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Trouble on the left of the campaign trail

Paul Rodan writes in Inside Story (25.5.16) about the troubled relationship between the Greens and Labor on the left side of politics. He argues that, once the heat of the federal election campaign has dissipated, the ALP needs to reconsider how its policy platform appeals to progressive voters.

‘Those hoping for a rational policy debate during this lengthy election campaign have predictably been disappointed. In the opening days alone, two perennial, emotionally charged issues resurfaced for Labor, threatening to disrupt the party’s preferred policy agenda between now and 2 July.

‘Asylum seeker policy, an area that has bedevilled the Labor Party since 2001, was first off the rank. While it can be argued that the vote-changing effect of this issue is exaggerated, it certainly seems to play with the collective Labor mind – and that probably means it’s a case of the perception becoming the reality, at least as far as Labor’s capacity to respond goes. As a political minefield it has now been around for twice as long as Australia’s Vietnam war/conscription controversy (1965–72), and it isn’t going away unless war itself suddenly loses its appeal as the preferred tool of conflict resolution in various parts of the world.’

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