From Fraser to Hawke: Australian Public Policies in the 1980s
Longman Cheshire, $19.99 pb, 525 pp
The debate about the costs and limitations of power is as old as the ALP, but it has been given new urgency by the changes in the Party since Labor won government in 1983. So far this year, three books have been published which deal wholly or in part with the Hawke government’s relationship with the traditions of the Australian Labor Party: Carol Johnson’s The Labor Legacy, Graham Maddox’s The Hawke Government and Labor Tradition and now Dean Jaensch’s The Hawke–Keating Hijack: The ALP in transition. Of these three books, Jaensch’s certainly has the snappiest title and the best jacket design, but it is in fact the least polemical and the least engaged with the dilemmas of those who have placed their hopes for a more just society in the ALP. It is written from the detached position of the professional student of politics and attempts to analyse the changes currently taking place in the party. Jaensch’s argument is that the ALP is in the process of transforming itself from a mass party – a party which expresses the interests of a particular section of society – to what he calls a ‘catch all’ party: a party primarily concerned with winning government by identifying and reflecting changes in the mood of the electorate.