By Rama Gaind
PS News Books
From Carr to Keneally: Labor in office in NSW 1995-2011
Edited by David Clune & Rodney Smith (Allen & Unwin, $39.99, softcover, 402 pages)
An emotive introductory chapter from former NSW Labor minister Rodney Cavalier proclaims the death of State Labor laying the blame for its demise with the party secretariat.
In particular, it was the dominant faction, the NSW Right, which had “overwhelmed the established structures of governance”.
The former state education minister even goes on to say that the last Labor government in this state was “the worst government NSW has seen”.
Scathing in his remarks, Cavalier says that the party that began in Balmain in 1891 has now “passed into history”.
The public turned on the Labor administration with unprecedented fury at the NSW election in 2011. It was the same government that won spectacular electoral victories in 1999 and 2003, so what went horribly wrong?
Some of Australia’s most respected experts analyse the Labor era in NSW; the political parties and their electoral futures; policies in key areas; the premiers, their ministers and their relationship with the public service.
From Carr to Keneally explains how the Labor government came to be despised by the public, yet hold power for so many years.
Specialists provide an assessment of how Labor performed in key policy areas including the economy, health, education, planning and the environment.
Highlighted are the successes and failures of premiers Carr, Iemma, Rees and Keneally, with an analysis of positive and negative changes in key institutions such as the bureaucracy, cabinet and parliament.
Also thoroughly covered is every aspect of Labor’s resounding election defeat last year where the swing was an Australian post-war record.
While the debate on reforming the ALP is ongoing, the book concludes with some thought-provoking speculations about the future direction of Labor and the Coalition, and the nature of NSW politics.
Edition 314, 22 May 2012
To find out more about Rama Gaind click here.