So, it has come to this. Two uninspiring parties significantly detuned from the Australian electorate are in a near dead heat for what will either be a miraculous third term of the Liberal National Party coalition or the first term of a Labor led Government. Australian Labor Party led by Bill Shorten is expected to at least maintain its tight grasp on the throat of the Liberal National Party coalition led by Prime Minister Scott Morrison as Australia go to the polls on Saturday. But after months of dysfunction and no real change in politics or policies on offer just how enthusiastic are Australians?
Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten does not strike one as all that inspiring. Indeed for much of the last 3 years Mr Shorten has ridden the consistently superior Labor polling in the two party preferred stakes with a margin of anywhere between a dead heat at 50/50 out to 56/44. Yet at the same time Australians desire for his leadership has consistently shown the leader of the Liberal Party to be the preferred Prime Minister.
But what leader(s) was/is that? Over those same three years that Mr his party has been behind in the polls, Australians have clearly and consistently signalled that they want a conservative leaning Prime Minister. The infighting in Labor between former leader and one time Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was a significant and potentially lasting turn off for many Australians, who would have been hoping it would be better remembered for the apology to the Aboriginal people; acknowledging climate change and moves to keep the Australian economy moving along.
Oh yes, that is who it was. A man by the name of Anthony (Tony)Abbott, who denied climate change, thought that Australia started when the British arrived to establish a penal colony, insisted that Nauru and Manus Island Detention Centres were not only legitimate, but also necessary for Australian protection of its borders. His time as Opposition leader was defined as a man with one mission only: destroy however you can, the Government of Prime Minister Julia Gillard. So short on ideas was he and his Government, that before the end of the first term, he was gone, replaced by Malcolm Turnbull though never to yet shut up, sniping, barracking and carrying on from the back bench.
Sadly Mr Turnbull was no better and in terms of the treatment of detainees on Nauru and Manus Island, possibly even worse. A weak Prime Minister whose fledgling government barely escaped being confined to the annals of Australian political history, Mr Turnbull has been shunted by his inept Ministers from one disaster to another growing next to it. With crises ranging from extraordinarily expensive combat jets for the Air Force to Centre Link, Pauline Hanson’s ongoing crusade against Aboriginals, Muslims and Chinese, a wad of by elections causing losses at regional and at State level, Mr Turnbull might be quietly looking forward to a bit of quiet time before deciding how and where to end his career having surrendered to Scott Morrison last year.
And then there is Scott Morrison. The treasurer of the Abbott Government appeared to have only tax cuts for the immediate corporations on his mind, with not any thoughts as to how Australia’s governmental services would operate. And after a tenure trying to find ways to cut the taxes instead of looking at which ones work best an A$326 billion debt grows in the background; Member for Dickson and Minister of Home Affairs Peter Dutton’s paranoid character assassination of detainees
The Liberal National Party coalition managed to fit all of this into 6 years of Government that was childish, polarizing and showed Australia in a decidedly negative light. I imagine it is dreading Saturday, for all of the above reasons and more. But can the untested and consistently less popular Bill Shorten do any better?
Watch this space!