Downfall : How the Labor Party Ripped Itself Apart (2013) by Aaron Patrick is the first book in what will probably be a substantial number of books on how the Australian Labor Party (ALP) went from holding every Australian state, territory and Federal government to only hanging on in the Australian Capital Territory and perhaps Tasmania.
Patrick is a former Young Labor member who is now a senior journalist at the Financial Review. The book looks at the corruption scandals, the removal of Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister and also focuses on Bill Shorten, a major player in Victorian Labor politics and a probable leader of the ALP. The coverage of Shorten is of interesting because of Patrick’s background and knowledge of what Shorten was like before he came into parliament.
The book coverage of Union and ALP corruption is detailed. The Corruption in the Health Services Union (HSU) and the also in the Australian Workers Union (AWU) in the early 1990s is chronicled in depth. In addition the staggering corruption in the NSW ALP by the Obeid family is also described in detail. The dodgy dealings of Peter Slipper are also outlined.
Much of what the book covers is either from, or is in the press. It’s a useful summary of just what has gone so very wrong with the ALP. Patrick still clearly sympathises with the ALP and when he’s describing the ultimate reasons for the probable thrashing of the Federal Labor government he points to one particular event, the removal of Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister as being the most critical mistake the ALP made. It’s hard not to think he is correct. He also points out that the ALP and the Union movement must become more intolerant of corruption in their midst.