Tag Archives: Bill Shorten

Block Supply, Bill Shorten!

No, Really, We Mean It!

This is a pretty shitty budget brought down by the Coalition. No matter what the Coalition is claiming and  will continue to claim over the next little while, there’s no way this budget was what the Australian electorate voted for in September. Abbott clearly lied or changed his mind. In either case this budget has no legitimacy. Lots of people are unhappy with this thing.

The only thing that can be done to stop it dead in its tracks is to block supply – and then Governor General Peter Cosgrove can sack Abbott as Prime Minister.

Come on Bill Shorten, show some balls.

Leave a comment

Filed under General

Where Were These People On Election Day?!

ALP’s Early Comeback

Polls are an awful thing really, because they measure results of what people allegedly think when given thoughts they wouldn’t ordinarily have by themselves on choices they didn’t formulate. If somebody told you the options for managing emissions was a ‘carbon tax’, an Emissions Trading Scheme’, ‘Direct Action’ and nothing at all, you would be led to thinking this was the be-all and end all of all solutions and answer something out of this bunch of bad choices. Not to mention the inherent hostility of the polled person who can then bag out the incumbent for their incumbency and berate the Opposition for their opposition and so on and so forth.

In that light, I can only shrug at the newest poll showing the ALP have surged ahead of the Coalition.

The graphic says it all – less than 3months since the fateful election, the current Government finds itself in a position it would lose the two-party preferred vote. It didn’t take long, and it didn’t take much for the dissatisfaction to set in. If these people had exercise a bit of forethought, they might have  avoided the Abbott government altogether. Doesn’t it make you sick?

The truly interesting thing might be this bit here:

But in a blow to the Prime Minister’s plans, more people like the supposedly ”toxic” carbon tax than his proposed replacement policy.

An Age-Nielsen poll shows little support for Tony Abbott’s proposed carbon tax replacement policy.

Just 12 per cent of voters believe Mr Abbott’s ”direct action” policy of using taxpayer funds to purchase emissions reductions from polluters, and planting trees, is the answer. That amounts to a virtual vote of no-confidence in direct action, which has support 4 percentage points lower than the 16 per cent in favour of keeping a fixed carbon price.

The Age-Nielsen poll of 1400 voters found that Australians overwhelmingly wanted to see Australia meet the nation’s commitment to cut emissions by 5 per cent by 2020 based on year 2000 levels.

While both sides of politics have committed to the minimum target, the poll shows voters prefer the policy Labor took to the last election – a switch to an internationally linked emissions trading scheme.

Fully 29 per cent nominated an ETS as the preferred mechanism to combat global warming – well ahead of ”some other policy” on 24 per cent and 11 per cent who favoured ”no policy at all”.

In other words, the only reason people want the Carbon Tax removed is so they can go to an ETS. That’s right, the only tangible reason people want the Carbon Tax gone is because they want the ETS So much for that mandate Tony Abbott’s been going on about. Listening to his coded dog-whistling you would have thought Australia’s electorate wants to go the way of the Ostrich in any discussion on trying to mitigate Climate Change.

The Drum on ABC 24 featured some Liberal Party apparatchik last Friday who wanted to tell us that the future lie in adapting to climate change, and not mitigating it. If I were a man in possession of inclinations like Elvis Presley I would have shot my TV set. instead I screamed and turned it off. It’s like some bad joke from the Easter Bloc of old that Tony Abbott got elected.

Delaying The Carbon Repeal

In another one of those election promises that is being broken by the Coalition, we have the Carbon Tax repeal. They’ve got it through the Lower House but there’s enough resistance in the Senate to shoot down the repeal. The Coalition solution is  therefore to hold off taking it to the Senate until the new Senate sits in July.

The Abbott government has scheduled two weeks of sittings, two for the Senate and one for the House of Representatives.

Usually Parliament stops for the winter break at the end of June, returning for the spring session in mid-August.

In the last 15 years federal Parliament has only sat once during July – for a single week in 2011 – which lends weight to the theory that the Abbott government has deliberately arranged this voting period for the carbon tax repeal.

Leader of the House Christopher Pyne released a schedule of sitting dates on Monday, showing the Senate sitting for a fortnight from Monday, July 7.

Mr Pyne said more sittings provided an opportunity for debate and consideration of the important bills that will come before the Parliament in 2014.

The lower house will sit for a week from Monday, July 14.

It seems the Coalition has twigged to possibility they would lose a Double Dissolution election – which is to say they had no mandate at all like they have claimed. The fact that the new poll has blunted their resolve points to the inherently opportunistic, populist and largely spineless nature of this government. Have they no shame? It appears not. Have they no dignity? No. Clearly, that’s why they need the Monarchy to drape them with some (imagined) dignity.

Christopher Pyne has been rather disruptive in other ways.

Mr Pyne told Sky News on Sunday evening that two of the states that had agreed to the Gonski reforms, Victoria and Tasmania, had never signed “final agreements” with the federal Labor government, and neither had the National Catholic Education Commission.

“That isn’t a national model, and it’s very difficult for us to implement the complicated, confused, very dense model that they came up with because of Labor’s predilection for prescription and regulation,” he said.”We want less regulation, less prescription from Canberra, and that’s what I’ll set about trying to put in place when we can do that.”

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten accused the Coalition of breaking the promise it made before the election that it was on a “unity ticket” with Labor on school funding.

“The weasel words of the government saying before an election they will look after schools and properly fund our children in the future, and … they now dial forward and say all deals are off, there were no deals.”

Well, Bill, the answer is that these people really will do and say anything to get into power, hold power and abuse power. No surprises whatsoever there.

Leave a comment

Filed under General

Generation Change

The ALP’s Gen-X Crew

The Herald was making the point today that the ALP have gone Gen-X with their choice of frontbench. When you think about it, Bill Shorten is 46 going on 47 so that puts him at the older range of Gen-X, and Tanya Plibersek at 44, it’s true that the ALP have indeed gone Gen-X. I have a late Boomer friend who tells me that all this demographic stuff is just a construct not worthy of analysis, except I’ve been writing here under the banner of ‘Gen-X View Of The Universe’ for a good 5 years now. It obviously means something.

What could it mean?

The Generation X politician in Australia would have arrived at Tertiary education after the AUS was disintegrated by the likes of Peter Costello and Tony Abbott in 1983, Interestingly enough, Julia Gillard was the last President of the AUS when it collapsed in 1983. If you anted a model to the fractious politics of the Julia Gillard Prime Mininster-ship, you would have found it in the demise of the Australian Union of Students, with the same cast of late Baby Boomers thrashing and trashing institutions to make their political mark. What’s scary is that they’re still around aplenty in the Liberal and National party ranks, and they probably still don’t think much of indulging in that sort of ratbag behaviour. This explains the histrionic opposition style Tony Abbott chose to work with – because it is the method he used in his youth to destroy the AUS , headed up by Julia Gillard. Worse still, it worked again, so that may be why he’s so convinced he has some kind of mandate.

The demise of the AUS and the years where there was no student lobby until the NUS got up in the late 1980s allowed HECS to be brought in. Unlike the Baby Boomers, most of the Gen-X politician would have had to pay HECS. When they say education and the opportunities it affords are important, they know what they are saying. All these things are intimately entwined.

If there is one thing that I do think is encouraging about the Gen X ALP politicos is that they are of the generation that had to put back together the NUS and have the experience of rebuilding institutions. If the ALP under Rudd-Gillard looked positively fractured, then I think the current group might be able to start from scratch and build a proper agenda that suits the time. As I wrote the other day, I’m feeling fairly optimistic about the Shorten-Plibersek team, much more so than I felt about the Rudd-Gillard team when they first rose to the level of Opposition leader and deputy back in 2006. They’re not perfect human beings and they will make their mistakes. I just don’t think they’re as fractious and crazy as the generation of politicians who were forged in the dying days of the AUS.

Right now, the Coalition are the party of the Baby Boomers much more than Gen-X or Gen-Y by dint of the ageing population and makeup of the Liberal and National Party demographic. The fissure hasn’t been more stark than any other time since Mark Latham as late Baby Boomer was taking on John Howard who was born before the Boomers. That fissure sort of leaves the current ALP firmly in the Gen-X camp with the hope of picking up a big portion of support from Gen-Y.  The question then is whether Gen-X+Gen-Y interest is a big enough voting constituency to overcome the Baby Boomers’ interests in their twilight years.

Demographically speaking, Gen-X is small and shorter than either the Boomers before or the Gen-Y that follows. That being the case the duo may never make it. And if they did, they may be seen off by a Gen-Y politician. Consider the American experience. Bill Clinton was the first Boomer President, who was followed by George W. Bush who was followed by Barack Obama, all of whom are Boomers. All three Presidents won two terms, so the Baby Boomer reign will last 24years. If a Gen-X candidate won 2 terms after Obama, the next election after that will likely see a pair of Gen-Y candidates. It’s entirely possible there will never be a Gen X President of the United States.

Similarly, I don’t see any Gen-Xers knocking on the door in the Coalition ranks. If Abbott is replaced for some reason, it’s possible the leadership reverts to Malcolm Turnbull or goes to Joe Hockey – both of whom are Boomers. The longer the Coalition stay in power, the less chance there will be of a government of Gen-Xers in Australia.

So when you look at it through the demographic filter, that’s what we have with Bill Shorten and Tanya Plibersek: The one and only shot at Gen-X forming Government in Australia.

Leave a comment

Filed under General

News That’s Fit To Punt – 15/Oct/2013

Tony Says He’s Got A Man Date

It’s a bit gay isn’t it Tony?

Alrighty, so Tony Abbott is saying that he has a mandate to repeal the Carbon Tax. He’s been banging on with this since winning the election and as far as we can tell, he’s put the topic at pole position of his agenda in Parliament. I guess if you say you’re going to do it and win an election it might look like you have a mandate but most people polled seem to think this is a terrible idea; and that the reason they voted for Abbott was because they reviled the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd ALP so much but hadn’t really given much thought on the ramification of ousting the ALP government.

So much for the wisdom of crowds. Our electorate is stupid.

You can basically see that not too deeply down, Tony Abbott is still a Climate Change Denialist who has hijacked the agenda so he’s in a hurry to sort this out in favour of his denialist position as quickly as he can. This then turns into the absurd spectacle of Tony Abbott trying to apply pressure on to the new Opposition Leader Bill Shorten like so:

Prime Minister Tony Abbott says he believes Bill Shorten will be forced to back the Coalition’s plan to repeal the carbon tax, saying Labor’s new leader is “nothing if not a political pragmatist”.

Mr Abbott dismissed the new Labor leader’s repeated statements in support of pricing carbon, saying his government was “giving the Labor Party a chance to repent” on the issue.

It’s interesting how he uses that word “repent”, as if introducing the Carbon Pricing mechanism was somehow a sin. You imagine that in Tony Abbott’s mind, any market driven mechanism to push down carbon emissions is somehow ‘evil’ (like ‘adultery’ or ‘murder’ – the mind boggles). Is it the tax part that bothers him? Or is it simply that he just disagrees with the mountain of scientific data?

Whatever little faith you had in his Direct Action policy to replace the Carbon Emission Trading Scheme evaporates like so much morning dew in the rising heat when you consider that word “repent”.

I Voted For Him But He’s A Terrible Pundit

Mark ‘Arm-Breaker’ Latham said that the ALP faithful shouldn’t vote for Anthony Abanese because ‘Albo’ had terrible political instincts and was basically too wishy washy for Mark Latham’s Liking. Whilst ranting on against union power and factional deals within the ALP, Latham said he was voting “ABA. Anybody-But Albo”. Which is to say he voted for Bill Shorten but didn’t really want to endorse Bill Shorten in any positive manner, no.

I guess Bill Shorten is a tough character to take given the Rudd Gillard years and the role he played in both PM swaps. As ‘faceless men’ go, he’s been the very public face of the faceless men, and so, on some level probably deserves to be given the shot in the same spirit that led to John “I don’t take bribes But I don’t report Them’ Robertson leading the ALP in NSW. I guess we could be heading for a travesty with Bill Shorten as Opposition Leader but I doubt Albo was a better choice.

While I am no member of the ALP – so this is completely an outsider’s view – I think Albo was and still is a potential liability. One shouldn’t cast aspersions but one has to ask how close Albo is to Eddie Obeid and whether he will get linked to those wonderful ICAC hearings slated to deal with the morbid Obeidity in NSW. Oh, and that Ron Medich guy who put out a hit on that McGurk guy. In that sense ‘Deputy Prime Minister Albo’ might have been the high point of Anthony Albanese.

Shorten has his failings. People have been writing about those in spades. In amongst reading all the bad press, one thing I did like about Bill Shorten was that after he switched back to supporting Rudd, he came out fighting. He wasn’t fighting for his reputation, but for deeply core ALP values. You know, the stuff we always ascribe to Gough and Bob and Paul. On that level he appears to be a politician who speaks on behalf of a greater portion of Australia than Julia Gillard, while possibly not having the insane charisma of Kevin Rudd. You’d have to say the guy has a fighting chance; especially against a willful, dogmatic, Tory ideologue like Tony Abbott.

The other net benefit of the Shorten leadership over an Albo leadership is that you get Tanya Plibersek as Deputy Opposition Leader.I’ll be honest with you, I think Tanya Plibersek has been great through the election campaign and into this post-election period. Any time I’ve seen her on Q&A, she’s been setting the record straight and has countered the attempts by the Coalition to paint the Rudd-Gillard government as somehow a failed government. She’s been logical, persuasive and very circumspect.

If you had to come up with a credible one-two punch, it’s hard to do better than this duo, given the ALP’s current state. Anna Burke might feel bitter and twisted about the shadow cabinet selection, but the Shorten-Plibersek team up gives you a lot of hope that the ALP can get their mojo back. When I think back to how negatively I felt about the original Rudd-Gillard team up back in 2006, I think this is a lot more promising. And I never thought I’d be saying that so early after an election loss. They haven’t even gone back to Parliament yet.

Housing Bubbles Are Harder To Observe Than The Higgs Boson

Look, if a Nobel Prize winning economist says you’re in a housing bubble, you probably are in a housing bubble.

Robert Shiller, the joint winner of the Nobel prize for economics, is worried about bubbles. The Yale University professor expressed alarm at the rapid rise in global house prices soon after the award was announced.

“There are so many countries that are looking bubbly,” he said.

If he’s right, and bubble trouble besets Australia, it’s bad news for growth and jobs.

The Reserve Bank has cut interest rates to record lows to encourage businesses and consumers to spend and invest as the effects of the mining boom fade. The aim is to boost non-mining sectors like home building, retail and tourism so they can take over from mining as drivers of national economic growth.

But low interest rates have also stoked demand for established houses. Sydney has led the way – the city’s median dwelling price (comprising houses and units) rose by a frothy 13.1 per cent in the year to September.

If house price growth becomes unsustainable the Reserve might decide to take some heat out of the property market by lifting interest rates. It would be unlikely to tolerate the longer-term risk of a devastating house price collapse.

But under that scenario, interest rates would be set at a higher level than required by the broader economy. The cost of containing house prices could be subdued growth and fewer jobs.

The really odd thing about all this is that the RBA has been insisting we don’t have a Housing Bubble in face of the same evidence being presented to the Nobel Laureate Economist. I mean, we take the existence of the Higgs Boson on about the same level of scrutiny – and they gave Dr. Higgs his Nobel earlier in the month – so I’m sitting here wondering what exactly the RBA thinks is going on that makes it not a bubble; but here it goes…:

But AMP capital chief economist Shane Oliver believes many of them don’t fully understand Australian property markets.

“The basic problem here is a lack of supply caused by chronic under-building,” he said. “There is a shortage of housing in Australia and that partly explains why it is so unaffordable.”

Given the blend of very low interest rates, a stable economy and pent up demand, it is no surprise property markets are showing signs of life. While Sydney property prices have grown strongly in the past year, this follows nearly a decade of weak growth. Data published by the Housing Industry Association this month shows the average annual growth in Sydney house prices over the past 10 years has been just 3.4 per cent – a rate that has hardly kept up with wages.

At this stage, the Reserve Bank isn’t convinced by talk of housing bubbles in Australia. Last month the bank’s assistant governor, Malcolm Edey, said those predictions were “unrealistically alarmist”.

Dr Edey cautioned against reaching for “the bubble terminology” whenever house price increases were higher than average, because by definition that’s half the time.

AMP Capital’s Shane Oliver offers an explanation why Australian real estate is so expensive and unaffordable, but it’s really not an answer as to why or how this is not a Housing Bubble. The RBA says if you take the average growth of property in Australia, it’s only 3.4% p.a. which sits behind wage growth over that time, so it can’t really be considered a bubble. I’m more interested in how that ‘average’ was derived, because the mathematician inside me smells a rat.

I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how things play out.

Leave a comment

Filed under General

Terminal, Interminably Terminal

There Actually Is No Cure

The business of the ALP Leadership has gone beyond a farce – it did that back in March this year when Kevin Rudd refused to contest the leadership. Since then it has veered towards the kind of tragedy the Ancient Greeks thought was cathartic, and if things go the way they’re going it will indeed by cathartic when the ALP government get flushed out of office by an angry electorate.

This morning’s leading news was that Julia Gillard’s primary vote support had collapsed to 29%.

In a finding certain to ratchet up pressure on the Prime Minister’s besieged leadership, the latest Fairfax-Nielsen poll has found Labor’s standing has continued to slide, led entirely by a 7 per cent exodus of men, while failing to lift substantially among female voters.

According to the monthly survey, the ALP’s primary vote now has a psychologically devastating ”2” in front of it with less than three months to the election on September 14.

Ms Gillard also has gone backwards as preferred prime minister, giving her the lowest approval rating in a year.

Which, when you look at it, means that Julia Gillard has more chance of being run over by a bus than being Prime Minister on 15th September this year. The word still, is that she’s not quitting; that Kevin Rudd isn’t challenging; and that Bill Shorten is being leaned on mightily to do *something*. Then of course we learn Mrs. Shorten is sort of a cheerleader for Ms Gillard.

One would have to surmise there’s no way Bill Shorten is going to be that trigger to “lance the boil”.

All of this has had me thinking about what this means and basically it is this: the ALP as a party that represents a significant portion of the electorate is finished. The great alliance of interests that rallied for Gough Whitlam and then Bob Hawke and Paul Keating is now gone. It has been whittled back down to a bunch of Unionists who have essentially captured the castle, and they’re not giving it up. This would explain the expressed desire on the part of Julia Gillard to disavow being a social democrat or a progressive, and stake her position around unionism.

The immense popularity of Kevin Rudd is also vexing as it is fascinating as it seems to hold so much hope. But then again it did the same in 2007 and somehow we’ve ended up where we have ended up. This suggests that Kevin Rudd is probably nowhere near as good, as he is widely believed by the electorate. Or maybe it is the instant nostalgia for 2007, a year before the grinding Great recession and a term well before the frictions of the hung Parliament and minority government. I am suspecting that Kevin Rudd wasn’t all he’s cracked up to be. I had my doubts back then and in many ways I still have my doubts now.  Of course if I could choose, I would still choose Kevin Rudd over Julia Gillard.

Whatever the case, it doesn’t look like there’s going to be a coup to oust Julia Gillard, which means the electorate has made up its mind and it’s going to be Tony Abbott who is going to be Prime Minister. Not surprisingly, there are many people who are rolling their eyes at this prospect, and some are even looking for their passports. The ALP is holding out hope that all the people who deserted it in the polls would actually vote for them, even if through preferences, once it comes into sharp focus that it is Tony Abbott who will be Prime Minister after the ALP lose on the 15th September. My own view is that a lot of people would take a dim view of such blackmail from the ALP. After all, the ALP has resisted its own constituents who have asked for Kevin Rudd to be brought back. How can such insults be repaid but with a ballot for the other party?

So little is known of Tony Abbott’s policies apart from stopping asylum seeker boats ad towing them back to Indonesia, repealing the carbon tax and taxing top companies to fund maternity leave. Just as it is the case every time the government changes, it is important that the new Prime Minster is just not the previous Prime Minister. The years that the ALP spent in opposition were actually quite terrible and humiliating. By the time Kevin Rudd won, there was only Simon Crean left from the previous ALP government in the lower house. This change of generation and shortage of expertise prompted Kevin Rudd to hold a short leash and tight rein, which of course led to the coup.

If one thing is certain for the Rudd coup plotters is that the vast majority of them won’t be part of the next ALP government, if that day ever arrives. If they are ministers now, they sure as hell won’t be back, because it’s going to be a long time before the ALP can rebuild the Labor brand. If it becomes even more captive to the interests of the unions, it’s going to be nigh impossible to build a broader agenda.

To be strictly honest about it, I don’t see how the ALP can continue being the major party that represents the progressive left. If John Robertson’s Labor Party in NSW is any indication, they won’t even begin to be relevant once they lose office this September. It’s going to be a very miserable and humiliating time for Gillard, Rudd and Shorten after the coming election day. The chorus of “I told you so” is going to be thick and fast.

Leave a comment

Filed under General

News That’s Fit To Punt – 12/Jun/2013

The Search For Donald Mackay

This is surprising.

“A search is under way today on a property near Hay as part of an ongoing investigation,” a spokesman said.

Australian Federal Police, local police and members of the Unsolved Homicide Squad were seen buying hundreds of dollars worth of shovels in town before heading to the property on Maude Road, outside Hay.

Tents have been erected and an excavator was brought in about 4pm to assist with the search.

Father-of-four Mackay went missing after leaving the Griffith Hotel on July 15, 1977, where he had been drinking with friends.

They might just find him after all this time, although I don’t know what else will be dug up with his body. The whole disappearance of Mackay is tied up with all kinds of strange dealings in the shadows of the international drug trade. Goodness knows what kind of metaphorical skeletons are going to come out with Mackay’s body.

Gender Wars: Attack Of The Clowns, Revenge of the Feminists

Where does one start with politics this grubby? First, there was Julia Gillard talking to a cohort of the usual suspect saying  that an Abbott Government would be tough on women and that Abortion would be on the issue thanks to Tony Abbott being a Catholic and all. It might be true. It likely is true on some level, but really, one really wonders if this is this the way the Prime Minister of Australia wants to proceed? Even proper Feminist-credentialed people (read female journalists) are not entirely convinced this is the right way to open an attack on the obvious boys-own-club, old-school-ties Coalition. I guess, if one were the Prime Minister, one might look at the contest as trying to extract as much differentiation, but I sort of wonder if there are enough men – blue collar, union types at that – who would be happy to take the free kick in the pride and still support the Prime Minister.

Julia Gillard batted on today with this stuff.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has accused Opposition Leader Tony Abbott of ”a pattern of behaviour” that would lead to ”a lack of respect for women littered throughout all of his government’s policy document”.

Ms Gillard has also slapped down government MPs who criticised her for raising the issue of abortion in her speech to the ”Women for Gillard” event in Sydney on Tuesday.’

‘Neither [Stephen] Jones nor [Ed] Husic were in Parliament when Liberal Party women rebelled when Tony Abbott was health minister, so concerned were they about the attitude that he was taking to RU486,” Ms Gillard said in Perth on Wednesday.

”Well, I was in Parliament, I was shadow health minister. I saw those Liberal women rebel again Tony Abbott as health minister and consequently I think Mr Abbott’s conduct at that time and the fact that many in his own political party felt the need to rebel tells you something about Mr Abbott’s attitudes.”

Ms Gillard defended her decision to question the attitude a Coalition government would take to women saying there was a ”pattern of behaviour” displayed by conservative politicians.’

‘Mr Abbott has personally gone and stood next to signs that describe me in a sexist way,  we’ve had the Young Liberals hosting a function where jokes were cracked about the death of my father,” Ms Gillard said.’

‘And now we have (shadow treasurer Joe) Hockey and (Liberal Party candidate Mal) Brough hosting a function with this grossly offensive menu on display. Join the dots.”

Ah yes. There’s the menu thing, yes. The breaking news of the day was that there was some fundraiser dinner where a menu was allegedly used wherein the Prime Minster was denigrated.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard says Liberal candidate Mal Brough should be disendorsed after a menu that made lewd and offensive jokes about her anatomy was used at his fund-raiser.

Ms Gillard slammed the menu as ‘‘grossly sexist and offensive’’ and criticised Opposition Leader Tony Abbott for standing by Mr Brough.

‘This is Tony Abbott’s Liberals,’’ she said. ‘‘This is what they’re like.’’
The menu, used at an event in March, lists ‘‘Julia Gillard Kentucky Fried Quail’’ before going on to describe it as ‘‘Small breasts, huge thighs & a big red box’’.

Health Minister Tanya Plibersek agreed with Ms Gillard, saying she thought Mr Brough’s position as the candidate for the Queensland seat of Fisher was ‘‘untenable’’

Except by the end of the day, the restauranteur came forwards and claimed it was an in-joke that got out. As jokes go, it’s pretty bad; it’s mean-spiritied and particularly nasty in a partisan way that makes you squirm – not for the politics itself but for the ugliness of attitude and idiotic brazenness.

And this is what I mean by grubby. Contrary to the starting point where Julia Gillard kicked off with talk about Abortion and women’s rights none of this actually has anything to do with policy. It’s just a kind of slanging match to try and paint Tony Abbott as this kind of Neanderthal Knucklehead (which, as far as we can tell, he is). Doubly, the problem is that whatever shade of Neanderthal Knucklehead Tony Abbott might be, there those who stand behind him who are deeper and darker in the shade of reactionary unreconstructed male chauvinism (as evinced by the the joke menu – even as a joke it says far more about the people that enjoyed it).

It’s a bit like Julia Gillard gets to call Tony Abbott a moral idiot, because he is one, and in fact he is the leader of a party of moral idiots. He may indeed be the biggest moral idiot amongst a great throng of moral idiots. Except the moral idiots wear their moral idiocy as a badge of pride, so there is absolutely no point in indulging in this exchange of idiotic remarks.

I guess it takes the attention away from the leadership speculation; but it sure as heck does not improve my regard towards Julia Gillard as leader of the ALP. It’s hard to feel for any of these bastards.

Talk Is Cheap, But It’s Fun

This business of Kevin Rudd lurking and stalking Julia Gillard’s position is getting out of hand again. It was only 3 months ago that given the chance – handed to him on a platter by Simon Crean – Kevin Rudd decided not to contest. Since then, Julia Gillard’s support has stayed decidedly low, thus casting a long shadow over the ALP’s prospects for retaining dignity, let alone government. What seems to escape the strategists in the ALP is just how powerful and entrenched the resentment in the electorate happens to to be.

Everywhere Kevin Rudd goes, he is popular and people call out to him, asking him to come back.The point is, Julia Gillard has no traction because nobody wants to give her the traction. it doesn’t matter what policy victories she achieves in a difficult hung Parliament. The hung Parliament itself represents the great disaffection the electorate had for the ALP in 2010 – and the polls say things have gotten worse since then.

You’d hate this if you were watching it in ALP headquarters because you just want him to go away like Mark Latham did. Instead he’s likely to be last man standing in Queensland. You’d hate to be Wayne Swan. but we know Julia Gillard is stubborn and she won’t walk away, which means she is going to lead the ALP right over the waterfall.

So the only question now is will somebody who supported Gillard in 2010 when ousting Kevin Rudd, now withdraw that support and swing that support back to Kevin Rudd?
Enter Bill Shorten. This is going to be a long quote, but it’s worth reading through as it shows just why the situation is coming to a head again, a mere 3months after the last rattle of the cage.

The catalyst for this devil’s choice is recent internal Labor polling, and more from the ACTU, that has ignited fear and loathing in the breasts of ALP members and senators across the country.

An almost bearable resignation had settled across the party for many months about its loss of support in NSW and Queensland, where Labor voters had never forgiven the party for tossing aside one of their own, Kevin Rudd, for a southerner, Julia Gillard.

Labor MPs and the union movement knew it was serious – and in Western Australia, too – but they had little idea of the scale of the catastrophe down south until internal polling and research undertaken by the ACTU in Victoria began returning figures in the past couple of weeks that flabbergasted the most hardened.

The definition of a marginal seat had to be rewritten. Electorates on what might normally be considered comfortable margins of 8-10 per cent were suddenly facing wipe-outs, according to those professing to be in the know. There was barely a Labor seat in outer-metropolitan Melbourne or an industrial or migrant-dominated area the ALP could be sure of holding.

More polling showed South Australia had joined the rush, with the likelihood of the Labor Party losing almost two-thirds of its 11 seats.
Victoria and South Australia were supposed to be relatively reliable Labor strongholds. Further south, all Tasmania’s five seats were considered in great jeopardy.

Thus, when Kevin Rudd journeyed to Geelong, an industrial city with two ALP seats facing disaster and was mobbed by voters crying ”come back Kevin”, the TV cameras whirring, lightbulbs began blinking among panicked Labor MPs.

They needed someone, somewhere, to do something. Quick. In the absence of a better idea, the fallback was Shorten, whether he liked it or not. Some of his colleagues, knowing Shorten’s own polling figures in his seat of Maribyrnong had taken a big hit, too, sensed he might be up for it.

To this point, however, he’s not. Shorten is smart enough to know he alone could not persuade Gillard to blink. It would need a posse of her supporters, or a declaration by an authority like Bob Hawke.

The Labor Party’s last desperate throw of the dice is this: how does a federal government persuade itself and voters it is a sensible or even halfway attractive idea to change leaders twice in three years?

The deeper dilemma is even less digestible. The choice is whether to remain deeply unpopular or to hope that the party might emerge from a leadership change as simply less unpopular.

The options, then, are all negative. They are choices that will be made from a position of weakness.

You would very nearly pity Shorten if you were prepared to forget he’d already played the Grim Reaper with another Labor prime minister almost exactly three years ago.

You shake your head in incredulity at how these ALP party apparatchiks can’t seem to get their heads around a simple fact: Kevin Rudd is still the electorate’s choice. No amount of packaging and branding and bow-tying ribbons around Julia Gillard is going to get her over the line with the electorate. So once again, as it was clear 3months ago, and for 29 straight weeks in a row, we can reaffirm that Julia Gillard is headed for an epic fail.

You get the feeling this isn’t going to work out the way the people of Australia are hoping. Bill Shorten is hoping to pick up the pieces after the electoral demolition job. I wonder if he seriously thinks that would make him a popular man – popular enough to become Prime Minister.

Leave a comment

Filed under General