The headline dubbed the key strategists behind Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition leader Bill Shorten as the ‘Sultans of Spin’. The picture of the nine advisers, compiled by The Australian, leapt from my iPhone’s screen.
Eight men. One woman. I was surprised for one-tenth of a second until I was struck by the utter predictability of it.
Of course a woman constitutes one-ninth of this influential group. Sure, they constitute half the population – half of all voters – but an equal number of seats at a decision making table? Perish the thought!
In different times this might matter less. In times when our politicians were collectively and categorically rising to the challenges of the day. Where our politicians represented the population and were capable of delivering leadership, reform and progress. In times when the word diversity was applicable, rather than aspirational, in regard to our leaders and representatives.
Those times aren’t now.
We are in the sixth year of an unprecedented period of dysfunction in Australian politics. For a while it was possible to believe this dysfunction was the sole domain of the Labor party. Tony Abbott’s stint as Prime Minister shattered that illusion: the Liberal party was similarly afflicted.
Malcolm Turnbull’s ascent to PM last September delivered with it an overwhelming sense of relief and hope that finally, finally, the troubles of the past were behind us. That the government could get on governing.
Nine months on, sadly, that seems absurdly unlikely.
Watch Tanya Plibersek echo those same sentiments below. Post continues after video…
Rather than facing anything as constructive as reform, we are faced with a treasurer and a PM entangled in a visibly fractious relationship singing from quite different song-sheets.
We are facing internal disunity to the extent that the “laughable” proposition of minister-turned-backbencher Kevin Andrews publicly admitting he’s willing to challenge the still-hugely popular PM gains traction.
We are faced with a disaffected former PM-turned backbencher giving Kevin Rudd a decent run for his money as the most internally disruptive MP in Parliament’s history.