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Is Bill the ALP’s Squishy Version of Tony?

Is Bill the ALP’s squishy version of Tony, and if so, what is Malcolm? Paul G. Dellit offers a candid answer.

My partner said I am too long-winded and I use arcane vocabulary to show off. It would take far too long to summarise my devastating riposte; instead let me settle the matter with this vernacular analysis. More people follow professional sport than follow professional politics because with sport the players have to be good at what they do and if they get caught cheating they get sent off, and if they get paid because they were cheating they have to give the money back. Nevertheless for the benefit of the masochistic minority, let’s stick with politics.


His first real play for the limelight came when he was Leader of the Opposition. Never much good at creative thinking nor noted for his wisdom, he knew he was in need of wise suppositories with a creative bent. So he cast around for a mentor. It would have to be a woman in case they needed knocking into shape. He knew he was good at bullying women, but blokes – they made him feel uncomfortable, like those blokes in the seminary! Yuk! What he wanted was a motherly mentor, and her name is Peta. (And with her ministering suppositories over the passage of time, the Back Bench also agree that Peta is a ‘mother’). She filled his suppositories with venom and bile and they made him so angry and agitated that Peta only had to write a few zingers and catch-phrases, point him at Julia and press ‘play’. It helped that Kevin had started his own venom and bile factory and was Peta’s major supplier, but nevertheless, it was Tony who was providing copy for Murdoch headlines and Alan Jones fulminations. (I’ve always found it remarkable that the exceptionally wealthy ex-Australian Murdoch and the exceptionally wealthy confirmed bachelor Jones find themselves so well attuned to the circumstances and values of ‘ordinary Australian families’).

And so it was that after the ALP sacked their own PM for a second time, Tony became PM.

The business of government – yes, well, as it turned out, there was a lot more to actually doing stuff than attacking other people for the stuff they’ve done. There was nothing for it. Tony would have to lie about promising to do all the stuff that got him elected. So Peta filled his suppositories with lies and obfuscations. Then when everyone kept saying over and over: “Hey, Tony, that’s a lie”, he and Team Tony had to lie about lying. No problem. He and the Team were in their comfort zones. This is what they do for a living. But it still wasn’t getting any new stuff done.

And so, after 15 months of not getting stuff done, and no more lies to tell, even about lying, people had had enough. They began comparing him to Julia who passed 127 pieces of legislation during her first 7 months with a hung parliament when Tony could only manage 7. The polls said 76% of the people thought Tony was a dud. Being a good Catholic he thought he would try confession: “Good government starts today!”, but he failed to offer the people a refund of the salaries they had paid for the period when Tony and the Team weren’t doing their job. Tony wanted absolution without penance.

Asked why the people should trust him to deliver good government, he said it was because he could beat Bill. Yes, he had beaten Julia and Kevin, and now he was going to beat Bill (repeated several times.) Then he added that he is the best one to lead the Government because look what happened to the ALP when they played musical chairs with sitting PMs.


Bill first came to significant public attention when he parachuted into the middle of a mining disaster, once it had captured the attention of the media. You couldn’t miss Bill. He was the one in the heroically shiny flying jacket. It made a change from the grey cardigan he favoured when in union leader mode. Bill’s not one of those charismatic orator types. Picking the right words and then putting them in the right order is a bit of a struggle. So Bill worked out he needed some mates he could trust and then work with them to stitch up the deals he wanted behind the scenes before meetings were called. Then all Bill had to do was turn up at meetings and recite the Bhagavad Gita followed by: “All those in favour of the motion” to get what he wanted. This ‘mates behind the scenes’ way of doing business worked so well for Bill it became his default modus operandi.

So it just seemed the natural thing to do, when Kevin’s ego began taking on blimp-like proportions and he began to suffer from delegation constipation, for Bill to get some mates together and set up a back room deal to have Kevin replaced with Julia. And it worked! Woo-hoo! “This politics surrender monkey cheese-eating is as easy as taking candy off a log!” thought Bill. “I should have a crack at this leadership caper by my own”. So when Julia was heading for a monumental election defeat, he did another back room deal to replace Julia with Kevin in the certain knowledge that both Julia’s and Kevin’s political careers would be over once the election was lost.

Now Bill was so excited by the prospect of future leadership he began a back room self promotion campaign by telling any member of the Parliamentary Press Gallery who would listen that he would be the next leader of the ALP. He argued that it was because he beat Kevin and he beat Julia so he was the natural choice (and he had his back room modus operandi ready to fend off any challengers).

Bill won the day and is the Leader of the Opposition. He doesn’t have a Peta to load suppositories for him so his zingers and catch phrases in and out of the Parliament are incomprehensible to all but those who speak in tongues. But the people get the gist of it; as with The Life of Brian’s Sermon on the Mount, they understand that “Blessed are the Cheesemakers” metaphorically refers to all those involved in the dairy industries.

And it really doesn’t matter what he says as long as he doesn’t say anything meaningful which might be susceptible to debate and attack. Opposition is an easy ride for Bill. Not only does he not have to come up with anything constructive, he doesn’t even have to do much in the way of picking apart Tony’s performance. Tony is much better at that than Bill could ever be. And so it is that Bill remains leader in spite of his lack of performance because it is far too soon for the people to stomach another ALP leadership spill.

Thus it is that both Tony and Bill claim the right to lead their Parties because they beat Julia and Kevin, and also to retain their leadership because if they were themselves beaten, someone else would become leader and changing leaders is frowned upon by the people. Just look what happened to the ALP when Kevin and Julia were beaten by Tony/Bill. So a case can be made for the proposition that the non-bully, Peta-less, sans suppositories Bill is just like Tony . . . only squishy.


Malcolm is an intelligent man albeit with a Godwin-like glass jaw. Plain and simple, he is stuck in a Party in which contains a number of less-than-intelligent right wing ‘trickle-down-tea’ addicts. He could as easily find accommodation with traditional ALP values but could never accept nor be accepted by the ALP faction system. If Malcolm replaces Tony, he will be opposed by LNP right-wingers except those who believe he will save their seat. And if Malcolm replaces Tony, one hopes that the ALP will feel liberated enough to consider replacing Bill with a leader who stands for something and is courageous and articulate enough to take the argument up to the Government. If the ALP sticks with Bill, the disaffected ALP supporters who vote on issues and questions of principle may make the Hobson’s Choice of voting for Malcolm at the next election.

Just as Tony/Bill beat Kevin and Julia, so the performances of Tony and Bill will be the cause of the replacements of Tony and Bill, with Malcolm as the catalyst.

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  1. Ruth L

    Sadly this appears to be very close to the mark.

  2. paul walter

    I agree, like the Tories, Labor never learned from the last election annihilation; remained anally committed to inwardness and denialism although of a less grating sort than Abbott’ s crackers.

    If Corey Bernardi represents the intellectual heart of Toryism, can it be said that Dastyari is the ALP equivalent?

  3. doctorrob54

    Albo. should have been selected to lead Labor from the start,if they do it now they will look like Labor before abbutt,and if they don’t they will never win an election against turnbull.

  4. David

    Well written sensible look at the dilemma that is the ALP under Billo

  5. deanyz1

    Well written vernacular analysis. Relevant and concise. Bull Shittin (as the rightards prefer to label Bill Shorten) is not my favoured alternative PM. But we don’t have much wriggle room with that. I just wish everyone could unite to:
    1. Save the planet.
    2. Save Australia, not sell our country as it currently is being led to the slaughterhouse.
    3. Be humane.
    I have many more wish pills, as we all do. I hope they eventuate, but I doubt it. I doubt it very much…

  6. pamelac65

    Agree Squishy Bill offers no commitment to the fair Australia ethic that we are hanging on to by its last threads.

    But Then who?

  7. Beachsands

    This is a very fine piece of writing and analysis.

  8. stuffme

    The main problem with Bill is the MSM don’t want to have anything to do with him. If you have watched question time in the chamber of horrors you will have seen him put in some very good performances, but where is it spoken of, where do we see it in the MSM? No where. Sadly, that is a problem not just for Bill or the ALP but also with the loose MSM. I doubt Bill will be there come election time, I only know one ALP member who voted for him. I don’t know any LNP members worth voting for! The LNP mantra has plumbed to sewer like depths and no longer speaks for anyone other than big business.

  9. paul walter

    Plibersek has some cred, but is from the wrong faction and goes to the wrong wash-room.

  10. Faye

    I don’t think Bill is “squishy” at at. Rather, I think he’s biding his time, allowing the Liberal Party to implode all of its own accord. Turnbull is as untrustworthy as the rest of the front bench.It is, actually a “delightful dilemma ” for those who loathe the current Government.

  11. Rosemary (@RosemaryJ36)

    I agree with deanyz1:
    I just wish everyone could unite to:
    1. Save the planet.
    2. Save Australia, not sell our country as it currently is being led to the slaughterhouse.
    3. Be humane.
    And I do not see a Coalition that would begin to meet those requirements so I hope Labor bucks up its ideas.

  12. Kerri

    If Abbott has one lesson for the politically motivated it is that no one “grows” into the job.
    Surely the ALP should recognise that. If they really felt Bill was the bloke to be next Labor PM they should have given him more time as an apprentice. He id mot a vote winner. Albanese on the other hand is leadership material both skill and experience wise but he left it way too late to have those speech classes.

  13. John Fraser


    Can't wait for you to start on Scott and how he moved from attack dog on refugees to attack dog on Aussies.

    And Andrew, who moved from handing out counselling vouchers to defence of Australia and all who live in her ….. without dropping his black hair colouring agent.

  14. Terry2

    Peta hasn’t been sitting in the advisers box, behind Tony during Question Time, and it is very telling. She would never have allowed him to go off on that rant against Gillian Triggs and has probably given him a leg slap since.

  15. Graeme Henchel

    Albanese certainly has appeal as the “passionate” one but I will always suspect his judgement give that he remained a Rudd sympathiser during Rudd’s treacherous phase. Same with Bowen. Given what we see happening with a dysfunctional Abbott. Labor was right to ditch Rudd the first time. If Rudd had gone quietly that removal would have been seen as one of the most efficient and effective coups in history. But of course he didn’t. Shorten was right to back Gillard then. Rudd’s undermining should never have been rewarded and in my view they were wrong to bring him back. As for Shorten’s role in Rudd’s return. I believe that was pragmatic.
    The reality is we simply do not yet know enough about the process and policy development under Shorten. However I believe it is a myth that we need messiah’s to lead parties. In fact it has been proven that a Turd can become prime minister aka Abbott. What the public want is competence, honesty and fairness. What politicians should want is a leader who brings out the best in the party room and runs an effective team government.
    I long for the day when leaders talk about “our” government or “your government” rather than “My” government.

  16. bensab3

    Funny how, when Abbott was in Opposition, he was the master of negativity and destruction, and those who have some intelligence bemoaned the fact that all the Coalition wanted was Government, no matter how it was obtained. It seems now that Tony has set some sort of a precedent. Most people now seem to think that this is how Bill Shorten should be acting, in Opposition. We have all understood, I would hope, that constructive Opposition is good politics. Good for us, good for the Country. Therefore, when Bill is being constructive in Opposition, and opposes bad legislation, but works to perfect reasonable legislation, he is said to be ‘squishy’?
    I certainly agree with ‘Stuffme’. Bill has had some memorable speeches and comments in Parliament, presented on Facebook and Twitter, but little elsewhere. The MSM is notorious at ignoring issues and politics it doesn’t agree with. More these days of Opinion writing, rather than good journalism. To my knowledge, there has been little or no reporting of the fact that Peter Slipper has been exonerated of all charges ruthlessly brought against him.
    Bill Shorten is a quieter sort of person, but he is a good negotiator and an intelligent man. More than I can say for the so-called Rhodes Scholar

  17. Damo451

    Having now seen the latest 2 opinion polls regarding the coalition ,its now official ,Half the Australian public are f-wits.
    Now i do not like Bill Shorten one bit ,but for the LNP to bounce back like it has ,just proves that our new export industry should be dickhead based.
    I am almost left speechless at how stupid this country is becoming and i think our new export industry should be human fertilizer.
    We simply get all the dickheads who vote coalition ,put them in a great big tree chipper ,and export the remains as fertilizer to the world.
    What sort of imbecile would think these morons are worth voting in again FAAAAAARK !!!!!
    Please excuse all the expletives but ……………
    It shows we should never under estimate the stupidity of Australians.
    Just watch the morons vote the morons in again.

  18. Annie B

    Paul Dellit has written a sharp, penetrating and acerbic piece here – which had me laughing at times, and mostly agreeing with him. Fantastic piece, with much insight.

    In the early days ( ? ) .. Malcolm Turnbull was not sure which side of the fence he was going to sit on – when entering politics. Would it be Labor, would it be Liberal ? …. we all know the answer now, and if he changed sides ??? …. Labor wouldn’t want him nor would they ever trust him, one iota.

    All that has been outlined in Pauls article, points to one thing – that I am sure those who follow politics more than football, know.

    That all politics – and politicians …… stink.

    p.s. Yes – Madama Credlin has been conspicuous by her absence in recent weeks. All very sus. !!

  19. Annie B

    @ Damo451 …

    You are being quite a bit harsh there.

    Perhaps we should wait and see who is voted in next time ( whenever THAT might be ) before lambasting most Aussies as morons.

    Has it every occurred to you, that some polls can be rigged ? ….. that is … SOME. – – not all.

    And it’s fairly well established, that come election time ( anywhere ) .. polls tend to end up meaning diddly squat.

    Nobody talks much about polls, when vote counting is spewed across our TV screens ad nauseum, on ‘election night’. … It’s like watching a seriously bad soap opera unfold, no matter what the outcome in these current and recent, non-halcyon days.


    And yes DanDark – that IS why Bill’s popularity has plummetted somewhat – – – the ‘ Turnbull Factor ‘ …….

  20. Damo451

    Annie B ,i hope you are right ,although the NoNews poll can be rigged with loaded questions ,i have my doubts that Fairfax would pull the same stunt ,but i do again hope you are right.
    However if the polls are a true reflection of voting intention as of when they were taken ,then in actual fact i was being too kind ,and not too harsh.
    DanDark ,The Gaurdian’s Lenore Taylor appears to be having a punt on Bishop ,not Turnbull , as a way of appeasing the nutters in the party.

  21. Annie B


    I have to agree with you to a certain extent – especially about polls. … But there is always that doubt about them and the way they are conducted. I kind of think ( sadly I have to say ) that any pollsters will pull a stunt to get ratings – and they do have ratings – polling agents DO compete.

    The Fairfax / Ipsos poll is most definitely NOT for Abbott. … then again anything with Murdoch at the helm, would be the opposite – all FOR Abbott. … So how can we trust them.

    Maybe the Morgan poll is sufficiently free and unbiased to be followed with some trust ??? That shows ( at present ) at 1.5% up / down exactly, for Labor and the LNP.

    Be interesting to see what polls show after the NSW election. … They will probably be all over the place !

  22. David

    bensab3..sounds like a vehicle manufacturer, no insult intended…re your “Bill Shorten is a quieter sort of person” how many of those quieter sorts of persons as leader of Labor Oppositions has made it to the Lodge?

  23. DanDark

    Damo I reckon Lenore Taylor talks a lot of crap ,
    It dosnt matter who they replace Captain Cockhead with they all are of the same ilk as Murdoch and his IPA club
    They can try and change the direction of the sinking ship with a new captain
    But their shit policies will be the same
    I couldn’t give a flying ffffffduck who runs the LNP circus, they could put Mickey Mouse in the job and
    I will still work everyday in some way to remove the whole lot of the IPA’s and Murdoch zombies
    who are currently running the country into the ground….” the adults” I wonder who thought that up
    back when in the Libs bunker, because ” the adults” they aint never have been and never will be.. 🙂

  24. stephentardrew

    Makes ya think.

    Bit of a worry.

    Only time will tell.

  25. Bacchus

    So Paul G. Dellit, if not Bill Shorten, then whom?

  26. Michael Taylor

    Paul Keating, perhaps Bacchus.

  27. stephentardrew

    Maybe pump some life into Hawky.

    At least he had genuineness and a sense of humour.

    I am sick of bland.

  28. John Fraser


    Lets throw the cat amongst the pigeons.

    Ed Husic.

    He's doing a hell of a lot better than Frydenberg.

    Love the smell of burning religion in the night air.

  29. Bacchus

    I was hoping for someone still (politically) viable Michael. Does Paul advocate Albo, Tanya, or perhaps someone else?

  30. Damo451

    I agree DanDark ,same flea circus just a different Ringmaster.
    What gets me is the polls went up after the attack on Gillian Triggs ,WTF.
    By all accounts she has an impeccable reputation ,and people liked seeing the gutless cowards rip into her and denigrate the report she headed ,that they didnt read.
    REAL men dont do what they did to her ,looks like puberty skipped a few gene pools.

  31. Dandark

    Keating VS Abbott

  32. Annie B

    Hey Michael and Bacchus ……..

    A little while back, MSM ‘leaked’ the possibility that Steve Bracks might get back in the saddle and this time, into Federal Politics.

    Labor could do worse. … He managed to beat Jeff Kennett out of the top job in Victoria ( 1999 ).

    But then – it was only a ‘ leak ‘, and has not been spoken of again ( that I have found anyway ). He was turfed out of his job as Australian Consul-General in New York – as quickly ( within a couple of weeks if memory serves ) as the LNP was granted the leadership of this nation in Sept. 2013. …….. Leadership ???????? p f f f t … bah humbug, crap – and all that.

    This is the history ( which I have no doubt most of you know anyway ) … :

    “Bracks was appointed to the role of Australian Consul-General in New York in May 2013, by the Federal ALP Government of Julia Gillard. At the time, shadow Foreign Minister, the Coalition’s Julie Bishop, described the appointment as ‘inappropriate’ because of the proximity to the upcoming election and ‘arrogant’ because of a lack of consultation with the then opposition. Following the defeat of the ALP at the 7 September election, incoming foreign minister Julie Bishop reversed the appointment in a decision described as ‘petty and vindictive’ by acting ALP foreign affairs spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek.”

    So – Julie Bishop unilaterally made that decision ? hmmmmm. !!!!

    Labor might do well with Steve Bracks somewhere in the count. Guess we will have to wait and see if it was a ‘leak’ to promote discussion, or was genuine.

  33. Matters Not

    Settle down folks because Tony is ‘back’ with a massive swing in the latest IPSOS poll

    The punters understand it’s they who elect the Prime Minister and it’s only they who remove same. It’s how it is.

    Tony’s there for the full term. And I for one am very, very happy.

    Tony is an intellectual giant. Articulate as well. Look at his record on the international stage.

    We must support Tony for the long-term good of Australia.

  34. Jexpat


    Fairfax not only can but does “pull the same stunts.”

    Albeit in what they consider more “clever” and insidious ways than Murdoch.

    Lest you be fooled, check out the Sydney Morning Herald:

    Australians deserve a government they can trust
    September 6, 2013

    Australia is crying out for a stable government that can be trusted to deliver what it promises. The Herald believes only the Coalition can achieve that within the limited mandate Tony Abbott will carry into office….

    To my knowledge, Fairfax Chairman and Liberal part stalwart Roger Corbett’s crew has never apologised nor renounced their “opinion” -one that dominated their coverage (far beyond the editorial pages) for years.

  35. stephentardrew

    Sumpin is rotten in Denmark.

  36. Matters Not

    Sumpin is rotten in Denmark.

    So is Simkin on the local scene.

    But don’t publicise that.

    The whole ‘team’ deserves to go to the next election as a united ‘affront’. (Or something like that.)

    Go Tone! Or should that be: Stay Tone!

  37. mark delmege

    I might be wrong on this but as I casually remember Gillard was smashed by ever threatening ‘poll’ ‘results’. Gees she and her government did some really dumb things but so do all governments and I never really trusted the polls anyway – and why would you? Murdoch and the rest have an agenda and will push it any way they can. But as is pointed out in this article the Gillard govt was highly successful in getting through legislation – some of it was even very good I’m sure.

    Anyway this recently came to my attention and it is worth reflecting upon. That is … how individuals can be swayed in their opinions – and if applied to public polling the answer is obvious. Such methods can be seen as just another tool of ‘perception management’ and propaganda.

    In our system only a couple of percent need to be swayed to change their vote from one election to the next to change government. Straight fraud in most cases isn’t even necessary so long as you have the media by the throat and dictate the message. It is quite simple really.

    (As for Bill or his replacement if he/she hasn’t survived the ‘good for empire test’ they will never (be allowed to) become leader of the ALP – such is life in a vassal state.)

  38. Awabakal

    It appears to me that there is a fair amount of iconism going on here. I mean, why is Abbott in trouble? Two reasons, he is a dickwit and his party is on the nose.

    I recall being a floor manager of a company and being new to the company I went to upper management and presented them with a problem I had encountered. The response was – “what is your position?” answer was manager, response was “then manage, it is what you are paid for”.

    So really, it is not the leader that Labor should be looking at but how well the ministers and back benchers manage their positions. If a party is running like clockwork a jesus-christ figure is not necessary because the voters are looking at the party working.

    The NSW elections are going to be interesting because there is in all possibility that no matter how nice Baird is his party is on the nose federally and it might just hit the LNP between the eyes. If the LNP lose NSW and if Abbott is still in charge he won’t be for much longer. Why? Because he and his party are on the nose and cannot manage the policies for the people.

    So Labor, heads down and bums up, it is what you are being paid for.

  39. Democrat

    They said “the adults” were in charge, I wonder who were the children? I suspect they were referring not to the ALP, but rather to the Australian people. The problem with Australian politics right now is that the politicians believe the majority of the population to be a fundamentally stupid “other” who must be controlled for their own good. Meanwhile the majority of the population believes the same of the politicians – is it any wonder that so many feel alienated from the supposedly democratic (rule of the people) political process and nothing is being achieved?

  40. diannaart

    Excellent piece of analysis.

    Particularly the explanation for Tony’s use of Credlin – makes complete sense – Tony would want guidance he still feels superior to.

    A shame Shorten can’t be removed – thanks Kevin! – although I don’t believe now is the right time – we need to find out just who (or what) will be leading the Libs into the next election.

    Poor widdle far-right-wing Lib-nongs – the person who shares their narrow world view is a woman (which is why we really need to keep an eye on Morrison – surely the RWNJ’s preferred leader) and they just hate Turnbull who is the Libs’ best hope. So entertaining. Hope they put out a DVD real soon.

  41. Sir Ossis

    Well said Paul. Concise, very accurate and not too arcane.

  42. Harquebus

    It is the growth ideology of all mentioned in this article that is the problem. It matters not who leads who. So long as this absurd ideology is pursued, they will fail.

  43. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Time for proportional government. Kick the incompetent major patsies – sorry parties – to the back of the queue and bring on a clutch of minor parties that reflect the range of community interests.

    Then, the minor parties and major parties have to negotiate and create policy measures that look for positive solutions for the short, medium and long terms.

    My first recommendation for this new visionary political framework is Australia’s newest party called the Australian Progressives see

  44. Rais

    Bill Shorten seems quiet and understated but I can’t help wondering if he’s just following the maxim: “When your enemy is making mistakes don’t interrupt him.”

  45. Annie B

    I have an inkling here that you are right Rais

    Bill Shorten does not ‘present’ well, but give him the podium – by himself, and he makes a whole lot of good sense – speaks very well. Trouble is, he is not given MSM air time — because that is the way THEY (the MSM ) want it.

    Great idea – that of ” When your enemy is making mistakes don’t interrupt him ” …. might well be part of the plan of Labor. Or for that matter, anyone who is in opposition to anyone making ridiculous statements, in regards something / anything, that is ultra important to populace, neighbourhoods, families and relationships of any kind.

    There are two ways to stand up and be counted – one is by shouting abuse, the other by being quiet and deciding NOT to argue. After all, it takes two to make an argument, and if one is not responding, it puts the other – way back on the back foot.

    And perhaps that IS what Bill Shorten is doing. One can only hope so.

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