MAN IN WAIT­ING

BILL SHORTEN’S FIRST BOOK IS TIMEL Y AS AUS­TRALIANS CON­SIDER WHETHER HE IS THE AL TERNATIVE PM.

Men's Style (Australia) - - Books -

In May Mel­bourne Univer­sity Press re­lease the first book by Fed­eral Op­po­si­tion Leader Bill Shorten, For The Com­mon Good.

Is Shorten our next Prime Min­is­ter? Cer­tainly his odds have “short­ened” in re­cent times as a pub­lic per­cep­tion has grad­u­ally formed that Mal­colm Turn­bull’s gov­ern­ment may have lost the road map on the way to fu­ture eco­nomic growth and pros­per­ity.

In that con­text, a book de­voted to Shorten’s for­ma­tive be­liefs and val­ues is timely, for those who like to know such things about their po­ten­tial na­tional leader. In For The Com­mon Good, Shorten “re­flects on the val­ues and be­liefs that led him to de­vote him­self to the labour move­ment and stand for the na­tion’s high­est o†ce”. He re­counts his child­hood in sub­ur­ban Mel­bourne as a way of dis­cussing is­sues such as ed­u­ca­tion and so­cial jus­tice, as well as his years in the union move­ment where he first came to na­tional promi­nence as the face of the Bea­cons­field mine dis­as­ter in 2006.

Shorten’s cen­tral the­sis is that na­tional progress and fu­ture pros­per­ity can only be achieved in Aus­tralia by build­ing a re­newed com­mon good be­tween work­ers, busi­nesses, gov­ern­ments and the com­mu­nity, from our cities to the re­gions.

And while that’s cer­tainly an ad­mirable and lofty aim for a na­tional leader, suit­able for a book set­ting out the man’s es­sen­tial val­ues and his vi­sion, it’s ques­tion­able whether it is any more than that in a na­tional po­lit­i­cal set­ting which seems more and more to re­sem­ble old­fash­ion class war­fare.

First Shorten was called be­fore the Royal Com­mi­sion ex­am­in­ing union cor­rup­tion, and now he is avidly sup­port­ing calls for a Royal Com­mi­sion into the bank­ing in­dus­try. One won­ders whether the na­tion’s bankers will be later pre­dis­posed to join­ing him in es­tab­lish­ing a new “com­mon good”

When this year’s na­tional elec­tion does roll around, Shorten will inevitably also face the ghosts of lead­er­ship bat­tles past – his role in the down­falls of both Kevin Rudd and then Ju­lia Gil­lard, and the re­sult­ing per­cep­tion that at heart, he is a ma­chine politi­cian with only a ten­u­ous grip on the con­cept of loy­alty.

One thing Shorten has be­gun to achieve trac­tion on in the po­lit­i­cal debate is, of course, the thing the pop­u­lace should re­ally be fo­cused on – pub­lic pol­icy, now and into the fu­ture. On that score, For The Com­mon Good fur­ther ex­pands on some of the key themes Shorten has ad­um­brated in his pub­lic speeches.

Bill Shorten

FOR THE COM­MON GOOD, BILL SHORTEN

MUP, $27.99.

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