Whilst art is my main preoccupation the three ring circus that is Australian politics is a spectacle that never ceases to intrigue especially at election time.
The Players Still Standing
Where we’re At & How we Got There
Can you imagine what it must be like to wake up the morning after the adrenaline rush of the previous day and find yourself the Prime Minister of Australia. After a quick dash to the toilet, then over your first Prime Ministerial bacon and eggs the enormity of what has happened would firmly come to rest upon your shoulders: the expectations of 24 million people directed at you alone with almost half of them, perhaps even more depending how you got your hands on the prize, just waiting, with some indeed hoping, for you to fuck up.
Back in 2007 when Kevin Rudd got his paws on the golden ring his inner control freak surfaced: the micro manager with a finger in every pie and an acerbic tongue for those who couldn’t or wouldn’t keep up. After sensing the mounting disquiet of his colleagues he lost his nerve and began to fumble the ball.
When it landed in Julia Gillard’s court she couldn’t believe her luck, so she went to the people for confirmation and got lucky.
The 2010 hung parliament she was given was a blessing in disguise. Negotiating a deal with the Greens she ended up with Bob Brown covering her back. There ensued one of Australia’s most effective parliaments. But Brown’s price was that she break an election promise and enact the Carbon Tax.
It was manna from heaven for the Oxford pugilist Tony Abbott, who with a reputation of playing the man harder than he played the ball started playing a misogynistic game of hardball. Along the way he spooked the Australian people along with the Gillard Government with a negative tirade of financial Armageddon and the threat of a xenophobic tinged tsunami.
The loss of the Greens’ support and the brief return of Rudd as the Prime Minister saw the government of the day decimated at the polls.
When the prize landed in Abbott’s lap he believed he had finally been given his just deserts.
Given a massive mandate in the 2013 election Abbott believed he could do no wrong. After reneging on a host of promises he was dumbfounded by the size and the speed of the people's backlash. With nowhere to turn he doubled down on his mantras of boats and austerity.
The delightfully urbane Malcolm Turnbull saw the writing on the wall and some six months ago he pulled the rug out from under the arguably most hated and ridiculed Prime Minister in modern history.
With a margin of just ten votes amongst his ideological riven colleagues Turnbull has tried to be all things to all people. A strategy that has seen him become indecisive and without a clearly articulated vision for the future.
Meanwhile waiting in the dugout is Bill Shorten, a man with the remarkable ability to herd cats. Learned in his years as a Union organizer it is a skill he has used to unite his colleagues as they mount a credible challenge to incumbent government. And whilst they are united in purpose their plan for the future is modest if more inclusive.
Also on the sidelines are the South Australian phenomenon Nick Xenophon and the Greens’ Richard Di Natale. Neither expects to claim the golden ring, but each has the desire to influence the new order come July the third. Xenophon’s influence would no doubt be South Australian centric whilst Di Natale’s broader based Greens party have a wide ranging comprehensive plan, albeit somewhat more progressive than that of the big boys.
Whoever the Australian people favour on July the second, come the following morning, as either Malcolm or Bill confront their future, the voters hope that there is more to their ruminations than the self-satisfaction of achieving their ambition’s goal. Perhaps how they intend to govern, what they intend to achieve and how they will articulate that vision to their fellow Aussies would be a good place to start. It’s better late than never.