“Most of our successful political
leaders have been in politics for about 20 years before they become top
of the tree,” Jeff Kennett remarked in The Sunday Age.

Not
future Labor leadership hopeful and AWU boss Bill Shorten. He’s
cramming 20 years worth of public exposure into a couple of days at
Beaconsfield – and what a trip it’s been.

The Australiantells us today
how he flew there on Dick Pratt’s corporate jet. And the media trip has
been pretty luxurious, too, as it has taken the 39-year-old
parliamentary candidate’s profile sky high.

The meeja have
lapped up his appearances, despite his less-than-brilliant handle on
the more technical side of mining operations and rescue intricacies.
Shorten has stumbled on specifics, probably because he’s more at home
in corporate jets than mineshafts. But that hasn’t stopped journos from
favourably comparing his pulling power with the media that other
union-leader-turned-politician-on-the-make – Bob Hawke.

Shorten
can argue perfectly honestly that he is showing why unions matter. At
the same time, he’s yet another public figure on the Labor side sucking
oxygen from Kim Beazley as he struggles to reach a higher altitude in
the polls.

Peter Fray

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