Could William Shorten be Australia’s Next Prime Minister?

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By Vittorio Hernandez | February 22, 2013 3:05 PM EST

Majority of Australians believe that the September national election would be a contest between the Coalition and the Australian Labor Party. Which party would get a majority vote would determine who would be Australia's next prime minister.

If the Coalition wins, as forecast by current surveys, it would be Tony Abbott, the enemy of carbon and mining taxes and the nemesis of the handbag brigade. If Labor wins, it would mean a second-term for current Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Unless the party decides to change leaders, like in 2010 when Labor opted to make Ms Gillard party leader, in the process unseating Kevin Rudd. However, a return to poor showing of both the party and Ms Gillard in recent surveys, worsened by ALP's split with the Greens, revived speculations of a leadership change.

Mr Rudd's name has cropped up several times as a better alternative to the quite unpopular Ms Gillard, but he has insisted he will not give the post another try after a failed comeback attempt in 2012.

Business Spectator floated the idea of Work Relations Minister William Shorten as a possible alternative to Ms Gillard.

In a column, Robert Gottliebsen pointed to Mr Abbott's plan to massacre Ms Gillard's ambition to further stay in power and annihilate as well Mr Rudd's comeback dream, if he still has any, and his apparent lack of such plans for Mr Shorten, as reasons for Aussies to consider Mr Shorten as the country's future leader.

He acknowledged that Mr Rudd is a popular alternative compared to Mr Shorten, but despite the former's many talents and charisma, he is not a good executive. Put in Mr Gottliebsen's words, "he is hopeless at running a cabinet 0 that's why he was thrown out."

"He might be the popular choice but he is a very dangerous option because he has shown he can't do the job of being prime minister," Mr Gottliebsen warned.

However, Ms Gillard continues to enjoy the confidence and backing of the Australian Workers' Union (AWU), whose national secretary, Paul Howes, even dared Mr Rudd's nameless backers to identify themselves to the public.

When Mr Abbott was asked if he would rather spar with Ms Gillard or Mr Rudd for the position of prime minister, he skipped the question and said he would rather leave the matter of Labor leadership for ALP members to decide.

While Mr Shorten's name appears not in heavy contention for the top ALP post, Business Spectator believes a Shorten-led government would be good for the Aussie economy since he would likely not attack genuine retirement superannuation as what Ms Gillard and Treasurer Wayne Swan are apparently contemplating.

He said Mr Shorten could definitely run the cabinet, but added that Ms Gillard could do it as well.

The only question is do ALP members and Australian voters share the same confidence he has on Mr Shorten or would Aussies feel shortchanged if Ms Gillard or Mr Abbott become Australia's next prime minister?

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