Possible Abbott Reshuffle, And A Not-At-All Idle Threat

WHISPERS OF A RESHUFFLE in the Abbott government raise several tantalising scenarios, but whichever way you cut it — especially after the botch made of a similar exercise late last year — a reshuffle ahead of a scheduled 2016 election would cap a stunning return to form. Even so, one rumoured change would prompt your columnist’s immediate resignation from the Liberal Party on principle, and issue a nationwide call to arms for support.

I want to talk this morning about a bit of chatter I have been hearing around the place for a little while, and which has now found its way into the mainstream press through an article in today’s edition of the Herald Sun in Melbourne; it centres on a possible reshuffle of the Abbott ministry — the second since it came to office — and provided such an undertaking avoided (or, to be sure, corrected) the glaring mistakes and misjudgements of the one that was badly botched late last year, a reshuffle should be regarded as good news indeed.

The very fact another reshuffle is being contemplated, with the Coalition’s position in reputable polling continuing a slow but steady recovery this year, is a triumph over the opposition “led” by Bill Shorten; twelve months ago a sizeable number of the sound political minds I regularly pick — the ones prepared to offer honest off-the-record opinions, that is, rather than regurgitating party-line crap — agreed with my own view that thanks primarily to Joe Hockey’s woeful 2014 budget (with a few peripheral contributions from elsewhere to round out the self-inflicted hit on the government), the Abbott government was terminal.

Perhaps it will yet prove to be so; but if it doesn’t, nobody should be under any illusion that Shorten, Labor, and their ghastly masters at Traders Hall are driving much of the government’s recovery: it would be dangerous to believe, for now at least, that Abbott’s outfit is held in fonder regard on its merits by voters.

And less than six months ago, with the state election debacle in Queensland the precursor to an ill-fated move against Abbott as Liberal leader and Prime Minister, the government’s fate seemed all but sealed: Malcolm Turnbull was (and is) a red herring in the leadership stakes, but under his or anyone else’s prospective leadership the Coalition appeared doomed.

So here we are: the government trails Labor after preferences by just a few points, when it had lagged by 15 points; a reshuffle would enable Abbott to finally clear out some deadwood from his frontbench once and for all, and to promote some of the embarrassment of new talent that has until now languished on the backbench.

The cynic in me does allot more than a passing thought to the prospect that talk of a reshuffle could be used as cover to bring on a snap election; after all, Shorten has pretty much passed his useful lifespan as Labor “leader” (if there was ever anything useful about him at all, that is) and with his date to answer questions arising from damning testimony at the Royal Commission into the unions — and his role in alleged events in his past life as head of the AWU — drawing closer, it seems Labor is boxed in by Shorten and the rank embarrassment the unions are now proving on the one hand, and the odious, messy and protracted process that getting rid of him before an election would entail on the other.

Talking about a reshuffle might tempt Labor hardheads to calculate replacing Shorten is a worthwhile exercise. In those circumstances, it would be a dreadful surprise for the Liberal Party to spring by calling an election whilst the ALP was amidships in its silly leadership ballot process and effectively devoid of a leader to fight an election with.

Wouldn’t it? :)

Assuming, however, we are talking about a reshuffle ahead of an election no earlier than, say, May, here’s the good news.

As the Herald Sun article notes, the first cab off the rank to get it in the neck would be Industry minister Ian Macfarlane — or the “Minister for Industry Assistance” as this column has known him ever since he saw fit to plead for more government money to prop up the car industry — despite billions of taxpayer dollars having disappeared into the endless black hole of union-negotiated enterprise agreements that delivered ridiculous and unjustifiable largesse to those workers covered by them, but which meant that every time the grants were increased manufacturers still couldn’t turn a profit because more and more money disappeared into “renegotiated” wage agreements that just happened to mirror the size of those increases.

The sooner Macfarlane is put out to pasture, the better.

Defence minister Kevin Andrews can’t be too far behind him, having botched Workplace Relations under the Howard government, botched Social Services under Abbott, and underwhelmed in his present portfolio.

Treasurer Joe Hockey — someone I like enormously, but who is clearly out of his depth as Treasurer (a sentiment known to be shared by several of his Cabinet colleagues privately) — should not be sacked, but moved to another portfolio, perhaps Defence, whilst Malcolm Turnbull or Scott Morrison are promoted to take his place.

But I would go further than the obvious names being bandied around; Senate leader Eric Abetz has been a solid servant for the Coalition, but has barely landed a glove on either the ALP or the unions — nor advanced anything constructive by way of industrial relations policy on the government’s behalf — in his role as Employment minister.

His deputy, George Brandis QC — an intelligent operator who ranked among the Liberals’ best performers in opposition, only to become one of the party’s greatest political liabilities in office — should perhaps be redeployed to a post less directly responsible for prosecuting the case to spread freedom and liberal rights: his “freedom to be a bigot” remarks were surely among the worst publicity the government has attracted, and his attempts to explain the government’s metadata laws were confusing at best. Unfortunately these have not been Senator Brandis’ only unhelpful contributions as a minister.

And Howard era figures who have scarcely set the world on fire, like Small Business minister Bruce Billson and Health-turned-Immigration minister Peter Dutton, would scarcely be missed by the electorate if they were moved on to open opportunities for fresh talent.

Of course, the inevitable potential retirements are spoken of, for nothing lasts forever; chief among them is veteran National Party leader and deputy PM Warren Truss, who — at 66 — is being implored by some to stay for another term in Parliament to ward off the “threat” Barnaby Joyce could take his place.

Joyce comes with problems and limitations — like Truss — but unbelievably for someone who was a magnet for public ridicule when he first entered the Senate a decade ago, cut-through and positive sentiment in the electorate are not among them.

But the Coalition’s next generation of stars, drawn from the backbench and the ranks of existing parliamentary secretaries and “Ministers Assisting” — Angus Taylor, Christian Porter, Kelly O’Dwyer, Bridget McKenzie, Dan Tehan, Steve Ciobo, Sarah Henderson and Michaelia Cash, among others — should stand to compete for numerous vacancies as ministers in their own right in any reshuffle, and the short- and long-term political health and policy vigour of the Coalition would benefit immeasurably from a substantial injection of this impressive new talent at senior levels.

Of course, and discounting any surprise election announcement altogether, such a reshuffle — properly executed — could take the Coalition to the polls next year with a team that would set it up for a decade of competent, effective, and electorally popular government.

The one other change I want to touch on is the situation of Trade minister Andrew Robb; undoubtedly one of the top-tier standouts of the Abbott government, Robb, like other long-serving Liberal MPs, faces the ceaseless pressure of the passage of time: soon to turn 64, it is hard to fathom he would serve any more than a single additional parliamentary term: if, that is, he stands at the next election at all.

Robb is also my local MP, as member for Goldstein: the electorate I have lived either in or adjacent to (in the neighbouring seat of Melbourne Ports) ever since I moved to Melbourne 17 years ago.

The article I’ve shared from the Herald Sun today suggests Robb could replace former Labor leader Kim Beazley as Australia’s ambassador to the United States, and were this to occur he would go with my very best wishes on a deserved appointment indeed, and his tenure in that role would ensure Australia’s interests in the US are well represented — just as they have been by Beazley, to be clear.

But under this scenario — which would see Robb head across the Pacific late this year — a by-election would need to be held in Goldstein and, despite repeated denials of interest in a seat in Parliament that the Herald Sun has dutifully noted and reiterated on her behalf, the name of Tony Abbott’s Chief of Staff, Peta Credlin, has been raised as a prospective Liberal candidate to replace Robb in the usually safe Liberal seat in Melbourne’s Bayside.

At the risk of introducing a sour and provocative note to the discussion, I should reiterate that my criticisms of Peta Credlin in this column in the past remain very much in force; too many stories of her idea of management have spilt from too many appropriately placed sources — and the political consequences of those deficiencies writ large for the country to see in the form of poor governance, bad strategy, incompetent communications and woeful opinion polling — for me to reasonably take any other view.

And of course, her “star chamber” vetted me out of consideration for any formal involvement in the Abbott government in 2013 for reasons best known to itself — or, indeed, to her — well before so much as a syllable of criticism was ever published in this column.

Sometimes, principle has to come before any other consideration in politics, and readers will have heard me say often enough over the years that I’m a conservative first and a member of the Liberal Party second.

Indeed, had legendary powerbroker and political strategist Michael Kroger not resumed the presidency of the party’s Victorian branch earlier this year, with an explicit brief to knock the division into more professional and competitive shape, I would have left the party.

Happy as I am to remain a member, I cannot and I will not be a party to Credlin being imposed on Goldstein (even via a sham preselection process and/or administrative committee rubber-stamp to make it look legitimate) and I cannot and I will not campaign for her election in Goldstein, another seat that falls vacant (perhaps Andrews’ seat of Menzies) or, indeed, anywhere else in Victoria at all.

I’m sure this threat will have people around Credlin shaking in their boots with fear — do, of course, note the self-deprecating sarcasm — and acknowledge that I might end up polling a single vote on the day, but in the event Credlin is endorsed as the Liberal candidate for Goldstein, I will resign my membership of the party the same day and contest the seat against her as an independent conservative.

I have no particular ambition to be a member of Parliament, but on principle — faced with a backroom operative foisted on my community, whose record to date seems more concerned with the exercise of power than with the advancement of any cogent set of principles — were Credlin to contest Goldstein, I would feel bound to stand against her.

It won’t be the hottest news in town, and I’m sure it will generate amusement among those who think they know better than everyone else, but if push comes to shove, I’m prepared to get out and fight for conservative ideals against a candidate who has more or less overseen a government that could hardly be characterised as conservative, or even liberal — in the orthodox sense.

Stay tuned. And should the contest eventuate, I’ll be sounding a clarion call to readers — and anyone else more concerned with the advancement of conservative objectives than with the expedient use of power — for all the support they can offer.

I’ll be back this evening to talk about some of the other events going on in the world of Australian politics.


Constitutional Denial: Palmer Rant Shows Need For Senate Reform

A RANT by Clive Palmer against reforms to how the Senate is elected merely underlines the need for reform to occur; as the instigator of a party that directly benefited from current unacceptable Senate election mechanisms, Palmer has a vested interest in preserving the status quo: if, of course, his motives aren’t simply to cause trouble. The Constitution explicitly provides for reforms he claims are unconstitutional to be made by Parliament.

I am pressed for time and on the run again today, although I will attempt to revisit the column with something different tonight; I have, however, been reading a piece from The Australian this morning — featuring a bellowing Clive Palmer in full flight against Senate reforms that he claims would impose an “Eastern Bloc and communist-type regime,” and in view of the apparent constitutional ignorance the remarks suggest I wanted to make some comment on them.

Regular readers know that aside from a complete opposition to proportional representation, I have regularly spoken of the awful — and deferred — consequences of the Hawke government’s changes to the Senate in 1984; that election enlarged the Senate from 64 to 76 Senators (in part, to maintain the nexus the Constitution stipulates, that the House of Representatives by roughly double the size of the Senate) and introduced, among other things, the group-ticket voting that in conjunction with the lower quotas for election that apply in a larger Senate are responsible for the chook’s breakfast we now see at Senate elections.

For some extra reading or a trip down memory lane, my own thoughts on Senate reform can be accessed here.

Palmer’s arguments are almost exclusively composed of the kind of sentiment that emanates from minority groups that seem to think parliamentary representation is a right, not something to be garnered by argument, persuasion, and making a case to earn the votes and trust of the Australian public.

This is, of course, a variant on my longstanding theme that defenders of the present Senate — speaking, as they do, of a “diversity of voices” the current system throws up as somehow justifying the election of Senators on a sliver of the vote thanks to convoluted preference arrangements — are wrong, and advance arguments that might seek to legitimise obscure candidates being elected with minimal support, but which fail to satisfy a reasonable threshold of being democratic.

The changes mentioned in the article from The Australian would put an end to clandestine preference deals being done to get a fringe candidate — any candidate — elected with virtually no support, as Ricky Muir was in Victoria in 2013 with half a percentage point of the primary vote.

They will stop group-ticket voting, whereby convoluted deals negotiated by each party dictate where electors’ preferences are distributed if they vote above the line for the Senate, providing more control for individual voters to determine how their votes are counted.

And whilst the quota for the election of a Senator will remain at 14.3% of the vote at a half-Senate election in line with those 1984 reforms, making it easier for smaller parties to achieve election than had previously been the case, the changes that are set to be implemented — subject to parliamentary approval, of course — will make it harder for the Senate to simply be the place you stand if you are unable and/or couldn’t be bothered to get out and campaign for a reasonable stipend of public support.

By contrast, Palmer — in a characteristic show of belligerence — claimed the changes would “rig and destroy democracy,” although it’s hard to see how: they would simply repeal measures introduced in 1984 that arguably should never have been introduced, and Senate elections (and Australian democracy) ran just fine without them until then.

How the changes will “disenfranchise Australians” as he claims is unknown, and Palmer’s assertion they would establish “Eastern Bloc and communist-type tendencies (sic)” amounts to nothing more than blather: in former communist bloc countries, of course, there was no choice at all other than between a selection of pre-approved Communist candidates, and nobody is suggesting such a system be adopted here.

Even so, Palmer and his acolytes claim the proposed changes amount to a “breach of the Constitution,” and the really interesting thing about that is that I can see no grounds on which a challenge on constitutional grounds could have any hope of succeeding.

If you go to the relevant part of the Constitution — and I’ve linked directly to the clauses that deal with he structure of the Senate, for ease — sections 7 to 9 in particular are explicit (and emphatic) that “Parliament” (in this case, the House of Representatives and the Senate passing enabling legislation as per normal parliamentary process) is solely responsible for the determination of how the Senate is elected, and is silent insofar as any prescription surrounding electoral methodology is concerned.

I wouldn’t ordinarily comment on matters that are before the Courts or might reasonably be expected to be tried there, but in this case the only grounds I can see for Palmer’s opposition is a giant dummy spit on the basis that his preference-addicted, preference-dependent party — if you could still call it “a party” — is about to find it far tougher to win or retain seats in the Senate.

Ignoring the supplementary Senate election that occurred in Western Australia earlier last year — unrepresentative as it is of a “normal” electoral event, and more closely resembling a by-election — Palmer’s candidates failed, in every Australian state and territory, to win enough votes to fill a single Senate quota or to even get close to doing so: and whilst plenty of candidates are elected despite failing to win quotas on their own, and will continue to be elected despite failing to do so under the flagged changes, the fact remains that Palmer, his candidates and his party had insufficient appeal anywhere in the country to muster 14.3% of the vote for the Senate.

I have opined plenty of times that there is no automatic right to seats in Parliament just because people have entitlement complexes over them: in my new, if you can’t muster a reasonable number of votes then you can hardly claim to have the support of the public.

And in that sense, Palmer’s opposition to, and tantrums over, the changes being contemplated should simply be ignored.

Heavily dependent on preferences to get anyone elected at all, Palmer’s outburst is an excellent reason in its own right for these changes to be made, for they have fostered just the culture of entitlement Palmer himself is effectively defending by trying to scuttle them.

In the end, the Constitution is explicit that Parliament has the right to determine the way the Senate is elected and — if these changes are legislated, and Palmer still doesn’t like it — then that is just too bad.

Perhaps Clive Palmer would be better served concentrating on his lower house seat of Fairfax, where he was also elected despite falling far, far short of enough votes on his own account.

Elected in Fairfax with just 26.5% of the primary vote (or a bit over half the votes polled by the defeated LNP candidate with 41.4%), nobody could realistically claim Palmer himself heralded any sort of tangible mass appeal to the overwhelming bulk of voters even in his own electorate.

After an obstructive term in the House of Representatives during which his party has fallen to pieces as MPs walk away from Palmer’s rumoured behaviour as a control freak — and during which Palmer has aided Labor by frustrating the conservative government, which will not sit well in a solidly conservative seat like Fairfax — it’s hard to see Palmer’s personal support trending anywhere but downwards when next he faces his constituents.

If, that is, he bothers to stand for re-election at all.

But Palmer’s outburst over the changes being considered to the method for electing the Senate stink of the self-interest and entitlement that goes with an assumption the system exists to feather the nest of anyone who is prepared to play it and game it.

It doesn’t, and it shouldn’t.

In this sense, all Palmer is doing is reinforcing the need for the touted changes to be implemented, and it is to be hoped his intemperate remarks merely stiffen the resolve of those determined to do something to clean up the undemocratic shambles and embarrassment the Senate has become.

In an irony Palmer will not like, his own party — operating under his own instructions — has been a direct exacerbating factor in terms of the embarrassment the Senate is and the dysfunctional character it has assumed since the 2013 election.

If he wants to complain about anything, perhaps he should look in his own back years first.


Less Outrageous, But #QandA Still Doesn’t Get It

SCANDALISED YET DEFIANT after its outrageous disregard for social and editorial standards last week, the ABC’s #QandA roared back onto screens across the country last night; after a week in which the broadcaster has come under heavy criticism for providing a platform for a convicted criminal, terror suspect, and advocate of the pack-rape of female journalists on national television, it remains stoutly but implausibly insistent it did no wrong.

First things first: for those who’ve been under a rock somewhere, my midweek article — a follow-up to the disgusting farce perpetrated by #QandA last Monday — can be accessed here, and this piece also provides a link back to an earlier piece which features a link to that episode.

Those who did not see last night’s follow-up episode of #QandA can watch it here.

And for a slightly different perspective, I am also including a link to this article today from conservative journalist (and former ABC board member) Janet Albrechtsen, which paints an accurate picture of the ingrained left-wing bias of the national broadcaster and a compelling portrait of its systemic refusal to meet its obligations in terms of political balance and impartiality.

Senior Liberal Party figures Nick Cater and MP Alan Tudge drew the ire of the broad Left yesterday for refusing to appear on #QandA last night, and I made the point during the show on Twitter that a “line in the sand” drawn by Liberal Party figures refusing to appear is understandable, given the almost explicit anti-Liberal, anti-Abbott government agenda this programme — and by extension, the publicly funded broadcaster itself — is wont to pursue.

As we argued during the week and as Albrechtsen points out, there is no “free speech” defence to what transpired last Monday night, and whilst ABC figures from #QandA host Tony Jones down were yesterday claiming that had they known the criminal they featured, Zaky Mallah, had also championed the gang rape of journalists Miranda Devine and Rita Panahi on national television they would never have invited him to appear, the claim is as hollow as it is disingenuous.

For one thing, even without the gang rape incitement, Mallah still represented an unsuitable person to whom to  provide a platform of national airtime at public expense; and for another — as last-minute #QandA panel member Paul Kelly, Editor-at-Large of The Australian, noted — there is no “free speech” defence when Mallah’s appearance was a deliberately contrived “gotcha” ambush against a government MP, and that much at least was established during the week as well.

The final word on Mallah’s suitability to appear on a national programme like #QandA, ironically enough,  came from Mallah himself; a heavy user of social media to spread his opinions, I noticed last night he had tweeted that Liberal MP Steve Ciobo was “society’s cum stain (sic)” for having the temerity to stand up to him last week and suggest he should be thrown out of the country.

There is a stain at the centre of these discussions, to be sure. But it is not Steve Ciobo.

I think the ABC and its key personnel know they overstepped the mark — badly — last week, and I equally think they couldn’t give a shit about it; the whole point of its diatribes about “free” speech to justify its actions is to send the message that the ABC will say and do whatever it likes — and if that means demonising the Australian Right in order to advance the interests and positions of the Left, then so be it.

After all, host Tony Jones’ cheery declaration at the start of last night’s episode that over time, #QandA would leave no strand of opinion out of the programme is disingenuous: “over time” gives ABC staff more than enough scope to manipulate and abuse its execution of that promise.

Does a solo #QandA performance by, say, Joe Hockey after a federal budget count as “coverage” of conservatism or as a sop to the Liberal Party? If it does, that frees up more “space” at other times for stacked panels of pinkos taking aim at everything they despise.

To that end, conservatives are too often included on #QandA as either “tick-a-box” token inclusions (so the ABC can claim not to have left the Right out, even if the discussion has been fixed and sabotaged beforehand) or as targets for abuse, ridicule, humiliation, or downright bullying.

Former Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella was regularly invited onto #QandA, only to face vicious onslaught from her fellow panelists — Jones included. NSW conservative Christian MP Fred Nile was recently invited onto a “special” #QandA show on marriage where he was outnumbered five to one. There have been plenty of other examples.

The voice of reason last night belonged to Kelly, who — graciously, patiently and eloquently — made the case that the ABC had engaged in an endeavour last week to ambush Ciobo in pursuit of a “gotcha” moment with the specific objective of embarrassing the Abbott government, and that in so doing, it provided a national platform for an individual whose presence on any ABC production is and was unjustifiable.

The real message of the ABC’s “contrition” came from the persistence of panellists to defend Mallah; one even suggested getting him media training so he would be more “media savvy” in future.

Spare us!

But none of the panellists from the Left were having a bar of Kelly’s admonition; and his fellow last-minute ring-in replacement — Human Rights commissioner Tim Wilson — probably delivered the line of the night, bluntly telling Jones that he and his colleagues should have been ashamed of themselves over last week’s effort.

But defiant to the end, the insistence that editorial independence and a right to free speech contrived to dictate no fault on the ABC’s part for including Mallah last week tells the story; these people are not sorry, and the apologies they have offered should be sneered at with the same contempt with which the ABC itself dismisses anyone who disagrees with it.

The ABC simply doesn’t get it, and the fact anyone from the national broadcaster is defending last week’s episode at all proves the point: in its own world view the ABC is above criticism, beyond reproach and immune to the consequences of its actions, and I would go so far as to suggest that those responsible for #QandA really don’t care for the damage they have done to the ABC’s reputation, and to political discourse in Australia more generally.

Those who doubt this contention need look no further than the fig leaf Jones tried to appropriate as an excuse for Mallah’s presence at all: as I pointed out at the outset, he claimed that had ABC types known of Mallah’s advocacy for the gang rape of Devine and Panahi on breakfast television, then Mallah would not have been allowed into the audience or onto the ABC’s premises at Ultimo in Sydney.

In the final analysis, that the ABC has used feigned ignorance of the threat of pack rape against prominent female identities as its excuse for allowing last week’s outrage to happen is a damning indictment on those people at the national broadcaster who were involved.

Distilled to the essence, it is disgraceful that a public broadcaster would use something as tawdry to rationalise away its culpability.

Last night’s episode might have been nowhere near as bad as the one that preceded it, but the events of the past week — culminating in last night’s broadcast — show the ABC to not only stand behind its inappropriate actions last week, but that it offers no real apology or contrition for them at all.

At a cost of $1.1 billion dollars to the taxpayer each year, it is not a situation that can be permitted to continue, and the lawless ABC needs to be held rigorously to account.


“Weak,” Inept, Or Just A Liar, Bill Shorten Is Not A Leader

LABOR “LEADER” Bill Shorten might dismiss it as “propaganda,” but the fact is that an attack ad produced by the Liberal Party and posted on YouTube sums him up to the letter; disloyal, treacherous, dangerously incompetent and downright dishonest, the moronic Shorten is a frightening candidate for the Prime Ministership of Australia: and grotesquely, he makes the imbecile Rudd and the divisive Gillard appear as national heroes by comparison.

I will probably post again late tonight, for the interview with fraudster and pretend cancer sufferer Belle Gibson on the Nine network’s 60 Minutes programme tonight revisits a theme we covered off on some months ago; I have no time for people like Gibson — and readers should be well assured that she and the handful of other con artists already exposed this year for profiteering and/or glorying in false and/or embellished stories of misery are just the tip of the iceberg — and if the interview with Tara Brown tonight is as hard-hitting as Nine insists (despite suggestions it’s a paid powder puff piece) then the exercise will have been more than worth the money they dangled at Gibson to entice her to appear.

I think Belle Gibson should be prosecuted for fraud, and made an example of, and we will return to that theme tonight.

But I has seen the Liberal Party’s new attack advertisement this weekend, and I must say it’s absolutely on the mark; Shorten has had more than 18 months now as the “leader” of the ALP, and the story that is increasingly able to be told as a result of his words and actions is one of a man who should never be elected as Prime Minister of this country.

And as far as I am concerned, he isn’t even fit to sit in federal Parliament.

Is it merely “propaganda,” as Shorten claims? Well, as a paid political production disseminated to influence political behaviour, of course it is to some degree.

But that doesn’t make it any less valid — especially when particularising the abominable track record of a specimen like Shorten.

Shorten told the Fairfax press yesterday that he’s “learnt not to take too seriously Liberal Party propaganda,” and I suppose for a man trying to spread the lie of an $80 billion cut to health and education spending — monies that derive from unlegislated Labor promises that the Liberals explicitly refused to match before the 2013 election — and who refuses to commit the ALP to “restoring” those monies, Bill Shorten knows all about propaganda: he’s busy enough with his own.

And the key critique Shorten offered Fairfax was that the advertisement was evidence the Liberals want to “live in the past:” for a man whose party is gearing up to fight a fourth consecutive federal election with WorkChoices at the centre of its campaign, Shorten would know all about that too.

But where is the new Liberal Party attack advertisement incorrect?

Is it the assertion of weakness? Hardly. Shorten stands for absolutely nothing.

Is it the assertion that he is untrustworthy? Anyone who watched The Killing Season over the past three weeks knows you wouldn’t trust Shorten as far as you could throw him, and much less with the governance of the country and the Prime Ministership: Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard would have the franchise on that.

Is it the assertion he’s got too much baggage from his time in the unions? Well, with what is emerging at the Royal Commission into the trade union movement — Shorten’s powerbase and old stomping ground — it’s not unreasonable to wonder if he might end up being charged with something. No baggage?

To listen to Shorten, of course, it’s an “unfair smear,” and one of the problems with “Bull Shittin'” is that in his world it’s fine to dish out as much dirt on opponents as he and his henchmen can muster, but to have someone hold him, and them, to account? Well, that’s an outrage. But Shorten can’t have his cake and eat it as well.

Is it the assertion he has too much baggage from his “six disastrous years” with Rudd and Gillard? It is sufficient to note that based on the accounts of his own colleagues, Shorten has had to clean an awful lot of blood off his own knife since entering Parliament, and Rudd and Gillard — and others — have the scars between their shoulder blades as testament to his handiwork.

Or perhaps it’s the litany of policy failures that are directly attributable to Shorten — the ongoing commitment to the carbon tax, the sellout to the Greens over asylum seeker policy, and so forth — that fleshes out the case he stands for nothing — or at least, nothing that hasn’t been tried, and has failed, and been comprehensively rejected.

As we’ve noted in this column, Shorten’s only policy (that he now stands on only to hide) is to abolish the private health insurance rebate — and the reason he wants it concealed is that it would cripple the healthcare system in Australia if ever implemented, and cause its collapse. So much for Shorten’s “year of ideas.”

And as for the Liberals’ assertion that Shorten is committed to more taxes, more waste, more debt (and by implication, more spending), the advertisement does no more than accuse Shorten of following in the footsteps of the Whitlam, and Rudd, and Gillard governments, which were also mirrored in the final disastrous term of the Keating years.

What has changed at the ALP on Shorten’s watch? Apparently nothing.

Perhaps Shorten’s real complaint against this piece is that it brutally exposes the fundamental truth — that he is not a leader — and in doing so, this column has led that charge since the day Labor’s “democratised” leadership election process was rigged by unions to ensure their grip on MPs saw Shorten prevail against the wishes of the party’s membership.

Anyone who thinks Shorten is in fact “a leader” should watch the advertisement, and try to explain away its final sequence: busted for lying over his involvement in knifing Gillard — and caught out for treachery and disloyalty for more than the first time — Shorten, with an answer for everything, had an answer for that too: but he still went ahead and stuck the knife into Gillard, just because he could.

Just because it advanced his interests.

And just because, unable to truly lead people, treachery and disloyalty and lies are the only tools Shorten has to work with in his quest to become Prime Minister.

I can only suggest anyone who is repelled by the odious behaviour of Bill Shorten share a link to this article far and wide, for he is not the kind of person Australia can afford to bestow responsibility for its welfare and its future upon.

My call is that the Liberals’ new advertisement hits the target perfectly.

Bill Shorten is a grotesque and insidious specimen. He is not a genuine leader’s sphincter. He is a treacherous thug and a liar who is solely motivated by his own ambitions and his own welfare. And the prospect of him as Prime Minister is a hideous and terrifying prospect.



Gay Marriage: No, It Is NOT Time To Legalise Polygamy

LESS THAN A DAY after the US Supreme Court ruled in favour of gay marriage — legalising the measure in all 50 states, making the pressure to follow suit here harder to resist — voices of the liberal Left are already pointing to polygamy as the “next step forward” in their “progressive” crusade. The ruling by the Court is a travesty. For those who’ve opposed gay marriage and warned of what might follow, those forecasts have quickly proven right.

As fair-minded as I am about my conservatism, I find myself offering an unconditional apology to Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi this evening; the Senator — whom I pilloried when he warned that sanctioning gay marriage would inevitably lead to calls for polygamous unions to be legal, and further along the slippery slope marriages (and presumably sexual relations) between people and animals — was probably right.

Three years ago, when Bernardi caused uproar and brought shame on conservatives with his graphic warnings of polygamy and bestiality, I never thought I would see the day when I would say this: but the attack I made on him in this column is one I now unreservedly and fulsomely withdraw.

By now I’m sure readers are aware that overnight the Supreme Court of the United States delivered a majority decision by a 5-4 margin that legalises gay marriage in all 50 US states; and whilst the victors are entitled to be jubilant, declaring “love wins” and rattling on about “equal love” and marriage “equality” — when there is no such thing — the decision already looks to be the thin edge of the wedge, and promises to stir great division and conflict in American society.

An article from the New York Times, which details the decision and which I strongly recommend readers review, can be accessed here.

I’m sick of being told I am a bigot, or a homophobe, or ignorant, or a Neanderthal, when I am none of these things; as far as I am concerned, gay people can go off and do whatever they like with each other. As far as their place among the rest of us goes, that’s a given. I understand there are still people around who think gay people should be bashed, ostracised, prosecuted or worse. But I am not one of them and I am fed up with sanctimonious “do-gooders” taking it upon themselves to make such insidious spot diagnoses when they have absolutely no clue what they are talking about.

But my opposition to gay marriage (in spite of a wide liberal streak that says they should do as they please) isn’t about brutalising and vilifying gay people; rather, it stems from the need to preserve traditional social values: values that, sadly, seem to break down that little bit more each day, when they are the foundation and the bedrock of our society — and not some arbitrary product of it, as this decision is, and as it will be if developments in the United States come to be mirrored here.

I think the ruling of the Court is a travesty, made as it seems to have been with the cavalier disregard for its consequences that invariably accompanies judicial activism, and driven as it has been by the hardline activism of the illiberal political Left. It is one of those oxymorons that in recent years where social policy is concerned, those traditionally ascribed the label “liberal” have largely come to be nothing of the kind.

The regime this decision will spawn in the United States will seek to vilify and to crucify anything or anyone who fails to parrot unquestioning compliance with the new “order,” and before anyone scoffs, there are already signs of the same thing happening in Australia. Exhibit #101 in this regard is deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek, who has already shown her hand (and that of the wider Australian Left) through her push to enforce a compulsory vote in favour of gay marriage on Labor MPs if and when the matter comes before federal Parliament.

It defies belief that the use of force would stop there: and with the prospect of conservative campaigners in the USA now facing a barrage of legal and social attacks for their trouble, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that a) this change could tear American society apart, and that b) that effect could well be replicated here if gay marriage is legalised in Australia.

I’m sorry, but exhortations of “goodwill” from those activists campaigning for this change amount to nothing — literally nothing — when viewed against the backdrop of the very clear signs that have already emerged in the States in the wake of their Honours’ decision.

I’m not going to labour the point on the decision, but less than a day after it was announced a prominent American academic has published an essay in the respectable Politico magazine, in which he argues “group marriage” is the “next horizon in social liberalism” in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling.

Just as readers should acquaint themselves with the coverage I’ve linked from the New York Times, they should read Fredrik deBoer’s article from Politico as well.

The point that I would make of his theoretical case is that from a logical perspective, it is very persuasive.

Yet this is a key problem with socialism in all its forms, and with the ideologies of the Left in general: you can make a case for them, and those cases may seem compelling. From a purely practical perspective, however, they are generally unworkable — the experience of the Soviet Union is obvious proof of it — and when it comes to engineering the complete breakdown of traditional social values that have endured and underpinned liberal democratic societies for centuries, it’s not unreasonable to assert that their implementation, if taken to its logical conclusion, risks the breakdown of the society as well as the values.

Polygamy is popular with welfare rorters; until the practice was clamped down upon in Britain, the UK had hundreds of polygamous families on its books claiming millions of pounds in welfare payments; here in Australia, there have been cases of the same thing occurring. To the best of my knowledge, the practice (in terms of welfare claims) remains legal, even if the “family” structure is not. But if the likes of Dr deBoer win the argument, this adoption of “family” structures with which to abuse public resources will skyrocket.

Polygamy is also popular with all the kinds of people the Left purport to hate: misogynists, sexists, tokenisers of women, those who are violent and/or abusive of women, and those who hide behind what deBoer euphemistically describes as a “hub and spoke” view of “family” relations.

As Dr deBoer himself gleefully acknowledges, the decision of the US Supreme Court has set American society on the slippery slope: and his embrace of the fact is alarming, considering where that slope may lead.

I don’t intend to tear his arguments apart at length any more than I intend to dwell on the “historic” decision of the Court; those who feel elated by its handiwork can celebrate, but they should be careful in contemplating what they think they have won.

Do I have a problem with gay people in relationships, or with extending to them the same rights at law that heterosexual people enjoy? Of course I don’t.

But as I have now said many times, calling it “marriage” is one step too far: and for a group in society that arguably ranks among its most intelligent, my suggestion they come up with their own institution rather than hijacking a “hetero” entity half of them want nothing to do with anyway is a sincere one.

Yet regrettably, having trashed marriage in its traditional sense, other injuries to decent and traditional social norms will quickly follow, and if one of the first to be inflicted is to bring polygamy into the mainstream as the Left has done with gay marriage, then it’s only a matter of time before outright social decay ensues.

The thing that makes us civilised as human beings is that we don’t behave like animals: our societies are ordered according to a set of values that give them structure, and operate within the rule of law to give them order.

To begin to kick the pillars out from beneath the edifice is to invite the entire thing to collapse; gay marriage might well be the harmless foible its proponents claim in attempting to steer conservatives toward supporting it, but it really is the thin edge of the wedge.

To me, it is no surprise the call for polygamy to be legalised has already rung out in the United States; the only mildly surprising thing about it is the indecent haste with which that call has been made but then again, there is never all that much about the social engineering efforts of the Left that could be characterised as “decent.”

Let those who are so inclined celebrate what has transpired in the United States; for the legalisation of gay marriage is a Pyrrhic victory indeed, and one which raises the curtain on the prospect of it ultimately delivering far more harm than good.

Suddenly, Cory Bernardi’s warning about sex and marriage with goats and horses and God knows what else looks a little less hysterical than it did 24 hours ago.

Even if that sounds — as it deserves to sound — thoroughly ridiculous.


Their ABC: No Free Speech Defence Exists For #QandA Outrage

WITH INQUIRIES afoot into Monday’s despicable episode of #QandA and the furore over giving airtime to a violent thug and gang rape advocate refusing to abate, apologists from ABC Managing Director Mark Scott down have sought to defend the show based on free speech. No “right” to free speech features taxpayer-funded airtime for criminals. If it did, questions of bias and decency are separate issues Scott’s “defence” fails to address.

In the wake of the reprehensible episode of #QandA broadcast on Monday night — an outrage unapologetically compounded as the ABC repeated the broadcast, unedited, on Wednesday — the most disgusting (but not unexpected) aspect of the saga to date has been the parade of various left-wing sympathisers in the press and elsewhere lining up to defend “their ABC” on the basis that convicted criminal, gang rape advocate and former accused terrorist Zaky Mallah was not only entitled to appear on the programme, but to proclaim that the fact he did was evidence of free speech at work and of the ABC’s fine record in empowering the powerless, and of giving them a voice.

What absolute bullshit.

At best, those who have been trotted out to fly the flag on the ABC’s behalf — from its Managing Director Mark Scott down — have spoken of freedom of speech without any appropriate sense of context for it; at worst, this was an unforgivable exercise in providing a national platform for a dangerous criminal that was contrived to either poke the hated Abbott government in the collective eye, or to publicly signal (yet again) the ABC’s solidarity with elements obsessed with undermining the national interest and bald in their hatred of our society.

In Scott’s case, he has also confused the difference between a “state broadcaster” and a “public broadcaster” and exhibited an intolerable ignorance of what is acceptable for broadcast by a media outlet entirely funded by taxpayer money.

The merit or otherwise of providing access to a vehicle for mass broadcast to a known terrorist sympathiser and would-be murderer of law enforcement officers has, coincidentally, been exposed with deadly effect tonight, as news of yet another murder attributed to Islamic State insurgents — this time in Grenoble in France — filters out of Europe, and given Mallah’s past support for radical Islamic terrorism and his intended travel to Syria to join jihadis (to “observe” them, he claims), those who now defend the wisdom of putting Mallah in front of a national audience of some 1,000,000 viewers should take a hard look at themselves.

Anybody who pays even the most cursory attention to the news of the world knows that Islamic terrorist groups maintain worldwide communication networks, and what happens in one location can well influence what happens in another. The attention the ABC has openly drawn to a known sympathiser of these groups could have sent a signal to allied cells in France.

On Monday, Islamic State begins a week of high-profile controversial publicity in Australia, aided and abetted by the national broadcaster; on Friday, it perpetuates its dominance of news media worldwide by murdering someone in France in the name of its cause. This is not a long bow to draw. The ABC is potentially very heavily culpable for its role in the sequence of events, however innocuous it proclaims its motives on Monday were.

But let’s come back to #QandA in its domestic context, for this is the main focus of my article tonight.

When the debate over ultimately unsuccessful attempts to modify S18c of the Racial Discrimination Act began, the Left in this country was apoplectic with fury over remarks by Attorney-General George Brandis to the effect that free speech meant people have the right to be bigots, whilst others have the right to ridicule, ignore, or rebut them; in the most strictly literal sense he was right, of course, but it wasn’t the first time that the astonishingly intelligent Brandis miscommunicated his message in such a ham-fisted fashion as to render the entire debate pointless.

But if Brandis had instead issued forth an assertion that people should have the right to mouth off like murderous lunatics, to threaten members of Parliament, and to advocate the pack-rape of female journalists on national TV, would the Left have been any less enraged or strident in its denunciation? Of course not.

Yet that formulation, in effect, is precisely what those who now seek to defend Monday night’s episode of #QandA are in fact defending.

Not a syllable has been uttered publicly by any prominent mouthpiece from the Left to denounce Mallah over the tweet he posted in January — republished and widely circulated this week — in which he argued conservative commentators Miranda Devine and Rita Panahi should be gang-raped on national television on the Seven network’s Sunrise programme, and for all the bluster about “misogyny” that has seeped from the Left ever since it decided playing the gender card might cut Julia Gillard some slack and divert voters’ attention from the woefully inept government she presided over, it is a neat little illustration of just how hypocritical the Left is when it comes to “values.”

My bet is that if it had been two women from the Left, rather than female identities from the Right, there would have been no end of condemnation from Labor and the Greens instead of the silence they have met the matter with.

And only a fool claims that putting a known terrorist sympathiser, who has threatened to kill ASIO officers, on a national television show is a shining example of free speech in action, or defends such an idiocy after the event. But again, as far as the apologists from the Left are concerned, there’s no problem with having Mallah beamed into hundreds of thousands of living rooms across Australia.

If Mallah is to enjoy the right to freely peddle his odious views, let him do it at the pub (where he could have the shit beaten out of him for insulting the women present) or in his social media accounts, where people can report him for God-knows-what, block him, or simply ignore him.

Someone like Mallah neither warrants nor deserves a spot on a national forum to air such antisocial and offensive viewpoints.

Labor “leader” and seemingly incorrigible dickhead Bill Shorten has, as usual, sought to have his cake and eat it too, using the storm that has erupted over #QandA to claim the ABC is “not a propaganda arm of the government” but — surprise, surprise — nonetheless “condemning” the ABC for having Mallah on the show in the first place.

Really, any utterance from Shorten is best ignored.

But the sobering facts that have emerged during the week are that ABC staff admitted they knew of Mallah’s background and selected him to ask an audience question (or even be in the #QandA audience at all) anyway; the show’s producers reviewed and helped draft the question he asked, and it is reasonable to infer they would have also had a fair idea of which direction discussion on the show would take immediately thereafter; production staff declined to provide a discretionary but standard briefing to the Coalition MP who got into an altercation with Mallah, Steve Ciobo, which inevitably suggests the intended effect was to ambush Ciobo; and just to make sure Mallah attended at all, and played the part carefully planned out for him, the ABC saw to it that he was transported from his base in western Sydney to the ABC studio in Ultimo and back again at no cost.

I’m sorry, but which aspect of any of this speaks to an inherent “right” to free speech on Mallah’s part? The whole thing was a planned stunt.

Scott is right that there is a difference between a “state broadcaster” and a “public broadcaster;” a “state broadcaster” spews ruling party propaganda out of every conceivable media orifice (TV, radio, online) whereas the ABC’s purpose, it seems, is to spew the propaganda of the government’s opponents. It’s a very straightforward arrangement.

Nobody is asking the ABC to become some mouthpiece for conservative politics or its practitioners.

But some balance — and the abandonment of partisanship altogether — would befit a public broadcaster whose role, funded by the taxpayer, is not to engage in ideological crusades and partisan brainwashing.

It’s one thing to put what in essence is a political propaganda forum on television every week and for the Left and the Right to argue about its (indisputable) bias. But Monday’s episode was something else altogether, and enough is enough.

Piers Akerman has published an excellent piece in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph that runs as a complement to the points I have made this evening. I urge readers to take the time to peruse it, for this is one occasion when the Left are seeking to defend the indefensible, and it is time those who preside over the farce that is #QandA — at the expense of the taxpayer, just to labour the point — are held to account.

The simple fact is the ABC had no right putting a piece of shit like Mallah over the national airwaves in the first place, reaching a million viewers, much less trying to justify itself after the event as encouraging “diversity” of opinion and “free” speech.

Yet again, #QandA has gone far too far in offending the limits of fairness and decency in the drivel it purports to facilitate as fearless debate.

And to put not too fine a point on it, I reiterate that I think it should be axed: for a format that promises so much, this show has been abused as a propaganda tool one time too many, and if it returns to the air next week,* it will only be because saner and wiser heads have not yet managed to prevail.

*AND ANOTHER THING: As readers would expect, my strident criticism of #QandA has also been extensive on Twitter; to this end, I suggested yesterday that the program canvass mainstream issues rather than the standard diet of indigenous issues, climate change, gay marriage, “disadvantage,” and other matters peripheral to sound governance that it is already promoting in relation to next Monday night.

I received a curt response from someone monitoring the #QandA feed inviting me to submit a video question on “one of these mainstream issues” and I have indicated that over the weekend, I will record and send them exactly that.

Stay tuned. In the highly unlikely event they use the question I am going to send them — if #QandA even proceeds next week, that is — I will let readers know how things went.

But I won’t hold my breath. Neither should you.

Lying Shorten Betrayed The Public As Well As His PM

AMID THE FALLOUT from the ABC’s airing of Labor’s filthy laundry — The Killing Season — has emerged a tawdry piece of duplicity by (now) Labor “leader” Bill Shorten that might damage him more than a first glance suggests; outed by a radio host in Melbourne as having lied publicly about his involvement in the overthrow of Julia Gillard, Shorten now presents as the most untrustworthy and dishonest candidate for the Prime Ministership in decades.

It’s an article of faith among the general public — often wrongly and mostly unfairly — that politicians are nothing more than rank liars; that the group of people elected to go off to Canberra (or to Spring Street, Macquarie Street, North Terrace and so forth) morph into the most unethical, dishonest, self-obsessed bunch of corrupt gutter dwellers the country boasts the dubious ability to spawn, and that elected representatives will literally say and/or do anything to anyone in the interests of self-advancement with a total and cavalier disregard for whom they might walk over in the process.

It’s an assessment I fundamentally disagree with: having spent a lot of time over the past 25 years or so in and around politics I know there are many, many good people on all sides of the political divide who find their way into public office, and whilst there are always a few bad apples in any barrel (and yes, politics has its fair share of them) the obfuscation of most MPs is limited to and dictated by quaint concepts such ministerial solidarity and other forms of official confidentiality that are actually contrived in the interests of the public benefit.

Whether people agree with those strictures is a valid matter for debate, for those so inclined.

But public esteem for politics and politicians is not helped by the kind of brazen lying opposition “leader” Bill Shorten was caught engaging in yesterday by 3AW morning anchor Neil Mitchell; the fact Shorten’s transgression related to precisely the kind of behaviour voters seem to find the most distasteful about politics — subterranean machinations and doing hatchet jobs on people, in this case former Prime Minister Julia Gillard — only compounds such perceptions, and reinforces the utter self-obsession of a specimen like Shorten, whose reputation for disloyalty and wielding the knife against his colleagues is already well entrenched and apparently well deserved.

For those who don’t know, Mitchell — who interviewed Shorten two days after the 2013 parliamentary Mid-Winter Ball, during which Shorten told Rudd in a secret side-meeting that he would knife Gillard and bring the support of those MPs’ votes he controlled to the Rudd camp — realised whilst watching the final instalment of The Killing Season on Tuesday night that Shorten had lied to him on air two days later; and yesterday, having “asked questions” of Shorten, Australians were gifted a grubby little insight into the man masquerading as a candidate for the Prime Ministership.

For background, readers may peruse articles from the Murdoch and Fairfax press, along with a separate opinion piece from Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt.

And people should watch the interview Mitchell taped with Shorten on 21 June 2013, during which — despite attempting to squirm his way out of giving iron-clad commitments around his support for Gillard — Shorten nonetheless gave explicit denials of any involvement of leadership machinations when we now know he was in it up to his neck, and in the course of which he had the nerve to berate Mitchell for persisting with trying to get to the bottom of Shorten’s agitation on Rudd’s behalf and his private commitment to stick his knife between Gillard’s shoulder blades.

Is it any wonder Liberal frontbencher Bruce Billson, seated alongside Shorten, could barely keep a knowing smirk off his face.

Shorten, at the time that interview was taped, was already battling unfavourable publicity over the fact he was instrumental in knifing Rudd three years earlier; now, of course, he was reprising his role by doing the same thing to Gillard.

Accusations of loyalty are never going to be something Shorten is burdened by.

But what this episode shows is that Shorten is apparently an individual prepared to literally say and do anything in his pursuit of his own political ambitions: he benefited from promotion after the elevation of Gillard as Prime Minister and, as history shows, he would benefit from promotion under the restored leadership of Kevin Rudd. In the absence of those undeserved promotions it is unlikely Shorten would have had any coherent case to make in seeking the Labor leadership after its thumping election defeat later that year.

When caught out by Mitchell, Shorten’s response was deeply unsatisfactory for a man purporting to present as a Prime Ministerial candidate; his apology was to Mitchell only, not to the audience of several hundred thousand Melburnians who were listening the day he lied on air — to say nothing of the wider Australian public, who were made aware of his denials through other media during the day — and came in the form of a phone call during a news bulletin when Mitchell was on a break. Shorten refused to be interviewed on air or for his apology to be broadcast.

His excuse for lying — that he didn’t want to make “a diabolical situation (ALP leadership speculation) worse” is disingenuous, fatuous, and an utter hypocrisy, for away from the 3AW microphone he had been doing precisely that, undermining his leader behind her back and garnering support for the termination of her tenure.

The idea he had been caught “on the hop” and by implication, unprepared to answer questions on Labor leadership rumblings and his role in them, means he is either an idiot, or totally oblivious to any concept of honesty in his public discourse, or (more realistically) both.

As recently as yesterday morning Shorten was holding the line that his hands were clean when they were not, remarking that it was not his job “to be the curator of the museum of Labor (sic)” in relation to questions around his involvement in matters oxygenated by The Killing Season when in fact, he was a central — even pivotal — player in them.

This column has been scathing of Shorten and utterly dismissive of any alleged merit he offers as a political leader, public figure or (God forbid) as a theoretical Prime Minister: episodes like this one, whilst perhaps innocuous viewed in isolation and from a purely clinical perspective, are becoming more frequent, and as I am fond of observing from time to time, where there is one there are usually others. This seems a truism and a self-fulfilling prophecy where summary analysis of Shorten is concerned.

Evidence that the Labor “leader” is a disloyal, treacherous, scheming, opportunistic and self-promoting charlatan — and now, unequivocally, a liar — is mounting. It is no wonder Shorten’s public approval numbers are collapsing, not that they were anything startling to begin with. As a “leader,” I think it’s fair to say Shorten is a red herring, and a fraud.

Nothing about this sordid little incident paints politics and politicians in a particularly rosy light but, happily, it makes Shorten look worst of all: and the point I most want to make this morning is that aside from betraying Gillard — like Rudd before her — Shorten has actually betrayed the men and women of Australia he expects to vote for him, demonstrating that they, like everyone else he encounters, are entirely instrumental to him.

Very soon, Shorten will front the Royal Commission into the trade union movement to answer and explain allegations that the Australian Workers’ Union — during his tenure as its Victorian and/or national chief — received substantial sums of money on numerous occasions from a raft of companies whilst striking industrial agreements with those businesses that stripped away the same workplace entitlements Labor and the unions (and Shorten) have been so viciously outspoken about the need to protect, most notably wherever any mentions of workplace reform and the Liberal Party are made in the same sentence.

To date, the explanations that have been offered from all interested quarters on these matters have been vague, inconsistent and unconvincing; the only conclusion to draw is that the companies involved were buying industrial peace and freedom from the threat of union-led industrial anarchy, and I can only remark that the monies involved might as well have been handed over in brown paper bags.

Shorten’s appearance at the Royal Commission probably represents his last opportunity to salvage his reputation and convince people he is able to be trusted as a prominent senior figure in affairs of state in Australia.

If the tawdry little episode revealed by Mitchell — which Shorten wilfully attempted to conceal — serves as any kind of indicative reference of what to expect, then good luck with that.