Labor has been accused of becoming nothing more than a “whining pressure group” in a scathing assessment of the party by former federal Labor leader Mark Latham.
In an opinion piece for the Australian Financial Review, Mr Latham, who led Labor from 2003 to 2005, said the party had resorted to “marshmallow politics”.
Rather than being a party of big ideas, the former politician said Labor has resorted to micro-policies to win elections.
“What’s happened to the once-great Labor movement, so that it now resembles a whining pressure group, rather than a conduit for big thinking and big ideas?”
“We’ve witnessed a political role reversal: the Liberals as the party of policy initiative, the ALP as the party of reaction.”
The 54-year-old said state Labor parties had campaigned with “easily digested” policies to win both the Queensland and Victorian elections.
He also accused now Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk of being “policy-free”.
“The ALP has taken a minimalist approach, announcing a limited number of micro-policies. The Liberals, by contrast, have presented big-picture policy ideas.”
Of NSW Labor leader Luke Foley, Mr Latham wrote: “Foley’s promises have been limited to demountable classrooms and koala parks. He might as well be running to be mayor of NSW”.
Mr Latham said marshmallow politics were advantageous for the ALP because it made the Coalition the political issue, allowing Labor to run scare campaigns against them.
He also said marshmallow politics had the virtue of believability in a era of cynicism toward politicians.
Of Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, Mr Latham said he was an “opportunist” who would be sitting in his office right now, “lining up his marshmallows for public consumption”.