. While an inordinate effort is being pursued by Andrew to defend against charges of lurching to the left, both publicly in recent speeches and on this blog. Perhaps its mere a question of perception – despite me being just one more labelled as pushing an ideological barrow, the perception is the issue, whether fuelled by own ignorance or media ignorance is unimportant.

    Although largely dismissed as selective polling the analysis of randomly selected divisions over a ten year period, provides some insight. While it may be true to say areas of agreement were not considered, division are by their nature points in time where positions of policy, principle or priority are defined publicly. Sorry for not including agreements to amendments to the Bank Holiday Act.

    However I do agree the left right paradigm is unhelpful. However I’ve always been a strong believer in seeing where customers walk not where the path has been built.

    Perhaps an analysis of convergence with public priority might be more helpful. This blog itself by way of posting applies some basic measures of priority of the blogger.

    So what do we see in order of posts, by default priority

    Australian Politics
    International issues
    The Senate
    Human Rights and Freedoms
    Indigenous Issues
    Immigration and Multiculturalism
    The Environment
    What information do we have on Community Priorities? Two most quickly revealed by goggle show priorities in this order

    The Water Shortage
    Education & Training
    Climate Change
    Stable Interest Rates
    Industrial Relations
    Strength of local candidates
    The Ongoing War in Iraq

    And another one from QLD no less

    Inflation and Cost of living
    Industrial Relations
    Economics Management

    Get the picture – apart from the obvious issues related to politics etc the issues of this blog are important, it’s the relative importance that is the issue

  8. It makes one laugh when the parliament talks about tiny taxes whilst the rich can pay nothing using government supported schemes:

    Here is the recent Merryl’s World Wealth Report
    with Capgemini that analyzes the macroeconomic factors that drive and inhibit HNW clients

    So the rich are getting richer, ad th poorer are getting poorer through extra taxes….


    Soon to become even worse with the introduction of this monster referred to as the carbon emission trading(Tax) scheme.

    Lower income earners lives will be changed forever under this tax.
    (With corporations receiving rebates of course)

    This is one election the people of this country have to stand up and say enough is enough.

    Or will they do as always they always do and lie down and take it.


  10. Mike Pratt: Thanks for those links; I now see how public art galleries might benefit from the scheme, but I cannot see support for a notion that the rich are getting richer.

    Please clarify.

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