Friday 2 February 2018
Today I want to go back 12 months and give you a glimpse of what Bill Shorten said at the National Press Club on 1 February 2017. This is what I wrote:
So when Bill Shorten addressed the National Press Club yesterday he did so with his usual lack of charisma and looking like he had just fallen out of bed, and still half asleep, picked the wrong suit and tie.
His speech was full of all the usual stuff that one would expect at the start of the year. There weren’t any captivating phrases that would make your hair stand on end. Well, not mine anyway. None of that is what I expect from Bill Shorten. What I expected and what I got was thoughtfulness.
Indeed, it was a speech that left me in no doubt that he thinks about things that matter, deeply so. I won’t write about the speech in its totality, but rather concentrate on one portion of it. The important part.
He showed that he had thought intensely and genuinely about the international crisis in democracy. He made a concession to the Australian people that he recognised that he and the Labor Party were part of the problem and vowed to be part of the solution. He indicated that the Australian disengagement from politics was part of a worldwide phenomenon. He said that he would be making, in his year of preparation, as he called it, a commitment to people-first politics, including a vow to divest himself of schoolyard politics together with an obligation to more transparency.
Three things he said would help the Australian process. 1) A pledge to have a more transparent method of accountancy for MP’s expenses, 2) revealing and limiting political donations (in particular from third-party entities), and 3) a Senate enquiry into the necessity or otherwise for a national body to investigate corruption in politics. (An independent one would be better in my view). A gigantic concession given his recent remarks on the subject. Did he go far enough? No, he didn’t. But he made a start.
”The peoples of all the nations of the world increasingly seem to be having less to say about their destiny.”
He spoke about the need for a national conversation saying that he would continue with his successful Town Hall Meetings but would change their focus from questions to answers.
Seeking people’s solutions to problems
Adding to this would be a series of meetings that took advantage of internet technology.
”Listening to people.”
Of course, he spoke about many other issues but this is the first time I have heard an Australian politician admit that Brexit, the Trump phenomenon, and the resurgence of One Nation were a real and present danger to our democracy. Having said all that he could do with a speechwriter, who with the art of embellishment, and a turn of phrase, could give all the thinking, a floor to dance on.
By the way, the Essential Poll at the time had Labor leading the Coalition by 8 points. (It is the same now). At this stage, if you read my analysis of Shortens 2018 address to the National Press Club he was still, generally speaking, talking about the same things with a continuity of thought. You can read it here.
Turnbull was re-elected in 2016 by the skin of his nose. Since then he has proven to be as much a disaster as Abbott. So in all fairness what has Australia gained from having four years of conservative rule?
“Power is a malevolent possession when you are prepared to forgo your principles and your country’s well-being for the sake of it.”
Here is a thought from my Facebook friend, Russell Green:
“I was watching The Drum last night (30/01/2018) and the panel were discussing Bill’s Press Club appearance, the consensus was that these were good initiatives, but the devil would be in the detail. They were unconvinced by the lack of detail and were demanding the details of the policies. Their thought would be that the lack of this detail the policies would fade away.
My thoughts turned to the elections in 2013 and 2016 where the LNP were allowed, to say anything regarding policy, to get away with no detail and worse NO POLICIES. So once again the Media show their duplicity. It will be a long and hard-fought election, and the forces of evil are circling.
The 6 – 8% split between the parties appears to be entrenched and I doubt that the Coalition will be able to claw back the lost ground. The coalition was in the same position after the 2013 election, which prompted Turnbull’s challenge to Abbott and the now benchmark observation of 30 lost News Polls in a row ( a mark that Turnbull himself is fast approaching) and Turnbull was able to turn around their chances and called an early election and won by 1 seat. This was possible because Turnbull was “popular” and was also a ready-made alternative.
So why can’t the LNP do it again? 2 reasons I believe: 1) There is no obvious replacement, think of a Senior Liberal any of them and imagine them as PM, my advice is don’t do it as it will be dangerous to your mental health. 2) This is the most important we have had 2 years of Turnbull’s Leadership and he has proven to be a great disappointment, in fact he has proven himself to be worse than Abbott.
Whereas Abbott was true to himself Turnbull has been a giant hypocrite. The electorate has had more than enough time to evaluate and decide. That is why the LNP will find closing the poll gap very difficult indeed.
The more we learn about the coalition the more scary they are. For a government that has probably the most overt christian ethos is without doubt the most cruelest government we have ever had!
A sure sign of a government in trouble is when it splits into factions and those factions don’t care about government only about their fiefdoms. As far as the coalition is concerned long may it continue. Better for them to be fighting among themselves then fighting us.”
If you cast your memory back to the front pages of the tabloids of the time, you will recall the insults from Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott, the accusations of incompetency, that stretched the truth and perpetuated the myth that they alone were best with money.
But as it happens the Prime Minister yesterday addressed a regional group in Queensland promoting his tax cuts which he says will stimulate investment, create even more jobs, and higher wages. He promoted the Coalition as the best to manage the economy without saying where the money is coming from to pay for these massive cuts. The speech, like Shorten’s, were the first volley of many shots to be fired at a bewildered electorate disgusted at institutional politics.
So, now that the two major parties have fired their first rounds it remains to be seen who has hit the target. Shorten has chosen the more unconventional course with a return to more traditional Labor policies with a strengthening of labor market regulations to boost the bargaining power of workers and lifting the minimum wage together with an empathises on equality, trust, transparency and in part addressing the problems with our democracy. For example, a national ICAC!
Turnbull repeated the historical pitch of best economic managers and in effect reiterated the conservative reliance on trickle-down economics to address people’s hip pocket concerns. He argued that he has provided the economic leadership that he said he would when he took over from Tony Abbott.
So we do have a demarcation of ideas in democracy and economic policy. Of course, there is much more to it than what we have heard thus far. There is education, health, university, child care, asylum seeker policy, the NBN party discipline, political donations, MP’s entitlements and the big one. How does each party address growing inequality?
However, the one question central to the minds of most Australians is this: Just how has your government advanced our nation economically and culturally?
My thought for the day
“What have we learned from the ABC Cabinet files other than Kevin Rudd is likely to make a quid from some badly chosen words. MT doesn’t know as much about the internet as his intelligence does. Conservatives are not overly fond of poor folk except they need them. Scott Morison is about as Christian as Richard Dawkins. Andrew Bolt has a part-time job as a consultant on free speech. The ABC’s attempts to sensationalise the matter fell rather flat.”