Snap Election To “Clear” Senate? Don’t Bet On It

A SURPRISING POLL for Sydney’s Daily Telegraph finds that an astonishing 67% of voters want a fresh federal election — a double dissolution — to clear the Senate of obstructive minor parties and “Independents” and get a workable Parliament; the legalities of such an election are unclear , and in any case the move is unlikely based on the behaviour of the ALP. A push to reform the Senate — in good faith — is a potentially more fruitful idea.

The vagaries of daily life have meant that the reform series I promised at the start of the month has largely been subsumed; today, however, comes an opportunity to revisit the theme, and I will aim to do this tonight or (I promise) in the next couple of days.

But Sydney’s Daily Telegraph is carrying an article today, reporting poll findings by Galaxy that purport to show some 67% of NSW voters are in favour of a snap double dissolution election, to clean out the raft of minor party influences in the Senate and make federal Parliament more workable than it is now.

The poll — which shows 67% of respondents favouring such an election, with 25% opposed — represents the kind of thing that was probably always going to turn up at some point this parliamentary term, given the deadlocked shambles the Senate has mostly become.

And it is a fair bet to say it belies the ignorance of most voters when it comes to the constitutional factors governing elections for the Senate, although on this occasion they are probably aligned with each other.

I am not averse to the idea of a double dissolution election, although I would hasten to add that with the farcical Gillard government now consigned to the dustbin of history — where it belongs — extreme caution should be used in agitating for an early election, be it for both Houses of Parliament or otherwise.

For one thing, the Abbott government is unlikely to call one until or unless it can be reasonably confident of re-election in the lower house: and hard, cold political reality suggests that as of today’s date, it can’t be.

For another, there is little point in throwing both Houses open to the electorate when there is no guarantee anyone would co-operate with a Coalition attempt to cut the number of non-major party influences that are elected in the upper House: Labor, under Bill Shorten, exhibits a distinct penchant for causing as much disruption and chaos for the Abbott government as it can.

If it believed, heading into such an election, that the government was likely to be returned, it would move heaven and Earth to increase the size of the crossbench — not trim it.

And if Labor thought it might win, it might do the same thing anyway; after all, the kinds of entities the Senate voting system elevates to its crossbench are, on the whole, far friendlier to the ALP than to the Coalition, and this political truism is so pronounced that there is little point wasting column space recounting sufficient historical examples to bear it out.

Even so, most of those who would bleat the loudest of being able to “work with” the Coalition — the Communist Party Greens and the Palmer United Party being the chief culprits — are also those who most regularly vote in the Senate to obstruct it.

Both have gone well out of their way to cause maximum political damage to the government, and both have occasionally thrown the government a (heavily conditional and qualified) bone to allow themselves to claim the mantra of a “balanced” approach to their activities, which is patent rubbish.

And as I said, these types — along with some of the other undeserving types thrown up by the undemocratic system used to elect the Senate — generally find themselves able to live in harmony with Labor governments, which was the whole point of Senate changes made by the Hawke government in 1984: securing upper houses that are mostly friendly to the Left, with the Howard Senate majority won in 2004 relegated to the realm of the exception.

I’m not surprised the Tele has found frustration — even hostility — with the Senate and its antics, nor that people are already clamouring for something to be done about it.

But a snap poll would, in all likelihood, exacerbate the problem.

My remarks this morning are deliberately brief, and I will return (hopefully) this evening to thrash out a better idea: reforming the Senate altogether, with a plan that does not exclude the minor parties by any stretch, but which means that securing election really would be contingent on securing a reasonable stipend of electoral support.

That would mean no Ricky Muir with his 1,700 votes in Victoria, or the Greens holding the country to ransom with 10 Senators — 6 of whom were elected more than four years ago.

But even then, I know it will be a big ask, for no matter what is placed on the table, there will always be someone happy to play the wrecker in the name of short-term political expediency than in the national interest in the longer run.

And yes, Bill Shorten, I’m looking at you.



3 thoughts on “Snap Election To “Clear” Senate? Don’t Bet On It

  1. The country is being pushed to Hell in a handcart.
    The combination of servicing the massive debt, enduring rapidly declining revenue, a property bubble that will blow like a suicide bomber one day, is complicated by the fact that the government is hog-tied by the Communists, Fascists, and useless idiots like Palmer and Lambie.
    Here are a few possibilities leading up to 2016 that I can imagine:
    a) Things will go from bad to worse, with the self-centred Left interested only in power and the destruction of the country. When an election is called, the Left will gain power.
    b) Through some miracle, Shorten will fall on his sword and admit to being a rapist, or some further corruption will be uncovered in the saga of the unions and the ALP. This will allow the government to call an election, and retain power. The senate will still be a gridlock.
    c) The coalition might choose a new leader such as Julie Bishop or Morrison. With all due respect to both Abbott and Bishop, I doubt that this would make much difference in the long run.
    The likelihood of (a) is high. The outcome would be that the country is damaged to the point that the IMF make it a ward of the UN.
    The likelihood of (b) is low. Nothing that reveals the true character of Shorten, the ALP and the Mafia seems to have any impact on the minds of the useless idiots.
    The likelihood of (c) is perhaps 50/50. It would only make a difference if followed by a snap election.
    A double dissolution, followed by a campaign in which the coalition really goes to work on communicating the financial train wreck that is imminent, and placing the blame where it truly belongs, might find some favour with voters.
    To sum up my thoughts, the country is up excrement creek with no paddle, or soon will be. The only hope of turning it around is a DD election to clean out the dead wood and the rot. A complete overhaul of the out of control ABC from the top down and the bottom up, prior to the DD would go a long way to allowing the country to turn the corner. Otherwise, the ruinous rapids are just up ahead. Waiting for another 18 months will only make it worse.

  2. I agree. They won’t pull a double dissolution. What’s your thoughts on the Truss illness or the Flegg developments?

  3. Actually the conservatives could romp home in an election held even 6 months from now if they;

    1. Dumped the spin doctors and just spoke honestly as they believed.
    2. Grew a pair. Julie Bishop has the biggest balls in the front bench and others need to match her.
    3. Say it plain and say it straight.
    4. Stop letting the Greens and ALP play from Alinski’s Handbook. Pin them down “How are you going to pay for it?” needs to be the slogan. Let their confused mumblings show the electorate just how clueless they are. Every fiscal Bill should be prefaced with “We are in a $400 Billion hole and sinking further into debt by $1 Billion per week, this Bill is intended to help reverse that situation.” When the Opposition rise to speak against it, let them speak and then ask “So what is your plan to reverse the situation then?”. Force them into a corner where they have to admit that either they don’t think a $400 billion debt is a problem OR that they have no policy to address the problem.
    5. Stop being ashamed of their beliefs. FFS after cost over runs of $350 million and a year behind schedule on 3 bloody ships, I wouldn’t trust the ASC to build a canoe either. With their record they certainly aren’t worthy of praise.
    6. Show people that you’re willing to fight for what you believe in. If you really believe in free speech then put 18C back on the table and fight hard for the change. Explain why it needs to go, not glib comments but serious arguments and make the other side fight.
    7. Take the fight to the ALP and Greens. “This is what we believe and why.” Yah, they’ll indulge in name calling (because that’s all the Greens have got) but the people will see who is name calling and who has actual reasons.
    8. Related to 1. Let Tony Abbott speak. He’s fine on the floor, but so advised not to irritate anybody outside Parliament that he stutters like a twit. This is due the constant pre-reviewing his comments in his head. FFS, just bloody say it. Fairfax and the ABC will take it out of context or misquote it to crucify you anyway, you might as well be disparaged for what you did clearly and honestly say than for some fantasy. Face the fact, if Abbott was the actual second coming of the messiah and went around performing miracles, Fairfax and the ABC would be complaining about the quality of the wine.

    Basically if they played it straight, fair and honest and acted like a Conservative party instead of some wishy washy centrist “I have no real convictions about anything that might be controversial” then support for many of the special interest parties (and PUP) would wither and die. Some would argue that taking a stand might lead to defeat, but if you sacrifice your ideals and beliefs for the victory, is it really a victory?

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