Shorten cramped by falling marginal support
EVER since he seized the job in a bloody coup, the Prime Minister’s imminent demise has been predicted by a gaggle of disgruntleds.
Whether they are disappointed leftists or misguided Abbott loyalists, the Turnbull-haters have maintained the rage beyond what is healthy for the country, or their own spleens. Naturally, this has been beneficial to Opposition leader Bill Shorten, who has sailed through the past three or so years with very little scrutiny. But how the worm has turned. Labor’s citizenship crisis has crystallised the vague misgivings which already existed in the community about Bill Shorten’s character, or lack thereof.
And now, instead of the Prime Minister facing bold declarations that he’s “finished” at arbitrary milestones set by his enemies with monotonous regularity, it’s Shorten facing the music.
The Queensland marginal seat of Longman will be a litmus test of Shorten’s viability as Labor leader, as will Braddon in Tasmania.
The contest is all upside for Turnbull and all downside for Shorten. The Coalition would be defying history to win any of the five seats up for grabs in the upcoming SuperSaturday sweep since no government has ever won a by-election from an opposition since 1920. But if the Turnbull government fluked even one seat, winners’ momentum would power them into the federal election.
Labor’s Susan Lamb won Longman in 2016, thanks to One Nation preferences, with a wafer-thin margin of 0.8 per cent and now has to recontest the seat because the High Court found she is a British dual national, perhaps the only time in her life when casting herself as a wounded innocent has not worked out for her.
Lamb had ousted the Liberals’ cocky man-child Wyatt Roy, who was the sort of novelty candidate only extreme political hubris could produce.
With a serious contender, the Liberals may have a shot at winning back the seat.
Even without a candidate in place, a ReachTel Poll last week put the Coalition ahead in Longman 53 per cent to Labor on 47 per cent in two-party terms in a survey of 1277 residents for the Australia Institute.
Then there is Braddon in Tasmania, where the Liberals polled strongly in the state election, and which one of Labor’s dual nationals, Justine Keay, won in 2016 with a 2.2 per cent margin.
All the pressure now is with Shorten. He is on the nose in pre- ferred prime minister rankings, having been soundly beaten in every poll by Turnbull, who’s not exactly the most popular chap.
But after surviving countless premature death notices last year, eliminating most of his inherited barnacles and delivering the best budget in more than a decade, Turnbull is starting to look invincible, just at the right time.
Slow and steady wins the race for the Coalition while Shorten begins the rapid rollercoaster ride downhill.
Labor has to win every one of its by-elections just to break even and, even then, there are citizenship clouds hanging over its MPs Anne Aly, Emma McBride and Emma Husar.
So much for superior vetting. Shorten’s threats to the government over Aly last week just looked desperate. His Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen’s Budget speech at the National Press Club just reinforced Labor’s lurch into class envy, and the Venezuela-style tax and spend economics that poses such a threat to our national wellbeing.
Meanwhile, Shorten’s mate CFMEU hardman John Setka may be free of blackmail charges, but his public demands of a future Labor government keep ratcheting up.
The draft policy platform to be unveiled at the ALP National Conference in July won’t help Shorten’s
electoral appeal, either, with its watering down of border protection and an inexplicable obsession with identity politics which is antithetical to the needs and aspirations of working people.
Now the leadership spotlight has switched to Shorten, Anthony Albanese is breathing down his neck.
The likeable heir apparent last week even raised the so-called “killing season” in relation to the timing of the Super Saturday by-elections, as if Turnbull is under threat when everyone knows that it’s Shorten’s job that’s on the line.
Character is destiny, and the Opposition Leader’s shameless duplicity has taken him as far as he deserves.
Bill Shorten could be brought down by Susan Lamb if she fails to win Longman.