The Labor Party has suffered an enormous set back at the New South Wales (NSW) State By-elections held in October. This rebuke was well deserved.
The Labor Party was punished for attacking the wages and conditions of public sector workers, bungling public transport and health and for attempting to privatise the electricity industry.
The results were also a clear indication that voters in NSW are not buying the ‘new team’ under Nathan Rees which includes hacks like Joe Tripodi and Eric Roozendaal.
There was an overall swing against Labor that averaged 18 per cent! With such a swing repeated at a general election Labor could lose up to 35 seats.
In Cabramatta where the former Health Minister Reba Meagher held the seat by a margin of 31.4 per cent, the swing against Labor was 22 per cent. The Greens had a swing to them of 2.1 per cent.
In Ryde where ex-Deputy Premier Watson held the seat by a margin of 10.2 per cent the swing against Labor was 22 per cent. Liberal Party candidate Victor Dominello won in Ryde.
In Lakemba where ex-Premier Morris Iemma held the seat by a margin of 34 per cent, Labor managed to retain the seat but with a swing against them of 13.5 per cent.
There was some good news for Labor in the seat of Port Macquarie, a seat that they did not contest. The National Party failed to pick up the seat against the independent Peter Besseling. This was after the former independent Robb Oakeshott moved into federal politics.
The NSW National Party leader, Andrew Stone accused several federal Liberal MPs, including Alby Schultz and Bill Heffernan of supporting Besseling in the hope that the Liberals could take the seat in elections due in 2011.
The overall result was described as the biggest swing against a sitting government since World War II. It was also the first time that the Liberal Party had won a seat from the ALP in 20 years. The Greens had an overall swing to them of 3.3 per cent.
The swings to the Greens and to independents show that there is widespread distrust in the two major parties. This distrust is likely to increase as the global recession hits Australia in the coming months.
The losses made by Labor are in no measure due to the efforts of the Coalition. It is a miracle that a government as inept as NSW Labor have managed to retain power at all.
Although it is highly likely that Labor will lose the next state election it is not totally ruled out that they could scrape back in due to the uselessness of the opposition.
For workers in NSW the Coalition is no option, their policies will be pro big business just like Labor’s. An elected Coalition government would soon change its position and support the privatisation of the electricity industry. Attacks on public sector workers would also continue with more vigor.
We can not allow Labor and the Liberals to dominate politics any longer. Workers are in desperate need of their own party. The only solution for working people is the creation of a new political party that will look after their interests unashamedly.
By Gary Duffy