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Day to Day Politics: Overlooking politics for the common good.

Thursday June 22, 2017

Had they really wanted a bipartisan approach the Prime Minister could have taken up the Opposition Leader’s offer to talk about the Finkel Report. Conversely, the Opposition leader, instead of just saying no, could have supported the Gonski reforms and still come out on top.

But Australian politics as it is practiced, is not about making decisions for the common good or even thinking distant consequences. Sure, it can be said that Labor governs for those who have not and the Coalition governs for those who have.

But overriding all other considerations both major parties considers the retention of power to be the highest ideal. The first rule of politics is to win power and the second rule is to retain it. Parties will even forego its own philosophy if required.

The Liberals often throw their ideology out the window; think about National Health, Gonski, NDIS and Finkel for example. The Libs are going against their own ideals in supporting what are socialist ideas.

With the coming of Tony Abbott a new formula for opposition came into being. ”Oppositions oppose,’’ he said. That’s why it’s called opposition. And it worked to the point where commentators praised him as being the best opposition leader we had ever had. Yes, he opposed everything so that made him great.

In the early part of his tenure Bill Shorten quietly went away and developed sound policies that would be good for the economic future of the country. Of late he has adopted the Abbott technique of opposition for oppositions sake.

As for the people, well we think that their opinions are reflected in the numerous polls that are regularly published but we are not sure. Mostly they glibly stand by watching all the ongoing bullshit and wonder why politicians are paid so much to do so little.

But the great majority comes together every three years to vote unthinkingly for the party their folks voted for. Of course a fair portion wouldn’t even know who is standing in their electorate and will probably make a decision based of the most scant information.

In the middle is a cohort of thinkers who commonly switch sides depending which way the wind is blowing or how their pockets are lined. Then there is an ever-increasing list of people who don’t give a rat’s arse, saying a pox on both your houses.

The voters of today have been victims of a period of the worst Coalition governance in Australia’s history and people like me wonder why it is that so many, after being subjected to it, would still vote for the same party. I have no understanding of this.

When I began writing this piece I literally had no idea what I would write about. I just started to write in the hope that it would say something at the end. I’m also thinking that I’m sort of continuing my rant about the decline in democracy generally, from yesterday.

At this stage I begin to question the assumptions in what I have written. It’s safe for the reader to assume that I don’t have a high opinion of the average voter.

But having said that, don’t they generally get it right. The polls would seem to indicate it so. But the talk is that someone else will replace Turnbull before Christmas and Peter Dutton’s name is frequently put forward. So are those of Scott Morrison and Julie Bishop.

“Oh my god,” I’m thinking. That’s going from bad to worse. They are better off sticking with what they have and adopt more of Labor’s policies. Any move to replace Turnbull would spell the end of the Coalition. Does that sound biased?

Then I turn my attention to Labor and wonder about what its prospects are. Well you would have to say anything from good to excellent. Shorten is sitting back allowing the Coalition to dig its own grave.

Mind you, there are many who still think Albanese who has more of the in vogue Corban, Sanders manner, should replace him.

It’s here that I realize that subconsciously its Bill Shorten that I want to write about. I also know that what I write is sure to cop a lot of flak from those who want him replaced. And it’s also fair to say that if he were, Labor’s chances might greatly improve. He still carries baggage from the Union Movement.

I begin to think just how far Bill Shorten has modernised the Labor Party. Sure, there’s still much to be done but he has made a start.

Since being elected as leader he has quietly gone about restoring some of Labor’s traditional ideology with a more modern touch. Far less importance on Unions and a concentration on fairness and traditional left values like inequality.

There is no doubt he is a policy wonker who has vastly improved his media presentation. Unlike Abbott, he has made the most of his term as Opposition Leader.

Even those who doubted his ability to get the team over the line in the last election now concede that he conducted a remarkable campaign with the whole team behind him. Those who want to practice the first rule of politics – obtain power – must realise that the electorate is sick to death of revolving door leadership politics.

But if I’m to be truthful to myself I have to say that Shorten is also precariously dipping his toe into the ‘obtain power at all costs’ pool of political drownings. Better to obtain the trust of the people with good honest politics. You can still in modern politics, be honest in opposition and be respected for it. However, what we are still seeing is opposition for opposition’s sake.

It may have worked for Tony, but I like to think my side is better than that.

My thought for the day

”What I know is only surpassed by what I don’t.”

 206 total views,  4 views today


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  1. Freethinker

    IMO, Labor is a better option than the Coalition but not what Australia need to get out of the vicious circle imposed by the neoliberalism ideology.
    We need politicians that think out of the square, we need economists that understand what it is poverty, science including ecology, that have the courage to measure progress on based on growth metrics but development.
    I like to see a socialist political party formed by those progressive politicians that have the courage to resign from the party that they are because we no go any were.
    Jennifer mention many time the possibility of an alliance, with respect I do no think that will be a solution as long as Shorten and Chris Bowen are there.

  2. Möbius Ecko

    What is really irking me at the moment, and yes it’s my old bugbear the MSM, is them now bleating about an opposition opposing for the sake of opposing, and yes this includes the ABC who are the most vociferous on this.

    None of the gushing praise of the best opposition leader ever, now it’s all condemnation. And worse, this condemnation is framed as though Shorten and the Labor opposition have been running this type of oppose above all strategy for the last three plus years. It’s as though their early foray into leading the government by bringing out sound policies, many of which the government adopted under different guises, didn’t happen at all.

    So currently to oppose government policy, no matter whether the basis for that opposition is sound or not, is to be condemned at every turn and our political system is all of a sudden broken, in need of a major overhaul the MSM decries.

    My question is. Where was all this condemnation and cries for change to adversarial politics when Abbott was opposition leader?

    No MSM, there’s a problem with our democracy, but for me the greater problem is you as the subverters of that democracy for your own ideological and power agenda. Bleating about adversarial politics now, after applauding it under the previous opposition, is disingenuous. If you want to condemn adversarial politics then start by condemning your roll in it as the progenitors and provocateurs.

  3. Terry2

    As Education Minister in the Abbott government, Christopher Pyne said that he would dismantle Labor’s Gonski plan for needs based funding of education and that he would strike individual agreements with each state and territory.

    We have come a long way since then with the coalition now embracing needs based funding, putting in $18 billion over six years – was ten years – and as of yesterday upping the funding by an additional $5 billion to $23 billion.

    Turnbull has dragged the coalition over to Labor’s policy despite opposition from his own back-bench and he has done it to try and blunt Labor’s main thrust in the next election. Labor now needs to focus on other areas of coalition policy and they and the Greens should emphasize what they have achieved and if it needs refinement then Labor can do this when in office.

  4. helvityni

    Möbius Ecko, yes totally agree with you, what was good for the goose is not good for the gander; Abbott praised as the best Opposition leader, Shorten must not oppose at all….

    MSM is hopelessly unfair, and so is ABC; proof of that: Alberici interviewing Tony Bourke, and last night dear Leigh Sales asked Tanya Plibersek questions, but did not allow her to answer them…luckily Tanya stayed cool and persisted…

    Plenty more examples of that…

    Yet the Labor seems to lead in the polls…?

  5. stephengb2014

    I think that in spite of my reservations about Bill Shorten, to change ALP leadership now would bring on an election within six months. Who ever then took ALP leadership would find winning almost impossible, simply because the LNP would exploit the revolving door of ALP leadership, and probably rightly so!

    We should not forget Bill, very nearly got the ALP in power, and gave Turnbull, and the LNP, the bloodiest nose in the last 10 years.

    I hope that the ALP are looking very seriously at what Jeremy Corbyn has done and mimics Corbyns policies, because it is clear that the neoliberal policies are really on the nose for the majority of the population, even if they do not have a clue that the LNP policies are in fact neoliberal policies.

  6. Phil

    The Libs are losing the long game. Both Lib and to some lesser degree Lab, are still, foolishly wedded to neoliberal austerity but voters are beginning to see just how destructive that system has been. The Grenfel Tower fire in London has exposed the moral, ethical and political corruption of the elites austerity regime. The UK austerity regime is so similar to the Australian regime that its as if UK Tories and Aus conservatives are joined at the hip.

    Thirty or so years of austerity politics has of course achieved what it was always meant to achieve – a consolidation of power and wealth for the elites, that is, the large corporations and the political puppets they control.

    I’d like to see a resurgence of the ALP left and a return to the core principles of trade unionism because the pendulum has swung way too far to the right and if it keeps that trajectory much longer we’ll be in jackboot territory – a Dutton ascendency will be the harbinger to that horror story.

  7. stephentardrew

    Is Shorten sitting back allowing the government to dig its own grave?”

    Yes obviously John however there is no sign of deep structural reform. Self-imposed silence while being elected by default is not a truly democratic process it is more like indentured laziness and avoidance of the electorate.

    Corbyn has demonstrate how real proactive progressive policies can shape the future and win. Labor has lost its animal drive for justice and equity and true representational democracy. If the electorate do not know their agenda they can sleep into power and shift the goal posts at will. Any political party worth their due will immediately enact an Federal ICAC or some sort of government Crime and Misconduct Commission. Besides all the naysayers, and a totally corrupt biased media, Corbyn broke through with honest and ethical policies. It takes courage to follow what is right and to stop feathering your own nest.

    Neoliberal economic policies is the problem and while the Labor centre and right embrace it we are simply looking at cosmetic changes that will not end the economic boom/bust cycles, bank bailouts, or endemic inequality which is inherent in supply side trickle down economics. Labor has been asleep at the wheel for too long.

    Labor apologist will keep on denigrating the progressive critique however more of the same will be a disaster. If now is not the time for real reform, when the biosphere is in danger, inequality is increasing and corporate oligopolistic power is taking control and destroying democracy, when will be the right time? We past Labour Party followers have long memories of what can be done by proactive government and unions to end social injustice. It’s Time.

    If the US and its insanity, and the UK and its death squads of the impoverished, is not a dire warning then what the hell is?

  8. Freethinker

    stephengb2014, hoe the ALP can look at what Corbyn have done with Bowen there and Bill supporting him?

  9. paulwalter

    Murdoch is their epitome. They want attention and smash their toys on the floor to get it.

    Phil is correct, The left has been decimated and sidelined and a re part of this centuries lesson, that just inadequate people grasping and holding on to power for its own sake is doomed to failure. We need a Corbyn,

    The ALP Right has been ineffectual, a grouping so ashamed of own its fatalism and timidity that it scarce dare mention its own name. It won’t understand the lesson, that you can’t reason with brutes.

  10. helvityni

    Paulwalter, I detest people like Dutton, Morrison, Michaelia, well, most of them. I’m no Shorten fan ,but for me a poor-quality Labor government is preferable to this inhumane, rabid Coalition one we have now….

    Are there any other options, we don’t have any Corbyn or Sanders here, we don’t make men like Whitlam, Keating anymore, and we don’t like perfectly adequate leaders like Gillard…no, we don’t like women in power. It’s a bleak political landscape out there, no Merkels or Macrons either.

    Sigh, maybe even cry… OK, let’s have Dutton or Ms Julie.

  11. Florence nee Fedup

    Labor is still trying to work in a partisan way with the government when it comes to Finkel. Butler out this morning asking the government to ignore the fringe, work with the sensible centre. Is hard to do so when many on the right have narrowed the debate to coal only.

    As for Gonski, I suspect if the PM was serious about introducing more than the name Gonski, Labor could support him.

    I have not seen any more than Gonski giving PM credit for taking on the concept of Gonski. Be interesting to see when Gonski’s report comes in, he will support what is before the parliament now. Time will tell.

    The government is still sticking to the belief that they are only responsible for private not public schools. That alone is not Gonski.

  12. Florence nee Fedup

    Look what happened to the Greens when they attempted to work with the government. Still at a meeting, trying to negotiate when bells ring. Didn’t even tell them the bill was before the House.

  13. paulwalter

    Helvityni, they are a desolate herd of failures. Even Shorten is worth a go after four years of them.

  14. havanaliedown

    The Liberal Party has some formidable females (for those that believe “gender” is important) – Gladys will be hard to beat in NSW, and Julie Bishop is likely to be PM before the next election. There are more than a few working to climb up the ranks of the party – some still in high school, and they have very bright futures.

  15. Freethinker

    havanalieddown, cannot be formidable if they are in that party

  16. guest

    Abbott was praised as the greatest Opposition leader ever. Screamed and yelled, whispered across the Chamber, called umpteen Suspensions of Standing Orders….lied and lied… failed miserably as PM. Now hangs about like the Hunchback of Notre Dame.

    So Shorten is criticised as being an opposer. Hypocrisy writ large by the Coalition. Yet Shorten and others have made suggestions for the improvement of Coalition policies.

    Plibersek has pointed out some problems for the Coalition’s Gonski. But in an interview she was shouted at while trying to speak by an interviewer who was reading a sheet where clearly comments made by a Gonski panelist were written down from the night before. No doubt the interviewer was trying to play the devil’s advocate, but it was grossly unfair when she crowded out Plibersek, who clearly had many pertinent figures to illustrate what she had to say against the Coalition Gonski.

    On another panel program Jane Caro had two minutes to speak about the Coalition’s Gonski. She had important things to say we do not get on the MSM. It will be interesting to see what she and Chris Bonnor have to say in a publication coming up.

    Later in the night the representative of the AEU was drilled as if she did not know what she was talking about. She had to face a strong interviewer for daring to question the Coalition Gonski, which is supposed to have the approval of Gonski himself, but he has not spoken very strongly in support.

    One of the criticisms of Labor’s Gonski was that Gillard had to make separate agreements with different education authorities in order to get Gonski started. Now, it is said, Birmingham has to clean up the “mess”. But nothing is said about the mess created by Abbott and Pyne, neither of whom seemed to know anything about Gonski and did not intend to assist it at all. Pyne just threw the money at the states and let them distribute it in the way that the Catholic Education system ran its funding.

    Nor was there any mention of why Gillard had make so many agreemens – just as Turnbull had to o recently.

    So we come to Finkel, which is mild outline program which allows the Coaltion to build coal-fired power stations, agree to the Carmichael mine and fund with public monies a rail line and further exploration for gas in SE Oz.

    All this with just the faintest reference to Climate Change. The emphasis is on cheap, reliable energy. But the energy policy at present allows suppliers to increase costs at an astonishing rate which the Coalition thinks they can reduce by burning more coal.

    The question is: What is the cost of cooking the planet?

  17. helvityni

    guest, I second your comments, totally agree…

  18. wam

    Shorten and his group stood by whilst the lemon the monkey et al (Albo???) white-anted gillard till the last minute then dumped her. Not a good look???

    It is possible that 35% support labor and 40% libs/nats so shorten 31 and trumballs 44 is pretty right and better than trumball deserves but against the rectangle??

    The diludbrasimkins are unfortunately so far ‘up themselves’ as to rival the arrogance of the slimey X, to be considered for a coalition.
    Will it be ‘alright on the night’ for billy, X and Di’ to defeat trumball and his lazy liars??? I hope so, but another ‘better stick with this mob’ by the workerwith the rolex is odds on and it might work again.

    ps did I hear that the french let it slip that the subs will be built in france. The pynenut knew that before the election. As would anyone who read the french papers about the ‘deal of the century’ and thousands of jobs.

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