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Announcing that he is taking a ‘Turn Back the Boats’ policy to the Labor Party conference this weekend, Bill Shorten has demonstrated he is adopting the Kim Beazley strategy of presenting a small a target. The strategy second time around is likely to prove as ineffective as it did the first.

It is gutless politics, but that is what the public has come to expect from Shorten. Their expectations of him as a leader are low. He lacks conviction, substance, vision, veracity and courage which doesn’t leave much to admire or latch onto.

Turning back boats will not win the Labor Party votes nor will other aspects of their asylum seeker policy; it will lose votes. What is the advantage to the Labor Party in moving further to the right? From a voter perspective there is a hard right, the Coalition, and a soft or Clayton’s right, the Labor Party. Why vote for the soft right when you can get a hard right.

Even Shorten’s vague announcement about the ALP’s intention to introduce an emissions trading scheme and raise the renewable energy target to 50% by 2030, will not be enough to overcome the electorally deleterious effect of a policy of turning back boats.

Raise Abbott in conversation and people roll their eyes, grin and shake their heads. Abbott isn’t liked, however some respect him for his boots and all, have a go, call it like it is or quite often as it isn’t, approach to politics. Shorten is neither liked nor respected.

The political state of the nation has reached rock bottom. Abbott’s attempt to curtail free speech, which incidentally was supported by the Labor Party, through the Border Protection Act, showed the man to be anti-democratic. Calling an act to curtail free speech, a measure to ensure protection, is little short of the mentality at play amongst the ruling elite in totalitarian states or in Apartheid South Africa; which should lead us to contemplate the real basis of our treatment of asylum seekers – its racist.

Launched by Howard with his infamous, ‘We shall decide who comes here’ and adopted by successive Prime Ministers and now Bill Shorten, the policy against those officially designated ‘outsiders’ has seen racial hatred and abuse given currency in the cities of Australia by the reclaim Australia mob last weekend.

Their ugly xenophobia drew support from members of the coalition, one of whom attended a rally and spoke in favour of upholding ‘Australian values’. Not a word of criticism was heard from Abbott who only a week before ‘banned’ his ministers from appearing on the ABC, Q&A Program over the appearance of a ‘convicted terrorist’, who was in fact a disturbed young man with a message about the evils of ISIS and the stupidity of Abbott’s ministers in playing into its recruiting drive.

Abbott’s budgie smuggling, hairy chested beating over border protection, reinforced with a newly decked out version of the Swiss Guards, hides his inability to reform, the education and health systems or accomplish a measure of creative and essential infrastructure development. It hides the fact that he has achieved very little of positive benefit for Australians.

The economy is retracting and nothing Abbott proposes is likely to stimulate it. In fact full on development of renewable might help, but Abbott doesn’t ‘like’ wind farms and roof top panels – how bizarre. Instead he is pushing the lifting of the GST to 15%, so rather than lifting productivity to find revenue he will squeeze taxpayers; a short term policy so beloved of one party states.

The next election will be interesting. Abbott has alienated much of his support base and by this time next year will no doubt have alienated many more. The top end of town does not have many votes or at least not until the ‘reform’ of the Electoral Act. Shorten is not winning voters, in fact he is losing them to the Greens and Independents. Are we looking at another hung parliament and the demise if not disappearance of both Abbott and Shorten?

Their departure is our only hope for renewal in view of the Weimar passiveness of the majority of my fellow Australians at the abuse of human rights and of our democracy.