Politicians and nappies

To paraphrase Mark Twain, Politicians and nappies must be changed often and for the same reason. Malcolm Turnbull effectively called the election this week and while a 15-week federal double dissolution election campaign is long, it could be worse – we could live in the USA!

Turnbull is attempting to hold a loaded gun to the heads of the ‘rabble’ that, he claims, consists of the cross-benchers in the Senate. To their credit most of the cross-bench senators who have raised their heads above the parapet to comment in the short time since the announcement have suggested that the ‘offer you can’t refuse’ of vote for the ABCC or potentially lose your job is not influencing their opinion. Even more to their credit, most of the current cross-bench senators have not been in Parliament for the required term and a bit to avail themselves of the better perks of the job – pensions and the like – so they really could ‘take a hit’ if Turnbull carries out his threat.

Regardless of the current make up of the Senate and how they got there – those that drew up the Constitution determined that the Senate was a house of review. Yes, the Senate is unrepresentative - there is an equal number of Senators from all states, so the ones from New South Wales have to deal with more people and those in Western Australia and Queensland have to travel further than those in Tasmania. That is the way it was intended. It is no more unrepresentative today than it was when the Howard Government had a majority in both houses (and consequently sowed the seeds for the demise of the Howard Government by voting for Workchoices).

Turnbull is playing a high risk game here.

Firstly, if there is a double dissolution election, all Senators face re-election. That means the quota to become a Senator (the number of direct or indirect votes you need to get a red leather chair in Canberra with your name on it) halves. If the quota halves, the chances of the smaller single issue parties, the Greens and the micro-parties getting the required number goes up. Assuming Turnbull gets back in, he still may not have the numbers to pass the legislation.

Secondly, some of the cross-benchers want to expand the ‘corruption-fighting’ aspects of the proposed ABCC to become a federal version of the state corruption investigation organisations such as ICAC in NSW or the CCC in Queensland. On the face of it, it is a difficult argument to suggest – as Turnbull is - that there is a need for a body to continually investigate corruption in one area of society, but there is nothing to see over here in Government or business.

Thirdly, the power play between the moderates and conservatives is still going on. The morning after Turnbull made his do what I want or the cute furry animal gets it announcement, one of his strongest supporters and former Prime Minister Tony Abbott popped up in London and suggested the looming election will be fought on his government's record. Turnbull disagrees The bottom line is there is continuity and there is change. If there is no change, why did they change leaders – it wasn’t for the better tailored suit or the more expensive postcode that comes with the new leader.

By contrast the ALP is doing a duck on a pond impression – serenity and promoting a shared objective (even if there is furious paddling going on under the surface). The Rudd – Gillard era of mutual destruction seems to be over and while Shorten was preferred to Abbott according to the opinion polls, he hasn’t taken the personal popularity battle against Turnbull by storm. Shorten has certainly made the ALP’s case for being ready for a return to Government clearly and well.

The ALP was nearly turfed out in 2010 because of internal distractions overcoming the need for good governance. While it could be argued that one of the best Parliaments ever was the 2010 – 2013 era, as the ruling party had to negotiate to get anything through the house. In the end the internal distractions evident in 2010 overcame them in 2013.

Mark Twain is right. We should change our politicians regularly. When Howard left Parliament in 2007, he left a vacuum in the leadership and a black hole of policy and direction that took the LNP some years and three leaders to resolve – if they have yet. In 2016, we can give the LNP the message to go and sort out their internal demons which still hark back to the Howard years or we can give Abbott and Turnbull the platform to argue over their so far insipid legacy from the luxuries of the PM suite on Capital Hill.

What do you think?


by Graeme Henchel

It was only for two years, that the Thug was in the job
In that short time, he proved to be, a hopeless lying nob
Was not just him, in this crew, the talent is so sparse
It was always going to be one enormous sorry farce

It's no surprise, that Abbott was a monumental fail
But who'd have thought, how quickly, it would all start to derail
I guess if you've no policies, and only can oppose
It isn't any wonder, he went quickly on the nose

When asked about his policies, he had not much to say
That's because, he'd outsourced them, all to the I. P. A.
He didn't keep his promises, it turned out that he lied
He kept on blaming Labor, and the lying he denied

He got no help from Smokin’ Joe, whose budget went too far
While Joe and pal Mathias, smoked a great big fat cigar
While Brandis in the Senate, said that "Bigots do have rights"
The Thug announced, he would restore, archaic Dames and Knights

Pensioners, the unemployed, the students and the sick
All were helpless targets, of this useless lying prick
If not for the senate, they would surely have been screwed
Their budget based on lies, made sure, a poll decline ensued

The backbench got so nervous, with a feeling of despair
The Thug survived a challenge, up against an empty chair
He promised he would listen and would stop his captains picks
But six months on, not much had changed, he still played dirty tricks

All the Thug's decisions, took them further up shit creek
From equal rights, to climate change, he kept a losing streak
His Captain's calls kept coming back, to bite him on the bum
The public had concluded, he's deluded, and quite dumb

The government was in limbo land, the party paralysed
Their only hope was Turnbull, who the right wing just despised
While Abbott's only focus, was on how to save his hide
Turnbull and his plotters planned the Thug's politicide

Turnbull advanced with the numbers on his side
To everyone's relief they removed the Thug who lied
For a while it worked quite well, as their polling headed north
The public were quite smitten with the wanker from Wentworth

But Turnbull's coup had come with a saddle bag of bricks
The snake oil man was haunted by a bunch of right wing pricks
Turnbull had agreed to many things he'd once condemned
It wasn't long till cracks appeared the honeymoon would end

Turnbull talked in circles and his capital was spent
And Abbott and his acolytes kept pissing in the tent
Shorten started scoring and Labor set the pace
The polls began to tumble, the lead all but erased

The Thug was out to seek revenge, he channeled Kevin Rudd
He would not rest until he'd seen the sight of Turnbull's blood
As always the deluded thug had a destructive disposition
like a suicide bomber he'd soon blow up the coalition

What do you think?

And the Robbie nominees are. . .

Welcome to the 2016 Australian Federal Election Awards.  We are here tonight to present the nominations for the tri-annual awards, based on form and practice during the past two years leading up to the scheduled election this year.

The 2013 election was a welcome return to form culminating in a Prime Minister elect standing on a stage in front of his adoring party workers and associated hangers-on towards the end of the actual Election night - promising to govern for all – and forgetting it as soon as the speech was delivered. Who can forget the debacle of the 2010 election when the result wasn’t known for two weeks, and then determined by Rob Oakeschott delivering a 17 minute spiel that covered all the bases on how he made is decision – with the possible exception of what he had for breakfast that morning.

The Awards Committee has decided to introduce a new award for the 2016 Election – the Robbie, named after Rob Oakeschott.  This award will only be in contention when the polling results are close at the time nominations close.  For contention, the MP’s under consideration must be independent and in the committee’s view capable of stringing a long and detailed explanation of why they have chosen to support a particular side of politics in matters of supply and confidence.

The first award nomination tonight is “The White Ant Award”.  This prestigious award is given to the person who displays the most talent and skill in destabilising the Government of the day from within its ranks.  Honourable mentions go to Mal Brough, Eric Abetz, Cory Bernardi and George Brandis for doing their best to suck oxygen from the Government’s preferred message.  The nominees however are Malcolm Turnbull for his sterling effort in destabilising throughout the period of Prime Minister Abbott in the lead up to the leadership challenge late last year – and Tony Abbott for his similar exceptional work to destabilise the current Prime Minister since the leadership challenge.  The Committee have noted that the current leadership of the LNP is following the excellent work in this category previously demonstrated within the ALP leadership between 2007 and 2013.  At this stage Abbott is in the lead in the view of the Committee with his excellent application to the task at hand in commenting on the planned delivery date of new submarines currently subject to an Australian Federal Police enquiry.

A regular favourite is next, the “Sideways Step Award”.  This award is given to the ex-politician who accepts a role within the Government that involves considerable overseas travel and more importantly frees up a safe seat in the House for a favoured party operative. While special mentions go to Philip Ruddock and Andrew Robb for accepting ‘special envoy’ roles, the favoured nominee at this stage is Joe Hockey formerly of North Sydney – now residing in comfortable digs in Washington DC.

The “Go before I’m Pushed Award” this year has a long list of nominees.  The Committee discounted most ALP senators and members from Western Australia as irrelevant to the larger picture.  While the Committee considered Joe Hockey to be a worthy nominee, it was pointed out that he was pushed before he went. Gary Grey however receives an honourable mention due to someone of his seniority throwing away years of political correctness to ‘drop a bucket’ on the way out.  Mal Brough gets another nomination in this category due to the method of departure – first stepping back from the Ministry, then resigning from Parliament not when first under investigation from the Federal Police but when the level of publicity around the investigation increased.  Philip Ruddock and Andrew Robb are both nominated for dedication to the true spirit of this award.  The Committee determined that Robb may make a contribution to public life in the future as he does have some creditability in the Trade area – so Philip Ruddock could easily win this award as he will become a special envoy with no real responsibility except increasing the value of his frequent flyer points.

So, to the newest award, the Robbie.  The inaugural winner of this award will be forever immortalised in history.  Realistically the nominees have to be Andrew Wilkie and Cathy McGowan, both independents in the current Parliament.  Both political parties know the financial and emotional cost and the difficulty of removing good independents from office. The Committee have determined that either McGowan or Wilkie could win this award in a canter, unless there is a late challenge from Tony Windsor, formerly the Member for New England, who is toying with a return to Canberra.  Should Windsor succeed and there be a hung Parliament, he is a shoo-in for the inaugural Robbie Award, has he has direct and extensive experience.

The Committee notes that Mal Brough, while nominated twice in 2016 is unlikely to win anything and suggests he will have to try harder when next he is a Member of Parliament.  The awards ceremony will be at a new venue this year – the Brisbane Lions Football Club at Richlands – as the budget is a bit tight to afford the Crown Centre in Melbourne.  Nominees should note that transportation will not be supplied – we recommend the Springfield line train or a 460 bus to Richlands Station and please take care crossing the busy road.

Get in early to tip the winners ‘below the line’.  What do you think?