If you’ve turned on a TV or been to an online news-site lately, then you’ve no doubt heard about the election for Grand High Emperor of the Galaxy. Or rather, the Leader of the Labor Party. Sorry, I was confused by the level of media coverage being given to this epic saga into thinking it was something that was in any way important. We now know that Bill Shorten was elected as Opposition Leader. This middle aged white Catholic-School educated male lawyer beat out his opponent, the middle aged white Catholic-School educated male economist Anthony Albanese. After a three week campaign which included three leadership debates, the winner was finally decided by a combination of the votes of Labor MPs and the rank-and-file membership. All hail Democracy! Each member of the ALP was given one half of a vote to choose their preferred leader from two guys who are almost exactly the same.
“That’s not fair!” you may cry. “It was a great step forward for the party! An end to Faceless Men choosing the leader in smoky back rooms.”
This is true and I have no objection to the members of the party choosing their leader through popular vote. In fact, that should be the norm. But, given that most of us watching the news cannot vote in a party election, does it really need a three week campaign and media frenzy? To me, it just seemed more like the Labor Party desperately trying to stay in the public eye while a new government got all the press. If that was the aim, it worked. I heard more about the Leadership Contest than I did about Tony Abbott’s new cabinet.
More laughable still is both candidates’ assertions that the other would make an excellent leader and that the loser would not contest again. I suppose it was meant to instil confidence in the future stability of the party. To me, it just suggests a lack of passion. Neither was able to say with any certainty why he would be the better candidate, and the primary reason for this was the lack of ideological difference between the two. Neither man felt strongly enough about any individual issue that he was willing to be insistent about it. Instead we had a battle of personalities between two men without personality.
The trouble is, it doesn’t matter all that much who leads the Labor party for the next three years. The new Prime Minister is a polarising figure, and seems to be decreasing in popularity with every week. At the 2016 election, most voters will be asking themselves one question: “Do I want Tony Abbott for another three years?”
If the answer is yes, then they will vote Coalition. If the answer is no, they will not, and in most electorates, that means a preference flow to Labor. If they are voting Abbott out, then the Labor leader can be Shorten, Albanese, Rudd or a cheese sandwich. It won’t matter.
The author would like to note she is not a member of any poltical party.