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Thursday 14 June 2018

It’s strange how we humans judge each other. We seem to attach ourselves to others or teams of others all with varying qualifications, distinctions and virtue.

We lock ourselves into groups for various reasons be it sporting teams, spiritual leaning or political parties.

“No man is an island” did I hear you say?

Is it just plain bias, the need to be on the winning side, or many others?

Take for example, politics. People seem to adhere themselves to two major parties with an increasingly large proportion of misfits in the middle.

When Tony Abbott became Leader of the Opposition in 2009 he became an exception to the rule of how Opposition Leaders behave. The media called him the best opposition leader the country had ever seen.

How did he achieve it? Well, every day he called the Prime Minister Julia Gillard a liar. He visited, almost daily, any manner of industrial plants and told with gross exaggeration so many lies, with so much force of personality that he became known as Dr NO.

Conversely, Malcolm Turnbull became Prime Minister after espousing a personality that charmed people. With voice of velvet fog he spoke of purpose, manners in debate, sensibility and innovation. He believed in science, a republic, equality in marriage and a solution to climate change.

Abbott tried to bring the same negativity to his tenure as Prime Minister and was an agonizing failure. Turnbull proved to be, after ditching a persona of “Manor of the House” to become the greatest hypocrite of a politician the country has seen.

In view of my opening remarks this of course brings me to the question of why people are attracted to an allegiance of one but not others.

Bill Shorten of course lags behind Turnbull, despite the opinion I have just given about Turnbull, which I regard as factual and fair. Shorten is probably the most unpopular Leader of the Opposition ever.

“Why is it so?” asked the professor. His crimes of personality trait are on a par with Abbott and Turnbull. He has been involved in the dismissal two Prime Ministers. He has given evidence before a Royal Commission over corruption deals and found not guilty on all counts. He is accused of giving AWU Union money to GetUp! without permission and of other Union matters pertaining to wages.

On this basis he is more unpopular than a Prime Minister who conned the people into believing he was somebody he wasn’t. In Shorten’s favor is the fact that he has never tried to be anything other than what he is: a well-educated Union Man.

I admit to having reservations about him for a long period of time but on Monday night’s Q&A I saw a more mature Bill Shorten. One who with the passing of time has become acquainted with the reality that it is really possible that he will become Prime Minister at the next election.

His performance was one of a highly skilled media performer who was on top of all the subjects, having it all down pat, as if he were talking to each questioner, personally. Prime ministerial if you like.

This must be the “Town Hall” Bill they speak of, casual and relaxed. Seriously fair dinkum handling tough questions like Turnbull promised but has never delivered.

Those at home would have seen not the leader they had formed an opinion about but one who in a Town Hall format was gracious in manner and succinct with answers. He listened to and answered questions like this with aplomb:

“Your unique use of zing, dad jokes and eccentric metaphors,” the questioner said, “despite opinion polls suggesting you’re likely to win the next election the same polls indicate you’re one of the most unpopular politicians in our country. “Do you worry that these zingers and the Coalition’s ‘Kill Bill’ strategy represent you as an untrustworthy and shifty character, and undermining your suitability as a potential PM?”

Shorten replied:

“They say to be PM of Australia you’ve got to have a thick skin. The Opposition Leader’s job is good training for it,” he added.

“I tell you what the polls tell me if you want to obsess about them: any Saturday for the last two years we would have won the election. Of course obviously there hasn’t been an election held. So I take them all with a grain of salt.”

Speaking to a captive audience of roughly evenly divided people who had firm opinions about him when they walked in I wondered how many might have changed their view after hearing him talk about basic wages, unemployment, apprenticeships, housing affordability, negative gearing, aged care, and power bills, and using economic fairness to make his points. Then he turned on the Turnbull Government’s association with big business and the big banks.

“This is more fair dinkum to me than half the rubbish we carry on with in Parliament,” he uttered as the curtain fell on a very revealing Q&A.

My thought for the day

“It is obvious that Question Time in the Australian Parliament is just an excuse for mediocre minds who are unable to debate with intellect, charm or wit, to act deplorably toward each other. And in doing so debase the parliament and themselves as moronic imbecilic individuals. Question time should be the showcase of the parliament and badly needs an independent speaker.”


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  1. Ken Ring

    Couldn’t agree more with your assessment of Question Time and the role of the Speaker. Question Time as it is is just a forum for the government to lie and mislead the electorate on a range of Dorothy Dixers asked by their own party and they are never held accountable for their answers. When the opposition ask questions they avoid answering them and turn their answers into personal attacks on opposition members. Question Time is a disgusting showcase for our once great parliament and the role the Speaker plays in allowing all this to occur is a display of his bias and incompetence. Question Time in its current form is just a forum for TURNBULLY and before him ABBOT to unleash their bullying tactics on opposition members in an environment assisted by an incompetent Speaker where they are unaccountable for their words or actions. Question Time in its current form should be scrapped.

  2. Blinky

    Question time is just an opportunity for the liars and bullies to scream abuse at Labor and the cross bench, demonstrating to every viewer, the LNP politicians lack of manners, debating skills and knowledge of their subject matter.

  3. wam

    Beaconsfield showed the qualities of shorten as did his support of gillard until the fear of the husics and the spite of fitzgibbon forced him to bring back the lemon in june 2013. His monday’s performance re-inforces my hope that the workers(and the inner city latte set of melbourne to retire whathisname) who went to the lnp or the greens will return. Go labor, we cannot afford another 3 term lnp. Go for the libs through the nats poor efforts in the bush. Get some questions on sunrise and today and let us laugh at the de-womanising religious bigots in government. Get a consistant lead in statement by ALL of the caucus at every interview. Don’t wait till it is too late ‘festina lente’???

    August 2009 — 5:00pm … Just after 11am, the Opposition, Greens, and the independents, Nick Xenophon and Steve Fielding, voted to defeat the package of 11 bills that sought to establish a scheme from 2011 onwards.

    A leadership spill for the Liberal Party of Australia was held on 1 December 2009. The incumbent leader Malcolm Turnbull was defeated by Tony Abbot

    dec 2 2009
    Victorian Judith Troeth and Queenslander Sue Boyce joined with the Labor senators to back the legislation, which would have imposed caps on Australia’s emissions of greenhouse gases.
    But this was not enough to defeat the combined vote of Liberal, Nationals, Greens, Family First and independent senators and the bills were lost.
    (The lnp had strong women and the green showed how good they are a cutting off their noses???)

    These vote losses released the rabbott and how terrible has that been???

  4. Barry Thompson

    The Opposition Leader’s performance on Monday night showed him to be more articulate than the PM and with far more depth of knowledge of the issues concerning the electorate. Why he is considered lacking in charisma is beyond me. He and his party have more detailed policies than the “jobs and growth” mob and if given a better coverage by the MSM, would be streets ahead.
    With regard to Question Time, I think the solution is to only allow questions from non Government member’s, dispensing with Dorothy Dixer’s altogether. After all, QT is meant to be used to hold the Government to account, not give them opportunity to spread their bullshit.

  5. Ella miller

    Once again thank you, a worthwhile read with very accurate observations. It is a pity that people forget that we should vote for a party based on their policies.
    For me, the past is a very good indicator of the future.
    LNP policies going back to Abbott…”no cuts to education, health, ABC or SBS” these were misleading lies that have been carried forward by the current LNP leadership. So, for me, their policies are not worth the paper they are written on.
    As for Bill Shorten, I remember him from Beaconsfield…his actions spoke volumes…as did his performance on Q&A.

    I am SICKENED by Question Time…it is a total waste of time where gutless people who do not have the courage of their conviction to repeat outside Parliamentary Privilege their disgusting statements.
    As for the independence of the Speaker….what a JOKE.
    The dirty deals done by the SO CALLED Indpendents tells me that they can be bought and sold like second-hand cars, and you have to be lucky to get a good one.

  6. ina Kuhn

    I will never understand why the public is so anti Shorten , Turnbull is the Bully not Shorten , so it is time to wake up , as we really can not afford another Liberal Government .
    Bill Shorten has said he will put money back in Hospitals , Healthcare , Education and also looking at the neglect of the elderly in age care homes and this is good enough for me , i do not care whatever anyone else thinks , we got to make a stand and vote the LNP out .

  7. Jaquix

    Charisma in my observation, is very often an illusion created by a very self-centred individual. (not always, such as Obama). So I discount it immediately. Ive known quite a few with this quality, including in my own family!
    I too thought the QandA session was really interesting and showed Bill Shorten in a different light – a different light from what? From the relentless media campaign to paint him negatively. They would do the same with any leader of the ALP – even though they seem to be pursuing the Good Old Albo line to create mischief at the moment. That wouldnt last long – he too would end up on their scrapheap.
    Main thing is that the Labor Party has good policies, and has worked hard to create them. They are a very united team – and Bill Shorten gets scant credit for that. Consider how fractured it was when he took over.

  8. Alpo

    “Shorten is probably the most unpopular Leader of the Opposition ever”…. Probably true, but for a reason that actually makes me laugh: the conservative/liberals believe that he is a dangerous Communist who will support the demands of the oh-so-hated Unions…. and the far left believes that he is a dangerous Neoliberal-right-winger…. This total nonsense simply means that Shorten is a Centre-Left politician, I would call him a Social Democrat, which is exactly what the next Prime Minister should be if we want to advance in the direction of Social Democracy and, step-by-step, consign Neoliberalism to the Museum of Failed Ideologies….

    The Shorten Prime Ministership will happen…. Labor is so consistently ahead in the polls that a “Trump-like surprise” is very unlikely…. and in any event, we are Australians not Americans… the total failure of Tony Abbott PM and the current failure of Malcolm Turnbull PM are a sign that a majority can learn from their mistakes….. I am not so sure about the Liberal and Nationals parties, though.

  9. helvityni

    …yes but no but, Bill can’t dance and his suits are not of good quality…

    As for Mal and charisma, I’m looking and searching , but have not found out where he keeps it.

    Maybe the answer to Mal’s better polling lies in the fact that he is incredibly rich, and Aussies like a man with money, it gives them hope that one day they too will achieve that status…..for that reason they’ll hang on to his coat-tails; after all he is also so very ‘ensuring’…

  10. Henry Rodrigues

    G’Day Helvityni. You’re absolutely spot on, some fools think that Turdball’s midas characteristics will rub off on them. Poor fools.There will always be some of them in any society and situation. The subtle messaging to the fools is reinforced everyday in the media, now even on the ABC and SBS. Turdball good, Shorten bad.

  11. Goodgulf the Wizard

    It would be very interesting to have statistics of which party had the most members ejected from Parliament through acts of bad behaviour.

  12. Terence Mills

    I thought Shorten did a good job on Q&A but it is noticeable that there is always a question or demand that Labor commit to closing down the detention centres on Manus and Nauru.

    I sometimes think that those questioning him are LNP plants and there is no doubt that Dutton has a flock of his media advisers watching and analysing every word that Labor have to say on indefinite detention, ready to pounce with their scare campaign if Shorten so much as blinks.

    Just to be clear, the Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea have already ruled that the detention centre on Manus is unconstitutional and had to be closed but Dutton thumbed his nose and simply moved the detainees to another location on Manus and had the cheek to tell us that they were no longer detained : as far as Dutton is concerned these people on Manus and Nauru are their for political reasons and he has avoided resettling them in a third country as he sees them as a re-election card that he will cynically play for all it’s worth.

    It is my clear understanding that, once in office, Labor will resettle these people in New Zealand, Fiji and Malaysia but to declare their intentions now would just be playing into Dutton’s hands.

  13. Julie Grint

    Shorten was a polished media performer on his Q & A appearance and it showed. He has had plenty of practice with over 70 town hall meetings with voters around the country. I will be the devil’s advocate here and state what I believe were the shortcomings of the Q & A appearance and of his town hall meetings when asked about the following three issues.
    1. The official Labor party position on raising the Newstart and Youth allowance is a major disappointment. Labor has only promised a “review into welfare payments” that in “pollie speak” can mean anything. Often it means that the government will go through the motions and end up doing absolutely nothing. The Henry tax review, which was a comprehensive look at our taxation system, springs immediately to mind as a prime example, as does the RC into Aboriginal deaths in custody. These reports/reviews are gathering dust somewhere in a drawer and none of their recommendations have been implemented.
    Tell me how hard it would be to actually promise to raise the Newstart and Youth allowance within 100 days of a Labor government being elected. That’s at least 800,000 votes just in that election promise. As Newstart and Youth allowance are a very small percentage of the total welfare bill it would NOT break the budget and would actually help consumer spending whilst lifting people out of poverty. The Labor party led by Gough Whitlam would have not hesitated in making such a promise to the poorest in the community. But Shorten’s New Right wing Labor has bought into the let’s demonize the unemployed narrative and let’s punish them by keeping them in poverty.

    Asylum seeker and Refugee policy- Labor might as well adopt the LNP policies in this area as there is very little difference. Labor is showing absolutely no humanity when it comes to its stated policies towards Australia’s illegally detained refugee men, women and children including babies (137 at last count) on Nauru, as well as the men on Manus and Christmas island. Doc Evatt must surely be rolling in his grave when he sees what his heirs in the Labor movement are doing and saying to win the votes of the racists and bigots in the community.
    This disciplined right wing version of the Labor party does not challenge that monster Dutton they simply acquiesce, and by their silence they are complicit in the 11 deaths in offshore detention, they are complicit in Dutton’s ongoing cruel treatment of asylum seekers living in the Australian community. Dutton’s most recent fiendish effort is to cut asylum seekers off ALL income support and to throw them out of government provided accommodation starting the 18th of June. His one concession, if you like, is they now have 6 month bridging visas and are allowed to work. Previously they were on TPVs and were not permitted to work or study whilst their claims for refugee status were assessed. Who is going to give anyone a decent job to anyone on a 6 month visa?
    These people are being thrown to the wolves of wage exploitation. That suits the LNP and their IPA ideology just fine. Labor says NOTHING!
    Labor also says nothing about Dutton’s repeated failure to provide appropriate medical care to his political prisoners on Manus and Nauru. At least three if not more of the 11 deaths on these island prisons have been due to deliberate failure to provide timely and appropriate care due to delays by ABF staff following government policy and Dutton’s orders. I was just following orders is NOT a defence in a criminal trial before the ICC. The precedent was set at the Nuremberg trials after WW11 “following orders”” does not absolve anyone, even the lowliest guard, of their responsibility in the deaths of these 11 prisoners.

  14. Regional Elder

    Helvityni, I suspect Mal keeps some of his charisma behind one of the grand mirrors in his Point Piper home, and from which he can practice his political selfies with deluded Australian electors as he travels the land.

    But surely most of his charisma is well hidden in the Cayman Islands where Mal hopes it will continue to grow over time. You see, having passed Tony, Kevin, Julia, Gough, and soon Paul in length of tenure as Prime Minister, Mal is setting new goals for himself. While John’s 11 years, may be too long to best, he is not ruling it out. And the prospect of winning just one more election, will feed Mal’s Point Piper charisma no end.

    And John Lord, I agree with your assessment of Bill Shorten as a maturing leader. Some days he must terrify Mal and his reflexive Point Piper charisma.

  15. MikeW

    I don’t know why labor politicians bother turning up for question time in parliament it’s a complete waste of time. There needs to be some serious rule changes for it to have any credibility.
    No dixers allowed for a start, drug and alcohol testing, no insults and all questions answered or expelled from the chamber, and no mobile phones allowed, if possible an independent speaker. As it stands at the moment it is nothing but a farce and gets worse with every sitting.

  16. John Lord

    Correct Barry. If they want to know something simply pick up the bloody phone..

  17. DIANE Larsen

    Great piece and spot on Bill looked relaxed and answered each question without the usual flim flam you get from Turnbull. His assertion that he leads a united team with great policies must surely have the Fizza and his lackies grinding their teeth and muttering expletives. The topic of question time, I agree with the other posters, it’s a disgraceful show of ministers refusing to answer question and instead using this forum to shout sneer and try and belittle the opposition, I admit I had to stop watching as my TV was in danger of injury from red hot anger that we were paying these tossers for this disgusting display. Unless QT has a complete overhaul it becomes a complete waste of time and money, I hope if Labor wins the next election revamping QT is high on their agenda straight after introducing a federal ICAC

  18. helvityni

    Henry & Regional Elder, us leftie ladies can only dream of a man with a Midas touch who can turn even the mirror frames into gold…seriously, not really, silver is so much smarter and more modern…

    Yes, MikeW, an independent Speaker should be a must…

  19. Harry

    Shorten was articulate, down to earth and knew what he was talking about. But he did struggle with a question concerning closing the off-shore detention centres. I don’t blame him as the Coalition is just itching to depict Labor as soft on people smuggling and I think Shorten is well aware of the danger. Once in office Labor does need to sort it out.

  20. Bobbie Gentry

    I thought he was absolutely terrible. Completely wooden and offered nothing much in the way of stark difference from The hideous Coalition. I still despair of the nature of politics generally as I think the two party political system is utterly broken. For example, the Newstart allowance question and answer.

  21. Julie Grint

    I forgot to mention earlier there was very little detail on the matter of climate change and energy policy other than an ambition to reach a 50% renewable energy target by 2050
    1. How are we going to phase out existing coal fired power plants when they come to the end of their useful lives and replace them with
    (a) Gas fired power plants, better than coal but not ideal. By the way there is no such thing as “clean coal” that is just a distraction being created by the coal mining industry. All coal is polluting, black coal is the least dirty, but burning coal is a danger to human health. All coal contains toxic impurities which are released into the air when coal is burnt.
    (b) How much wind power and solar generation needs to be built to meet the needs of industry and residential users
    (c) Besides rooftop solar panels why aren’t we building large scale solar thermal generation plants?
    (d) What is the place of hydroelectricity and pumped hydro in our energy mix?
    (e) What is the place of wave generation technology in our electricity mix?
    (f) Subsidise low income people and pensioners so that they can install solar panels on their rooftops to reduce their reliance on grid based electricity and also to cut their energy costs.
    What is Labor party policy on coal mines and fracking for oil and gas?
    a) We should not embark on building new coal mines in the Galilee basin or anywhere else in Australia. Leave the coal in the ground where it belongs and gradually wind down the coal mining industry in Australia whilst transitioning workers into other occupations.
    (b) Ban fracking as an environmentally dangerous and toxic practice.
    (c) No exploration or oil/gas leases in the Great Australian Bight
    (d) Make the Murray Darling basin authority completely independent of government. Make their decisions binding on ALL parties including the Federal government and the Minister for the Environment and the Minister for Agriculture.

    Transportation of goods up and down the eastern seaboard and from east to west coast uses a great deal of fuel and contributes to Australia’s Co2 emissions. We should be looking into more energy efficient ways of moving freight from seaport to its final destination as well as goods being moved from warehouse to retail outlet. Australia has not followed Europe in mandating maximum Co2 emission levels by vehicles on our roads. Maybe it is time we did.

  22. Harry


    It comes down to this: Labor has very little choice but to stay in lockstep with the appalling policies of the Coalition on asylum seekers until the next election after which they will hopefully break ranks with them and come up with a humane approach.

    Its abundantly clear that the Coalition is ABSOLUTELY ITCHING to push Labor to break ranks so that they can mount the mother of all care campaigns in all the media.

    Its a shitty situation but anything else risks at least another term of the same pack of bastards.

  23. Julie Grint

    Harry I fully understand that Labor does not want appear weak or soft on Asylum seeker policy before a general election. Dutton and the cheer squad of the Murdoch controlled media, ABC, Sky news, Channel 9, 7 & 10 as well as virtually every newspaper in the country would hammer them on this point. The BIG LIE the boats would start again. What a total lot of ROT!!!
    The asylum seeker boats have NOT STOPPED they are simply turned back by our RAN , the Indonesian, Malaysian and Sri Lankan navies in or near their coastal waters. People are still drowning it is just that we are not TOLD!
    Meanwhile asylum seekers rot, go mad and die in Australia’s offshore prisons, 11 deaths so far. Dutton does not CARE! I think he even enjoys the power of life and death he has over these poor souls

  24. jimhaz

    [ don’t blame him as the Coalition is just itching to depict Labor as soft on people smuggling and I think Shorten is well aware of the danger.]

    Blame him – he is the leader of the opposition.

    If he is incapable of arguing the case or too weak to take any risks then dump him and his deputy as he will not be much better in government.

  25. Mick Byron

    “If he is incapable of arguing the case ”

    I think the best the ALP will do on Asylum Seekers is in regards to humanitarian issues., not numbers other than the increase they already mentioned or any further opening of the doors
    Remember, to get elected they must appeal to the Australian voter, and from all the evidence/polling etc I’ve seen , there isn’t a strong call for change.
    As pointed out by others, if Labor were to get too outspoken on A/S, there would be the “soft on smmugglers” “open the gates” campaigns.
    Obviously if the fear is there for Labor, they know it isn’t a strong public interest policy and in fact may well be a policy that would re elect the LNP

  26. guest

    It seems to me here are people who were against Shorten even before he appeared on QandA . There are also those who ignore the need for care and nuance about what is said, especially with regard to issues which can be used as a political wedge – as has been pointed out here already.

    I was thinking about how well Shorten spoke at short notice when I heard Turnbull trying to puff up the performance of Trump in Singapore. What a lot of fluff and hot air from Turnbull, evident because he has clearly dropped all principles he ever had, and having become PM does not know what to do next. He is mesmerised by his own luck and wealth, struggling to speak about anything unless he speaks Coalition/IPA/Murdoch-speak, which comes out as a kind of garble.

    Meanwhile, numerous other commentators have pointed out that what Trump has achieved is in fact not a lot, just a big parade of egos, colour and movement, and a long way to go before we see any result, if any.

    To understand how the Murdoch media would treat any slight slip-up by Shorten, just look at the way the Murdoch media treats the decision of the ANU not to take on board the Ramsay “Western Civilisation” course promoted by those two ning-nongs Abbott and Howard. Relentless attack, day after day, based on the claim that the rejection of the course is about the ANU “hating” Western Civilisation. This from a bunch of scribblers trying to tell a university (or all universities) what they are to think. It is brazen politicking based on a particular supremacist ideology which both of those ex-PMs exhibited in their tenure.

  27. Max Gross

    The facile pantomime that is so-called Question Time is evidence enough of the failure of democracy as we think we know it

  28. my say

    Bill Shorten will not really say what he is going to do with Asylum seekers until after the election
    They were burnt so badly by the lies and fear on the carbon tax ,and stop the boats ,
    They are now going to KILL BILL on asylum seekers because they hate so much they couldn’t live with then selves when he becomes PM,They have learnt from their mistakes

  29. Jack Russell

    Between now and the election a Grand Master’s chess game is in progress, and the fate of the country is in play.

    Put your trust in Bill … he is focused, highly skilled, patient, deeply comprehends his opponent/s, knows how to keep his powder dry … and when to light the fuse.

  30. Kaye Lee

    I hope you are right Jack.

    Bill does well unscripted. He has done his homework so is able to actually answer questions. I hate the prepared speeches when he does rehearsed looks and timing. I hate it when members of a party all use the exact same phrase in interviews. Talking points should be done away with. Make all politicians do their homework so they can use their own words. Labor are, in the main, far better at that though they do slip sometimes in endlessly quoting whatever the phrase du jour is. I also cringe when Bill calls out loudly, “ARE YOU WITH ME”

    Labor’s policies are better. Their transparency and accountability are better. When Bill is asked about his unpopularity, he should say look at our policies, I am not asking you to marry me. They should stop letting the Coalition set the agenda, stop reacting to distractions.

    I hate that politicians feel they need to keep their powder dry though I do understand they are trying to win. They want to save stuff up to dish out during the campaign. That is how governing has degenerated. Let’s hope we can work out a system for the Republic that allows politicians to work together to achieve things rather than spend their entire time trashing each other.

    Focus on the policies. Focus on the truth.

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