IT COULD BE the storyline of a B-grade movie; these people — charged with the pivot of governance — are instead squabbling over the trivialities of minor success. The news Jacqui Lambie is considering leaving Clive Palmer’s party is no surprise; the fact it’s over not being the leader (of three Senators) even less so. This is further evidence, if it were required, that a vote for Clive Palmer is a vote for self-obsessed chaos: to hell with the repercussions.
This column has long been of the view that it’s only a matter of time before the fractious, unruly band of miscreant no-hopers, gravy train surfers, sycophants and other political irrelevances that constitute the Palmer United Party begin to fall apart under the combined weight of egos and petty agendas.
Today, we’ve seen the appearance of the first hints that my prediction could come true, and sooner than anyone thought.
To Palmer’s chagrin, Sydney’s Daily Telegraph published an article today that outlined a serious (and escalating) rift between two of his Senators, footballer Glenn Lazarus and brainless, self-designated military expert Jacqui Lambie, that claimed Lambie was on the brink of walking away from Palmer’s silly party.
The reason? As the story goes, Lazarus — “a recluse” — appointed himself as leader of the party in the Senate, a position to which Lambie felt entitled to on account of her “higher public profile.”
The talk around the traps is that Lambie (who confirmed she was fielding approaches from other quarters) is considering joining a new voting bloc of Independents that includes Family First Senator Bob Day, Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm, and Ricky Muir of the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party, who is currently loosely allied with Palmer himself.
And of course, there have been predictable attempts to laugh the rumblings off; Lazarus’ rather pithy claim that anyone seeking to poach Lambie would have to go “through him” because he and Lambie were “tighter than ever” reeks of an exercise in going through the motions — as do the multitude of kissy-cuddly pictures of the pair that have found their way into today’s newspapers.
I wanted to comment on this briefly: there are weightier matters at hand, some of which I will cover off on overnight (ready for readers when they arise) but in the meantime, there are a few quick points I would make.
One, that Lazarus, Lambie, their Palmer cohort Dio Wang and the rather mobile Ricky Muir all have one thing to offer: a vote in the Senate. Beyond that, it is highly dubious as to whether any of them have so much as a syllable to contribute to sound governance in Australia in any meaningful or constructive sense. Wang is reportedly extremely intelligent, but publicly at least says nothing. Perhaps — if he’s such an astute individual — he should exercise some of that fine acumen and get out of Palmer’s party himself, where he might be allowed to have his own opinion instead of speaking with his master’s voice (or at the very least, complying with its edicts).
Two — and that said — Lambie in particular is of absolutely no value to the process of government at all. I was prepared to support her in this column on the basis of some early hints she gave off that she might represent the kind of grassroots conservatism that can never have too many voices. Alas, Lambie is preoccupied with the overgrown state of her pubic mane, the size of the penises of prospective male suitors, and how best to enact a nuclear strike on China. It also seems she has an entitlement mentality where the leadership of two other people is concerned. This is hardly an agenda conducive to resolving the real problems Australia faces.
Three, if Lambie (or any of the others, for that matter) go ahead and flee the Palmer coop — unshackling themselves from his vindictive and petty obsessions with revenge against the Coalition at all cost — it can only be a good thing; I don’t care where she goes and I really don’t mind if she finds her way into either of the Coalition parties, provided she toes the line and supports government policy. To the extent she has any value at all in Australian politics, helping to smash the Palmer citadel apart would constitute doing the country a favour. I cannot emphasise the importance of ridding Canberra of the insidious Palmer and his presence in the Senate strongly enough.
But finally…isn’t this about as amateurish as it gets?
We’ve had the silly stunts; the eccentric persona Palmer hides his true colours behind; we’ve had the obstruction he causes the government without exception and we’ve had the growing number of “brain fades” when the facade falls down and the true colours of the Palmer agenda becomes painfully clear.
In this context, Lambie being pulled this way and that — and apparently enjoying and entertaining the attention, to boot — merely reflects the sheer vacuity of this self-proclaimed party of national unity. Everything’s for sale and everyone has a stake to defend, it seems. Given the position of “leader” of the Palmer United Party doesn’t even come with an allocated salary, let alone an official title, it emphasises just how puerile today’s spat actually is.
Never mind that these people were elected to govern, and that Palmer’s people — as insidious as it is to admit it — hold a portion of the balance of power in the Senate, which accords them a pivotal position they neither merit nor deserve, but are nonetheless obliged to discharge.
I still think Palmer’s party will break up, if for no other reason than at some stage his stooges simply won’t be able to stand him — or each other — any longer.
In the meantime, however, two words spring to mind: grow up. Australia has seen more than its fair share of embarrassments elected to various houses of Parliament across the country in recent times. These latest antics, centred on the Palmer United Party, are yet more evidence that it is another of them.