Time called on Labor to fix issues

MARK BAKER says: THE best thing about getting thumped on the scoreboard is it allows the team to take stock: reflect and put in a plan to rebuild.

But any group must do that quickly or it risks being labelled perennial underachievers - I'm looking at you, North Melbourne FC.

The Labor Party, after being routed by the Liberals at the recent state election, has a chance to rebuild its brand; so catastrophically damaged by its partnership with the Greens that it returned just seven seats in the House of Assembly.

It needs to elect a leader who can bring back the faithful who, disgusted with the accord, deserted the party in droves. That person needs to be young, engaging and relatively unscathed by the failed Labor- Green alliance.

That's why former Premier Lara Giddings and her deputy Bryan Green are not up to the job.

Ms Giddings will be a long time tainted by her relationship and promotion of the Greens and Mr Green's judgment will always be questioned due to his involvement in the Tasmanian Compliance Corporation scandal, even though two Supreme Court trials returned hung juries and the charges were dismissed.

Labor's problem appears to be that no one new wants the role of Opposition Leader of a decimated party because, historically, it's a temporary role. Invariably you're a caretaker, a nightwatchman, whose job it is to soak up the residual disdain in the electorate until things pick up, then move aside for the person the party really wants to lead it to the next election.

Re-elected MHAs Scott Bacon and Rebecca White ran on a platform of youth and renewal, pitching themselves as the fresh face of future Labor. They should put their hand up for the top job.

Bass Labor MHA Brian Wightman was part of that triumvirate of young Turks but didn't hold his seat, which was a shame because he was a pretty decent and hard-working politician, an oxymoron for some MPs.

So who is left to lead the ALP?

No doubt David Llewellyn, a former deputy premier, believes he has more to give to public life and has plenty of experience across a range of portfolios. But he turns 72 next week and probably isn't a realistic option to run at the 2018 election.

Newly elected lawyer Madeleine Ogilvie isn't a leadership option either, which leaves Bass MHA Michelle O'Byrne. Party insiders have dubbed her brother the saviour of the party but he lost his seat. So is she up for the job?

After instigating the new party leader ballot process, which counts votes from affiliated unions and Labor members and involves a mini-campaign where the contenders furiously agree and slap each other on the back, it would be incredibly embarrassing if only one person stood for the role.

Whoever leads the party will have a tough but vital role. They will lead a team of seven against 15 Liberals in the House of Assembly and a minister or two in the Legislative Council.

An effectively led Opposition is vital to hold the new government to account.


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