It seems I'm not the only one who thought Bill Shorten was auditioning for ALP leader via all his media apearances during the Beaconsfield mine crisis. You'd have thought he was already in the employ of Channels Nine or Seven, from his careful body language and genial tone of voice. He's a man who's clearly been to sound-bite school. (Actually, he has been to law school - almost the same thing.)
Does my distaste show? I've been thinking about how to blog about this without being disrespectful to the union movement and the workers and people of Beaconsfield, especially the two who were trapped. But I didn't like seeing their story manipulated to other ends - by John Howard, primarily, but others were running to get on the bandwagon too.
I gasped aloud when Howard popped up in the middle of an ABC news story one night, a story about progress in the digging, to say something completely redundant like "We all want to see them get out". What sorts of pressures were being brought to bear behind the scenes that the ABC felt it was necessary to put him in? Oh, I know, balance. Probably some producer has been browbeaten into thinking that Howard had to get his face shown to balance Kim Beazley's airtime about Beaconsfield's connection to IR changes and hazards at work. That's a very corrupted notion of balance.
Getting back to Shorten, I'm not suggesting he didn't have a real role to play at Beaconsfield and didn't play it well. But it was clear that he had his eyes on a larger stage. Thinking of him as a replacement for Beazley doesn't exactly make my heart sing.