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It’s a nasty business this, being in Opposition

A few years back, 2016 to be exact, I wrote a piece for The AIMN suggesting that being in Opposition was a thankless, powerless task with few positives. However, enormous expectations from those who follow you and your party are always present. Bill Shorten discovered that the release of party policy is considered shaky before the election campaign begins.

I wrote that the media focuses on the incumbent, and often, a 10-second grab on the nightly news is about all one can expect. You will be dammed if you produce a good policy that is unpopular with the party but good for the country.

I was wrong because being in Opposition provides, particularly the LNP, many opportunities to regain government through lying and negativity. It works; take the referendum for establishing an Aboriginal Voice to Parliament, for example. From its inception, the right of politics denounced the idea comprehensively with no word of endorsement.

In 2016, I befriended Stuart Whitman on Facebook, and we had coffee together at the famous Federation Square in Melbourne.

We immediately recognised a common thread of humanity that we both shared. At the time, Stuart worked in his own business before taking up an opportunity to work with Mark Dreyfus and his team. From there, he moved on to the Institute for Religion, Politics and Society at the Catholic University.

In our conservation, l asked him about political motives and why people sought a political career; what made them tick? What made them do and say the ridiculous things they often do?

He suggested the primary motive was formed from two choices or a combination of both.

“I’ve spent enough years observing now to work out there are generally two motives for people who go into politics – those who enter politics for “who” they want to be, and those for “what” they want to do.”

I haven’t heard from Stuart for a few years, but our conversations are firmly embedded in my mind.

Stuart’s quote could easily be applied to politicians like Peter Dutton and Tony Abbott.

Was it for “who” they wanted to be or “what” they wanted to do that they entered politics? Their actions and words over many years suggest they were in it to do nothing but create a pathway to the top job.

Contrary to what l said about the Opposition back then, Tony Abbott made my thesis seem unremarkable. He proved that becoming the Australian prime minister was possible simply by opposing everything and being totally negative, telling lies with an absence of policy, and adapting to the requirements of a Trumpish personality.

Is it as simple as that? So far, Peter Dutton has followed Abbott’s example by being even more damaging. The media called Abbott the best Opposition leader ever and still needs to explain their criteria for doing so. If it was because being negative made him successful, then the Enlightenment never happened.

What motivates the right-wing media to do and say the things they do? A lust for power?

Is it purely to stir up hatred of those with a darker skin tone for political reasons? What pleasure do they get from their dalliances with sewer politics? Do they think that the public falls for their lack of compassion because they were both tough on asylum seekers and others? I now think they do.

Remember when Victorian Police described Dutton’s “African gangs” crime wave claims as “absolute garbage” and backed it up with facts? Dutton said that – because of these apparent gangs – people were so afraid they wouldn’t step outside their doors.

Kathleen Kildare tweeted at the time:

“Peter Dutton, Minister for Home Affairs, is a disgrace and should be stood down for manufacturing community discontent with the complicity of the Daily Mail.

Furthermore, his Trumpesque attacks on Victoria’s Judicial system smacks of authoritarian overreach, grr!”

Dutton is the politician Stuart Whitman describes as the “who” they want to be and not the “what” they want to do politician.

Dutton stepped up the rhetoric against the judiciary the following day, blaming “soft sentences” on appointing civil libertarians as magistrates and labelling one Supreme Court judge a “left-wing ideologue”.

The judge in question, Lex Lazarus, is one of Victoria’s most respected jurists, and Dutton would know that by convention, he cannot reply.

And the “who” they want to be as politicians during times of poor leadership is a most dangerous animal because the likes of Turnbull at the time had no power to stand up to them.

So, Dutton has kept up his sarcasm (except for when he sleeps) and other offensive expressions calculated to raise racial hatred and break down society.


We can only conclude that Dutton is not in it to help create a better society and future for all. He has failed at his two Ministries, has a reputation for laziness, and compassion has eluded him thus far in his career. I can only conclude that the Liberal Party believes they need a man of ill repute in charge, a mongrel, in other words, so Dutton was an easy choice.

I do not doubt that what Stuart Whitman says is correct, and when you look at the current Shadow Ministry, it’s difficult to imagine any of them being in the “what” they want to do category.

My thoughts for the day

Sometimes, it is good to stop, think, evaluate and formulate one’s own opinion instead of being influenced by the media and other vested interests.

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  1. New England Cocky

    It is time to tame the Murdoch Media Monopoly (MMM) possibly by following the Fijian example. Fiji has only one newspaper that produced an editorial that offended the ruling politicians. Easy solution; issue an edict that the paper will be closed in three months unless the newspaper is owned by a different management (that would be more sympathetic to government policies & politicians).
    Faced with this ultimatum, MMM sold off the masthead to a local Fijian interest.
    During WWII there were D-Notices issued by the government censors to prohibit the publication of any article considered to jeopardise national security or military operations anywhere.
    Contrary to popular ill-informed belief, Australians are in a ”war” with foreign owned multinational corporations for control of our numerous natural resources, manufacturing entities and even supply of essential residential services like power and water. One major opponent, MMM, has proven by their actions to be aligned with the corporate raiders rather than Australian voters. This may be expected given that MMM is owned by American persons (who took out US citizenship for business reasons).
    Now the MSN = MMM and the toadies masquerading as journalists re-write corporate & government press releases rather than conduct investigative journalism research. More profit in bad news and less grief for corporations and their COALition misgovernment lap-dogs.

  2. uncletimrob

    Thanks, this paragraph at the end sums up him and the LNP perfectly.

    “We can only conclude that Dutton is not in it to help create a better society and future for all. He has failed at his two Ministries, has a reputation for laziness, and compassion has eluded him thus far in his career. I can only conclude that the Liberal Party believes they need a man of ill repute in charge, a mongrel, in other words, so Dutton was an easy choice.”

  3. Phil Pryor

    Dutton has some connection with former and recent conservative leaders, the mediaeval mighty warrior types, in that he has an unstoppable drive of a mighty maggot boring on through the flesh of politics, all for egofixated selfglorification. Lacking skills, talent, charm, modesty, tolerance, attractiveness, and a thousand other attributes, Dutton remains a low and pungent dropping, not from heaven but perhaps from the piggy ejection mechanism. Australia needs better, far better.

  4. wam

    Create a controversy and the media’s reliance on selling adverts and ratings will kick in with coverage. The media and the libs learnt, with the whitlam government, that controversy both real and contrived works. Hawke had a couple, Gillard one and Albo’s no no no was good but little billy and torpid tanya, in opposition, scored nil giving 6 years of wasted opportunity by labor. However the rabbott and the bandit was and still are masters of exploiting this weakness in the media to leave labor
    A lot of thought from media et al???

  5. Andrew Smith

    The rhetoric of RWNJs and media, mostly targets above median age voters and regional or outer suburban, focuses upon culture wars or ‘woke’, dog whistling, racism, misogyny and can lead to real outcomes due to stochastic terrorism eg. Christchurch.

    The US GOP Cafe con leche Republicans over a decade warned of the same strategy and tactics being inspired by dec. white nationalist John ‘passive eugenics’ Tanton, the latter used lobbyists to support same anti-immigrant talking points as an electoral strategy; observed since Howard pining for the 1950s, or 19thC.

    In fact it not just an electoral strategy that puts off more diverse younger and educated prospective RW support in future, it’s the ideology of ‘eugenics’ for <1% with efforts to make permanent eg. immigration bans or restrictions, voter suppression, gerrymandering etc.

  6. paul walter

    I think I have come across Simon Rosenberg elsewhere… a smart bloke.

    John Lord nails it and it is a helpful article, but at the moment the coalition is nothing more than a tantrum throwing brat, because it thinks it didnt get its own way to turn the community into a hell hole for the rest of us and punishment should follow for not doing what they ordered.-The Gaza mentality again.

    Think of Anne Ruston carping about a cashless society today! Not a more constructive use of resource, merely as a means of social control. As most identify, the real prob comes from the likes of destructive Murdoch and his weird friends.

  7. leefe

    ” … not in it to help create a better society and future for all.”

    Show me one LNP pollie who is. Or, since LJH came on the scene, has been. They’re all in it for themselves – for wealth, for power, for status.

  8. GL

    The first line (from a somewhat paraphrased Gilbert and Sullivan) song for Spudley:

    “I am the very model of a medieval mindless vegetable”

    Join in and add new lines.

  9. Canguro

    GL, how about this, for starters?

    “I am the very model of a medieval mindless vegetable
    I do accept my public face is wholly unacceptable
    My cerebral activities are almost undetectable,
    And I’m what you get when a dull skull becomes electable.”

  10. Roswell

    The AIMN: Where Bards are born.

  11. GL

    “Satan wanted my soul but Rupert said it’s not available.”

  12. GL

    Changing the previous line and adding new one:

    “Satan wants my soul but Rupert says it’s not available
    My diatribes a excretions undesirable.”

  13. paul walter

    Yes, Roswell. Shakespeare must be beaming from the grave..

  14. GL

    One slight change to the second line from 28 January, plus a couple of new lines.

    “My diatribes are excretions undesirable
    I run a party that’s easily corruptable
    Because our moral platforms very very pliable.”

  15. Centrelink customer

    Message for Senator Janet Rice

    Dear Senator Janet Rice,

    Last September I emailed you a report of another illegal debt scheme administered by Services Australia. Their review decision was made by an anonymous “delegate or authorised officer” not an authorised review officer (required by law). I only received your automated email confirmation. I am still waiting for a formal reply from your office.

    Senator Janet Rice, please respond and take action to protect income support recipients.

  16. Caz

    I am a great admirer of Bill Shorten. As Opposition Leader he spent time developing policies to make us a much fairer country. Unfortunately the country was too easily hoodwinked for him to win government. But instead of a massive dummy spit, Bill has worked his arse off for the Labor Party and the average Australian. No ex Liberal leader has worked for the country, only for himself. If that they stayed in Parliament it was to be wreckers. Can anyone believe Dutton is spending time working on policies to better the country? Too busy being negative. A wrecker with no vision. Long may he remain Leader of the Opposition.

  17. Jack sprat

    I still waiting for him to keep his promise that he would smile more when he became leader of the party.

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