Not a happy camper

The prospect of the current Gillard-led coalition government falling because of some petty fraud surrounding “adult entertainment” for an MP or for his guests appals me so much that I’m just burying myself in work.  If he wanted to pay for escort services, few would much care if he’d just used his own money.  But he couldn’t even do the dinkum thing there, and he may let the door in on an Abbott government for us all.  What a very weird time in Australian politics 2010 and 2011 will seem to future historians, first the unprecedented deposing of a first-term PM by his own cabinet, and then the breaking of that government by a tawdry sexually tinged “financial irregularity” scandal.

Not that I’m especially strong fans of this government, especially not of the way that both Rudd and Gillard bungled the PR of their policy arguments in favour of generally (with a few glorious exceptions) supine acquiescence to the Murdochracy/shock-jock trope of the day .  It’s hard to defend them, when the few useful contributions they’ve made have been so much less than needed because of their timidity against the Faux-Etc News onslaught.

But the sudden leap in the likelihood of some day soon waking up to Abbott PM? An icy sensation of creeping dread has gripped me, and I know I’m not the only one.  The only upside would be that it might, just possibly might, finally break the grip of the back-office cadres who’ve hijacked Labor over the last few decades, and allow the party to get back on track for the long run free of their malign influence.   But probably not.

As I said, not happy.

Categories: parties and factions

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25 replies

  1. You have encapsulated my feelings on this quite precisely.


  2. Yes. Not that I have a personal stake in this anymore, but I’ve been feeling sadder and sadder about the demise of Julia Gillard’s government. And ill about the prospect of Tony Abbott being in power.
    As for the financial irregularity, it’s not only wrong (i.e. allegedly using union funds for personal purposes), but STUPID. His electorate and his party deserve much better than that.
    Meanwhile, I shall go back to contemplating the non-entity we have for a Prime Minister here, who seems to come to life only when there’s a chance to bash some beneficiaries.

  3. But the sudden leap in the likelihood of some day soon waking up to Abbott PM? An icy sensation of creeping dread has gripped me, and I know I’m not the only one.

    Definitely not the only one.
    The only silver lining I can see to that eventuality is the possibility that Abbott would be so bad that after two years the electorate would be willing to kick him out soundly, rather than having to suffer through a full three year term first (which is likely what will happen otherwise). But his is the same electorate that put Howard in power four times, so… not too much hope there.

  4. Well put. Utterly dismal to contemplate. I imagine that Abbott would go for an election more or less immediately while the going was good. After all his whinging about mandate, he would appear to be doing the right thing by the people.

  5. What Jo said.
    I could just… strangle. And I’m not even a Labor voter anymore. After this, any Labor voter/apparatchik who comes the “Abbott G0vernment was YOUR fault for voting Green” will get a…OK, since this is a non-violent blog, I’ll settle for a Hard Stare.

  6. Good post. And yes, can you believe we are in this ridiculous situation because someone was too cheap to pay for his own sex? Arrrgh.

  7. I keep reminding myself to keep inserting the word “allegedly too cheap to pay for his own titillation” but only because I don’t want to afford the hysterics to the right anything more than I have to.
    The fact that the silly dill didn’t have the gumption to either carry his defamation action all the way through to the courts (and clear his name) or to declare the contribution the NSW ALP had made to his case costs as a pecuniary interest in a timely manner, makes me wonder how the ALP selected me in the first place!
    To say I am disappointed with the lost possibilities in the last four years is just … *argh!*

  8. At least Abbott couldn’t control the Senate. An early election would be a House election only.

  9. The whole thing makes me want to vomit. Copiously. I don’t even want to be in the house when it happens – my father loves Abbott. 😦

  10. Fortunately this isn’t something the opposition can call for the demanded “double dissolution” election with. They’d have to settle for the standard “house of reps and half-senate” mix.
    However, the idea of having government in this country handed over to a bunch of people who have spent the greater part of the past twelve months acting like a bunch of whiny toddlers who urgently need to be put down for their naps just terrifies me, if only because I’ve no doubt they’re going to be following the prevailing political fashion everywhere else, and trying to impose “austerity” measures to counteract the world economic downturn. At which point Australia won’t be riding the downturn out, we’ll be damn well smack bang in the middle of it, just like everyone else. And yes, I do believe the current crop of Liberals are daft enough to effectively overturn the lifeboat and throw us all to the sharks because “everyone else is doing it”.

  11. @Meg Thornton
    I’m pretty sure that because of the way the Senate terms work, the exiting Senators would still stay in their seats until their terms were up, so essentially the Senate wouldn’t change for a while. The only Senators who could change are the territory Senators and the territories generally vote in one each of Labor/Liberal although that could change to Labor/Green or Liberal/Green (wouldn’t that piss off the Libs more Greens in the Senate!) . Antony Green is the expert here. Luckily he has a blog.

  12. Antony says:

    The terms of the four Territory Senators are tied to the term of the House, so any early House election would also include the four Territory Senators. The state Senators cannot face election before 3 August 2013 unless there is a double dissolution, and the current State Senators would retain their seats until 30 June 2014. If the current Labor government stays in office until 2013, any new Coalition government could not begin the process of developing a double dissolution trigger until after 1 July 2014, making it nearly impossible to have a double dissolution election until 2015.

    So any election called now would be for the House only, so the Liberals would have to deal with the Greens in the Senate. I also suspect that any election would be a lot closer than the polls suggest, unless Malcolm were to topple Tony in which case many voters who can’t stomach Tony but are disappointed with Julia may swing and vote for their Lib candidate in order to get Malcolm over the line.

  13. Just as a note, the most likely result of the Craig Thomson affair is a by-election for his seat alone. Which (comfortingly?) would leave the hypothetical Abbott government with as thin a margin as the Gillard one.

  14. I’d agree the most likely result is going to be a by-election in Thompson’s seat of Dobell , which is most likely going to be treated by the press and the voters as a bit of a poll on whether or not the Gillard government had the confidence of the public – and I suspect the Liberal candidate will probably win (Thomson’s in with a 5.1% margin on the 2010 figures). The best result to hope for would be a strong challenge from the Greens contender.

  15. Not so fast. Antony Green to the rescue again on how the Gillard Govt could survive this. It will take some wriggling, but if the “dossier” that they allegedly have on a Liberal party member does exist they might just get away with it.

  16. I am so terrified of ending up with Abbott as PM. It’s only since 2009 that my (same-sex) partner and I have had the same rights as de facto opposite-sex partners, and as much of that time involved me being in hospital, it was very, very important that my partner was recognised as such. While I don’t think the Liberal Party in general has any interest in removing those rights, Abbott is a magnet for the evil, the bigoted and the busybodies.

  17. Mindy, I love Antony Green too. Anyone worried about the government falling over this really should go and read his blog to be reassured that it isn’t going to happen.

  18. I’ve been avoiding the MSM lately – too dann depressing all round. This sounds sooo much like just another example of ALP standing for Alternative Liberal Party. Main difference is that Make-me-puke Howard was the Teflon Man, and I doubt very much there’s such a thing as a Teflon Woman in politics.
    The thought of the Rabid Rabbit as PM makes me want to go and live in Tierra del Fuego for a few decades.

  19. “Alleged” my arse, half the union movement knew about this long before now. Worst of all, several ALP members knew.
    Its painful to be caught between appalled at the thought of an Abbott Govt and appalled at the thought of the ALP continuing to hold on to power knowing what a bunch of hypocritical and corrupt jerks the inner circle are.

  20. Li, a by election win for the Liberals in Dobell would not result in an Abbott government – unless he can persuade one of the independents to change sides. It would result in neither side having the numbers in the house – currently Labor has 72 seats, there’s one Green, and three independents who support Labor – giving them 76 and the Coalition (plus one independent and a WA National) 74 seats in the house. With a Labor speaker and a Liberal deputy speaker, the PM has a wafer-thin majority and can command the confidence of the house. If Thomson (or another Labor candidate) lost a by-election the numbers would be tied, 75-75. No-one can command a majority on the floor of the house, Abbott would call for a vote of no confidence, the PM could not get an absolute majority, and would have to go to the Governor-General and say she doesn’t have the confidence of the house and ask the GG to dissolve Parliament and call a general election for the House of Reps (although not, as has been noted, the Senate).
    It’s highly unlikely that Labor could persuade Slipper, Crook or Katter to take the Speaker’s position, which as Antony Green notes is the only way a general election could be avoided.
    So it’s vanishingly unlikely in my opinion that it would just be byelection win = Abbott govt. It’s vastly more likely to be byelection win – general election win – Abbott govt.
    However, two other things should be noted – one is that the wheels of justice grind slowly (not to mention, the Member for Dobell is – as everyone is in our system – innocent until proven guilty) so a byelection any time soon is unlikely. Even if he was charged – which there’s certainly no guarantee that he will be – nothing stops him continuing to sit. As indeed Senator Fisher is in the Senate despite having been charged with shop lifting and assault.
    The other is that ALP candidates are not, as some seem to be suggesting, selected centrally (or at least not for the most part – occasionally the national exec intervenes in pre-selections, but it’s the exception, not the rule). The Member for Dobell, as with most local NSW members, would have been selected by a combination of local party members, and the NSW public office selection committee, which is made up of people elected to the committee at state conference (and the state conference delegates are in turn elected by local members).

  21. The long article in the Herald today has a lot of useful factional and HSU background for total outsiders like myself.

    Early indications from within the fraud squad suggest he may never be charged with anything. Since the HSU apparently issued Thomson with a credit card but no instruction on its use, it’s possible no crime has been committed.

    Even assuming that’s what ends up happening, it seems likely to be poison for the government going forward.

  22. Peter Hartcher’s op-ed today makes me feel that I’ve been over-reacting to some very effective spin: Worlds apart on politics

    Judging how well the Gillard government is doing depends on whether evidence trumps emotion.
    Australian politics exists in a pair of parallel universes. In one, an illegitimate government is led by a liar Prime Minister with no mandate. This sham government plans to vandalise the economy and make the ordinary people suffer, just to help the Greens realise a mad crypto-communist utopia.
    In the other universe, a government that was sworn in under all constitutional norms has just completed its first year. The executive has firm control of the Parliament.

  23. more –

    Still, the lightning strike is only a possibility, and several preconditions have not been met. The police would need to charge him. A court would need to convict him. He would have to be found guilty of a crime that carries the penalty of at least a year in jail. Only then would he be forced by the constitution to leave Parliament. Only then is the Speaker required to call a by-election within three months. And only then might Labor lose the seat of Dobell. And only then would the government lose its one-seat majority.
    Read more: <a href="</blockquote&gt;

  24. @TT Others have said that they suspect TA knows all this and is trying to put Thomson in a position where he has to resign despite not being charged with anything. Although as someone else pointed out, all he would have to do is resign from the Labor party, become an independent until the next election and throw his support behind Labor. Whether he would or not is another matter, depending on how he feels he has been treated, but the Abbott government may not be as close as some would have us think.

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