Thursday, June 30, 2016

I'm Endorsing Bill Shorten for Prime Minister of Australia

I'm Endorsing Bill Shorten for Prime Minister of Australia
In the upcoming Australian election, I am putting my endorsement behind Bill Shorten and his Labor team.

I know this means I'm endoring Labor again, like 3 years ago. But trust me, the decision has been harder to make, with Malcolm Turnbull, a 'thoroughly liberal' Prime Minister on offer, instead of Tony Abbott.

Despite what some people say, Abbott and Turnbull are miles apart. I also don't think there is evidence that Turnbull has sold out on anything. He remains the best leader of the Liberal Party ever, in my opinion, because he's a small government liberal, not a big government conservative. My socialist friends used to love him and now they hate him, but they just never understood the man. His strong support for marriage equality is also something I thank him for. Truth to be told, I prefer Turnbull to ALL of the alternatives on offer this year in the US. If the choices were Turnbull, Clinton, Sanders, Trump and Cruz, I would have picked Turnbull without even needing to think.

On the other hand, Shorten is also one of the best leaders Labor has ever had. He has re-united the party, stared down the conservative wing's resistence on marriage equality, made a compelling case to support Labor's policies, and provided the bravest set of policies any opposition leader has come up with in living memory. And all that in just three years. His effective opposition was also a major reason why we managed to get rid of Tony Abbott, Australia's worst PM ever in my opinion, in just two years. If we had another opposition leader, Abbott may still be PM and cruising to a second term.

So we have two of the best leaders. But in the end, for me, it comes down to priorities. Turnbull offers company tax cuts but it will come with cuts to health and education. Shorten believes that this prioritization is wrong, and he has pledged to maintain bulk billing and affordable university degrees. I agree with him here. I surely do agree with company tax cuts, in the longer term, but in the light of Australia's major budget deficit, it will have to wait, especially as the economic benefits will be limited in the short term. However, health and education programs cannot just be sacrificed, as people need them right now.

In addition, whilst the big-L Liberal party is called that name, my small-l liberal conscience does not automatically have to agree with them. In a recent interview shadow treasurer Chris Bowen has made a strong case why Labor's policies fit better with actual small-l liberalism, and in light of the above prioritization, I wholeheartedly agree.

So that's it, I'm backing Shorten.

p.s. it's a tight election and the polls are predicting a Turnbull win at this stage. If that is the case, I urge the Labor party to keep Shorten as leader for at least the next three years. Given how well he's performed, if he's replaced as leader, I don't think that's fair, and therefore it would be hard for me to support that new leader, whoever it might be.