Bill Shorten, Killing Seasons, And A Dead Man Walking

BILL SHORTEN’S “LEADERSHIP” of the ALP is under harsh and deserved scrutiny just 18 months after it started, and seems unlikely to last the year; already buffeted by revelations from the Royal Commission into the union movement Shorten once cut such a swagger through, the ABC is set to tip a bucket of Labor’s filthy laundry — and his own handiwork — over “Contortin’ Shorten” as it rips the scab off the Rudd-Gillard feud in a tell-all tonight.

A relatively brief post from me this morning, and for once not just on account of my seemingly permanent time-challenged status; I know there has been a lot of interest over the weekend in the so-called tell-all the ABC is set to air tonight about the dysfunctional government Labor formed between 2007 and 2013, when it progressively abandoned any pretence on the competent governance of Australia and focused instead on tearing at itself over a rivalry that made the Howard-Peacock ructions in the Liberal Party three decades ago look like a pantomime by comparison.

I used the phrase “dead man walking” in an article in this column 18 months ago to describe Shorten — we’ll come back to that — but having realised some readers had looked for it over the weekend and reread it myself this morning, some of its content seems remarkably prescient with the benefit of hindsight.

What they were looking for, of course, was the excellent column by Rowan Dean carried in the Murdoch press yesterday, that essentially argued the same point from a different approach, and whatever one’s normal predilection is in terms of the Left-Right divide, it is getting hard even for those on the Left to defend Shorten: so variable is his grounding in “principle” and so vacuous is his pretension to in fact “lead” in the real sense of the word, “Contortin’ Shorten’s” one-man march to the Prime Ministership looks in serious danger of being derailed.

I intend to post again later tonight, once the ABC has aired the first of three episodes of its dirt doco on the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd government, The Killing Season, for in Labor’s struggle with itself during six years of tepid and incompetent government Shorten’s fingerprints were all over every treacherous contortion and every excruciating outburst of infighting.

Indeed, Shorten carries the dubious honour of having “knifed” consecutive Prime Ministers within his own party in less than three years on a template that included fulsome and solemn guarantees of loyalty to the replacement in each case; it’s a record that makes even the treacherous Billy McMahon, in the Liberal Party of the late 1960s and 1970s, appear positively pristine.

But for now, I share again the article I published on 4 February last year — Skewered: Why Bill Shorten Is A Dead Man Walking — which zeroed in on the Royal Commission into the union movement that was then getting underway, and which opined that by the time it was all finished, so too would be Shorten’s career as a Labor MP and “leadership” figure.

Significantly, it pointed to the penchant at the time for key Labor and union figures — including Shorten and another detested target of this column in ACTU chief Ged Kearney — to yell as loudly and as widely as they could that there was no need for a Royal Commission: everything should have been “left to the Police,” and I said at the time this was apparently a formula to look as if they were committed to cleaning up the union movement by arguing any investigation into it be left to under-resourced, undermanned, time-starved state-based Police services which by their nature were incapable of mounting the sort of integrated national operation such an investigation required.

Certainly, without the powers of a Royal Commission, such an investigation would have been hobbled in its ability to dig below the surface or to compel the testimony of people like Shorten at all.

With the kind of revelations beginning to come out of the Heydon commission (which just today seem set to claim the scalp of an AWU hack in the Victorian government) it’s clear that no Police investigation could have gotten as far – which was precisely the reason Shorten, Kearney, and the rest of their self-obsessed mates wanted one in the first place.

The Heydon Commission, of course, is set to ripen a bit further before the extent of its damage to the ALP and to Shorten is fully evident.

But tonight, we (presumably) get to see the ALP in all its ugly glory: tearing at itself, putting personal enmities and vindictiveness ahead of its responsibilities to the country, and with the knife-wielding Shorten well and truly in the thick of it, it’s hard to see how the ABC’s programme can do anything other than compound the death roll trajectory his “leadership” now appears fixed on.

Enjoy the day. I will post again late this evening.



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