MAN IN WAITING
BILL SHORTEN’S FIRST BOOK IS TIMEL Y AS AUSTRALIANS CONSIDER WHETHER HE IS THE AL TERNATIVE PM.
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 oce”. 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.
FOR THE COMMON GOOD, BILL SHORTEN