Yes, while we may blame the Coalition for all things this week, we should wonder why Bill Shorten’s criticism hasn’t been volcanic.
It would be very easy for me to jump on my keyboard and shout about the abundant tomfoolery and self-centred foolishness that’s been emanating from the Turnbull government as of late. All I’d need to do is provide that photo of Barnaby Joyce marvelling at the piece of coal Scott Morrison found it necessary to bring into parliament last week. But no.
In a similar vein, it would be very simple to explode with fiery rage at the cutting of Sunday and public holiday penalty rates, ruled over this week in what seems to be the very same breath as Victorian MP Michael Sukkar (echoing Joe Hockey) saying that if young people want to buy a house, they should get a well-paying job. This, of course, being a move that has never been considered by anyone, ever.
What really makes me angry, though, besides all of the easy-to-malign mischief of the LNP, the bullhorn of organised complaint, Bill Shorten, seemingly has his batteries removed. Yes, he made an easily forgettable speech opposing the coal push. He also came up with the most predictable answer to the penalty rates cut.
But that’s not what’s needed.
That’s not how an Opposition Leader gets attention, gets people on side, or gets anything done. Where are his angry speeches? Where is his rhetoric echoing ours, steeled by our nods that “Yeah, we said that, onya Bill”?
Where is he? Does he care? Is he just biding his time until he unleashes some magnum opus that will make us forgive all his bland sins? Where are you, Bill?
We need you. The Turnbull government is serving up a menu of steaming insult: one after another, a six-course experience of apathy, and he’s not doing any rabble rousing. A strong voice of opposition is needed. We backed him when Turnbull attacked him earlier this month, defending him against what was a fairly brutal ad hominem attack.
But where has he been since? Bill Shorten isn’t out there, rallying, defending the rights of the working class, and fighting off the impending death of our entire environment. He’s just making quiet comments, expected comebacks to displeasing events, as if he were watching a rather uninspiring play. The people who are under attack are those he’s vowed to defend. His people. The working poor. The unemployed. The disabled. The carers. Students. Youth. Pensioners. Everyone who isn’t, or directly works for, the one percent.
Worse that than, those with two jobs, or no jobs, are doing his job for him! Time after time, we come after the frankly galling moves made by the LNP, and Shorten can’t even muster up a few pounds of energy to shake the tree. Bill. Please. Do something. Anything. Grab the political ouija board to summon the spirit of Kim Beazley, anything to enable a meaningful retort. Even if it’s a verbose five minute rant where the subtext is simple: “Come at me!”
Our political system is, in essence, an adversarial one. It’s designed so that no one party gets away with too much. When Shorten sees the government dying on a particularly insane hill, it’s his job to play the school teacher and haul them back in line. He needs to crack his knuckles and show them that he means business. As it is, he’s playing second fiddle, positioning himself as the political manifestation of “forever the bridesmaid”.
For if you don’t, the equation is simple. Those who are missing out, deserve better. We don’t need another victim, we’ve already got us. We need leadership. Either shape up, or leadership out.