The consensus seems to be that Bill Shorten has “lost some bark” during his appearance at the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption, but the damage is not serious.
- Sources within the Labor Party have told the ABC that Mr Shorten has “lost some bark” through the process, and that it is “unhelpful” for the alternative prime minister to be hauled before the inquiry and the cameras.
But they do not think the damage to his credibility is serious and maintain there was “no smoking gun” or “hanging offence” in the commission hearing.
Certainly it has not been a good look for Shorten. Excuses like, it was someone else’s fault, or the other mob do it too, lead to a deficit in public esteem for politicians generally. No doubt Shorten’s personal ratings will suffer, but his leadership will only come into question if Labor sinks in the two party preferred opinion poll ratings. People probably care less than journalists and political aficionados think.
There’s a lot in body language, and Ben Eltham says Shorten looked comfortable at the Commission. Shorten, he says, was good at delivering better pay and conditions for the workers, and a co-operative workforce for the bosses. Projets got completed under budget and ahead of time.
Shorten ran foul of the Commissioner by giving answers that were too expansive. The problem was, I think, that unions and bosses are meant to be at loggerheads. That is their natural state. When they are close and bosses show their gratitude in kind it suddenly becomes a conflict of interest rather than a convergence of interest. Shorten was continually questioning the premise underlying the question, rather than accepting its terms and just answering yes or no.
Eltham says the Commission is “a blatantly partisan witch-hunt” and people understand that. Shorten said of the Commissioner “he has a job to do, I get that, it’s Tony Abbott’s Royal Commission.”
- The Commissioner himself has therefore now become embroiled in the swirling controversy, as perhaps was inevitable.
Eltham says Shorten may have come out of the affair with his standing enhanced. Certainly it has pepped him up.
- Speaking to a rowdy crowd of Labor faithful at Sydney’s Covent Garden hotel last Sunday night, a visibly animated Shorten gave a rousing speech defending Labor’s core values.
Same-sex marriage, Indigenous recognition, affordable health and education, and “an Australia where people can organise to have a strong minimum wage and they will not be subject to a royal commission” were the key points.
An animated Shorten started to look like an alternative prime minister.
Meanwhile the real PM, if that’s not a contradiction in terms, has been looking exceptionally animated in recent times, leading to speculation about an early election. Antony Green looks at the options. With the TPP polls better than 52-48 in favor of labor, Abbott would be brave to try, but also mad enough to fancy he’s got Labor and Shorten where he wants them.
Surely Peta Credlin will say no.