So on August 24 Tony Abbott said of the new paradigm: “I think we can be a more collegial polity than we have been”.
Did anyone really believe him?
Today, James Massola and Joe Klein in The Oz did a nice recap of how the Liberal and National MPs have taken the decision of Oakeshott and Windsor (the SMH also noticed the love and cuddles from the Liberals). So how have they taken defeat? Not well is probably the nicest way you could put it. Thisclose from going batsh*t nutso is probably a more accurate description.
It took all of 2 minutes after Oakeshott’s decsion for MP Bob Baldwin to get on Twitter and write:
To think Windsor & Oakshot were going to vote any other way was a folly, the 17 days was nothing more than grandstanding to say the least
You would think if the guy is going to attack Oakeshott he could at least learn how to spell his name.
It is interesting that today the Libs and Nationals (and other assorted conservative media types) were not attacking the ALP (that will come later) but were going in boots first, studs up at Oakeshott and Windsor.
This morning we had Kevin Andrews on ABC24:
The vibes coming from Rob Oakeshott were pro-Labor and frankly I don't think Tony Windsor's ever gotten over his falling out with the National Party.
Soon after on ABC Radio George Brandis made his feeling known:
Most Australians wanted a change of government. Your government has as much legitimacy as the Pakistani cricket team.
Then there was Ron Boswell:
It must be pay back and there's no, there's no secret of the fact that Windsor, since John Anderson did him over in a pre-selection, he's had a chip on his shoulder for 10 years.
Christopher Pyne chipped in:
“What went wrong yesterday is that common sense didn't prevail ... it defied commonsense”
And throughout the day Warren Truss, Barnaby Joyce and Eric Abetz all let the independents know their time will come.
At all of this, Windsor and Oakeshott must be thinking, thanks guys for vindicating our decision. I mean how dopey is it to blame the independents for having a problem with the National Party, surely the National Party should be wondering why they (and Katter for that matter) have an issue with them in the first place!
There is a hell of a lot of avoiding of looking in the mirror over on the LNP side at the moment.
The media have also had a nice little time (as expected) over Windsor’s comments about thinking Abbott would likely win an election. As Ben Eltham wrote in an excellent piece on The Drum “it is clear from any balanced analysis of their statements that the independents made their decision on policy grounds”.
Also, why the hell shouldn’t Windsor want to keep this parliament going for as long as possible? The longer he is in the current position he is in the better the chance he will be able to get things done for his electorate. Any MP that did otherwise would be a fool. The four independents (5 if you count Crook) all know come the next parliament their votes will likely be irrelevant, they would be stupid to shorten the time they can hold the whip handle.
It is also rather odd that some in the media think it is more democratic for a government to go to an early election, especially given the bleating in the last 12 months about whether or not Rudd would go early and how it would be regarded as a cynical move. Now it seems going early would be the proper and right thing to do. All part of the new paradigm I guess. All part of letting the sunshine in.
The other joyous event of the day for the media was the “collapse” of the alliance between the ALP and the independents. All because Wayne Swan wants to bring the MRRT to the parliament, and Tony Windsor thought it was going to be part of next year’s Tax Summit.
This is hardly the end of the marriage (such that it is). For a start they were actually asked about the issue in their press conference after they made their announcement. Oakeshott was asked (around the 40 second mark ) if the RSPT and MRRT would “go back to scratch”. Oakeshott answered “look I doubt they will” – pointing out “there is more than one stakeholder in this”.
Calm down, folks.
Here’s a little tip: Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott did not pledge to agree on everything. In fact they pledged to agree on nothing except votes on no-confidence and supply bills. Everything else is up for negotiation. Everything. And guess what? They will disagree with many things over the next couple of years. All it means is that the Government will have to negotiate with them.
This is actually not that big a deal really. The Government has had to do this for every piece of legislation in the last 2 1/2 years in order to get things through the Senate. But ask yourself this – if you were Julia Gillard who would you rather have to do deals with: Windsor, Oakeshott, Wilkie and Bandt, or Steve Fielding?
Which brings us to the first part of the the difficult life for Julia Gillard: until June 30 next year she still has to deal with a lame duck Steve Fielding. I am sure though he’ll act in a reasonable and logical manner…
But the bigger issue is the new rules regarding Private Members Bills. In the past these were proposed by members of the opposition and then left to die, now they will get debated and voted on. And given the Libs with Fielding and Xenophon could pass a Bill in the Senate, there is the very odd situation where Liberal Party legislation could get passed if the Libs could get four of the independents to vote with them in the lower house.
I am not sure how this will go if the Bills have budgetary implications, but I do predict a fun old time in the Parliament.
The other fun old time for Julia Gillard will be Question Time. The new “direct relevance” clause in the standing orders will mean presumably that when Abbott asks about a specific school building done under the BER that does not mean she can talk about the BER in general, but will have to actually talk about that specific school building.
This will be pure hell, and you can bet the Libs will do the old death by a thousand cuts tactic – ie a program could have 150,000 successes and 10 failures and they will ask 10 questions in a row on those 10 “failures”. The difficulty for Gillard will be to talk about he successes while still being “directly relevant”. Personally, I think putting things in their proper context is always directly relevant, but whether or not this will fly under the new paradigm is yet to be seen.
The ALP are fortunate they have a PM who loves the theatre and cut and thrust of Question Time as much as does Julia. The new rules will however make Question Time truly riveting watching for politics nerds, rather than an occasion where even political obsessive compulsives were looking at the clock wondering when it will all end.
The other fun task for Julia is to come up with a Cabinet and outer Ministry.
The word on the 7:30 Report is that Rudd will get Foreign Affairs. Of the others who I can’t see being shifted there is really only Swan as Treasurer, Albanese in Infrastructure (the guy obviously loves his job so much it would be a shame to move him), Conroy in Broadband (the NBN was the big winner of the election – and now the filter is effectively dead, he can really be the good news guy of the Government), Carr in Innovation, and possibly Roxon in Health. But the rest? They could go anywhere. It is a jigsaw puzzle that I do not envy her trying to solve.
Is Tanya Plibersek going to take a break from the Ministry while she has her child? If so, there’s another gap to fill. Shorten surely must get a job – he has done very well as the Disability Parliamentary Secretary, Combet also looks set to go from the outer Ministry to Cabinet. But does he get Defence? Defence is a very senior job. Personally I would prefer he get Climate Change. But then where does Wong go? Given his Parl Sec position, Shorten could smoothly go into Family and Community Services, but then where goes Macklin? And on it goes
Gillard is lucky that the Ministry she herself once held – Education, Employment and Work Place Relations will definitely be split – she would never be silly enough to give someone else as much power as she herself had. So that gives her some room, as does no Tanner (sigh) and no Faulkner (sigh).
But it is a wonderful game she has to play – one that needs to end up using the talent in the best possible manner, but also one that doesn't put too many noses out of joint – including those of the independents. Good luck – it’s like playing scrabble on an air hockey board
I end with two tweets by South Australian Lib Senator Simon Birmingham and Lib MP Jamie Briggs, both of whom showed their colleagues how to take a defeat:
@Birmo democracy - swings, roundabouts & other stuff harder to explain ... upwards & onwards towards the next election ...
@Briggsjamie a disappointing result but time now to re-group and fight hard to build for a victory at the next election
Certainly a case of treating the two imposters of Triumph and Disaster the same. I tips my hat.