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In the aftermath of Labor’s defeat in Saturday’s elections the first item of business for Labor is the problem of who is going to lead them over the next three years. Within a matter of a few hours after the polls were showing a sizeable defeat to Labor, social media, new and old media were engaged in second-guessing who that person may be.

Four names were immediately bandied about. They were: Bill Shorten, Tanya Plibersek, Anthony Albanese and Penny Wong.

Senator Penny Wong

Senator Penny Wong

I’d like to eliminate Penny Wong from the debate at the outset. Penny Wong has been one of the best performers for the Labor government over its term. She is, however, a senator from South Australia. This precludes her in the short-term from becoming the leader of the opposition. Whatever her future aspirations may be they do not include the disarray that moving to the House of Representatives would cause. She will, and should be, to the forefront of any shadow ministry.

Bill Shorten will probably be the short priced favourite for Labor leadership. This would be a serious mistake. Shorten has been, and will be in the future, an extremely competent minister. But far more is required of a leader.

Bill Shorten

Bill Shorten

Unfortunately Bill Shorten is perceived by so many Labor supporters and those in the broader community as nothing more, nor nothing less, than one of Labor’s so-called faceless men,and just another former union-hack. He doesn’t have what Labor needs for the next three years. He is unable to communicate effectively, nor does he resonate with the broader community, and he carries baggage, rightly or wrongly, that will make him an easy target for the Abbott government and the media.

Bill Shorten will deliver to Labor more of the same; more of the same image; more of the same spin. This is exactly the opposite of what is needed.

I love Tanya Plibersek. She is my local member and has been one of the best performing ministers for the Labor Government over the last three years. I understand why her name would be put forward as a potential leader. But she is 43 years old with three very young children, and she’s a woman.

Tanya Plibersek

Tanya Plibersek

Why anyone would start a campaign to conscript her in the current circumstances beggars belief. To my horror the one thing I’ve learnt from the past three years with Julia Gillard as Prime Minister is just how deeply misogynist as well as racist, this country is.

Apart from the obvious question, of ‘why would any woman put their hand up for the job having seen how Gillard was treated’, the next question is ‘why would any woman try and conscript another woman to face the same poisonous environment?’

If Tanya does put her hand up for the job more power to her; she’s got my vote. Please don’t be surprised if she doesn’t, nor hold it against her. Unlike many who don’t even think about the consequences to those around them that come from living in the spotlight on a political stage, Tanya will not readily do anything that has such a substantial impact on her immediate family.

For me that leaves Anthony Albanese, known affectionately Australia-wide as Albo. For whatever reason, seemingly the continuing friendly working relationship with Gillard and a widely perceived engaging personality, Albo, unlike Shorten, appears Teflon-coated in not carrying the huge baggage resulting from his continued support of Kevin Rudd.

Anthony Albanese

Anthony Albanese

Albo ticks all the boxes, except of course for the faction box. He’s an extremely competent minister. He communicates brilliantly with not only core Labor people, but with the wider community at large. Albo doesn’t talk in political spin instead he uses language that resonates. He’s not afraid of wearing his heart on his sleeve. He is a truly brilliant communicator. The surgical precision with which Albo dismantled David Speers in a Sky News interview late last week, was masterly. Everyone in the media, old and new, respects him. But most importantly of all, Abbott fears him. Indeed most of the coalition frontbench fear him. That speaks volumes.

Albo is what is needed in the short term to re-engage the Labor heartland, and articulate the differences between an Abbott Government and a Labor opposition. He is, of course, from the wrong faction. With Labor’s primary vote being the lowest in 100 years factional considerations shouldn’t even come into play. Labor needs a clever, engaging, brilliant and proven communicator who has a touch of the mongrel in him. For me that’s Albo.

Of course over the next couple of days others may put up their hand. I would ask all Labor members to consider the only thing that matters – who is the most able among you who can lead Labor away from the edge of the political precipice?

About boeufblogginon

I am a frustrated cook who is also a lover of all sport, politics, film, TV, theatre and a standard poodle with attitude called Toss.

9 responses »

  1. The questions I ask myself are these;.

    1….Do I trust a man who for best part of three years saw first hand the damage Rudd was doing to Ms Gillard, her Government and a party he professes to love and owe everything to, yet he did nothing. Other than plot against Ms Gillard.

    2….How do I gauge the strength of a mans character knowing that for 3 years he stood alongside and ” fought tories ” with a woman who was willing to burn the little bit of political capital she had to ensure nation building legislation passed the house and senate? Fighting attacks engineered by Rudd, prosecuted by a corrupt media and by leaks from the very cabinet room he was an integral part of? Then, after all the blood sweat and tears, he throws her to the jackals, and supports the weakest of men…Kevin Rudd.

    3….Do I want such a man speaking of and articulating the values I believe the ALP stand for?

    No, I do not.

    • This is not an uncommon view and I have some sympathy with it. The reality is we are given the option of two men from which to choose. Of these two men who is going to perform better against Tony Abbott and reclaim lost ground? One scares Abbott and seems to have no trouble engaging with the public, the other doesn’t. On that basis I’ll support Albo.

      Thank you for taking the time and trouble to comment. It is greatly appreciated. We will both watch with interest political events as they unfold. I look further to your contributions.


  2. A very good argument. He does have that benefit of retaining support of JG while preferring Rudd, and has never been badmouthed by either side. And that factions ought not to matter. It is also a thing that needs fixing up a grass roots level, too.

    Over at my regular blog, The Pub, a few of us have thought of Dreyfus, as a person distant from the wars, and who is good and concise debater. He may well go some way to restoring public confidence, which took a battering from the Rudd stalking. He hasn’t even been mentioned in the possibles- so probably hasn’t a lot of backing.

    But a team of him and Albo and him in whatever order would be quite reasonable for the rebuilding. Albo especially would be good for sticking the needle in.

    • I like Dreyfus. For me I’ll slate him in a possible further down the line. He could learn to speak less like a lawyer. Difficult I know as I’m married to one. I am increasingly impressed by Chris Bowen who seems to be handling the acting leadership role with aplomb.

      The reality that faces Labor now is that the choice is between Shorten and Albanese.

      Thank you for commenting. I’ll now chase down your blog and I hope to hear from you again as we watch events unfold.


  3. I completely agree with your analysis.

    Shorten is like watching beige paint drying and if he throws his hat in the ring it will just give Abbott more ammunition, not to mention taking up more time due to the changes Rudd made.

    Albo knows how to fight Abbott and has done so successfully for the last 4 years.

    Lets see who is competent enough to become PM in the Labor camp in 18 months time.

    • I agree. We can but wait and see. I approve of the involvement of Labor members in the process. It removes the ‘faceless men’ argument from leadership struggles. That can now apply to the Liberal Party powers that be. It empowers and rewards party members who are the backbone of any political party. I wish it was extended to Senate seat nominations.

      Politics, well Labor politics, has a new approach and it should prove fascinating.


  4. I must say that although your analysis is thoughtful and considered, I feel that I have to disagree with the potential of Shorten as likely leader versus Abanese as desired leader.

    Of course this argument is now moot, given that the leader has been selected. But I was going to say that as much as it might be percieved that Albanese makes a better Opposition leader than Shorten, I don’t think the Australian people will tolerate much longer the kind of parliamentary shenanigens they usually (only) see during question time, so the kinf of belligerant politic would not be advantageous at this time.

    Sure send in the clown to tackle an obvious howler, but to have the keating-esque argy-bargy wouldnt succeed (mainly because neither of them are Keating, but also becase Abbott is no Howard. Times have changed, dammit.)

    I have more faith in a potential future leader as the next election rears it’s god-damned ugly head but for now a faceless man showing some face might be about as clever as we need to be – it won’t be too long before people start to realise that those who simply believe they should be in power “because” will not actually do it well, nor in our interest, so let the chips fall where they may.

    What have we already had in the two weeks of Liberal “Rule”? A diplomatic incident that borders on the ridiculous, a stubbornness to eradicate an actual working policy, and the engagement of the military in an uncomfortable method to cover up the failure of a policy that never should have seen the light of day.

    I don’t think Australia wants to turn boats back, and I sure as hell don’t think that they wanted to engage in a diplomatic failure of the kind we are now seeing pay out mainly because somebody believed that technology would be better than actually talking to people.

    I think I heard Geoffrey Robertson this afternoon on Radio National putting it best, when he suggested that this was a complete failure of intelligence. Why anybody would even want to bug the phone of the wife of the Indonesian PM should have been summarily dismissed.

    Oh, I know they tend to gossip these women. Sure. And maybe a few tidbits of intel might get through the talkbox but – /really/ ?!
    as if anybody needed to bug Tony’s phone to actually /know/ where he stood, or what he /thought/.

    Give us a break. Are these the kinds of people we have in intelligence these days? Where are the Philbys, the Gentlemen of secrets? What happened to grace and flair?

    Give a kid a mobile, a web connection and a few pieces from radio f**king shack, and you’ve got an (un)intelligence service.

    And you can seriously forget actual diplomacy. Overpriced government public servants, lets sack them all. Why not?

    forgive the rantyness, sorry, but I am actually really quite p**sed off.

    • I’m so glad you were not pissed off with me. Do not apologise for the rant. I often get so frustrated that I need to go for a walk to cool down. Of course the situation since I wrote this piece has resolved itself on the question of ALP leadership. The concern I had with Shorten has materialised since his election to leader and especially his performance in Question Time, which at best is lack lustre. There appears to be no strategic approach which worries me.

      The Government, on the other hand, is performing for worse than even I ever thought possible. Questions of competence should now be continually raised. They seem to stumble from one disaster to another like a ball in a pinball machine. Tony Abbott does not appear to handle pressure well, which is unfortunate in any leader. When I say ‘leader’ I’m not confining myself to politics, nation but also companies – any formal institution.

      We live in ‘interesting’ times.

      Many thanks for reading the post and taking the time to comment. It’s much appreciated.


      • egotistical thing to ask, but I guess I want tp know if I actually got it right?
        I know it will take time. and we have to be prepared to allow failure rather
        than complain about it.
        What I guess I mean is that we have to hope for the best?
        Although I really was prepared to accept an insincere government I still
        believed that it would be at best “waiting to take on the challenge”

        But Bernardi’s revelations regarding the National Broadcaster strike me as both fearful and “just what we might expect”.

        So commercial contention doesn’t fare well as compared to a well supported and funded (Ha!) arm of government? What really disturbs me is that there are actual people who believe as he does.

        and it strikes a pointed sword at the heart of what we would consider to be an opportunity for free thought, after all, doesnt radio national present a balanced point of view.

        forgive me if this is somewhat distracted, I have been listening to and trying to play the mark seymour guitar parts to “Cut”.
        I try to hang on. this is a kind of connection I need to keep.
        stay with the words.
        I guess Vale, Mandela. Just when we need them, they pass away.
        But brighter as a star (as against what UK PM said) he hasn’t left us.
        He has left us with something to do.
        I’m posting.

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