I don’t come here often
I usually refrain from critiquing things that Bill Shorten says or does – because it involves either something completely unintelligible or a hackneyed sound bite designed to crudely grab at the lowest denominator. I would have to open up a separate blog just to deal with it all. It would also be a waste of our collective intelligence to devote too much real thinking time to Bill’s tripe.
Of course, Bill’s incompetence doesn’t earn him a free pass. He is the federal opposition leader after all. It’s just that when one resolves to ignore Bill’s nonsense, it doesn’t leave very much left over to sensibly talk about. I suppose none of this should come as a surprise when dealing with an ex-union – recently turned political – hack, who doesn’t stand for anything genuinely linked to the greater good of society or even workers for that matter (just ask the employees of Chiquita Mushrooms, Unibuilt or Melbourne’s EastLink).
Unfortunately, Labor has had to live with Bill when the likes of Anthony Albanese (even with all his own flaws) would have given the party far more direction and credibility. Albanese would also have held Malcolm Turnbull and the government to a far better account than whatever Bill has done in this respect. In fairness to Bill though, you can’t say that Albo would be better without mentioning the fact that Labor also has far worse and more dangerous than Bill lurking in the wings (think Tanya Plibersek for example). So at least Bill can comfort himself with fact that he has leadership rivals who, unlike Bill, I wouldn’t even give damning praise to.
New year, same smell
As the ABC reported that Bill is ‘due back at work’, we were treated to Bill at his creative and holiday-rejuvenated best as he fired out the following in very quick succession:
- He’s going to oppose changes to penalty rates, even though there is no proposal to change them yet and even though few people actually earn them because too many businesses simply don’t trade on Sundays because of them.
- He’s going to ‘fight’ on the GST even though no proposal has yet been made to change it.
- He will oppose any attempt to bring in a dedicated Building Commission because it would obviously make life tougher on unions. His official reason was that it would create ‘a different set of rules for construction workers to everyone else and that case hasn’t been made out’. In his own inimitable way, Bill made this comment in the face of countless examples of bribery, blackmail, protection rackets, thuggery, general corruption and police arrests relating to both construction unions and companies given through the Royal Commission over the last 12 months (and which the Commission provided a detailed report on barely two weeks ago).
- He thinks that it’s solely the Liberal government’s fault that asylum seekers are spending longer times in detention, even though his team needlessly put ridiculous numbers of them there in the first place when it was in government.
- Best of all, Bill feels sorry for Essendon’s banned football players who he claims have been ‘let down by others’, even though:
- they were all grown men who were in charge of what went into their own bodies; and
- it was Bill’s team of political stunt makers who egregiously started this whole train wreck when they were in government, with their ‘blackest day in sport’ farce headed by then Ministers Jason Clare and Kate Lundy. In a complete lack of due process and fairness, they hastily convened a press conference to publicly announce to the alleged perpetrators: ‘Don’t underestimate how much we know, and if you are involved in this come forward before you get a knock at the door’ (yes, this was really said). Needless to say, Clare and Lundy didn’t give a rat’s gluteus maximus about the players or the issue: they were simply following orders to divert the public’s attention away from the ongoing leadership dramas in Gillard’s last days in February 2013 – and a fat load of good it did in the end, other than to create a public circus around a group of professionals, their reputations, incomes and livelihoods. Just imagine if you were subjected to this form of ‘justice’ before ever being charged.
The last two examples represent typical modern Laborthink: pick a mainstream or popular victim and then blame someone else for their ‘plight’ to make it seem like you care, regardless of who is actually right or wrong. Creating the victim’s problem yourself in the first place – so that you can be there to put your hand on their shoulder later on – is also a frequently exercised option in this strategy.
Only a matter of time
You know when you kill a bug, but its legs still move after you prod it to check that it’s really dead? That’s Bill. There’s some movement all right, but the bug’s been dead for a while. What we’re seeing here are merely leftover knee-jerking nerves giving a false impression of life. Bill will keep dribbling on, but he’s not going to suddenly become a viable alternative Prime Minister that people will actually vote for – particularly without Abbott’s poor popularity around to handicap him and while the Leftist media is still intent on giving Turnbull the biggest free pass a Liberal leader could ever dream of.
As much fun as Bill must be having with his 26% approval rate (preferred PM 15-63 vs Turnbull), the time for his guff is fast coming to an end. To put things in some perspective, even Tony Abbott managed to putt around with an approval rating in the 30s for almost all of his time as PM. Would Labor’s powers-that-be really take a leader with a 15% preferred PM rating to an election? If so, then wow, good luck with that. Ironically, the last opposition leader to have such a pathetically low rating was replaced by Tony Abbott and now sits in the PM’s chair. So I guess there’s hope for Bill after all. Isn’t politics great?
Bill should have been removed a long time ago. However, given that Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberals are practically nailed-on to win the next federal election, alternative leaders aren’t exactly queuing up to replace Bill just yet and wear the next 4-8 months until the next election (NB: some think that Labor’s new leadership spill rules are a factor here, but they’re meaningless for all practical purposes). This doesn’t mean that Bill is safe until the next election: logic and self-interest dictate that Bill should be replaced at some time beforehand so that Labor can claw back some winnable seats that would surely be lost under him. It’s simply a matter of doing it close enough (but not too close) to the next election so that the new leader can blame the defeat on Bill, say that they saved some seats and be given a fresh slate to go to the next election after that – by which time everyone will surely have had enough of Turnbull rambling their ears off.
You can be assured that Labor’s leadership aspirants are all thinking along these lines. The only issue is whether the Rudd-Gillard leadership debacle has scared them off doing anything until after the next election. If that’s the case, then it will certainly come at the cost of easily winnable seats.
Regardless of how we get there, the only real question left is who will finally kill Bill?