Thursday, March 6, 2014
The 44th: Hero Status
Originally Posted 6 March 2014
It's 7am Thursday in Brisbane, and just over 30 hours ago, Western Australia's Greens Senator Scott Ludlum delivered an extraordinary Adjournment Speech inviting Prime Minister Tony Abbott to visit Western Australia.
The video of that speech, delivered entirely without theatrics to a near empty chamber, has gone viral, being viewed over a quarter of a million times since being posted on YouTube. That in itself is remarkable.
Equally incredible is that the mainstream media appears to have completely missed it. Granted, we're not in a quiet news period. Traditional media is juggling headlines: Operation Sovereign Borders, the Qantas backflip on the impact of the Carbon Tax, the crisis in Ukraine, the censure of Senator Fiona Nash, new GDP figures and the Prime Minister Abbott's odd remarks about trees and forests, and an overnight victory to our cricketers in South Africa.
None of that has slowed down this juggernaut. Why are people being drawn to this speech, with its Western Australian bias? After viewing it, why have so many retweeted the link, shared the post or recommended it to friends and family?
This speech encompasses much of what the ALP should've been talking about for the past three months. Rather than swapping petty digs at competing press conferences, this is a catalogue of reasons why Australian voters are turning away from the Coalition. From mocking the Liberals' trademark series of three word slogans to the perverted authority of Gina Rinehart on matters of industrial relations, to the Government's deliberate impotence on anything to do with the environment, Senator Ludlam's measured words are more suited to an Opposition Leader than a Senator from a second-tier party.
Senator Ludlam has found his audience: Greens, appalled coalition voters, disappointed swinging voters, plus many on the left looking for more than their party has offered them.
For weeks now, Labor members have been asking each other why ALP Leader Bill Shorten isn't tougher, more vocal on issues ranging from Manus Island to Holden's withdrawal from Australia. Muted calls to replace the understated Mr Shorten with his deputy, Tanya Plibersek, or with Tory streetfighter Anthony Albanese have peppered progressive blogs. The members of the Labor Party, so encouraged by their new role in electing a leader, are now looking for leadership, craving inspiration, only to have it handed to them by a Greens Senator.
What does it mean for the Western Australian senate election in early April?
Senator Ludlam has all but assured his future in the Senate. Beyond that, he'll pick up support from disillusioned ALP voters, and from random voters who responded to the speech.
But it's not good news for Bill Shorten or the ALP. This is the speech Shorten should've been making in one form or another every week since Christmas, albeit without the Western Australian flavour. The is the first true offering of progressive leadership since the election last September.
It seems that the left has a new hero, and he's Green. Now it's up to Labor to respond.