The policy on asylum seekers adopted
by the federal Labor Party caucus on 5
December was a trigger for my decision
to resign from the shadow cabinet and
shadow ministry, but it is not the only
The truth is that I have found myself
increasingly out of step with the majority
of my shadow cabinet colleagues. That
may be me and not them. I don't find my
own views and values reflected in a lot
of decisions that are made by that shadow
Now I have reached the point where I
don't believe I can continue to support
and defend a range of policies, as well
as the general disposition and direction
of that shadow cabinet.
I am talking about the current position
on asylum seekers, the lack of clarity,
in my view, on the position on Iraq, or
previous decisions such as the complete
agreement initially with the private health
insurance rebate - although I still have
some hopes in that direction - funding
for wealthy schools and so on.
My first experience on returning to the
shadow cabinet more than a year ago, nearly
two years ago now, was that it had become
incredibly conservative, timid even, and
I hoped that after the election that would
I am prepared to concede that maybe I
am the one that is out of step. But I
am not able to continue to support and
defend policies that in my view are devised
with one eye on the polls and another
on media impact.
Moreover, it is not fair on my shadow-cabinet
colleagues to seek to be an exception
to the rule that you don't speak out and
that you don't dissent. I have simply
found that tension too great as I have,
on some cases, spoken out. I can no longer
I have spoken strongly against us supporting
a war on Iraq, against attacking Iraq,
because that is really what is at issue.
I don't believe we are speaking sufficiently
clearly against the possibility that we
would sign up with George Bush in some
form of unilateral action against Iraq.
In my experience in recent times, it
is not uncommon in the shadow cabinet
for issues to be discussed first of all
with an eye on what the public reaction
is likely to be rather than whether it
is inherently good policy.
I believe we need to be telling Australians
a story about the sort of country we want
this to be, what we hope for them, how
their lives can be improved.
Certainly, we have to listen to the community
and be aware of their needs and interests,
but we cannot continually be responding
to what is the short-term view of the
section of the community who are most
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