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
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.
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