Daily BulletinHoliday Centre

The Conversation

  • Written by Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

As election day nears – well, only a fortnight away - speculation within each side is already turning to what happens after July 2.

In Labor the interest is on the leadership if the ALP remains in opposition; with the Liberals, it’s on the ministry of a re-elected Turnbull government.

Three quarters of the way through the campaign, Malcolm Turnbull is favourite to win the election, though remember favourites can be beaten, and there’s that gap - a hung parliament - between a clear Turnbull victory and a majority Shorten win.

But assuming a Labor loss, what happens to Bill Shorten? Much would depend on the margin of the defeat. If he fell just short of victory, he would have a substantial case to hang onto his post. A poor result would, most likely, see him replaced. Precisely where the dividing line was would be a matter of judgement, depending to an extent on how people interpreted the outcome and the reasons for it.

Under the Labor rules that are Kevin Rudd’s legacy, the leadership is thrown open following an election, with the caucus and the rank and file each having 50% of the vote.

A key player after a defeat would be the left’s Anthony Albanese. It’s no secret that he hankers for the leadership. Late last year, when Shorten was in the doldrums, there was chatter about a possible move against him, difficult though that would have been. Albanese would have been the replacement.

One would think that next term would be Albanese’s last practical chance at the job. If he put up his hand, he could expect strong support in the rank and file – which he received when he ran after the 2013 election (only to fall down in the caucus part of the vote). The complication for Albanese would be if Tanya Plibersek, also from the left and, like him, very popular with the party rank and file, wanted to have a go. One or other would presumably have to back off.

Another unknown is whether the NSW right, a shadow of its glory days but still powerful, would stick with Shorten, who has his base in Victoria, or would push Chris Bowen, who’s been impressive as shadow treasurer. After the 2013 election Bowen sensibly ruled himself out of the leadership race, but a run this time would have to be tempting if the ALP was in a relatively winnable position for 2019.

But a senior NSW right source, while reluctant to contemplate the loss scenario, says “no one is envisaging a situation where Bill Shorten wouldn’t be running for leader and have the NSW right’s support”.

If Shorten did remain in place, the experience of this term would tell him there would be no certainty he would lead to the 2019 election. The flirtation by some with replacing him last year, when he’d had only a limited time in the job, indicates the party would be willing to change during the term if it believed another candidate would be a better bet. In other words, his survival would depend absolutely on performance.

On the other side, also assuming a Turnbull victory, it was reported this week there would be pressure on Turnbull to put Tony Abbott on the frontbench. The Australian Financial Review quoted an unnamed Abbott backer suggesting defence would be a worthy role for the former prime minister. This was in the context of Turnbull needing to reach out to the Liberal party’s conservatives.

This seems like some mischief making. Abbott in defence? Replacing Marise Payne? Under Turnbull? Never, and not just because as defence minister Abbott would be, let’s be frank, scary. It’s only a modest exaggeration to say he would want to have Australia intervening almost anywhere, almost any time.

Asked about the proposition of bringing Abbott back into the ministry, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, an Abbott supporter, said on Thursday “I think some people will push for that”. Abbott himself said “I am not expecting to go back into the ministry”. That may or may not be his true view but hopefully it is, or else he will be very disappointed. Turnbull has no intention of having Abbott on his frontbench.

Turnbull has made it clear more than once that he does not want to go back to the past in appointments to his ministry. Least of all for Abbott.

Responding to questioning on Thursday, Turnbull said that if he won “the ministry I’m taking to the election will be the ministry after the election…it will be the ministry as it is today”. Is he saying no one will change their portfolio? One example of someone who should be moved is Immigration Minister Peter Dutton. If Turnbull is to deal with those who are currently on Nauru and Manus Island in the next term, Dutton is not the best person to do it.

Admittedly, Turnbull’s ministry is a quite recent one – he reshuffled in February - but even so, he should not be so dogmatic (or does he think it doesn’t matter what he says?). After an election is a good occasion for changes and it would be wise for Turnbull to take that opportunity for some tinkering. The chance doesn’t come often.

Authors: Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

Read more http://theconversation.com/grattan-on-friday-if-labor-loses-what-happens-to-bill-shorten-61171


The Conversation


Closing the Gap Statement to Parliament

Mr Speaker, when we meet in this place, we are on Ngunnawal country. I give my thanks and pay my respects to our Ngunnawal elders, past, present and importantly emerging for our future. I honour...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Prime Minister Interview with Alan Jones

ALAN JONES: Prime Minister, good morning.    PRIME MINISTER: Good morning, Alan.    JONES: I was just thinking last night when we're going to talk to you today, you must feel as though you've ...

News Company - avatar News Company

Prime Minister Bridget McKenzie press conference

PRIME MINISTER: Good afternoon everybody. The good news is that the Qantas flight is on its way to Wuhan and I want to thank everybody for their cooperation, particularly the Chinese Government as...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Business News

Choosing the Right Coworking Space For Your Business

As the capital of Victoria in Australia, Melbourne is inhabited by millions of people and is known as one of the most liveable cities in the world. The latter is due to the city’s diverse community...

Sarah Williams - avatar Sarah Williams

What Should You Expect from A Carpentry Apprenticeship?

Those wanting to pursue a career in woodwork, whether it be to make furniture, construct buildings or repair existing wooden structures, will have to first commence a carpentry apprenticeship. This ...

News Company - avatar News Company

4 Tips To Choosing A Reliable SEO Company For Your Digital Marketing Agency

Working with a digital marketing agency Perth is the best bet in ensuring that your business is promoted well in the online space. If you are an app developer Perth, you may have to work closely wit...

News Company - avatar News Company


Travelling With Pets? Here Is What You Should Know

Only a pet parent can understand the dilemma one experiences while planning a vacation. Do you leave your pets at home?  Will you get a pet sitter or someone to take care of them while you are away?...

News Company - avatar News Company

How to Be a Smart Frugal Traveller

You are looking through Instagram, watching story after story of your followers overseas at a beach in Santorini, walking through the piazza in Italy, and eating a baguette in front of the Eiffel ...

News Company - avatar News Company


Graduation is the stage of life when a student receives the rewards of hard work of years. It must have taken sleepless nights and tiring days to achieve the task. Now, as you have received your cov...

News Company - avatar News Company