Garrett + Labor

Well, I thought it might have been another false alarm, but nay, ’tis true – Peter Garrett is now a Labor member for the (supposedly “safe”) seat of Kingsford Smith.

I really hope this pays off for both Garrett and Labor, it has the minor potential to swing against Labor, but in my mind Garrett has the most to lose. I wonder how an outspoken public figure like Garrett is going to handle the role of MP, where party lines must be held, and disputes kept out of the spotlight. I would never have imagined Peter Garrett going to Labor, the Greens would seem to match his politics more closely, however…

By joining the Labor party Garrett acheives a couple of things. The first, if the seat is as safe as they say, he almost guarantees himself a place in parliament as member of the opposition (at worst) or of the Government (at best). The Greens role in the senate would not provide him with such an immediate entry into policy and parliamentary debates and he would have to fight to get a seat at the table in the Greens (no fortuitous retirements there). Also, his profile possibly gives him strength in leaning Labor policy a little more to the center, which I think will strengthen their case to the public (despite what the right factions of Labor might believe).

Of course, I wonder how many noses have been knocked out of joint by this move? There has to have been a number of candidates waiting in the wings to take this seat over who are feeling a little sore about the decision. I can’t help but think that deals have been done by Latham to make this happen. I can only hope that anyone who has been put out recognises the importance of keeping it to themselves until at least after the election. The last thing Labor needs is public bickering, although I think the party as a whole recognises this.

There is a potential, I think, for the publicity around the event to see this as opportunism on Latham’s part, and in all honesty there is an element of truth to that. But the announcement is far enough away from the election that I don’t think this will hurt the party’s chances on poll day. As they say, a week is a long time in politics.

All in all I think this is a positive move, despite the difficulties Garrett is sure to face working with decades old factions within the party. I wonder which segment of the voting demographic Labor hope this will bring on side? Garrett, as influential as he has been during my time growing up, is not exactly a spring chicken, and the youth vote probably won’t be all that swayed with the choice.

I have to say I’m excited about having someone like Garrett in one of the major parties. Even if the marriage is short-lived, I suspect good things will come out of it.