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I don’t know when the next federal election is, and though I can’t wait to vote Tony Abbott out I’m pretty sure I won’t be voting for Bill Shorten,

Politics in Australia is in a deplorable state of affairs. We’ve got the worst government in living memory, and probably since federation. Terrible damage is being done to the country economically and culturally day by day, and our international reputation has been trashed. At a time like this you need a steadfast opposition willing to stand up for the rest of us horrified by the draconian and undemocratic policies of the government. That’s what a democracy is meant to provide – a counterbalancing voice. Without that we have tyranny. Unfortunately, what opposition we have is piss-weak.

Every so often Bill Shorten will make a show of dissenting, just to remind us that he’s still alive stand. He’ll look earnest, and drop the well-rehearsed and reliably unfunny ‘zinger’ berating the government. Outside of that there’s the occasional political stunt – just like the recent gay marriage initiative – to make a point of difference. All of it’s unconvincing because there’s no conviction, and because Shorten has all the authority as a day old sandwich.  He squeaks, but then he’ll go along with most of it because he’s too afraid not to. (Backing the government on the proposed citizenship laws the latest example, compounded by the fact that the ALP voted their support without knowledge of the details.)

That’s what politics has been reduced too in Australia. Terrible things are happening all the time, but there’s no-one with the balls to stand up against it. It’s an upside down place where clearly diabolical things are happening with the support, and mostly at the behest of the government. Things that once we would clearly see as being right and just have become secondary to political expediency, and outside of the liberal left, a non-issue. The political conversation in this country has been corrupted because it has been tilted all one way without the counterbalancing voice a properly functioning opposition would provide. The opposition’s submissiveness means that extreme views taken hold unopposed.

I can ridicule and decry Abbott and his cronies till I’m blue in my face, and often I do – but at least Abbott believes in what he does. The same can’t be said of Bill Shorten. He’s complicit in the evil this government is doing because keeping the electorate onside and not rocking the boat – being a small target – is more important to him than voicing a controversial opinion. I can’t support Bill Shorten because he has betrayed his constituents by putting self-interest above national interest. At a time when we need someone, anyone, to stand up for decency Shorten instead plays politics.

It’s a terrible state of affairs. The worst prime minister imaginable, and an opposition leader not worth two bob. I said I’d never do it, but it’s  more and more likely that come next election I’ll be voting Green – at least they stand for something. If the ALP apparatchiks were smart they might twig to the fact that there’s a good rump of disenchanted voters out there who will do precisely what I’m threatening to do. Their focus is on the Libs, but while they’ve got their back turned they’re losing votes hand over fist to the Greens. Unless they turn things around a good whack of their natural constituency will be gone come next election, and may never return. They’re marginalising themselves, when they should be differentiating themselves.

In Di Natale the Greens finally have a leader I can properly respect. He’s a real alternative, and the Greens – for all their past wishy-washy irrelevance – finally have a purpose.

Shorten is dead as far as I’m concerned. I don’t think Labor can win with him leading them – staggering given the ineptitude and unpopularity of Abbott (voted second most hated man in Oz this week). I don’t know if they can afford a change of leader now – and not for many years – but I’d much prefer someone like Plibersek in charge. She has the steeliness that Shorten lacks, and a natural authority leavened with compassion and integrity. She’s much more formidable a person than Shorten, who you wouldn’t look twice at in a pub.

It is what it is though. We’re stuck with him. It’s all very depressing.

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