June 15th 2019


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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Anthony Albanese: NSW left factional warlord takes charge

EDITORIAL Religious freedom: the political and legislative challenges

CANBERRA OBSERVED Will Bill Shorten emerge from the shadows again?

FEDERAL ELECTION Queensland voted for jobs, life and country

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Keating's 'nutters': Don't blame the messenger

ECONOMICS AND SOCIETY Health policy is not immune from neoliberal infection

HUMAN RIGHTS Canada accepts Asia Bibi and family as refugees

FAMILY AND SOCIETY Families keeping the faith: the Benedict and other options

IDEOLOGY Feminist claims for equality, Part 1: The context

HISTORY OF SCIENCE Faith and reason and Father Stanley Jaki, Part 3: More on science and ancient cultures

LIFE ISSUES Families, youth boost crowd at WA Rally for Life

MUSIC Muse of delight: The laugh ascending

CINEMA Asterix: The Secret of the Magic Potion

BOOK REVIEW Pioneering aviator's flights and fancies

BOOK REVIEW Catholic resistance in a forgotten war

BOOK REVIEW AFA patron's long life of public service

LETTERS

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Cardinal Pell's appeal, June 5-6, 2019: An account from the live streaming

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CANBERRA OBSERVED
Will Bill Shorten emerge from the shadows again?


by NW Contributor

News Weekly, June 15, 2019

Never say never is a truism that applies to anyone who harbours ambition for the top jobs in politics, however improbable those ambitions may be.

The now-retired doyen of the Canberra Press Gallery Laurie Oakes often said there wasn’t a single member of the House of Representatives who did not hold a secret ambition in their heart that would result in them becoming prime minister if all the cards fell their way.

It is no surprise therefore that the vanquished Bill Shorten cannot bring himself to concede that his lifelong ambition of becoming prime minister has been extinguished.

Mr Shorten has lost the second “unloseable” election in Australian political folklore (John Hewson being the first) but has all but openly declared his political ambitions are merely on hold.

Admittedly, at just 52, Mr Shorten is still a relatively young man as far as politics go: even in a decade he will be roughly the same age as Tony Abbott is now, who still coveted the prime ministership right up until his crushing defeat at the last election.

But as Labor licks its wounds, Mr Shorten’s road back to the leadership must be considered a very narrow one.

For starters, his grand left-wing redesign of Australia and “to change everything”, is in tatters and has actually set back the cause of progressive politics for a long time.

Labor oppositions will not go to an election any time soon promising a massive high taxing program with the intention of redistributing wealth in Australia. Nor will they pledge to have government pay the wages of certain workers in the private sector, as it set out to do in the child-care industry. Nor will it pledge to fix “climate change” by running ahead of the rest of the world at who knows what cost.

Labor has now lost several elections on climate change, but this one would have hurt the most because the party was utterly convinced that the stars had aligned to introduce real climate action.

The Guardian newspaper captured the dejected mood of the left as the election result sank in.

“This was an election in large part about the climate emergency, and the field evidence shows Australia in 2019 is deeply divided about the road ahead,” The Guardian’s political editor Katharine Murphy wrote.

“Given that Labor is shellshocked by this result, shellshocked and shattered, it is unclear whether the party will stick with its big-target election policies, inc­luding the climate offering.”

(Note, incidentally, that the language has shifted from “global warming” to “climate change” to the new term of “climate emergency”.)

Mr Shorten’s enormous political miscalculation has deprived the left intelligentsia of everything it had hankered for.

Other factors against a Shorten comeback include the fact that he was instrumental in tearing down both Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd, with all the collateral damage that ensued. It is hard to conceive a situation where he could do this a third time; which means the party would have to come to him.

So, new Labor will spend at least the next three years trying to figure out how to connect with everyday Australians – working families and people in regional Australia who don’t have the luxury of showing the world that Australia is a world leader in fighting climate change without actually making a difference to the planet’s temperature.

While Mr Shorten was a right-wing Labor leader who tried unsuccessfully to be a left-wing leader, we now have a left-wing leader in Anthony Albanese, who will have to swing to the right.

It is a diabolical situation for Labor, whose membership base is strongly “progressive” on so many issues, from industrial relations and asylum seekers, to minority rights to climate change.

The biggest test for new Labor will be how it seeks to reconnect with people of faith, who abandoned the party in droves at the recent election as a result of the animosity and contempt that Labor displayed towards Scott Morrison.

When Labor MPs are sworn in in the new Parliament in the first week of July, the vast majority will make the affirmation, which of course is their right.

But it will be a symbolic statement of the cultural shift that has occurred in Australian society and the left’s contempt for religion – especially Christianity.

New Labor will have to learn at least to understand how adherence to faith remains a potent force to a dwindling but still large number of Australians, and that the freedom to practise their faith and pass it on to their children is important to them.




























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