To succeed, Labor must engage with the world as we find it, not as we might want it to be.
Australia’s economy is in transition. We cannot ignore the rise of the sharing economy or the threat posed by climate change. We need to grapple with the revenue crisis engulfing our governments. The digital age is transforming our lives but how do we protect our fundamental rights to privacy? Longstanding policies on drugs are failing and leave a great social cost.
The Left welcomes debate on these issues and more. Strong and effective policy can only emerge from a robust contest between competing solutions. Labor, and Australia, need bold, innovative, tested ideas that address our most pressing challenges.
That is why the Left is supporting a move towards a broad-based land tax.
In a world where wealthy is increasingly concentrated and capital increasingly mobile, land tax offers state governments stable revenues to fund vital services. Unlike the regressive GST, it does not shift the burden from the wealthy to low-income earners.
Australia must leverage our existing advantages to achieve social outcomes. We need an industry policy that backs our world-class research and innovation as we transition to a clean economy.
We need to generate winning policies but we must also call out failed policy when we see it. The human cost of our drug laws is unacceptable. Drug law reform is long overdue.
Labor has a proud record when it comes to the big reforms – and in managing the impact of change in line with our equitable values.
But today in NSW there are self-inflicted challenges to our credibility. The community we seek to represent needs a modern, professional party. In some important respects, we fail that test.
Urgent reforms to our internal governance must ensure the utmost integrity of NSW Labor. We must remove factional cannibalism from Party offices. We must boost women’s representation at all levels.
But smart policies and good governance are no longer enough. There is a growing mood of discontentment with politics. As internal contests on both sides of the Atlantic have shown, there is a yearning for a more transparent, responsive and democratic politics. Labor must accept and embrace this mood or suffer a fate similar to many of our European sister parties.
The philosopher Robert Unger once wrote: ‘Whatever forces most credibly associate itself in the future with creation of the new, with energy, with vitality, will in the end command the day’.
For Labor to win the day, we must be a smart, open, modern party poised to respond confidently to the challenges of the future.
Originally appeared in the Summer 2016 edition of Challenge