Two nights ago, I listened to the youngest minister ever appointed in Australia, Wyatt Roy (25), on RN. I was skeptical to say the least. Ah, good old Malcolm, I thought, using his commercial marketing background to ensure he is covering as much of his audience as possible. What better than an actual living signboard that the new Coalition has been rejuvenated so much that they are almost newborn? And who knows, the younger generation who have primarily deserted fossil Abbott and cardboard Shorten might even return from the Greens.
But after a few minutes of listening to Roy’s high pitched barely broken voice, I found myself being more and more impressed. I began to realise that this was not just a tokenistic appointment, a shadow play of style and no substance. Mr Roy is intelligent, confident and articulate. He appears to answer from both the head and the heart. And he seems to take his role as a minister and a political voice for his generation with all the respect, dedication and consideration that it deserves.
Later, the new minister for Education, Simon Birmingham, another progressive Liberal, came on and again I was impressed by his ability to maintain a considered narrative, one that focused on reason, reasonableness and balance. Even the digs at Labor didn’t come across as attacks so much more as actual points of argument against their policy.
I began to understand that something has happened in Australia. That the tone of government brought down into the mindless aggressive gutter by Abbott has actually shifted. It was just the first day of course. There’s plenty of time for corruption, cynicism, despair and aggression to re-emerge (see this excellent article on the Conversation on how being PM effectively lobotomised our last two). But looking at the fresh faces on the frontbench, some of whom had jumped up many levels, I began to suspect that Mr Turnbull’s claim to have appointed on merit with a vision of Australia’s future was not just empty rhetoric.
And for the first time in many years, I started to think of the current government not as Turnbull’s government (as it was always Abbott’s government) but as my government.