Few people would have shared tears — unless they happened to be chopping onions at the time — when Tony Abbott was ejected as prime minister in the latest of a string of Lib-Lab leadership spills.
Let's be honest. The rolling TV coverage of Malcolm Turnbull's political assassination of Abbott kept the nation entertained for a couple of hours on a Monday night. Who did not enjoy watching the grim faces of those Liberal MPs as they trooped into their party room for the spill, and the even grimmer faces of some as they came back out?
That party is now over. The popcorn has been vacuumed out from under the couch, the spilled beer is doing its traditional preservative work on the carpet, and for many it is back to watching the football or the tennis. Nursing a hangover, we're left thinking: “Gee, that was fun but what does this really mean?”
Some people were shocked when Turnbull made it clear that he will stick to Abbott's backward policies on climate change and marriage equality. Apparently, deals were made with devils, to get the numbers for his palace coup.
To be fair, when Turnbull announced his leadership challenge he made it clear in a speech aimed at the corporate elite that his objective was to be a better salesperson for their economic agenda. He aims to deliver on that promise.
Well, he can try.
Sure, the silver tongue of this politician born with a silver spoon in his mouth might work for a bit. But recent history shows that people all around the world want policy turnaround, not a better sales pitch for the neoliberal agenda of making the rich and powerful richer and more powerful.
This is the reason why we have the revolving-door prime ministers phenomenon.
The eminently forgettable not-too-much-opposition leader Bill Shorten has argued that Labor had solved that problem with a bunch of party room rule changes. But those changes do not address the real issue of a chronic legitimacy problem for all politicians pursuing the neoliberal corporate agenda today.
The people don't want new political salespersons for the old agenda. We want a new agenda. This is the message coming through loud and clear in one country after another. Witness Jeremy Corbyn's upset win in the British Labour Party leadership election.
Green Left Weekly has been arguing that it is well past time to break from the neoliberal corporate agenda that has plagued the world for decades. With a safe climate now truly in jeopardy, there is an objective need for real change. The latest palace coup in Canberra should remind us that it is time for the people's movements to seize the day.
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