Illustration by Simon Kneebone
For those watching closely this week, Rupert Murdoch’s tweets clearly signposted how the political scenario is likely to unfold over the next six months.
There will be a snap election. The trigger for this will arise from either a leadership challenge or a double dissolution. The latter is the more probable of the two.
Abbott already has several issues on the table to call for an election, including work-place reform, higher university fees, as well as changes to the welfare system and Murdoch has made it clear that News Ltd. will play the obstructionist card for all it’s worth.
The usual bogey men will be trotted out for an airing.
The opposition has fallen under the sway of ‘corrupt, violent unions’ and cannot be trusted. Especially with the economy. Only a truly reforming government under the leadership of Tony Abbott can sweep away the socialist pariahs and greenie jihadist’s smearing the windscreen on the pace car of free market progress, etc…
It will be a short, sharp and extremely vicious campaign in which the ALP will have to battle hard to win votes due to its insistence in playing a ‘small target’ opposition for the past two years.
For governments who find themselves on the other side of the House following an election, the small target policy is practical method of allowing the electorate time to forget past transgressions and the trail of broken promises. It also allows a new government time to establish its own credentials without unnecessary hinderance.
There comes a time however, usually before the end of the first year of the new government’s term, when small target policy must end and genuine opposition begin. Anything less is simply lazy politics.
Indisputably for the past two years under Shorten’s leadership and the over riding influence of the party’s Right wing, it would seem that like the Monkey God, the parliamentary Labor Party is aware of vacuity and very little else.
Last week saw the ALP handed two free kicks – the Border Force farce and the latest unemployment figures showing that the jobless rate has risen to 9.2% of the workforce.
Shorten’s response to the former, both before and after the event can only be described as tragic.
Of greater tragedy is Labor’s roaring silence over the rapidly escalating unemployment figures and an economic growth rate of 0.2% for the last financial quarter. Any opposition party should be able to make a meal of both issues, yet the ALP seems unable to muster enough energy to open a tube of Pringles.
Similarly to the civil liberties issues surrounding the Border Farce, Labor seems to be content to leave the fight to the electorate, perhaps in the belief that the mounting outrage felt by those unemployed at the acceptance of 1.8 million people trying to exist on a payment 50% below the poverty line will manifest itself in the ballot box as votes for the party.
They couldn’t be more mistaken.
Significantly, the ALP’s web site contains nothing about policies to deal with unemployment and limits itself to motherhood statements about Planned Parental Leave and Labor’s ongoing commitment to defend workers awards and conditions. And ‘Fairness’.
Those out of work simply don’t rate a mention. Nor does any opposition to the exploitative and corrupt nature of the Job Network System.
This is a grave error. It would seem that the lessons of the 2013 election and the rise of independent candidates and minor parties such as Ricky Muir and the Motoring Enthusiasts, and the Palmer United Party have been lost on the party’s tacticians and policy makers.
The fracturing of traditional parties power bases due largely to voter dissatisfaction at any discernible difference between either, accompanied through the use of social media have led to the creation of a new dynamism arising from a grass roots level among the electorate.
As a collective, the unemployed can easily form a voting bloc which urges its members to cast their vote for a party that has a policy of full employment as central to its platform. Should such a party be non-existent, then the jobless may form their own and run for the Senate on a Job Guarantee ticket.
It’s often said that politics is the art of the possible. This is only partly true. At its base, politics is the about having the numbers. Without the numbers, very little is possible in effecting lasting change.
1.8 million is a substantial number, and makes the possibilities for the unemployed to bring about change on their own terms whether as a voting bloc or an independent political party, very real indeed.
It’s there to be done and it is ‘do-able’.
If the ALP or any other party for that matter, think that the invisible army of the unemployed will remain silent and submissive at election time – they’re in for a nasty shock.