I’ve been reading Troy Bramston’s new book Looking for the Light on the Hill: Modern Labor’s Challenges. Well worth a read if you’ve been thinking about political regeneration. Reflecting back on Paul Keating’s leadership, the author has this to say:
Keating had breathed new life into the Labor government, following the prime ministership of Bob Hawke, and had embraced a modern policy and political agenda that had warmed the soul of Labor supporters. It was ‘the big picture’: an Australian republic, reconciliation with Aboriginal Australians, greater engagement with the Asia-Pacific region, continued economic reform in areas such as competition policy, workplace relations and universal superannuation, investment in the arts and culture, and support for a vibrant multicultural Australia.
Later in the book he interviews Kep Enderby, the attorney-general in the Labor government of Gough Whitlam. Recalling their all too brief leadership, Enderby has to say:
We were clear about what we wanted to achieve and what our purpose was. We had a program and we were determined to implement it.
He goes on to bemoan the lack of the big picture stuff, what he calls “the lack of purpose and integrity in may of our present-day politicians”. He specifically singles out the lack of action towards republicanism: “nothing is being done to bring that about”.
While many people inside the Labour Party now criticize the record of the 4th Labour Government, within New Zealand in general, David Lange is thought of as one of our great prime ministers. I’d wager that a lot of his legacy rests on his work on the international stage, particularly his magnificent championing of the anti-nuclear issue.
A group of New Zealand Labour Party activists are taking up the call. They’ve setup their own Facebook group, Labour for a New Zealand republic. I’d highly recommend that you take a look and get involved in the discussion.