A recurrent theme in the avidly-watched Games of Thrones is ‘winter is coming’.
This has been interpreted to mean various things, mostly catastrophic.
In Canberra, as parliamentarians breathing sighs of relief exit the national capital for their long winter recess, the signs of spring are feebly, tentatively, but unmistakeably becoming evident.
This is not just seasonal spring, though as the last autumn leaves fall from bare-branched trees, tightly furled buds are appearing on those same bare branches and Canberrans remind each other that the winter solstice has come and gone.
The signs of spring are not just seasonal.
Bill Shorten’s blooper, his ‘captain’s call’, that, as of Thursday morning still had the opposition fumbling for words (no shadow minister wanted to appear on Wednesday’s 7.30 program; Leigh Sales ran a list of profile portraits of those who’d declined to appear).
And, in contrast, signs of optimism, at first as tentative as those first signs of spring, were returning to government ranks, those bruised and weary from battling a seemingly intractable, but possibly merely recalcitrant (thank you, Mr Keating), Senate.
Shorten’s ‘captain’s call’ targeting small and family businesses and start-ups could not have come at a worse time, as July’s by-elections, including the important Longman poll, looms. And, as pollie-watchers in Canberra concluded, it was, on Shorten’s part, not a considered or consultative move, but a visceral reaction to a carefully worded but unmistakeable challenge issued by Anthony Albanese, the man many true believers believe should be Labor leader.
As public servants in Parliament House prepare to farewell parliamentarians and turn their attention to NAIDOC Week (the business of government goes on), onlookers may detect a certain jauntiness in the steps of government Ministers, a straightening of the shoulders, a smile where before there might only have been a grimace. Signs of spring indeed.
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