Australia is facing a massive deficit in the 2016 election – no matter which party forms government, the next leader of the country will have knifed a sitting Prime Minister from their own party. For many people, this creates tremendous trust issues at the polling booth.
Because of the presidential nature of our elections, those voting for a Turnbull-led Liberal Party are voting for Malcolm Turnbull to lead the Liberal Party for the next three years. Yet recent history tells us that this is far less than certain. Most pundits are openly predicting Turnbull will be replaced by Scott Morrison well before the 2019 election. Turnbull himself holds very little trust in the broader electorate due to his failure to hold to his principles.
Kevin Rudd may have made the necessary changes to prevent the overnight usurpation of a Labor Prime Minister following his triple-cross of Julia Gillard, but Bill Shorten was the man behind both of those betrayals. The lack of trust in Shorten has little to do with the process and more to do with the man. While the ALP try to sell the image of a unified party and hope voters have forgotten the turmoil of the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd governments, Shorten remains an unknown quantity and deeply unpopular.
As such, voters face the dilemma of not knowing who it is they are voting for in this election.
Turnbull and Shorten represent everything wrong with the Americanisation of election campaigning in Australia. A union boss and a merchant banker, neither have been elevated on the strength of their ideals, instead we have two men who rose to the fore based on their ability to cut deals.
Wildly popular with voters for holding fast to his beliefs in the face of an increasingly conservative Liberal Party, Turnbull sacrificed everything to Prime Minister towards the end of last year. This move has cost him dearly: Turnbull is presently facing a 10% swing against him in is own seat as voters reject the man who appears to have few true values. Earlier this month, a Fairfax-Ipsos poll put the ALP ahead of the Coalition for the first time since Turnbull replaced Abbott in September.
Bill Shorten has been edging closer as preferred PM since the election was called a month ago. Of course, this is no endorsement for Shorten. Voters remember the role he played in deposing two sitting Prime Ministers, putting his ego ahead of the good of the country. As a result, Shorten lost much of the goodwill afforded him by the role he played in the Beaconsfield mine collapse. His dull personality, scripted responses, and lack of substance, highlight his failure to provide any real opposition to the government’s posturing. His tepid reaction to the Border Farce operation in Melbourne last year solidified his position as a man without direction.
Bill Shorten will not win this election, Malcolm Turnbull will lose it.
Turnbull has proved himself to be unprincipled. He stands for nothing and yet despite this rather than because of it, will likely be replaced within months of an electoral victory. His reward for sacrificing all of his values will be rejection by the party that never really seemed to want him as leader.
Shorten is bound to continue as Labor leader beyond the election, though his time in Parliament is telling. His success is reliant on the weakness of those he seeks to supplant, his support comes from those who would benefit from his ascent.
Over the next two weeks, Australia will be forced to choose between two men whose ideologies can be surmised by their initials. Malcolm Turnbull is empty and Bill Shorten is full of it, their promises are worthless and their rhetoric is hollow.
No matter who wins on July 2, Australia loses.