Paul G. Dellit casts a critical eye over the Australian political landscape.
The majority of the population believes that the current Australian Government is incompetent, its policies are inequitable, and the reformation of these problems improbable. Any group of individuals which has twice endorsed the reptilian-brained Anthony John Abbott as their leader is clearly beyond the reach of reason.
Even the rabidly right wing media now take more than a passing interest in our rabidly right wing PM’s lengthening litany of gaffes and failed attempts at policy formulation. They loved him as Opposition Leader, playing the role of headless horseman flailing about a Government in self-made disarray. He created so much copy for them they could follow the easier path of filling their columns and inking their headlines with distortions – outright lying, their usual stock in trade, taxes the imagination and runs the risk of exposure.
But now the personal-wealth-obsessed right wingers have discovered their headless horseman has no other head to guide his actions beyond the one he has always used. The one fueled by testosterone. The one that has shrunk smaller than a pea now that it is exposed to the ice cold logic of economic management. The manifest inability of the Government to manage the economy has them reaching for the Valium and ordering another bottle of single malt as they watch a Government incapable of escaping its comfort zone, blaming the previous Government for problems to which they themselves have no solutions, and constructing a semantic roller-coaster to verbal the state of the Budget.
Government insiders are blaming the Peta Principal. But it was the PM who chose her for the role, and it is therefore unsurprising that she has the same electoral tin ear and policy naïveté as her boss. What the LNP fail to acknowledge, or perhaps even realize, is that their leader has been promoted beyond the level of his competence – not the Peta Principal, the Peter Principle. (Well, I got there in the end!)
Some optimists within our band of people with social consciences contend or cling to the hope that Bill Shorten is ‘lying doggo’ and will spring to life from his hibernation (19 months and counting) and surprise the Government with volleys of cogent policy proposals and rapid fire responses to any unfavorable critiques. From the little we have seen of Bill Shorten and what we can glean from his path to high office, it seems to this writer that this scenario is optimistic beyond reasonable hope. Bill is as typical a validation of the Peter Principle as is Tony.
Penny Wong is capable of performing the role of Leader of the Opposition, and there are indications that she would grow in stature if given that opportunity. Penny is a Senator and would realistically have to find a seat in the Reps before she could be considered as a replacement for Bill. It is unlikely that that could be achieved before the next election. Tanya Plibersek would also make a great Opposition leader but has not really given any indication of having the driving ambition needed to pursue that office. Sam Dastyari has been sticking his head up above the parapets to some great effect, but has yet to demonstrate the range of capabilities and personal qualities expected of an alternative PM. (Unfortunately, by any measure, Dastyari seems preferable to Shorten.)
So what do our political stars portend? My guess is that the LNP strategy will be to damp down their inequitable right wing ambitions between now and the next election and introduce electorally acceptable Budgets and policies that deal with immediate problems only. They will drag Shorten into a bright spotlight whenever they can and increasingly push him into defensive positions. This will have the advantages for them of exposing Shorten’s inability to provide convincing leadership, in turn devaluing the policies he proposes (as we saw when Gillard was under attack), Tony will be back in his ‘headless horseman’ comfort zone, and the electorate will be diverted by this theatre of the absurd from making a considered judgement about what policy offerings are really in their best long term interest.
The upshot, as I see it is;
• a second term for Tony;
• a Labor Party in political stasis;
• the LNP progressively introducing legislation that increases their ability to legislate by regulation, which is the natural next step towards enabling their inherent impulses to bypass democracy whenever it suits them; and
• an economic system legislated to add wealth to the rich at the expense of the poor.
The intention of this piece is not to propose a solution. That can only be found by those who have in their hands the power to find it and then implement it – the Labor Party. We can sit on our hands, just like the Labor Party has been for the past 19 months, or we can start protesting through whatever channels are available to us that the real enemy of social justice and competent, equitable government in this country is an uninspiring, ineffective Opposition. It might make us feel better to continue to inhabit the square of our own comfort zone, venting our spleen upon the lying, double-dealing, crassly incompetent LNP. But preaching to the converted won’t change anything. Agitating for the self-proclaimed champions of our cause to turn in a credible performance in that role just might.
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