JACQUI LAMBIE’S resignation from the Palmer United Party today warrants condemnation, nothing more; even so, the disintegration of Clive Palmer’s eponymous party is to be eagerly and enthusiastically welcomed, as the get-square implement of a despotic autocrat continues to collapse under the weight of competing egos, a policy agenda with the actual and moral clarity of a sewer, and an electorate awake to the fact it was cynically conned.
It looks like my article on Senate reform is going to have to wait at least another day after all, although with the mooted resignation of Jacqui Lambie from Clive Palmer’s party looming large as I posted this morning, I half expected this might be the case. Nonetheless, I promise readers that by the middle of the week at the latest, the proffered Senate piece will be published.
I wanted to add my thoughts to some of the comment that has found its way speedily into print today after Lambie’s infantile tantrum culminated in her departure from the Palmer United Party, and far from echoing any of the faux grace she attempted to exhibit on the way out the door, readers might be surprised to know that I think what she has done today is reprehensible.
Lambie’s resignation from the Palmer United Party deserves to be condemned in the strongest possible terms: no more, no less.
This abominable and virtually inarticulate specimen, plucked from the Tasmanian boondocks — to continue, it seems, her career as a victim, albeit on a bigger stage — owes her position in the Senate to the party Clive Palmer founded, and as painful as it is to say it, Palmer is actually right to lambaste Lambie for daring to arrogate to herself the role of an Independent just a year after being elected on Palmer’s ticket, as a member of Palmer’s party, and bankrolled by Palmer’s money, which she has admitted herself on the public record that she needed to sustain her campaign.
Whilst nobody will ever now know, it seems inconceivable that Lambie would have been elected under her own steam last year: her Senate spot would have gone to the Tasmanian Liberals, whence it was arguably stolen under a false premise.
And her claims today to have had “a great weight lifted off (her) shoulders” in resigning from Palmer’s outfit ought to instead hang like a millstone around her neck, or be flung back in her face to politically crucify her: for, like it or not, Lambie was elected as a Palmer United Party Senator for Tasmania. Far from a weight being lifted from her shoulders, she has in fact absconded from the job she was elected to, and dumped on those Tasmanians who voted for her.
Her assertion that she is now free to act as a Senator for Tasmania is unbelievably crass: she was already that. And with the degree of levity Palmer was clearly prepared to extend to her for her fancies — despite the obvious acrimony between the two — it is reasonable to assert there is nothing she can achieve now that could not have been achieved had she remained in the role to which she was elected just an embarrassingly short amount of time ago.
Lambie’s resignation is no act of principle, nor a stand for anything that is right, decent, or even coherent. It is a sham.
For the record, I have no truck whatsoever with the unrelenting goading and taunting Palmer has engaged in over the past few weeks, almost daring Lambie to go ahead and leave his God-forsaken rabble; his accusations that she sought to defect to other parties — and even that she was a plant who infiltrated his party to sabotage it — are ridiculous, fatuous, and distasteful in the extreme.
But two wrongs do not make a right, and Lambie has — good to her word — given as good as she has received, returning fire at Palmer through the receptive organs of the media at every opportunity, and the duo have better resembled a warring marital couple than a pair of sober, professional political operatives.
Lambie tried to be gracious today, with remarks about Palmer’s “beautiful family” and suggesting that when “the dust has cleared” there will be opportunities for her to work with her former Palmer colleagues “in the national interest.”
Yet there is nothing about Lambie, Palmer, or the entire Palmer United Party infrastructure that could be remotely construed as being in the national interest, and the only surprise about Lambie’s resignation is that she chose to jump before Palmer pushed her: after all, and as I have opined here recently, being kicked out of the Palmer party would fit nicely with Lambie’s narrative of herself as a victim battling against almost everything and everyone she encounters.
In truth, today’s developments should be kept in perspective: yes, they will make a fractious and unpredictably hostile Senate that much harder for the Abbott government to handle, and the mysteriously expanding list of issues Lambie says she wishes to champion will make her difficult to deal with at all. But they will only make a bad situation infinitesimally worse, and continuing the slow disintegration of the Palmer United Party, the welcome aspect of Lambie’s actions today is that is should inevitably hasten its demise.
For the Palmer party is, indeed, disintegrating; already, it has lost half the MPs it has either managed to have elected to various Parliaments around the country, or has managed to coerce away and poach from the Coalition.
Stories of the dictatorial and autocratic manner in which Palmer runs his party are well documented and well known, as is the disturbing trend to friends, family members and loyal lieutenants increasingly filling key roles in the party and being awarded preselection berths.
The policy platform of the Palmer United Party — if it even has one — has all the clarity, real, moral, or otherwise, of a sewer: and I use the metaphor advisedly.
Its only real agenda (and this is an old story) is one of a malevolent, belligerent, get-square crusade aimed at Queensland’s LNP and, by extension, Coalition administrations elsewhere, for the simple reason Palmer was not given what he perceived he was entitled to in return for substantial support of the LNP and for Campbell Newman’s successful bid for the Premiership of Queensland.
Just to cap it, Western Australian Police confirmed today that they are conducting inquiries into Palmer in relation to allegations he siphoned money from his Chinese business partners to help bankroll his election campaign last year which, at the very minimum, contradicts Palmer’s flat denials that he faced any such investigations at all.
The cumulative reality that all of this represents — from the first hint Palmer might start his own party, up until the circus act today — has seen popular support for the Palmer United Party collapse across reputable opinion polls, and whilst it’s impossible to say “never” in politics, it is entirely possible that the point at which Palmer candidates begin to experience defeat (and the loss of their existing sinecures) is now at hand.
To this end, Palmer’s latest enterprise is to stand candidates for upper house sinecures at this Saturday’s state election in Victoria: once again, seeking to play the wrecking role, the spoiler, and to secure a vantage point from which no constructive contribution can ever be extracted.
Simply stated, the Palmer United Party’s claim to any of these spots rests solely upon the fact it is not the Liberal Party, or the Labor Party, or the National Party.
The time for Palmer to cash in on public disenchantment with politics and politicians has now passed, and as I have said in this column before, enterprises like the Palmer United Party merely fuel the very disillusionment with politics they purport to solve, and when the facade is stripped away — as it now has been, with an electorate well awake to the fact the Palmer United Party was just a con job — they feed back in to turning people away from politics even more.
If Palmer comes up empty-handed in Melbourne at the weekend, he will have received exactly what he deserved from Victorian voters.