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What have you really noticed about Bill Shorten?

With so much of the same old, same old meeps about the Lib-Lab monopoly/duopoly and the clatter of mismatched voices who want something new, but can’t articulate what that is; the question is “have you actually taken the time to notice what Bill Shorten is about?”

Is it possible that for some, the inner voices of cynicism and pessimism developed by participating in the mob culture of screaming against a two party system, automatically disregard even the most progressive and positive reforms from Shorten’s Labor, just because they are a major party?

Is it possible that some are so fixated on the decisions of leaders of the past they did not agree with? Is it possible that due to this, they are not yet ready to notice Labor in 2016 and view them with a clean slate? Turnbull has been afforded this opportunity, but I do not notice this being extended to Shorten.

Is it possible that this is just a rant by someone who is dedicated to the Labor cause? Possibly. That is for the reader to decide.

However, all I can talk about is what I have noticed from my own perspective. So I will outline a few things that really strike me about Bill Shorten and his leadership and the direction he has been taking Labor thus far.

I will do this as counters to two distinct areas of the narrative I have noticed in the context of myth breaking, of “Both Parties are exactly the same” as I see it – “Underpinning Values” and “They are selfish and out of touch and just don’t listen.”

Myth: Both the Major Parties are exactly the Same

Underpinning Values

I personally always find this statement extremely confusing. I will begin with the underpinning values of both parties, as I see them.

Liberals – The Liberal’s values are underpinned by individualism. In terms of public social policy, they believe that everyone is born equal and it is up to the individual’s inherent propensity to ‘make it in life. They believe, this in turn this develops the country as a strong and prosperous country. Liberals believe in small Government intervention as they see Government intervention makes individuals lazy and reliant on Government and this weakens society.

Government intervention is usually paternalistic with punitive measurements seen as a guiding hand, that is required to motivate those without an internal propensity for self-development.

They believe in low taxes and favour a user pays system instead of major investment in Government funded services. The Liberals are semi anti socialism of the public sector and favour privatisation and outsourcing of the public sector where they can achieve it.

They believe in the free market and the balance of power in favour of the employer is the best result for the economy. Liberals have a disregard for the value of a person’s labour and believe low wages and low cost to employers create more jobs and are drivers for the economy.

Liberals do not promote Government intervention in high unemployment as a large surplus labour force drives wages down, as opposed to a tight competitive labour force.

The Liberals believe in maintaining the status quo through conservative and nationalist values.

Malcolm Turnbull and his predecessor Tony Abbott, continue to champion their commitment to these values. Abbott being more vocal and committed to these values than Turnbull, who is committed to these values, but remains largely silent on the intent or values which underpin his policies.

Malcolm Turnbull’s reason for going to a double dissolution election, was a policy which has star chamber type elements and strips away the civil rights of the worker, including apprentices. He saw this as so important, so vital to the progress of the nation.

Malcolm Turnbull continues with Tony Abbott’s abhorrent budget cut regime progressed and championed by Turnbull, with all the pomp and ceremony of an entitled King.

Labor – Labor’s values are underpinned by a form of collectivism and solidarity. Their valued are based on democratic socialism, egalitarianism and laborism. Labor recognises that not everyone is born equal and that it is the Government’s duty to intervene and provide assistance to those who need a hand up to achieve equality. They believe in a Welfare State to provide protection and social and economic benefits to the nation’s citizens.

Government intervention is incentive based and with a propensity towards proactive rather than reactive measures. (Such as investment in preventative health measures and needs based education funding).

Labor believe in the socialism of the public sector as opposed to the privatisation of the public sector to provide the best services to the community. They believe the right assistance can develop individuals into strong, productive citizens, able to engage in the community, and break down the hindrances that were preventing them from doing so. Labor’s values consider external factors to the individual’s inherent drive and personality, and do not seek to place blame on the individual, but seek to address these hindrances and strive to provide an egalitarian society.

Labor’s overarching philosophy is Laborism, which values the labour of the working class. Laborists believe in the protection of safe work, rights and wages. They also believe this drives productivity and keeps the economy strong. They strongly believe that everyone should have equal access to work and a fair days work for a fair days pay. They believe in the Fair Go for workers.

Laborism is consistent with Government intervention in job creation projects to bring equal opportunity to everyone through the ability to access secure work, self development and career progression. They strive for low unemployment as this also creates a better standard of living though higher productivity and higher wages.

Labor believes in collective progressive policy which seeks to challenge the norms of the status quo. They are the leaders of every major positive reform contemporary Australia has ever had, such as: Medicare, Superannuation, Collective Bargaining, Fair Work Tribunal, Gonski, NDIS and NBN

Under Bill Shorten’s leadership, his message is clear that he has returned to the true Labor values ingrained in Laborism which distinguishes Labor as a defiant opposition to the conservative alternative.

His very vocally championing egalitarian values and laborism as progressive solutions. His rejection of the increase to a GST as it would hurt the most vulnerable, his damning rejection of changes to Medicare and tenacious protection of our universal health system, his rejection of the removal of penalty rates and his submission to the Fair Work Commission to protect same. His endless counter attacks on the Government to protect pensioners and families from harmful cuts and to stop the Liberals making the unemployed starve for six months!

His policy for protecting workers from underpayment, from exploitation and ensuring clarity of the term “Internship” to separate this from an essential learning or training activity from one of exploitation of the working class. In addition to policy for mandatory quotas of apprentices in Federally funded projects and investment in upskilling and training in new technologies. There many more examples of this differentiation between Shorten’s Labor and Turnbull’s Liberals, and they can be found here.

Both parties are selfish and out of touch – they just don’t listen to the people

Liberals – The Liberals view of “the people” traditionally focuses big business as centric to their policy development. A key focus of economic policy management is built around the rhetoric of welfare bashing of ‘lifters and leaners’ or ‘taxed and taxed nots’ so cuts will be met with little resistance from the public, through the stigmatisation of this group.

Engagement with the “community” is often restricted to attendance at high end functions, with high end priced tickets for high end donations.

As described in the section above, the attacks on families, welfare recipients and workers are a testament to how out of touch the Liberals are with the every day Australian and their families.

Turnbull’s “look at moi” empty verbose rhetoric, where he talks at people and not to them. An example of this is, his common phrase of, “We simply must remember….” in my view is a clear indication of class separation where the ‘people (a forgetful and unintelligent lot) need a gentle paternalistic guiding hand from those who need to remind us of our place.”

Labor – The Labor movement invests in grass roots activism. Under Bill Shorten engaging with the public has been a central focus. Community Cabinets in QLD were introduced by the Labor Government and Shorten’s personal style is community forums, where he openly takes questions from the floor and answers questions in an open public forum.

Shorten has done about 150 public forums in the last 18 months and numerous live Facebook feeds direct to anyone on Facebook who cares to subscribe to his live posts.

As for if Shorten is in touch with the people. I will leave you with his budget reply address for you to decide.

My personal view on Shorten

I have had the personal opportunity to attend one of Bill Shorten’s community forums.

In my own experience, he fielded a huge variety of random questions and answered them in detail. He was relaxed and open and quite focused on the night being about the people and their questions and not about us listening to a speech about him or Labor.

I had the opportunity to ask a question. He approached me after the event and asked me to write to him in more detail with my concerns and expressed genuine interest in speaking to me further. I saw him openly engaging with others with genuine interest as well after the event.

He did not have to do that. He did not have to seek me or others out. He had enough people around him to purposely avoid me, if he wanted to. It speaks to his genuineness as a leader. I wish everyone could meet Bill Shorten because until you meet him up close and speak with him, you don’t realise that much of the negative media portrayal and other people’s negative perceptions are so very wrong.

I have not been truly excited about the vision of a Labor leader in a long time, but I truly connect with Shorten’s vision and leadership. In my opinion Shorten is the real deal. His ability to remember names, faces and detail of questions at community forums is phenomenal. You kind of need to see this in action. He is a highly intelligent man with great compassion and a great passion for people and their concerns, which is truly visible at a community forum.

I truly believe he will win the next election outright and will go down as one of our greatest Prime Ministers in our history. I have 100% faith in him and the direction he is taking Labor.


It is such a shame that for many engaged in ‘left politics social media commentary’ disregard the shift in direction under Shorten’s leadership. It is disappointing that those on the ‘left’ who oppose Shorten’s Labor discuss him as if he has evolved from some 1980’s mindset where neo-Liberalism was forging it’s place across the world and judge him on the decisions made by former leaders, which really should be critiqued in the context of that time. It is also frustrating that the progressive policies and Laborist solutions he is putting forward, fall on already made up closed minds and deaf ears.

Whether you think this post is just a rant from a someone who is dedicated to the Labor cause, or a genuine attempt to implore people aligned with the left to view Shorten and his modern Labor party with a fresh open mind and really critique his current direction which is ingrained in the values of laborism and truly engaging with the the people. As well as a plea to not to continue to compare and contrast with the decisions and leadership of Hawke, Keating, Rudd or Gillard, which many say they have issues with, then that is up to the reader to decide.

Labor’s policies will not suit everyone, nor are they perfect with no room for improvement. However, it is very, very evident that Bill Shorten making a dedicated effort to meet as many people across as many communities as possible and he is really listening and is open to positive and progressive ideas for change and he has already led substantial policy development as a testament to this shift to the left and laborism.

For those who genuinely and fiercely arguing to topple both of the major parties from power and who are insisting Shorten does not have ‘Leftist’ values – have you really truly taken the time to noticed what Bill Shorten is about?

Originally published on Polyfeministix


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  1. Peter F

    Trish, as wonderful as your article is, the problem is the fixed ideas which are being promoted in the MSM. I too have had chance encounter with Bill Shorten and I too experienced his genuine ability to make contact after that to continue our brief discussion.

    thank you for your article. I will be posting it on Facebook.

  2. michael lacey

    No they are not the same your right! There is a difference but with neoliberalism dogma permeating our world both in foreign policy and economic policy is very strong especially with the main stream driving that dogma!

  3. babyjewels10

    Yes, there are differences, but for me, the differences are not nearly great enough. And I believe, to topple the LNP decisively, there is a need to be as different as possible. I can’t see this happening when there is a lot of agreement between the LNP and the ALP. Labor lost me a long time ago and though there’s been some pulling back since the election was announced, the points I’m firm on, haven’t changed. So for me, it’s not about Bill Shorten anyway. It’s about the party’s policies.

  4. Sandy Campbell

    I share your opinion! I was not always a fan, but was impressed by the way he conducted himself during the election campaign; he is growing in stature in his role as Leader. I think those who say the two major parties are the same, do so to end the discussion they have found themselves in! There is nothing similar in their views of how this country needs to be managed!

  5. Michael Taylor

    Agree with you 100%, Sandy. I feel exactly the same way.

  6. helvityni

    I was an Albo fan, (and I still like him), but I have noticed how much Bill has improved and become more prime ministerial. He might have had some elocution lessons, as his way of speaking has improved, he has become more confident and more convincing…

    I remember the same thing happened to Julia.

  7. Möbius Ecko

    Let’s look at some of the projections, distortions and falsehoods of the supposed Liberal Party values, without going into the misrepresentation of their name, Liberal.

    …they believe that everyone is born equal and it is up to the individual’s inherent propensity to ‘make it in life

    Except when the individual is wealthy, is a member of a right wing think tank, is a senior ex-Liberal member, is part of senior management for a large corporation, is a large corporation or is a significant donor to the Liberals, then every cent of tax payers money that can be squeezed out of the coffers will be diverted to them so as to help them make it in life. That considerable public money will be given both overtly and covertly.

    Liberals believe in small Government intervention…

    Except that Liberal governments have been the most interventionist and largest governments in our history.

    They believe in low taxes…

    Except that Liberal governments have been the highest taxing governments in our history, though they might not call a lot of their revenue measures taxes.

    As an aside I went to the Liberal Party website to see if their statement of belief had changed from the last time I quoted it. They’ve reworded it a bit but the basic falsity of it is still evident, and even in their platform statement they have a go at Labor. The link I supplied in my last post on an about to be released book about the last election demonstrates just how much the Liberals hate Labor, and that their main focus whether in government or opposition is all about destroying Labor with governing the country second and looking after ordinary citizens a distant third.

    Also as an aside, I was struck by how much the Liberal website was given over to Turnbull. Though Shorten features prominently on the Labor Party website, it’s nothing compared to the in-your-face wall-to-wall multitude of images and text on Turnbull that hits you when you open the Liberal Party website. One of the valid criticisms of the Liberal election campaign was that it was too presidential and focused on Turnbull so I would have thought they would tone it down for their website.

  8. John Oliver

    What a brilliantly written piece. I personally like Shorten and his honesty and integrity. He actually takes the time to answer a question and not use the answer to belittle the Government. I also think he has significantly grown into the role as PM in waiting and I believe that if re keeps the ball rolling he will be our next PM with a significant majority.

  9. Mark Needham

    Loved a story, that I was told as a child, about a little Red Hen.

    Now Liberals, say, eat the bread yourself. Do not support the Lazy.
    Where Labour shares the bread, with the Lazy and the unfortunate.

    If, I am Lazy, do nothing, then I should expect nothing.
    If I am unfortunate, fall on hard times, then I try harder and hopefully get something from the seeds that do survive. But I will still continue planting and sowing. To do otherwise is to admit failure.

    You all know what I mean…!

    As it is.

    Mark Needham

  10. jim

    WOW. FB this for sure .but you left out TA dumb dumb “whos side are you on” and “Australia is opened for Big business” “whose side are you on”
    And, ……Another of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s investments is under scrutiny, with revelations he has a financial stake in the global parent company of the scandal-plagued 7-Eleven empire. “whos side are you on”

    Rupy whose side are you on. the LNPs …..eh good than the LNP will see to it that the NBN gets destroyed on ya rup. and telstra do not worry the LNP will order as much cooper wire as you like you’ll make a killin’ come on now “whos side are you on?……..er…em …..slurp…wink….”…..whos side are you on”

  11. jimhaz

    I do agree they are sufficiently different (enough for me to never vote LNP), but for me the ALP is fairly humdrum, too conservative and too much followers of democracy destroying trends from OS.

    [Labor believe in the socialism of the public sector as opposed to the privatisation of the public sector to provide the best services to the community]

    Do they? I don’t believe this. The Right faction are into privatisation. The ALP is just not as rampant as the LNP.

    [They believe in a Welfare State to provide protection and social and economic benefits to the nation’s citizens]

    Not when politics is involved as per the lack of care in relation to the Newstart allowance.

  12. Phil

    Great article – agree whole-heartedly. I too have noticed the tendency for many people to slide out of a discussion on current politics by lumping both parties in the same basket. I suspect many closet conservatives do this hoping to drag Labor into the quicksand with them.

    Once in power, Labor will rapidly shift away from their currently shared policy positions for example on asylum seekers. For the present Labor has to contend with the twin threats from a corporately controlled and financed LNP and the absolutely corrupt Murdoch machine.

    Bill Shorten is definitely the right leader for the task.

  13. Freethinker

    Not they are not the same apart from the neoliberalism policies, history of draconian laws introduced by Coalition governments and supported by the ALP (federal and state level), respect of international laws and privatisation among few more.

    Now regarding Bill Shorten, IMO he is mails better that any coalition current and pass leader and any representative for that matter.

    Which of both parties I prefer? The ALP for sure.
    What I would like to see? The left gain control and leadership in the party.
    Is Bill from the left or enough for my liking? No.

  14. Heather

    Totally agree with you Trish. Very interesting and informative article. Was sad Labor didn’t win the election. They deserved to. However, watching chickens coming home to roost for the Libs over their disastrous policies is worthwhile. Firstly the Census debacle (cutting public service). Next backlash from oldies set to lose their pensions in 2017. Falling living standards, unemployment… These things have hardly bitten yet. People only see sense when they are personally impacted (IMO)

  15. trishcorry

    Thanks for your comments everyone. I’m just on a lunch break, so I won’t comment individually right now.

  16. Steve Laing - makeourvoiceheard.com

    I totally agree with your perspectives on Bill Shorten, and indeed the complete inadequacies of the Coalition. I agree that he has certainly grown into the role (despite the ongoing attempts by the MSM, and Coaltion leadership, to undermine him as frequently as possible), and is setting the political discourse far more effectively than the government at the moment! As such I also think that he will be the next PM, and potentially a very good one. The changes in how Labor now determines its leaders gives then now a lot more stability than they did before, a fact that is exceptionally important in the 24/7 news cycle where the new breed of really fairly lightweight political “journalists” are more interested in tittle tattle and political drama than they are in policy debate, though this is currently desperately exposing the Coalition leadership (and will continue to do so as they are increasingly, individually self-obsessed).

    However, just because Bill is good does not mean that Labor should be the only progressive solution (although I expect they will remain the largest part of it for some time), in part because they are still seen to be (and I know I will be told I am wrong – but perception IS reality) significantly a closed shop, where factional appeasement occurs, and political “players” who will make policy decisions not based on what is right, but on what will either gain votes or will wedge their opposing parties. Labor are wedded to adversarial processes, and from my observations are occasionally happy to put their values to one side if they need to, current plans to support the governments desire to further defund ARENA a case in point. Their opposition to senate changes in the last parliament (having supported them until that point) was another area where politics was allowed to overrule values. That unsettles me.

    In my home country, Scotland, the Scottish National Party (as confusingly named as the Liberal party) took over the mantle of being the country’s major party, and importantly major PROGRESSIVE party, because the Scots saw that the Labour party had lost its values trying to court middle England. Like Labor here with regard to working with the Greens, Labour also vowed not to do any “deals” with the SNP at the last election, and ended up with 1 seat in Scotland when they used to get 50, and in the UK overall the Conservatives got in with an increased majority. Labour are now in disarray in the UK, and who knows what they will be in 5 or 10 years time. Despite everybody repeating the mantra over and over and over again, disunity in politics is not fatal. It is a good thing. You can actually support a decision without it matching your own personal opinion.

    The challenge Labor have is how to change their perception to being a party based on values, rather than a party significantly controlled by trade unionism, because a significantly large section of the electorate do not have, and never will have, a direct affiliation or contact with the union movement. The world has changed, and how Labor manages to adapt appropriately to those changes will determine their longer term success, or otherwise.

    And as a leader, I expect Bill’s performance this week in regard to the aftermath of Sam’s resignation to be pivotal. Fortunately Turnbull has hardly an exemplary record of appropriately dealing with ministers who have misbehaved, but in the absence of anything else the Coalition are going to be going in hard again. I very much look forward to seeing his policy about political donations that he promised. Get that right, and he will again be back driving the countries political agenda from the opposition benches! Bill Shorten doesn’t need the Labor party to make him a good leader – indeed I believe that political parties, and their internal factionalism, can actually significantly undermine good political leadership (and time willing, will be the subject of my next article).

  17. Joe

    Well as long as they reject those components of the omnibus bill that place further disadvantage on the unemployed and the aged, reject the cuts to renewables Im all for them

  18. Joe

    “The matter will be discussed at Labor’s caucus meeting at Tuesday, with leading members of the Left, Anthony Albanese and Jenny Macklin, the shadow social services spokeswoman, working hard to reverse the party’s support for the $1.3 billion saving contained in the government’s omnibus budget bill.”

  19. totaram

    Good post. I have noticed, the change in Labor’s approach, just before the last election, and am noticing increasingly. I hope it lasts. Unfortunately, the rest of the punters are a bit slow to pick up, especially if they do read the MSM ( if only for the form guides and the sport sections, but they can’t help glancing over the headlines and picking up the subliminal messaging).

    If Labor’s messaging can use “framing” to distance itself more and more from the neo-liberal macro-economic dogma, they can finally break free without electoral consequences – in spite of the MSM’s howls of outrage. It must be emphasised that the neoliberal dogma is the cornerstone of the coalition’s strength in the electorate’s belief that they “are the better economic managers”. Once that is shown to be the complete lie that it is, they will have a hard time recovering. On the other hand, once Labor has rejected neo-liberal macroeconomic lies, it cannot go back to “economic rationalism” and other such mumbo-jumbo, which might have been acceptable in the Hawke-Keating era, but is now known to be rubbish.

    How anyone could even think that “privatised prisons” would deliver any benefits to anyone except the owners of those prisons, beggars belief. Any owner of a privatised prison can only “grow” their business by having more and more people incarcerated! And that is what has been happening in the USA. Is that a benefit to society? Only an ideologue would would think that.

  20. Steve Laing - makeourvoiceheard.com

    Absolutely totaram. Add private healthcare to that list, and when the increasingly atheistic and agnostic population are ready to accept it, private (religious) schooling, and we are starting to get somewhere.

    There are some things that I know that private enterprise can do exceptionally well, but am yet to be convinced about certain core services. When somebody can explain how the costs of healthcare companies having shops in shopping centres is going to make my healthcare more efficient, I may be convinced, until then I’m very much of the opinion that its largely a corporate scam. I’m waiting to see Labor’s value position on such.

  21. Lawrence Corry

    as far as I can see the ALP(no matter who is the leader) is working to keep the current system and do not want to see any fiscal or monetary policy change and a shift away from the Debt and deficit politics of the last decade…until someone stand up and puts forward the fact that we cant have debt to ourselves as a country nothing will change and the alp and lnp will keep rotating and the wheel will keep turning.

  22. helvityni

    We do not rehabilitate our prisoners, be they Government or privately run. They are simply for punishing the inmates.

    In Holland, Norway and in other Scandinavian countries they do rehabilitate, and lately the Dutch have closed nine (9) prisons..
    Finland has only one education system, public, and it works famously.

    Let’s not always go to USA for our role models.

  23. Andreas Bimba

    May I suggest a number of policy changes from Labor before they deserve to be called a good government.

    1. Rejection of balanced federal budgets and paying back the federal ‘debt’. The federal government is the issuer of $A and can spend ‘created’ money into the economy at no cost. The limit however is not to spend beyond the productive growth capacity as that would become inflationary. We can have near to zero involuntary unemployment and underemployment through such fiscal stimulus. Get MMT economist Bill Mitchell on your economic policy team.

    2. Renegotiate our FTA’s so that a moderate tariff of 15% is put in place to ensure the survival and growth of our automotive industry (that has never had higher productivity and quality in Australia’s history) and the survival of other key manufacturing areas such as white goods, steel, trains, trams, buses, trucks, food and fibre processing and similar. Automotive must transition to battery electric, long battery range hybrid and renewable fuel powered vehicles now.

    3. Replace the neo-liberal Productivity Commission with an all encompassing organisation that builds industries rather than destroys them, a good example being the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry – METI. This organisation could also be the driver of the urgent transition to clean energy and a sustainable economy. Most successful East Asian countries have adopted this active state private partnership approach.

    4. Get the money and hard right corporate lobbyists out of politics. Repair our corrupt predominately right wing commercial mass media. Ensure the corporate sector is subordinate to parliament and government and not the other way round. As for ISDS clauses in the TPP – no way.

    5. Return to the semi government ownership model for electricity production, distribution and retailing. Social support, healthcare, prisons and education should overwhelmingly be government owned and run enterprises. Nationalise Qantas and ensure aircraft maintenance for all Australia’s airlines are performed by Australians. Fix the NBN and keep it government owned.

    6. Get serious about global warming and environmental protection. The task is urgent and time and business opportunities are being squandered. Stand up to the CFMEU regarding coal mining, fracking, the continued logging of native forests in Tasmania and Victoria as these industries are all doomed and help transition all workers. Stop forest clearing in Qld and elsewhere.

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