Letter to Bill Shorten: don’t trash democracy

October 15, 2013

Dear Mr Shorten,
My congratulations on your election to the leadership of the Parliamentary Labour Party comes with a caveat: don’t let Labour trash democracy.

You and your newly elected Deputy The Hon Tanya Plibersek MP, have both expressed the view in recent days that because people who voted for Labour voted for your policies on carbon abatement, Labour would obstruct the repeal of the carbon tax in Parliament. But of course the majority voted for the Coalition and their oft repeated and heavily emphasised policies on the issue; in a democracy, majority rules.

It is a fact that the carbon tax was originally introduced without a mandate after the 2007 election. It was abolished ‘in principle’ by The Hon Kevin Rudd MP during the 2013 election campaign. The ambition of a 5% reduction in emissions by 2020 is bipartisan policy. Given the Coalition’s emphasis on repealing the carbon tax during the election campaign, Labour’s proposed obstruction would be evidently undemocratic as well as self-contradictory.

I write because these recent remarks follow several ominous signs over the past 6 years that Labour’s loyalty to democracy is frail. I won’t strain your patience with a complete list, but the aforementioned pre-2007 election undertaking (”no carbon tax”), the abandonment of democratic process in the Australia Network tender, the installation of The Hon Peter Slipper MP as Speaker and the attempts to stifle media freedoms are significant.

The newly introduced process to elect a Labour leader of which you are beneficiary has also demonstrated that the Labour Party is not genuine in its 100% devotion to the notions of full democracy. I respectfully urge you to lead Labour away from such self-righteous inclinations and embrace the notions of full and real democracy both internally and in your collective decisions in Parliament.

Cordially yours,
Andrew L. Urban

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