Aussies of all ethnicities retain a cynicism toward things political – though the tone has shifted from amused tolerance to anger – because even though Australia survived the global financial crisis in 2008 with less carnage than any other wealthy nation both major political parties have followed the neoliberal agenda of ‘liberalizing’ economic controls and reducing social spending – making corporations and individuals wealthier and regular citizens poorer.
Since World War II the two business parties—the urban Liberals and the rural Nationals—have copied American big business ideas and practices and from the 1980s on the Labor Party adopted the same ‘globaloney’ policies.
The current Labor leader Bill Shorten – previously a union boss more prone to schmoozing than breathing fire and brimstone – understood his job as a battle with Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for ‘the sensible centre’ of the electorate.
At least he saw it that way until last year when he witnessed Bernie Sanders and British Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn winning over people under 35 with their old-school social democracy—and voters young and old rejecting ‘free trade’ deals that mostly set multinationals free to make more money.
Nor was it lost on him that many of Trump’s 63 million voters chose him because he said he’d ditch those not-so-free trade deals.