During the weekend before last Dennis Atkins In the Courier Mail said that while authenticity in leadership was important, both our main party leaders lacked authenticity, but Scott Morrison was better than Bill Shorten at faking it. Atkins is usually on the money, but that time he was wrong. One has it, and the other doesn’t.
This week Bill Shorten fought back tears as he paid tribute to mother after Daily Telegraph’s ‘rubbish’ attack (from The Guardian):
- The Daily Telegraph report criticised Shorten for failing to mention on ABC’s Q&A program that his mother went on to have an “illustrious” career as a barrister after a midlife career change.
The fact is that she did not have an illustrious legal career. Shorten described it as “rather dispiriting”. Although she had topped the law school, she struggled to get her articles, and when she came to the bar she only got about 9 briefs in 6 years.
Shorten spoke for nine minutes, but the most I can find is about three. This is from The Guardian:
Chris Bowen on radio said this wasn’t journalism, it was a vile personal attack, part of the NewsCorp war on Labor. Shorten had used is mother’s story many times in private and in public to let people know what motivated him in public life. The newspaper would have known that. This was a calculated personal attack.
Shorten was a little more generous, calling the NewsCorp attack “gotsh*t journalism”. From the first Guardian link:
Shorten said that his mother enrolled in law school in her late 40s, while working full-time and raising a family, and had “topped the law school” when she was in her early 50s.
But because of discrimination against older women, his mother had struggled to do her articles with a law firm who preferred “young and jazzy” types, completing her qualification at the Leo Cussen institute before becoming a barrister.
“She got about nine briefs in her time. It was actually a bit dispiriting. She had wanted to do law when she was 17, she didn’t get that chance, she raised kids, and at 50, she backed herself,” Shorten said.
“But she discovered in her mid-50s that sometimes, you’re just too old, and you shouldn’t be too old, but she discovered the discrimination against older women.”
Shorten said the experience of his “brilliant” mother had instilled him the value of education and shown him the importance of equality of opportunity.
“My mum is the smartest woman I’ve ever known. It has never occurred to me that women are not the equal of men. It’s never occurred to me that women shouldn’t be able to do everything. That is why I work with strong women. That is why I believe in the equal treatment of women,” Shorten said.
“My mum would want me to say to older women in Australia – that just because you’ve got grey hair, just because you didn’t go to a special private school, just because you don’t go to the right clubs, just because you’re not part of some back-slapping boy’s club, doesn’t mean you should give up.
“I can’t change what happened to my mum. But I can change things for other people. And that’s why I’m in politics.”
Shorten has extended this principle to giving everyone the chance to do the best for themselves – the young, the old, the poor, the disabled, the academic, the more practically oriented, the entrepreneurs, the artistic, and so on, then to provide everyone with the necessary social and physical infrastructure, lift R&D expenditure to 3% of GDP over time, increase our foreign aid and refugee intake.
Shorten’s mum may have achieved her ambition with maternity leave, adequate childcare, and early childhood education for her kids, although there is still ageism, racial and gender discrimination in the workplace and in the professions.
The photo at the head of the post comes from Samantha Maiden’s story at The New Daily ‘One step at a time’: How ‘a new low’ has strengthened Bill Shorten’s resolve. She says:
- On the campaign trail, the Labor leader likes to get one of his media staff to look straight into his eye throughout press conferences to provide a sight line so he’s looking straight down the camera and to help him have a person to address his responses to directly.
On this day, that meant his media minder – who was also getting teary as he cried about his mum – had to keep looking him in the eye as he teared up.
If you check the video, in fact Shorten’s eyes move around. Maiden says he didn’t know he was going to cry, it just happened. Tillett says it wasn’t a rant, he knew exactly what he was going to say, both Tillett and maiden report that he was back on track and calm soon after the event.
I thought he looked a bit washed out later that day in the third debate. However, I think he was having trouble with Sabra Lane, the sole moderator, who was riding him, but allowed ScoMo full freedom to interrupt and spruik as long as he liked. On two occasions she gave ScoMo the last word on Labor policies, (I think early childhood education and cancer treatment) when, frankly, ScoMo was talking nonsense.
So why does Shorten feel he has to talk about his mum?
Andrew Tillett in the AFR in ‘Political hit’ on Shorten’s mum backfires tells us why:
- Mr Shorten’s political career has been characterised as union wheeler-dealer, factional powerbroker, faceless prime ministerial assassin and unprincipled populist.
Much of that characterisation has come from his political opponents, plus a rampant news organisation ultimately run by a foreigner, who should be deemed not a fit and proper person to head a news organisation, given that the fourth estate in a democracy should hold governments, politicians and political parties accountable in a non-partisan way.
The Coalition have been relentless in their characterisation of Bill Shorten as shifty and untrustworthy, a man who plans to get his get his hand in your pocket and take your money.
For a very long time the Coalition have adopted a ‘Kill Bill’ strategy. It’s been there since he was elected leader, but was strong before the 2016 election. I identified it on this blog in Kill Bill or any distraction vs a fair go. That was Turnbull. After his demise we had ScoMo makes it personal. In the election period, two images have been everywhere. First:
First note that the colours and ALP signia makes it look like a Labor-generated image. Secondly, the photo-shopped image of Shorten makes him look sinister. Thirdly, the words are just wrong, as I’ll show below.
We’ve had this material in our letterbox at least four times. I’ve seen it in ads on the TV. Ironically both featured in the Tillett article linked above. My younger brother said it was all over the early polling station in Indooroopilly. I expect it will be all over the school fence on polling day where I go to vote.
My brother challenged the local LNP candidate, a creep called Julian Simmonds in the seat of Ryan, a political apparatchik who shafted the member, Jane Prentice, and I am told is roundly disliked by his own mob. The net result is that nothing illegal is being done, and Liberal Party people do not seem to have heard of ethics.
I think it has reached the stage that any political signage of images should be banned around polling stations, and all political advertising by parties and outside persons or groups should be cleared by a panel of ethicists chosen by the AEC. Take a look at this image from the REIA which came in my New Daily feed:
On the substance of the above Liberal flyers, taxes for most people will be lower under Labor; some perks and give-aways will disappear. This is from Labor costing document Labor’s Fair Go Budget Plan (page 5):
CLOSING LOOPHOLES FOR THE TOP END OF TOWN
- 96% of Australians won’t be affected by our plans to abolish cash refunds for excess imputation credits.
- 95% of superannuants won’t be affected by our changes to superannuation concessions.
- 98% of taxpayers won’t be affected by our reforms to discretionary trusts.
- 99% of taxpayers won’t be affected by our reforms to limit the deductability of costs associated with managing tax affairs.
- 100% of people currently invested in shares or property will be unaffected by our changes to negative gearing and capital gains (because our plans are fully grandfathered).
- 90% of taxpayers don’t negatively gear at all, while almost 70% of all capital gains go to the top 10% of income Earners.
The few are now benefitting from the taxes paid by the many. Concessions and give-aways to be removed by Labor from the few will now be spent on services for the many and for disadvantaged groups, while more than doubling the LNP surplusses. Labor will prioritise tax relief taxes for those below around $45K which the LNP almost entirely neglects.
- a fair chunk of those savings would be spent, on programs such as Labor’s Medicare cancer plan, its pensioner dental plan, extra hospital funding and greater childcare subsidies. They would boost the economy.
Unlike the Coalition, Labor isn’t locking in tax changes years out into the future (although its costings set aside $200 billion for extra tax cuts at some point over the next ten years); it is giving itself flexibility in order to manage the economy as needed when the time came.
It’s true that in the end Labor will be aiming at taxes of 24.3% of GDP compared to the LNP’s arbitrary cap of 23.9%. This closeness masks the fact that Labor gains on the expenditure side by limiting giveaways. Labor’s taxes a low by historical standards, including budgets delivered by the Coalition:
In March ScoMo said the Election will be a contest between enterprise and envy:
With Morrison the smirk is never far away.
There is a clear line of consistency from Hockey’s ‘lifters and leaners’. Morrison also believes in ‘a fair go for those who have a go’ which as Katharine Murphy explains has a deeper meaning.
That link leads directly to Greg Jericho’s piece Australian poverty in graphs: it’s a desperate state of affairs.
Simon Birmingham on Q&A made a virtue of not giving any consideration at all to a lift in NewStart over the next 10 years, when significant tax relief for the wealthy is planned. The social/economic safety net in Australia has become seriously broken under the LNP’s watch.
Much concern is being shown on a daily basis over horrific conditions in nursing homes. Laura Tingle points out that:
- the Morrison Government is making a further significant investment in aged care, with $320 million for residential aged care and an additional 10,000 homecare packages across all levels as part of a new $662 million package to support older Australians
However, the $320 million is a one-off paid this financial year, and can’t be used to raise the level of care on an on-going basis. Tingle also points out:
the sector says that, since 2014, between pausing and reducing indexation of ongoing residential care subsidies, rejigging the funding formula and other changes, the current Government has reduced funding to the sector by about $3 billion.
Yet ScoMo is spruiking “record funding” to aged care. It’s a case where almost across the board, the Morrison government is pretending to do something when it is doing nothing.
That said. Labor should have included at least some increase to both NewStart and nursing homes before the outcomes of inquiries. They have admitted something must be done, but typically hold back until a specific promise can be formulated.
Meanwhile Morrison and his team have consistently lied, distorted and dissembled through the campaign. One of the first instances was Labor’s aim to have electric vehicles form half of new sales by 2030, a modest policy that the LNP actually shared. Yet it was characterised as a war on decent people, making false claims about Labor’s actual policy. See the roasting they got from Kristina Keneally.
Morrison has repeatedly suggested that if you vote Labor you will get the Greens and with them, death taxes, because of a remark made by Richard di Natale several years ago.
It’s basically fake news. Neither Labor nor the Greens have inheritance taxes on their agendas, and have repeatedly said so.
A recent example is when faced with a report on world-wide extinctions, Morrison took the ‘nothing to see here’ we’ve already dealt with that’ approach, referring to legislation which apparently doesn’t exist.
Returning to the Bill’s mum story, most commentators think it may have marked a pivot in the campaign where the real Bill Shorten began to emerge. See, for example Phillip Coorey in The campaign body language has shifted.
Tony Koch, retired NewsCorp reporter, penned an article For 30 years I worked for News Corp papers. Now all I see is shameful bias. I would have thought that the general opprobrium about the article would mean that a lesson may have been learnt.
Wrong, as News Corp’s army of apologists defend ‘Mother of Invention’ attack on Bill Shorten, with one article talking about “moany Tony” pining for a past that has disappeared.
Something needs to be done about this. A major news organisation taking a partisan role with little respect for the truth is damaging democracy. In this interview with Niki Savva we learn that sub-editorial interference goes beyond adding titles to articles that have nothing to do with the actual content. In some cases the text is even changed.
For me, Shorten on Q&A hit his straps in a way I’d never seen before. Certainly his strength is that he leads a united and talented team:
Morrison has fought the election alone:
The smirk is never far away. And has been economical with the truth:
In the Maiden article above, Shorten gives his opinion of Morrison:
“I think he is what he is.”
“I have strong views. I just don’t think he’s up to the job. I just don’t think he’s the man with the imagination, the character for the nation. I don’t think he has the skills to run a team. I don’t think he has the policy ideas that I think this country needs.”
Shorten could be right. The LNP campaign has been beyond presidential. Senior ministers have been in witness protection. And in the third debate, the discussion was almost entirely on Labor’s policies.
Perhaps mercifully, not many of the voters have been paying attention.