I conceived a few weeks back a telemovie, Mark Arbib: The Wilderness Years, to demonstrate the immensity of the talent the Labor Party discards in its remorseless quest for the corruptions of power and then I awoke, and behold, it was a dream.
Who now remembers fondly Mark Arbib, the wide-eyed headshaven screechy nerd who bravely rid us of Beazley-Macklin and gave us Rudd-Gillard and the party’s present malodorous ruination? And who among us now mourns him, nine weeks later? The one who removed Nathan Rees when Labor was on 45 and gave us Kristina Keneally and the worst New South Wales electoral result since Federation? Where do we find good men like him these days? How shall we replace him?
Arbib is a demonstration of how Labor embraced conniving ethnic numerology when talent (like his replacement Carr) was available. This tendency came out of the party’s long habit of ageism – Whitlam left politics at 61, Hawke at 63, Wran at 60, Rann at 58, Keating at 54, Beattie at 54, Dunstan at 53, Bracks at 52, Iemma at 48, Richo at 44, Latham at 43, Arbib at 40 – that sidelined experience and talent and embraced young vacuous whippersnappers like Arbib — who has not, I guess, read a Chifley biography yet, he’s been too busy jumping at shadows.
In his wilderness years he will no doubt get round to it.
In the meantime his replacement Bob Carr, who has read a book or two, shows how important it is to be educated in your portfolio, to speak well and wittily, to make a good impression overseas. Imagine Arbib writing a book called My Reading Life. Imagine him dining with Vidal, Mailer, Stoppard, Clinton, Gorbachev, Kissinger. Imagine him addressing the United Nations.
It will be soon seen, and then remarked by historians, that Arbib and Roozendaal and Karl Bitar and Andrew Fraser were Labor’s largest political catastrophes since Evatt/Santamaria: midget capitalists, cross-eyed fumbling Friedmanites and tactical buffoons, who will in due course be as execrated in their native land as Vidkund Quisling and Benedict Arnold.
Their shaming, comrades, should begin soon.
And Rann, Gallop, Beattie, Bracks and Beazley invited into the federal cabinet.
And Hawke. And Barry Jones.