Sunday, July 14, 2002

Reader Patrick writes about my call on aboriginal substance abuse.
Isn't this the exact opposite of the gun law situation? Howard could
introduce strict new gun laws, because the Liberals were the traditional gun
SUPPORTERS. There was no way Labor could turn around and fight for more gun
freedom. The Aboriginal issue is the reverse. If the Libs try to restrict
grog sales to Aboriginal communities, then Labor will just jump up and down
and chant "Racist".

Patrick has a point here. It is different to the gun law situation. With guns, we had the opportunity, horribly illustrated, of the need for gun law reform. We had a Prime Minister fresh from a massive victory, and no legislative or Constitutional barriers. The question was purely political, and Howard carried the day without question. But he did this by repudiating part of his support base utterly, and losing many of them to One Nation.

Would the ALP be willing to do the same to their aboriginal supporters? I don’t think so. Unlike gun supporters since the demise on One Nation, aboriginal supporters have somewhere to go. With their primary vote at the lowest point ever, internal ructions on union domination, US alliance, and the slowly simmering leadership tension, Labor will have enough trouble at the election without further alienating an eroding support base.

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