Canberra Report - Excessive Progressives Don't Help - Wednesday, 19 May 2021

Canberra Report - Excessive Progressives Don't Help - Wednesday, 19 May 2021 Main Image

By Joel Fitzgibbon

19 May 2021

Former United Kingdom Prime Minister Tony Blair resurfaced last week with an essay in which he warned U.K. Labour and equivalent political parties around the world face extinction if they continue to be steered by “radical progressives”. I call them excessive progressives. But however you might describe them, they are killing once moderate parties everywhere.


The Australian Labor Party was born 130 years ago to drive change, mainly in support of working-class people who were being exploited and left behind.  It was a proud cause.


Progressives seek change for the better – continual improvement.  In times of policy and economic inertia this is important. But we now live in a time of rapid change, mainly driven by technological advances.  Further, generations of families have been raised out of struggle thanks to the work of Labor in the past.


In this fast-changing and wealthier world, excessive progressives go looking for new causes and they’ve found them in climate change, identity politics and culture wars.  All this at a time when people are growing change-fatigued and start to feel threatened by it.


There was a time these excessive progressives were gaining too much influence within the Australian Labor Party, voters sensed it and we were punished for it.  But the tide is turning and that makes me a very happy Labor MP.




I’ve sat in the House of Representatives Chamber for 26 Budgets, and I’ve never seen one like the most recent.  An additional $100 billion was added to our already record debt as the Treasurer rained money on just about everyone.


Certainly, there were problems to be fixed, some of which have been growing for some time.  Aged care is the most notable example.  The test now is how well the money is targeted and spent.  Time will tell.


One thing is certain, our grandchildren and their children will be left to repay the debt.  Indeed, the current Government has not committed to retiring any of the debt within the coming decade.