Denouncing Donald Trump has become a bipartisan activity in federal politics. On Tuesday, Bill Shorten is set to declare the Republican candidate “entirely unsuitable to be leader of the free world”.
After last week’s release of the 2005 video in which Trump talked in lewd and graphic terms about his pursuit of women, Malcolm Turnbull on Monday said the comments were “loathsome and they deserve the absolutely universal condemnation that they have received”.
The Australian leaders have become more outspoken as Trump’s behaviour becomes ever more outrageous and the revelations from his past increasingly shocking. When in May Shorten described Trump’s views as “barking mad” on some issues, he was criticised by Turnbull, who said Americans would be offended.
Though usually Australian leaders would be wary about being drawn into comment on US politics, such inhibitions are now gone – and any political risks for the future are reduced by the fact that Trump is considered to be headed for defeat.
Shorten on Tuesday will say that while the US alliance is bigger than any individual and stronger than any disagreement, “I know I am not the only one relieved that with every passing day, with every disgusting, demeaning comment Mr Trump makes, the possibility of him becoming president fades.”
“A campaign that began as a de facto reality TV show, grew into a circus and has now gone beyond farce,” he will tell the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA).
“By his own words and his own actions, [Trump] has confirmed the worst fears of millions in the United States and beyond its borders – he is entirely unsuitable to be leader of the free world.”
But Shorten will also highlight that Trump, “like the Brexiteers, like extremists from every point on the political compass, draws his power from the people who have felt the rough edges of globalisation and economic change.”
“Workers who’ve been outsourced, downsized, rationalised. Families feeling the pinch of flat wages, widening inequality, falling living standards.”
“Marginalised, alienated groups being told that migrants, minorities, ‘big government’ are to blame.”
The high road, not the low road, of change needed to be taken, Shorten will say – giving people more skills, investing in education, addressing inequality, and promoting inclusion.
“We must recognise the mantras of ‘innovation’ and ‘disruption’ can be a confronting message for Australians in insecure work.”
“We need to understand that when a lot of Australians hear the word ‘automation’ they think ‘redundancy’. That when many Australians hear the call for ‘flexibility’ they believe our system is good at flexibility for employers, but not so good at flexibility for employees.”
“That many Australians know the calls for a low wage, easy-to-hire, easy-to-fire system will not deliver hundreds of thousands of new jobs.”
Shorten will say technology’s march is unstoppable and “it’s our job, as policy-makers, to harness this force for our people’s benefit.”
Authors: Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra