Australia needs Bill Shorten

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(Front cover of Daily Telegraph, 5 July 2017 )

Labor Leader Bill Shorten is the only valid choice to become our next prime minister and ​Australia needs him now, writes ​Richard Tuffin.

AUSTRALIA can't tolerate 100 more days of a divided Coalition Government. 

An article in the Sydney Morning Herald by Mark Kenny on 3 July 2017, declared: 

'Why Australia needs Malcolm Turnbull to survive.'

We all remember the now infamous Sunday Telegraph cover page published just before the 2013 election.

The headline screeched:

'Australia Needs Tony'.

Those buggers were sure of it!

Just two days after Kenny's op-ed, even the Daily Telegraph realises Bill Shorten will be our next prime minister, judging by today's front page (pictured above) with the headline:

'Now here's your Bill'.

It turns out Tony Abbott as Australia's prime minister was the very last thing the country needed. That statement still holds true today. In fact, the statement is truer now than it ever was, as can be evidenced by the constant sniping and undermining he continues to display. Abbott's behaviour has only ever had one clear intent: to destabilise the Turnbull Government, no matter the cost.

It was a horrendous two years while Abbott was PM. We had two budgets, in 2014 and 2015, so grotesque in their inequality they were widely condemned on both occasions — almost from the moment then Treasurer Joe Hockey left the dispatch box. Thankfully, some of the more severe budget measures never saw the legislative light of day and, yes, I’m mostly thinking of Smokin Joe's genius idea of a $7 Medicare co-payment.

I seriously doubt there’s ever been an Australian Government more out of touch with its voters and its citizenry than the Abbott Government — although the current Turnbull Government comes close. That’s hardly surprising, really, given the party is basically controlled by the same people who were in charge when Abbott was PM.

The list of the Abbott/Turnbull Government’s failings are well known. We are now in receipt of a half-trillion dollar national debt, there was #censusfail, #choppergate, #NBN, #leybuy and #robodebt, among many others. But, quite incredibly, it’s the issue of same-sex marriage that has brought about the near-certain downfall of the Turnbull Coalition Government.

A seemingly harmless statement from Leader of the House Christopher Pyne about how same-sex marriage may, in fact, become legal far sooner than people had predicted seems to have brought the entire Coalition to its knees.

This new round of internal fracturing brought about by Pyne’s statement is also very public and, for some reason, Abbott thinks it’s time to go hard. Maybe he wants one more stab at being PM again before the inevitable demise of the Coalition Government. Maybe he’s so bitter now, he just wants Turnbull ousted as PM, even if it can only be done by ensuring the Liberal National Party (LNP) gets booted out at the next election.

And let’s not forget it was Abbott who kept repeating the old adage ad nauseam

"If a party can't govern itself, it can't govern the country."

He was absolutely right and it’s evidenced clearly by the shallow policy program the LNP have tried to implement from the very instant Turnbull signed the PM’s oath at Government House.

So here’s where we’re at now.

We are being governed by a political party so antiquated in its policy agenda and so infused with political infighting, that they’re simply not capable of running the country anymore. Thanks to all of this infighting, it’s now extremely unlikely this government will be able to successfully implement any decent policies between now and the next election, including those that have now passed through the Parliament.

The main reason for this will be that the Australian public, ably assisted by the Press Gallery and the Australian media as a whole, will be so frantically focussed on the Coalition’s internal fractions, the Government won’t get any clear air to sell any of its messaging on any of its policies.

In a nutshell, the Coalition and the prime minister are both politically dead in the water. Now all that’s left to do is to wait until, either, the next scheduled Federal election or until an election occurs because the LNP implodes so badly they are technically unable to govern the country any longer.

And in all of the time since the 2013 election, the Australian Labor Party (ALP) has presented a united and progressive political force. They now speak with one voice and, apart from rare instances, genuinely support each other at every opportunity.

And that’s what Australia needs now. It needs a united and progressive government that can get first order issues like same-sex marriage and climate change sorted out quickly and effectively. Only then can we move on to bigger issues, such as sorting out our failing economy, in a fair and equitable manner and the installation of a humane system of processing asylum seekers as quickly as possible.

Australia no longer wants a rank, divided, populist political party so scared of dealing with the most basic of issues that it has become quite useless. Neither does Australia want a prime minister so devoid of power and so hypocritical in purpose he’s now also basically useless.

While he may not have the charisma of Bob Hawke nor the panache of Paul KeatingBill Shorten should still be the only valid choice to become Australia’s next prime minister. Thanks to the new party unity to be found within the ALP, Shorten can openly and honestly promise the sort of “stable” government Turnbull falsely promised so often.

And if Mr Shorten promises no cuts to health, education and our public broadcasters, I’d be willing to bet my left one on the fact that those cuts won’t occur.

Australia does need Bill Shorten and it does need him now. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait till something brings about the downfall of the current government for that to happen.

Hopefully, for the sake of Australia, that will all come about sooner rather than later.

Richard Tuffin is a Canberra based photographer and blogger. You can follow Richard on Twitter @RichardTuffin.

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