There was a long and lonely time there that myself and a chap called Liam Patrick McKay were the sole two members of the Bill Shorten Appreciation Society. I forget now who was president and who was honorary secretary but it’s true we were the founding members of BSAS. Never, ever, had a quorum.
It was our solemn duty to rush to Shorten’s defence whenever we heard people disparaging the poor bastard. And, sadly, a lot of the critics over recent years were – and still are – from left field, something we despaired – and continue to despair – over.
We tried everything we could. We’d put down reservations about the Opposition Leader to maybe the ongoing damage caused to him by that $60 million Royal Commission, created almost entirely to shove a very bright light up his “corrupt” trade union clacker.
We’d say to people happy to mark him down: “How would you have fared if they had conducted a lengthy clinical and forensic colonoscopy on your life? Would your shit still not stink after they removed that rather long and persistent probe?”
Yet they persisted and still persist: “Shorten is no Keating or Hawke or Whitlam…etc…etc….”
We’d point to the fact that Shorten over the past six years has basically played two Liberal Prime Ministers off a break, both on the floor of the Parliament and in setting policy agendas. His stump speeches on condolence motions, event anniversaries and the like before #QT were invariably much better than Turnbull’s as they are now against Morrison’s.
Sure, he’s no great orator but name a PM who was? Shorten’s not exactly awash with charisma either but then take Fizza. Looked prime ministerial but that’s about all. Ended up he had so little gunpowder in his makeup I’m surprised he fizzled at all before becoming a dead dunce of a tuppeny bunger. Anyone claiming the Happy Clapper has charisma? Or that he can get through a senence and pronounce every word proply.
Still the BSAS made no headway. There was always something about Bill that put the doubters off. Too many moles on his face? That AWU background that can offend many unionists of a different hue? Wife too pretty or too twoish? Is there something to the personal smears delivered so savagely by Michaelia Cash and Pauline Hanson?
We’d argue: you’ve got to give him and his team marks for a brave and broad policy agenda, surely? Maybe, but the doubts about Shorten lingered – and linger. Is it the name that’s pulling him up short? Maybe just like the real Julia Gillard emerged part-way through the 2010 election, will we be inviting to the stage from now on, the leader of the Australian Labor Party and the next Prime Minister of Australia B..I…L..L Broaden! Or Tallen? It’s time for a Tallen, Australia! Like it. Like it a lot. What’s in a name, anyway?
The two founding members of BSAS always thought the bugger had balls. That big-target policy agenda, for starters. Years of savage personal attacks from across the government benches that would have many good folk whimpering in a foetal position. That shows character at least, right?
And then we really thought Bill had grown an even more impressive pair of cajones when he and Labor supported the #medevac Bill last week. Now that’s big, plump ballage right there. Cup those buggers and feel their strength. What density!
Especially as Shorten and Labor would have known #medevac would unleash days of border protection chest-thumping from Morrison and his senior ministers, supported without question by #newscorpse and, as it’s turned out, Nine’s SMH and The Sun-Herald as well.
Fancy caring for sick people rotting in offshore detention? How heart-warming that a party might test this claimed shift in national sentiment that people really shouldn’t be allowed to rot away forever for the crime of seeking refuge in Australia by boat rather than by plane where the major risk was the airline food.
And then yesterday, this founding member of BSAS heard, second-hand, that Shorten may have said something along the lines that he was “fine” with Morrison’s decision to send sick people from Manus and Nauru to Christmas Island.
Sure, there was a caveat along the lines of “providing these people get the medical care they need there”. But from a distance, and second-hand, it sounded also like a little bit of border-protection chest-thumping thrown in there as well. And fine!
Bill, please! Shorto. BroadO. TallO. Christmas Island has six beds, and none of them have hospital corners! The local medical “centre” has one broken thermometer and a few bottles of asprin and Zantax. So stop being too smart-by-half. You haven’t had to resort to that up to date.
Show us those big plump cajones! Or have you seen some internal party research that tells you the notion that Australia was becoming a more humane and caring place was just a myth after all? That #newscorpse and #ninecorpse and #skynewscorpse and @quentindempster and John Howard are all correct and that recent #Ipsos slump was entirely over border protection and refugees and that you’re on a hiding to nothing on the issue?
Is that why those cajones appear to have shrivelled up to the extent they’ve possibly disappeared from sight?
Strain hard, Bill. For the two founding members of BSAS if no-one else, let’s hear them drop and plop. Give us two handfuls. You owe it to the two of us.