Invisi Bill, the dog in the night, and fungus

You’d think, when you lose 17 seats in a Federal election and the national swing against you is well over 3%, it would be easy to say “Sorry, we got it wrong”.

You’d think, if you said it,  that the public reaction would be “Yes, you did, glad you understand”.

You’d think there’s no better time to acknowledge bad decisions and bad policies, to shed the accumulated baggage of minority government, and to return to the core values and principles of the party.

You’d think that the last thing on your mind would be saving face, or toughing it out somehow. You’d think you’d take your lumps, accept the result with good grace, and come back out swinging.

What’s the saying – three years is a long time in politics?

You’d think…

So why is the Opposition invisible, and  what’s the connection between Invisi Bill, the dog in the night, and fungus? Perhaps this will help:

Gregory: “Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”
Holmes: “To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”
Gregory: “The dog did nothing in the night-time.”
Holmes: “That was the curious incident.”

For four months, while the new government has made headlines in Education, Science, Foreign affairs, Industry, Immigration, Finance, Health, the Environment, Industrial relations, and more, the opposition has done nothing, day or night. It’s not curious, it’s shameful.

Others have already remarked on this. For example, Clarke and Dawe, in an episode entitled “An Important Announcement“, and Corinne Grant, in a piece entitled “Where the Eff Is the Opposition“.

Our system of government is based on checks and balances. The people check the parliament, the Senate checks the House of Reps, and the Opposition checks the Government. The people of Australia elect both the Government and the Opposition.

The Senate’s there, the Reps are there, the Government’s there, and the Opposition? Nowhere to be seen…

How many more months before the Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, or for that matter, Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition itself, emerges?

As First Dog On The Moon pithily observed a couple of days ago,

The worst criminal government in History and bill shorten is still managing to be less popular than fungus

Indeed, and the polls back this up. The most recent polls give Invisi Bill a rating of 39% as preferred Prime Minister, an approval rating of 40%, and a net approval rating of zero. This is despite the fact that, unlike the PM, he hasn’t done a single thing of which people can disapprove since the election.

Or perhaps that’s exactly why he’s as popular as jock rot or athlete’s foot. He’s done nothing. He has hardly spoken, with a few notable exceptions in which he has actually agreed with the government.

Neither his silence nor his speech have served the party or the people of Australia well; the people of Australia who elected the Opposition as well as the Government.

In particular, he has totally failed to repudiate Labor’s shameful policies on refugees, apologise for its appalling track record on asylum seekers while in office, and reverse its most recent race to the bottom of the barrel on immigration with the now government.

This recent reasonable, reasoned and compassionate article was written by a previous Liberal Prime Minister, instead of being written by Invisi Bill! Rational elements in the government’s own party are providing a better opposition than the Labor Party.

Why? Because Invisi Bill is too proud to say sorry? Because he’s scared to admit they got it wrong? Because he thinks that worse things can happen than losing 17 seats and three years in opposition?

Worse things, that is, than the violent death of someone in our care and injuries to scores more? Worse, that is, than the psychological torture and blatant maltreatment of people who have already lost home, family and country? Worse than the shameful evasion of our humanitarian responsibilities that has taken place under previous LNP and Labor administrations?

So for fear he might have to admit a mistake, Invisi Bill and the aptly named rump of the Labor Party are silently complicit in further and greater atrocities carried out under totalitarian secrecy and that flimsiest of patriotic slogans “Sovereign Borders”. For political expediency perhaps the greatest moral crimes of the last 20 years are going unremarked and unopposed by those elected and charged with the responsibility of keeping the government to account.

Invisi Bill clearly believes that the greatest sin a leader can commit is to lose power or admit a mistake. Wrong.

Bill, the greatest sins leaders can commit are to fail to lead, and to abandon whatever power and principles they do have for the glittering promise of possible greater power.

We don’t elect fungus, Bill. We elect leaders. Start leading.


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  1. Pingback: Unsustainable – code for “we’re going to cut it” | infinite8horizon

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