Kevin Rudd’s failure to bring about a resounding election victory and a concise concession speech has meant it’s time to think about who will lead the fractured ALP. How long that battle will rage on for is reliant on the political ambitions of Bill Shorten, the ALP Caucus and some guy by the name of “Tony Abbott” (not to be mistaken with internet ego, Tone Abet) . The ALP, under Rudd, have also allegedly reformed their ballot process to incorporate the members. We’ll see how long that lasts for. I’m giving it a week, and then people will get bored and go back to watching the true political contest – The Bachelor.
There have been three candidates that stick out in my mind who may be poised to take the lead. We’ll start with the most aspirational candidates.
Tanya Plibersek – Member for Sydney
Tanya Plibersek is the dream candidate for many Australians, particularly her inner westie, feminist loving fangirls who drink too much tea in cafes and lounge around Surry Hills lamenting about the state of politics. In other words, people like me.
She comes from a background of student politics, so she’ll be well positioned to deal with the immaturity of the LNP. I thought she was a fine health minister and she’s a consistent performer in parliament. She’s also a great supporter of women’s rights and she receives vocal support from some whacky group called “Women’s Agenda”, in addition to her raving fangirls. I suspect that her commitment to the feminist cause is something of a perplexing riddle to the LNP, who are secretly wondering why she isn’t in the kitchen and making more children for the good of the nation. She also apparently likes the gays and has worked consistently to eliminate discrimination. As a full time lesbian, this pleases me greatly.
This comes from a place of love and concern, but I just don’t think Plibersek has the stomach for it. But give her time. I think of her like a fine red wine – with time, she’ll develop into something really special. Perhaps I need to stop watching Q&A with a glass of wine while appreciating the fine form that is Tanya (and potentially stop being such a creep).
Bill Shorten – Member for Maribyrong
Bill Shorten is a policy powerhouse and is not only a heavyweight within the party, but also its kingmaker. But can the King Maker become King? He has the backing of the right factions and the AWU, which makes him a formidable candidate however he has lacklustre support amongst the members. Despite his ability to articulate ALP policy effectively and not shying away from a fight, he represents the old order of Rudd v Gillard v Rudd. Whether he can become leader will depend on whether he can wash those bloodstains out. If I recall correctly, it worked really well for Lady MacBeth.
Shorten has officially thrown his hat into the ring (I wonder if Katter let him borrow his?). However, if he has any aspirations to becoming PM, becoming the opposition leader may cause him to become the next Brendan Nelson. And hey, whatever happened to that guy?
I couldn’t support a party who would elect Shorten as the leader. There are several reasons for this. To misquote Craig Emerson, who is famously the lead singer of Emo and the Wipeouts, the years of instability has broken the ALP. He’s absolutely right. Now is the time give Dr Phil a call and exorcise those nasty demons. Making Shorten leader is like taking several steps back – he will completely lack legitimacy and the support of future ALP voters. It will also give the right factions a bit too much influence within the party. I also think that it is remarkably hypocritical for people to call on the resignation of Rudd and then permit Shorten to become leader. I suspect it’s time for Shorten to take a sabbatical, and come back into the political front when people’s memories have faded a bit.
Anthony Albanese – Member for Graylnder
Anthony “You Can’t Spell Labor without Albo” Albanese is the frontrunner for the grassroots members of the ALP. Albanese is part of the left faction of the ALP and was not only the Deputy Prime Minister for a few minutes but the Minister for Broadband, Communication and the Digital Economy despite having much in the way of a tech background. (Having twitter or an Iphone doesn’t count, ok?) However, his previous portfolio would represent a stark contrast to Abbott, who is apparently content to stay in the 1950s where the women were in the kitchen, the gays were in the closet and the climate was doing sweet heck all. He has apparently given notice to Shorten that he was intending to run for leader, but there may have been a game of Chinese whispers afoot. From what I can gather, he hasn’t make a public declaration.
I moved from the electorate of North Sydney to Graylnder, where Albo rules with a fair and steady hand, about a year ago. I have to say, I wasn’t particularly sold on him. But a good friend of mine told me that I had misunderstood him and that he represented the narrative of the ALP movement. The more I saw him in the media, the more that I couldn’t help but agree with him. Albanese is well and truly loved in his electorate, which is impressive considering Graylnder is one of the most left leaning seats in Australia. In this election, there was a solid swing towards Albo and there are no signs that it will swing over to the Greens in the future. I firmly believe that Albo may be able to bring in the disillusioned believers who strayed into The Greens, provided he can articulate a well thought out, progressive vision for the country. This remains to be seen, but I am hopeful.
On a personal note, I also owe a debt of gratitude to Albanese. He was part of a troupe of students at the University of Sydney who decided to barricade themselves in the Quad Clock tower to protect the Political Economy faculty. Twenty years on, I was able to study Political Economy, where Frank Stillwell would regale us with stories of certain political figures getting up to their usual hi-jinks. So, thanks Albanese. You’re alright.
There have been other candidate names that have been floating around. An honourable mention goes out to former QC Mark Dreyfus, who I think would also make an excellent candidate (apparently so does Mark Latham, which may be the kiss of death for Dreyfus’ political ambitions. Lolz.). Greg Combet also gets a mention, but I don’t think he’ll toss his hat into the ring. Chris Bowen fortunately bowed out a few days ago, causing a collective sigh of relief from pretty much everyone. Besides, he’s well suited to the position of Shadow Treasury. He seems to be okay with the numbers and stuff. There have also been a lot of speculation about trying to find a way to get Penny Wong to come into the lower house and take over as Leader. I personally would love to see that happen, just in case Abbott’s head explodes. But I don’t see the utility in speculating in hypotheticals.
The one thing I know for certain is that it could be a while until the ALP have a leader with the voting reforms. Some guy called “Conroy” thought it would be cute to publicly diss the the reforms. I don’t think he realises how attractive the idea is to potential ALP members who want to stop the backroom antics and have a say. To be fair though, I don’t think Conroy realises his head wasn’t quite screwed on correctly, so I’m quite comfortable in dismissing his opinion entirely. I think getting the members of the party to select the leader is a good move – so long as you don’t go the way The Democrats went and try to get membership participation into every facet of the party. People have lives you know.
In other news, the LNP have found a solution to the fiscal crisis and economic downturn – they were elected to office. So apparently we can now have a serious conversation about our strong economic credentials, steady employment growth and triple A credit ratings.
On behalf of all Australians, thanks Joe. Until next time, if you can’t love yourself, love your local member