Dedicated Aboriginal Seats In Parliament? Absolutely Not

HOT ON THE HEELS of a nuclear attack on China, touting on Hobart radio for a man with a huge penis and sharing too much information on the unkempt state of her pubic mane, idiot Senator Jacqui Lambie has put her latest idea on the table: the creation of reserved seats in Parliament for Aborigines. Far from fostering social inclusion, the notion is radically divisive, and would harm the Aboriginal interests Lambie clearly thinks it would help.

There’s nothing wrong with going to Canberra to fight for what you believe in, or to represent the constituency that elected you.

But Jacqui Lambie is quickly showing — to the extent she represents anyone at all in the classic sense except for herself, and perhaps Clive Palmer — that what she believes in and what is in the best interests of the country as a whole are, by and large, mutually exclusive subsets.

We already know she thinks she should be Prime Minister, and we know that because she was naive and/or inexperienced enough not to know that running around trumpeting that kind of ambition is off-putting to many people.

Especially when you’re a rookie Senator and ineligible to serve in the post anyway without securing a seat in the lower house, at the very minimum: and winning electorates in the House of Representatives means cobbling together a majority of the two-party vote in one location, something even her boofhead leader could only manage by a couple of hundred votes, off a primary vote of just 26%, and despite throwing a fortune of his own money at the contest.

So it should probably come as no surprise that Lambie — who presented herself in her maiden speech to the Senate as a sixth-generation descendant from an Aboriginal ancestor (a detail disputed by some Aboriginal elders, in response to which she has refused to provide proof) — has taken it upon herself to call for indigenous representation to be embedded in federal Parliament by way of dedicated seats for Aboriginal representatives.

As reported in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph last night, Lambie claims that “3 to 4 percent” of the population being Aboriginal equates to nine seats in Parliament, which would break down for constitutional reasons as meaning three in the Senate and six in the House of Representatives. It isn’t clear whether these seats are meant to be included in or in addition to the existing numbers in federal Parliament, but such a distinction is actually irrelevant.

Even so, these seats might make it easier for Lambie to remain in Parliament when her term expires, as the Tele notes; despite standing under the banner of a high-profile and well-resourced minor party and at the top of its Senate ticket, Lambie polled just 6.4% of the vote in Tasmania last year, finishing fourth behind the Communist Party Greens — an outfit well and truly on the nose with voters nationally at that time.

And in terms of her designs on the Prime Ministership, moving into a reserved Aboriginal seat in the House of Representatives might get her into the lower house, but the small matter of forming a government (and a majority on the floor of the chamber) is a different proposition altogether: and with all due respect to her sincerity, I’d rate her prospects of doing so equivalent to the proverbial snowball’s chance in hell.

So the first point I would make is that if this suggestion is being offered up by Lambie to further her own prospects, it would be a complete waste of other people’s time to even consider it.

But if this really is intended as a contribution seeking to advance the cause of Aboriginal people generally, it is misdirected.

For one thing, coming as it does as the details of a future referendum on constitutional acknowledgement are being worked through, Lambie’s ill-considered proposal risks being too much too quickly: the merits or otherwise of Aborigines achieving more than a favourable referendum result notwithstanding, to lob this latest idea into the mix at such an integral point in that process represents overkill that could derail the entire thing — including the referendum — ensuring Aborigines achieve nothing.

For another, a few seats in Parliament aren’t going to change the lot of the Aboriginal community; government policies are, and the best avenue these people have to advance their interests is through working with whichever of the major parties best fits their outlook to formulate and execute legislation that will achieve those ends. If the desired approach is to be welfare-based, it will be the ALP; if it’s opportunity-based, it will be the Coalition.

By contrast, Jacqui Lambie and the huge chip on her shoulder — even with the backing of Clive Palmer — can offer virtually nothing.

And where this whole thing really falls to bits in my view has to do with a distaste that runs deeply in my DNA: the pandering to minorities, and the attendant handouts, goodies, and other special considerations shovelled out to minority interests to the direct and disproportionate cost of the majority of the people who live in this country.

In case anyone thinks I’m just picking on Lambie, I should quickly note she’s not the only person in the national arena trying to engineer handouts, quotas, or special favours for this constituency or that: the “wimmin’s lobby” as personified by the ghastly Emily’s List wants its 35% of everything for women (although to qualify as “female” in the jaundiced estimation of Emily’s List, membership of the hard political Left is also required); Labor “leader” Bill Shorten stood for the post on a platform of quotas for gays, lesbians, Aborigines, and God alone knows who else; some sections of the Left want special seats in Parliament reserved for certain migrant communities to reflect “diversity.” On and on it goes. Whether it’s money, or preferment, or seats in Parliament, it’s all a handout. The only difference is the format.

And in every case, the “silent majority” in Australia simply becomes more marginalised in its own country. These things aren’t inclusive, or conducive to promoting cohesion, or contrived to right a wrong — real, alleged or imagined.

Shovelling out preferment to minority groups becomes a self-perpetuating and self-destructive cycle; the more you shovel out, the less satisfied the recipients become with it and the more they want, so more largesse is shovelled out and the cycle continues.

Parallel to this, those who don’t fit into the compartmentalised box of one minority group or another simply grow angrier and more resentful. After all, these are generally the people footing the bill for the preferential treatment being doled out. And what does the majority receive for its trouble? Comparatively little, if anything at all.

(And before anyone counters with an argument about “middle class welfare,” it should be observed that it is the majority in the community that by and large pays for that too).

Handing any minority group in Australian society its own, special, reserved allocation of parliamentary seats is going to drive that resentment rather than redress anything. And in this case, what Lambie wants is hardly going to achieve anything for the Aboriginal community she claims to represent.

Lambie has suggested that special electorates allocated to Maori in New Zealand are “evidence” her policy would work, to which I say the suggestion is based on a false premise: New Zealand is a different country, with a considerably different political system, and in which race relations are an entirely different proposition to the situation that exists in Australia between Aboriginal people and other Australians.

In turn, this speaks to something else that readers know boils my blood: the usage by politicians of one set of “international standards” or another to justify something they either want or have done, often where little or no support exists for it. If New Zealanders thought it a good idea to flock to Melbourne so they could jump off the West Gate Bridge, should we all follow suit? Of course not. It might be a frivolous analogy but it still illustrates the point.

New Zealand doesn’t have an upper house of Parliament, but I don’t hear the self-interested Senator Lambie advocating we follow suit on that count.

In closing today, I make two points.

One, that Lambie exhibits a dangerous and developing characteristic of presenting herself as “an expert” on those issues she arrogates to herself as her own: I am very reliably informed, for example, that a lot of serving and retired military personnel are affronted by the fact this Army truck driver and military policewoman has had the temerity to parade herself as an authority on military and defence matters since her election, which her outbursts over China have shown her up as the fraud she is; now she seeks to replicate the act over Aboriginal affairs, and the “solution” she advocates shows just how little grasp she has of what might serve that noble people well, and what will further harm both their interests and their standing.

And two, there is already quite enough buying off of lobby groups, minorities, rent seekers, gravy train passengers and other constituencies going on in Australia, in one form or another, without adding to this insidious method of government even further.

The ordinary decency of good people — coupled with various politically correct laws foisted on an unwitting public by successive waves of governance by the Left — has meant that much of the hostility and resentment the mainstream majority community feels about such things is muted or often silent, but it is there. It would be a shame, and a disservice to Aboriginal Australia, if indigenous Australians were made the focal point of this ill-will by elevating them above every other section of the community by providing them their own dedicated parliamentary sinecure — which, at present, is not enjoyed by any other single group in Australia.

It is a grotesque irony that parties such as the one Lambie is a member of tend to spring up as a direct consequence of the very resentment the idea she is proposing would fuel.

Personally, I don’t care if self-interest is motivating Lambie on this issue, or whether she really is incompetent enough to think that what she advocates could be implemented without fuelling social discord.

But I’m certain of one thing: the last thing we need in this country is a carve-up of Parliament into sectional interest groups, be they based on race, gender, sexuality or whatever; the country has enough problems that aren’t being adequately dealt with as it is without wilfully adding to them, and without embarking on jingoistic misadventures that would almost certainly render more harm than good — and with unknown and unpredictable consequences, no less.

 

 

Disgraceful Racial Tokenism: Macklin Announces Aboriginal “NDIS”

MINDFUL the Gillard government is desperate, and sensing its panic — especially given the likelihood the budget will worsen its dire poll numbers — I’ve been watching for stunts and gimmicks as it tries something, anything, to claw back ground: enter the “First People’s Disability Network Australia.”

The Murdoch press reports this afternoon that Indigenous Affairs minister Jenny Macklin has announced $900,000 over three years for the “First People’s Disability Network Australia” to provide services to assist indigenous Australians to understand and access support from DisabilityCare Australia.

My response — to use the crude but blunt vernacular — is simple. WTF?

Jenny Macklin is a decent individual, and — despite her politics, which I detest — is normally one of the more reasonable figures on the ALP benches.

But she’s lowered her colours by getting in on this.

Why do Aborigines mandate $900,000 for their own disability network?

Why has the Labor Party opted to segregate — other than for the purposes of gimmickry — the benefits Aborigines will receive from the NDIS from those open to other Australians?

And why should anyone believe this is anything other than yet another cheap political stunt, pandering to minorities in an attempt to be seen, particularly by Greens voters, as bolstering Labor’s “credentials” on “social justice?”

If I were an Aborigine I’d feel patronised and insulted; as an Australian, I’m affronted by what is a clear case of more taxpayer money pissed up against a post on needless spending by a profligate government trying to curry favour in areas it thinks it can win votes.

Remember, Labor is still in the doghouse in some parts of the Aboriginal community over the railroading of former Olympian Nova Peris onto its Senate ticket in the NT at the expense of the far better-credentialled (and Aboriginal) Marion Scrymgour.

A statement from Julia Gillard claimed that her government was “committed to closing the gap for Indigenous Australians with disability.”

Which is fine, although it goes on to say “many Indigenous people are reluctant to identify themselves as a person with disability and often do not seek help with disability services.”

Surely this statement is applicable to Australians generally — not just Aborigines?

But  — again — the $900,000 in spending announced today is to provide services to assist indigenous Australians to understand and access support from DisabilityCare Australia.

Over three years.

Why are Aboriginal people less likely than anyone else to understand what support is available from the NDIS?

Why does the Gillard government effectively state it will take three years for them to understand this?

And far from rendering any meaningful progress in “closing the gap” on indigenous disadvantage, this “measure” tokenises Aborigines.

Its message, simply stated, is that Aborigines are too stupid to be trusted to work out for themselves what the rest of the country has the brains to discover on its own, and must therefore be singled out as desperate cases indeed.

The best part of a million dollars allocated to this is more a salve for Labor consciences and their do-gooder hangers-on than it is a valid expenditure of public money.

Then again, there’s nowhere too low for the Labor Party to stoop now; desperate and panicking, it will do anything — and this is a tasteless illustration of the type of tactics I think we’ll see an awful lot more of before 14 September.

Meanwhile, the ALP has also attempted to refloat its beloved “misogyny” issue today with a fracas erupting over a pairing request for backbencher Michelle Rowland, who has a sick child — initially refused and later agreed to by the Coalition — as it tries to stir up what trouble it can to deflect the extremely poor reception its budget has received thus far.

It is noteworthy Tony Abbott had nothing to do with the request and subsequent agreement to the pairing request.

Predictably, however, Labor types are running around the country, screaming “Tony Abbott just doesn’t get it,” with Julia Gillard stating the episode made “an absolute mockery of everything the Leader of the Opposition has ever said about working women.”

Perhaps it’s too indelicate to point out the decision on the pairing request was made by an opposition whip rather than Tony Abbott personally.

Then again — if you’re the ALP — the truth never gets in the way these days to talk about Tony Abbott and misogyny in the same sentence.

Such is its obsession with the retention of power — and its willingness to smear and destroy opponents on as personal a basis as possible (just ask Kevin Rudd) — that the ALP will say and do anything between now and the election to retrieve its dismal prospects.

Today has been another disgusting day of grubby Labor politics.

It is to be hoped, in his response to Wayne Swan’s budget tonight, that Abbott inflicts some real political damage on a government and a Prime Minister whose tenure cannot come to an end quickly enough when the national interest, rather than Labor’s, is the yardstick.

Nova Peris-Nobody: Gillard Stunt An Insult To Aborigines

In a characteristically cavalier gesture posing more problems than it solves, Julia Gillard today anointed former Olympic champion Nova Peris as an ALP senate candidate in the Northern Territory, riding roughshod over women, aboriginal Australia, her party and the national interest in one fell swoop.

In short, Gillard’s announcement that Peris is to replace long-term incumbent Trish Crossin — apparently without a ballot of local members — is emblematic of the autocratic, self-obsessed and completely undemocratic method in which this PM operates.

I want to make it absolutely clear that I have no issue with Peris personally; on the contrary, I have always liked her enormously, and (despite her iffy political preferences) am pleasantly surprised she has chosen to put her name forward to serve.

Even so, she has a total lack of political experience, and this point is one of several that are central to the reason Gillard’s actions today are deplorable.

Gillard does herself no favours with this kind of thing; this time it might come back to bite.

Firstly, she has effectively directed local NT Labor members — via the insultingly impersonal vehicle of national television — to dump the sitting Senator and replace her with a hand-picked Gillard candidate, and with a rubber stamp rather than a vote.

Secondly, she has effectively kneecapped the campaign of Marion Scrymgour — a highly respected aboriginal woman with many years’ distinguished political service in the Northern Territory (including a stint as acting Chief Minister) — who has been said in media reports to have been canvassing local support for a move against Crossin for her preselection.

Third, she has made an absolute mockery of any pretence within the ALP that it is a democratically structured party; that half-portion of it not falling within the purvey of union thugs is able, apparently, to be dictated to at whim.

Fourth — and not least with an eye on the fact Scrymgour was already eyeing a preselection bid — Gillard’s “initiative” stinks of tokenism towards aborigines, wrapped up as it is in sensationalist and histrionic pap about “redressing a wrong” in that the ALP has never been represented, federally, by an indigene.

This is perhaps the most offensive aspect of the whole thing; if that’s what Gillard really wanted, Scrymgour should have been her girl. But no, this isn’t about aboriginal representation and advocacy at all; it’s about the Labor way of recent times that a “star” is far preferable to a proven and loyal Labor foot soldier.

Even when the “star” and the foot soldier are both aboriginal women.

And in turn, the real message from what Gillard did today, to aborigines, is this: we don’t really care two jots about you…until it suits us. Then, Labor is your friend.

Does anybody else find this brand of politics particularly nauseating?

It’s made worse by the fact that in claiming Labor has never been represented by an aborigine federally (which is true) it has, over the years, been served very well by aboriginal representatives in state and territory Parliaments — a disingenuous semantic argument indeed, replete with its implicit disregard for the service rendered by its indigenous representatives in other jurisdictions.

And Gillard isn’t doing much through this process to enhance her much-vaunted but largely meaningless claim to be a women’s advocate by making a cat’s paw of one, crucifying a second by proxy, and engineering a right and royal shafting at arms’ length of a third — Scrymgour — who is actually the obvious candidate for the spot this catfight is predicated upon.

And the proof of it is that Nova Peris is not being moved into the House of Representatives seat of Lingiari, held for Labor by Warren Snowden, or the seat of Solomon held by the CLP (a Liberal Party equivalent for those unfamiliar); the latter is unwinnable, and Snowden is likely to be blown away if he stands again.

No, to pull this stunt, Gillard is commandeering a virtually unloseable Senate spot, which speaks volumes about the real faith she has in this latest plan were it ever tested somewhere it actually needed to achieve majority support.

So let’s not entertain any of the nonsense Gillard is spouting about a “Captain’s Pick;” it is all, sadly, hypocritical nonsense. Such a pick, very simply, is not a feature of the ALP’s rule book.

Federally, of course — and I note this with no jab intended at the ALP — the Liberal Party has been represented by aborigines, starting with the late Neville Bonner in Queensland; a Senator from 1971,  four years after the referendum that allowed his people the right to vote.

But to note in the one breath that a great disservice has been rendered by the ALP in not endorsing aborigines federally, ever, and then to crap on in the next about “proud Labor history (in Aboriginal Affairs)” stinks of hypocrisy, tokenism, and — dare I say it — paternalism.

The other issue here is that of the “star” candidate, parachuted into Parliament; it’s something both sides have done, and with mixed degrees of success.

The LNP did it in Queensland last year, and sealed an election triumph in doing so.

The ALP did it in 2004 in the federal seat of Kingsford-Smith, and imported what has proven to be a dud in Peter Garrett who has endangered Labor’s decades-long hold on his electorate.

The SA Liberals did it in 1992, parachuting former senior state MPs Jennifer Cashmore, Dean Brown and John Olsen (Olsen had moved on to serve as a Senator) back into the state Parliament to elect a leader — Brown — who went on to annihilate the ALP at the following year’s election.

The ALP did it all the way back in 1980, shoehorning ACTU president Bob Hawke into the vacant Melbourne Labor seat of Wills, and the rest was history; two and a half years later, Hawke commenced his tenure as Labor’s longest-serving Prime Minister following his triumph on 5 March 1983 over Malcolm Fraser.

There have been other instances of the phenomenon, and more, doubtless, to come; I’m hoping Alexander Downer is the next Premier of South Australia, and if he is, it’ll be on entry to that Parliament for the first time on election day next March.

My point is that in all of these cases, the recruit has been someone with either vast political experience or, in the cases of Hawke and Garrett, from backgrounds very commensurate with political life and offering a reasonable expectation of solid performance.

Nova Peris (and I’m sorry to have to say it) is a political nobody, no background, nothing to justify expectations of solid performance, just a star because Gillard wants one.

To make her look good.

To associate with the “beautiful people” (of which Gillard, clearly, is not a member).

To curry favour with white voters impressed by Labor/Greens pandering to minorities (again, the tokenism I was talking about earlier).

And to try to win votes off Peris’ back in suburban Sydney and Melbourne (where it won’t make a shred of difference).

I sincerely hope that if Nova really wants a political career — yes, in spite of Labor leanings — that she can have some success, whether here and now, or in the future.

But she really is a piece of work, our Prime Minister.

In the end, Gillard today has offended just about every law of political decency; nobody really wins from the half-arsed stunts she cooks up in the backroom with her coterie, and this sort of thing does a massive disservice to the very constituencies Gillard has the bare-faced audacity to purport to be the champion of.

Ultimately, however, the greatest disservice rendered by Gillard today may yet prove to be wrought upon Nova Peris herself.

It might have been better to have allowed Peris — with encouragement, if desired, from behind the scenes — to have worked the NT Labor branches to win over the local burghers, generating her own momentum and the press attention that would accompany it, than to have placed her on a national stage and at the epicentre of what looks likely to be an uproar inside the ALP over her tactics.

And of course, to make an undeserved fool of Peris if, somehow, the whole scheme amounts to nowt.

The Red And The Blue wishes to reiterate that this column has absolutely no issue with Nova Peris; that lovely, laudable and shining light has unsurprisingly given no offence and has conducted herself today with grace and style. It is very sad to see such a good person used in such a cynical fashion by such an objectionable specimen as Julia Gillard.

Fee-Free ATMs For Aborigines: Wayne Swan Gets It Wrong Yet Again

He’s done it again…Wayne Swan has provided more evidence, were any required, of how out of touch he is with community values; 76 ATMs in remote aboriginal communities will — from December — no longer charge transaction fees. The rest of the country, of course, will just keep paying.

An article appeared in the Fairfax press today, outlining the plan in which the 76 machines — spread across three states and the NT — will no longer charge customers for making withdrawals, balance enquiries, or other ATM transactions that otherwise would attract a fee.

These machines are located in some of the remotest aboriginal communities; often the inhabitants are poor, and have no choice of ATM provider when checking balances and whether benefits have been deposited and, if so, accessing those funds.

The plan sounds great: I’m sure it will make a great difference to aborigines in these towns who are more or less cut off from society.

And for the record, I am very happy for aborigines to have the benefit of this arrangement; it will save them a little money, and give them the sense of having a small win over the banks.

Yet this sort of thing makes me really angry; egotistical bubble of self-importance and Treasurer Wayne Swan — not content with his recent achievements in slugging it to “the rich” in the federal budget — is hailing this as a win for consumers. The scheme is being implemented by the banking sector on the recommendation of a joint Treasury and Reserve Bank task force.

Commenting on the scheme with Indigenous Affairs minister Jenny Macklin, Swan said: ‘‘Indigenous people and residents living in very remote communities often rely on a single ATM located in a community store owned by an independent ATM company to access their cash and check their account balance.’’

And The Age reports that thirteen banks and two independent ATM companies would do away with ATM transaction fees for their customers in “identified remote indigenous communities.”

I reiterate that I think it’s great that aborigines have got this deal; with some luck it will save them some inconvenience and a little money as they go about their lives.

The thing that incenses me about this announcement is that for tens of millions of Australians, this delivers nothing at a time of economic uncertainty and rocketing cost of living pressures; and it confirms Swan’s status — in the words of mining magnate Clive Palmer — as an economic pygmy when it comes to Swan’s dealings with the major banks on behalf of consumers.

Australia’s banks are raking in billions and billions of dollars in profits every year, and much of this comes directly out of the pockets of ordinary domestic consumers.

Many of these people are sensitive to movements in official interest rates, and the impact this has on their residential mortgages.

Over the past couple of years, they have grown accustomed to a few stern words being directed by Swan at the banks whenever they keep part of a cut, or pass on more than an official rise; but never more than that, and certainly never any action.

Now Swan comes out, all smiles, with a deal to abolish all ATM fees — for a few outback towns with perhaps, sight unseen, ten or twenty thousand people between them.

You see, the fact that it is aboriginal communities getting this deal — set up and brokered by Swan and his department — is unimportant on one level; it still leaves millions of people who will be slugged for using an ATM of any provider other than their own bank.

And can I just make the very obvious point that at times, even in urban areas, and even in places like here in inner Melbourne, people are often forced to pay ATM fees for the same reason — there is only one machine located within a reasonable distance.

Try getting money out at the MCG if you’re a Westpac customer — and try avoiding NAB’s withdrawal fee. There is no other machine within a 20 minute walk. It’s just an example, but by no means irrelevant or specious.

But on another level, the fact that it is aborigines receiving this deal is significant: it’s significant in the conceited little story the Labor government, through Swan where money is concerned, is attempting to construct, tell, and sell.

If you’re aboriginal; disabled; on welfare; a migrant; or from any other minority and/or disadvantaged group, this government is good at telling stories.

And as Swan proved in his recent budget, he too is adept at telling such stories.

There was a lot of fanfare about the ALP’s National Disability Insurance Scheme, with an impressive-sounding $1 billion aimed at the 400,000 Australians with permanent disabilities; the only catch is that in two years’ time — halfway through the period to which that money applies — just 5% of those 400,000 people are expected to have access to it.

So it is with this equally impressive-sounding, but similarly empty gesture aimed at aborigines; there are many, many indigenous people in this country who don’t live anywhere near 26 towns flung across three states and a territory who will get nothing from this, and a large number of those people have far more urgent needs of assistance than saving $2 at the local ATM.

You only have to get in a car and drive less than a mile or so from the centre of major regional towns like Broome, and Dubbo, and Kalgoorlie, to see aboriginal kids with their empty spirit bottles and petrol cans, passed out on the side of the road, to know that $2 at an ATM is the last thing they need.

These are just two examples among many that Swan and his colleagues have notched up in four and a half years in government.

And whilst a very small number of people will get some limited benefit from this latest initiative — just like the so-called NDIS — I would say to people in those groups and in those communities that far from helping you, this government is exploiting you; far from championing your issues and your causes, this government is tokenising them.

To the rest of the people who live in this country — who are being gouged at one end with usurious fees and charges, and ripped off at the other by the rocketing price of everyday essentials — a Treasurer who can’t stand up to the banking sector over interest rate rises, when it is pocketing billions of dollars in exactly the type of transaction fees he is trumpeting the waiver of in the initiative outlined here, is a joke.

Sadly, the fee-free ATMs for the rural communities involved present just another photo opportunity, just a little more spin and empty media space, and just another reason to send a press release; the official story is that the government is “helping,” but the reality is rather different.

And if anyone wants to defend Swan, or the government, over this latest half-baked initiative — saying “at least it’s a start” or something similar — I would respond very strongly that this is not “a start:” it’s just a stunt.

But then again, with this government and this Treasurer, it’s always just a stunt.

 

Comments must keep to the point; anything racist will be deleted as soon as I see it.

A No-Confidence Motion? It Won’t Succeed…This Week…

The open rumour today is that the Opposition will move a motion of no-confidence in the Prime Minister in the House of Representatives next week, potentially terminating the current Labor government. It either won’t happen, or it will fail.

This time.

As the fallout and retribution from Thursday’s disgraceful Australia Day riot continues, consideration is apparently being given, in opposition ranks, to the movement of a no-confidence vote in the government in an attempt to force a fresh election.

It’s true that what occurred on Thursday was completely unacceptable, and it is no exaggeration that the episode at The Lobby restaurant shamed Australia internationally.

As the questions are progressively asked in terms of who knew what and when, it is equally true that despite the sacking of a ministerial advisor that questions in terms of the wider picture of what happened remain unanswered.

Tonight, I don’t want to debate the issue afresh, but rather to look at the option of a no-confidence vote and analyse the likely course of events should one be presented.

Indeed, Andrew Wilkie — the Independent who incurred severely burnt fingers as a result of dealing with Julia Gillard — has indicated he would support such a motion.

Technically, what he has agreed to support is the movement to suspend parliamentary standing orders to allow a no-confidence motion to be debated, but at the end of the day, it’s the same thing.

I don’t believe a no-confidence vote against the Gillard government will succeed — this time — and it’s not a question of the merits of the motion; rather, it’s a question of the numbers.

With ex-Liberal traitor and general shitbag Peter Slipper occupying the Speaker’s chair, there are 149 votes on the floor of the House of Representatives; 75 of them add up to a win on any piece of legislation or on a motion such as this one.

There are 71 Liberal and National MHRs.

Add Andrew Wilkie to that, and presumably WA National Tony Crook — if he values his re-election prospects — and that makes 73.

Add Bob Katter, too; he wanted to put the Liberal Party into government with his vote as a crossbencher after last year’s election.

Nothing has changed in terms of the issues Katter stipulated as the terms for receipt of his vote, so we’ll add him in — and that makes it 74 Coalition-aligned votes.

The 72 ALP MHRs will obviously vote for themselves, as will the Communist Green MP Adam Bandt; so there is 73 guaranteed pro-Labor votes.

Independents Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott are a different story.

Oakeshott’s papers are firmly and clearly marked; having thrown his lot in with Gillard — as the holder of an overwhelmingly conservative electorate, but with very few tangible political smarts — it’s fairly obvious that he would line up on the government side in any no-confidence vote.

Which makes Tony Windsor the key, on the current make-up of the House.

Windsor is very different to Oakeshott, despite holding a similarly conservative electorate, in that he a) has some political nous of his own, and b) has unfettered access to the political brain of his relative Bruce Hawker, the ALP strategist.

His own polling numbers in New England are holding up better than those of Oakeshott in Lyne, to the point that Windsor — whilst still likely to lose his seat on paper — may yet find a way to survive.

Perhaps bringing down the Gillard government in a no-confidence vote might be just the circuit-breaker he needs.

But I still think — not just yet.

For those readers unfamiliar with the whole idea of no-confidence motions in Parliament, the reality is fairly simple: if one is moved and succeeds (meaning the government loses the vote on raw numbers) then by convention, the government must either resign or call an election.

My instincts are that this issue, whilst absolutely deplorable and reprehensible, isn’t the hook Tony Abbott and the opposition need to ensure Windsor’s vote and get the fresh election they seek.

Craig Thomson might be a very different story, in a month or two…

The sheer depravity of the allegations against Thomson are one thing; for him to be charged, as seems increasingly likely, are another.

And if he is, the brief of evidence will be available, and that will form the basis of a no-confidence motion that may very well succeed.

I’d make the point that — paradoxically — it is now in the best interests of the Coalition to defer an election for a while; with half the parliamentary term now gone, a window opens in a bit over twelve months to take half the Senate to an election as well as the House, which would avoid either two elections in two years and/or a separate half-Senate election, the last of which occurred in 1973.

So if there is to be a no-confidence vote next week (and there may), I’d be surprised if it were successful.

But whether there is or not, or whether it is or not, a solidly legitimate pretext for another go is not too far away.

And if this analysis is correct, then Craig Thomson — holder of a classic marginal seat with an alleged penchant for hookers — might find the price of a screw to be very high indeed.

And so might the Prime Minister and her government.

 

 

The Sick Truth About Australia Day, And What It Means

So…48 hours after Australia Day, a few things have become very clear; this despicable episode has ultimately taken a disgraceful turn, and far from being the hero of the day on account of her conduct, Julia Gillard is ultimately responsible for what occurred.

And the Prime Minister is responsible: the staffer who thought it a good idea to tip a union official off, with the suggestion proceedings be given a “little liven up,” was an employee in her own ministerial office and as such, the responsibility of the Minister (in this case, the Prime Minister).

I’ve refrained from posting on this subject for a couple of days; partly to see what the factual fallout would be before commenting, but also because I am so outraged by what the reality of the situation has proven to be that there has been a need to cool off a bit before publishing anything.

I actually defended the Prime Minister on Thursday — I should have known better.

What a sham.

We now know that a junior advisor tipped off a union official, who in turn conveyed to willing protesters a) a doctored version of Tony Abbott’s remarks on the tent embassy which was almost guaranteed to incite a riot, and b) an urging to “give things a little liven up” or, to be frank, a direct incitement to riot, lest the doctored report of Abbott’s comments failed to achieve just that.

Presumably, these messages were delivered if not with the promise of Prime Ministerial imprimatur, then at the very least with identification they came from the PM’s office.

And that amounts to the same thing.

Aboriginal elders who were already distancing themselves from the Canberra riot on Thursday are now very angry, if the tone of comment from the incessant stream of Aboriginal leaders on talkback radio in the past 48 hours is anything to go by.

The message is uniform, and the upshot clear: they don’t want their people tarnished by what occurred on Thursday and they don’t have any truck with it.

The misrepresentation of Abbott’s remarks, incidentally, is now accepted by the leaders of Australia’s Aboriginal community to the point some of its elders have today called for the perpetrators to be handed over to them to be tried under “blackfella” law after their punishments under “whitefella” law have been observed.

(This is where I have to smile: real, true Aborigines have humour in their ways, even when it’s something serious; I don’t think anyone would have expected Thursday’s thugs to have exhibited such grace, what with their rocks and sticks and empty bottles).

Given traditional “blackfella” punishments feature spears through the shoulder and cutting tongues out and the like, I’m fairly sure they were joking, yet deadly serious in getting the expression of their displeasure across.

Anyway — back to what all of this means.

Tony Hodge — the media advisor to Julia Gillard who put the word around about Abbott’s location and the doctored version of his comments — has now resigned or been pushed; good riddance to him.

It seems from news reports that the go-to person was ACT union official Kim Sattler, but in advance of better information or more developments, I’m sceptical.

Why would Hodge need an intermediary, when the end recipients of the “information” would know whence it originated anyway?

And given precisely that consideration, if he had decided to leak the information, why would Hodge risk adding another layer of traceability?

I have no proof of course, but an immediate suspicion is that Sattler may (or may not, we’ll see), involuntarily or otherwise, be filling the role of patsy to cushion the impact of these revelations on the office of Julia Gillard.

Gillard says she has absolutely no knowledge of the fabricated version of Abbott’s remarks that Hodge leaked to someone that resulted in the riot in Canberra two days ago.

Maybe she’s telling the truth — maybe she really didn’t know.

But the problem the dear She has is that her track record in terms of honesty and integrity is not, in the past 18 months, exactly glittering.

In reality, Julia Gillard’s record in these areas more closely resembles a strip of used toilet paper.

And she has a further problem in that this sort of stunt is exactly the type of thing the ALP in the 21st century views as a rolled-gold opportunity to score “hard” political mileage.

Whilst it would be nice to believe she is telling the truth, her denials ring hollow.

And the simple fact is that this imbecile — Hodge — not only endangered the life of his boss, he also endangered the lives of Tony Abbott and the Police officers who got them away from the fracas.

Had someone been murdered on Thursday — purely as a result of a juvenile stunt — the consequences would have been unthinkable.

And let’s not mince words here: lives were endangered on Thursday.

And we are talking about murder. Pure and simple.

The angry crowd — largely disowned after the event by the Aboriginal community proper, and rightly so — wanted blood and acted accordingly.

Some maggot hiding in the PM’s office very nearly got someone, or some people, killed.

And that’s not the sort of thing that marks out a smart political operative; in fact, it simply marks out an absolute and utter fuckwit who ought to be permanently unemployable, on any level, in any vocation, at any time, and in any place.

Julia Gillard’s five-second denial of any knowledge of the background to this incident is, regrettably, simply insufficient.

And as Hodge’s employer, it is — at the very least — incumbent on her to make a full, comprehensive and complete disclosure to the Australian public of every detail of the issue from an employment relations perspective.

Bugger Hodge’s privacy in this matter, and bugger Gillard’s past as a partner at professional ambulance-chasing law firm Slater and Gordon.

I reiterate: her staff member almost got people murdered, and she was the boss.

It would appear that a prima facie case of criminally conspiratorial conduct involving a direct employee of Gillard’s office and a representative of an ALP-affiliated union body, with the objective of inflicting terminal political damage on Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party, was perpetrated on Thursday.

Abbott and the Aboriginal community are blameless.

For Gillard, though, the explanation required mandates more than a giggle and a flick of the hair on the Thursday night news.

And again — this was her employee, and this is the governance of Australia we are talking about, not some inconsequentially small enterprise in the boondocks; she is responsible for the actions of her staff and she must make the disclosure.

In closing, and ironically enough, this incident also reflects very poorly on Kevin Rudd.

Hodge was actually hired by Kevin Rudd when he was himself Prime Minister; for much of Rudd’s term as PM, disquiet abounded about his poor selection of advisory staff — their inexperience and immaturity, their insiderish and bovver-boy approach to their jobs, their general unsuitability for the roles he hired them for, and so on.

This in no way exonerates the demand on Gillard to provide a much more detailed account of what went on in her office and how much she knew, but it should also serve as a salutory warning to those ALP MPs flirting with returning Rudd to the Prime Ministership.

Don’t.

Just as Gillard is a completely unsuitable candidate for the Prime Ministership, Rudd is fundamentally unfit for the office, and this episode — germinating from one of the noxious little weeds he bestowed critical roles on that were and are clearly beyond their capacity — should serve as both a warning and an indictment on Rudd, just as they should, frankly, on Gillard.

If Gillard was “Cinderella” on Thursday night, surely she is the ugliest of sisters now.

Something tells me that the ugliest details of this scandalous episode are still to come.

Australia Day Outrage: Shut The So-Called “Tent Embassy”

One of the most despicable episodes of so-called public protest in recent times occurred in Canberra today; images of the Prime Minister being manhandled into her car by bodyguards and Federal Police to get away from a throng of violent protesters is a red line crossed.

It’s no secret that I am no fan of Julia Gillard or her government; indeed, the sooner she and they are thrown out of office, the better.

But what occurred in Canberra today goes beyond the pale.

Innocuous-enough remarks from Tony Abbott early in the day that the “tent embassy” that has existed on the lawns near Old Parliament House for nearly 40 years should be shut down apparently provided a pretext for Aboriginal activists to turn in an Australia Day shocker.

This ended up with hundreds of protesters baling both Gillard and Abbott up in a restaurant where they had been attending a function; activists belting on glass windows and cat-calling, with an angry mob at their back.

Scenes of Gillard being wrestled to safely, frankly, were sickening, and it’s one of those occasions where partisan politics gets set aside for a bit.

(Abbott had to be escorted through the throng, too).

Footage on evening news bulletins showing the same demonstrators being repelled by Police two, three, four times — and trying to force their way back into the fight — was far more suggestive of thugs looking for a place to strike than it was of any meaningful pursuit of a legitimate cause.

And the story of one of the demonstrators, interviewed for prime time news coverage, that Abbott was the real target — and that it was unfortunate Gillard got caught in the middle of it — doesn’t cut the mustard either.

The simple fact is that this was a wilfully violent protest, geared more to TV coverage and shock value than it was to the meaningful pursuit of Aboriginal rights.

Having said that, here are two observations.

One: the “tent embassy” is technically illegal anyway; it has been tolerated for decades. Abbott’s call to move it on were not based in any malice; indeed, he simply opined that maybe, after 40 years, its original purpose might no longer be relevant.

Indeed, if any of those so-called Aboriginal activists scratched the surface, they would find that Tony Abbott has spent enormous amounts of (mostly) his own time working with Aborigines and their communities directly, quietly, and shunning media coverage  of it wherever possible.

Abbott is no enemy of Aboriginal Australians.

But two: part of the problem the Aboriginal lobby faces these days (and yes, I am going to call it a “lobby”) is that they don’t have too many people left to whom others are prepared to listen.

I remember when the late Neville Bonner died, and making the same observation; this was a gentle yet driven man, who worked to advance the cause of his people by advocating their direct engagement with society and challenging white Australia to accept the endeavours of his people.

By contrast, today’s approach was to act like a depraved mob with a lynch mentality.

I think that at the very minimum, the disgusting episode played out in Canberra this afternoon is vindication of Tony Abbott’s call to get rid of the “tent embassy;” if for no other reason than to eliminate a tolerated, illegal base from which activists can mount riotous attacks against government figures of the sort we have seen today.

An overwhelming part of the problem with this issue is that there are people in this country who are one-sixteenth, one-thirtysecond, one-sixtyfourth (or less) of Aboriginal extraction running around, demanding this and that, trying to bring the entire country around to giving them whatever they want.

One of the girls featured on tonight’s news coverage — made up in traditional Aboriginal war paint — had blonde hair. I mean, come on

Indeed, there is a group of these so-called Aborigines trying to force a treaty on the federal government as we speak which, to keep it short, seeks to have them recognised as the actual owners of all Australian lands, and with the open objective of reaping vast “compensation” from the government on an ongoing basis for the “invasion” of Australia they claim occurred in 1788.

I don’t propose to get into a fight over Australia Day versus so-called “Invasion Day,” other than to say that 225 years later, perhaps these people should be suing the corpses of long-dead British soldiers and government figures.

The bird, on that score, has long since flown.

But more to the point, I’ve been to places like Broome and Kalgoorlie and Dubbo, where you drive past young Aboriginal kids (I mean, full-blooded Aborigines) who have passed out next to the highway with a petrol tin or a spirit bottle beside them.

You want to stop and help them, but the anecdotal evidence — overwhelmingly — is that it’s too dangerous to do so; they, or others in their group nearby, can become dangerous, aggressive, and violent on account of the substances they have been abusing.

These are the people that the likes of Neville Bonner desperately wanted to help.

You don’t hear a word of concern for them from the likes of today’s rent-a-crowd.

I mightn’t like Julia Gillard, but as Prime Minister she deserves to be treated with a bit more respect than she was shown today.

And Tony Abbott’s comments might have been seized on as a pretext to cause trouble, but they were hardly remarkable in the context of the illegality and longevity of a protest community that has so clearly outlived its useful life.

But finally, today’s protesters weren’t motivated by any concern for Aboriginal welfare; they were motivated by raw politics, the ability to cause trouble, and the prospect — however ridiculous, unlikely or ambit — of getting money and/or land from the Australian government and its mostly responsible citizens.

What has been achieved by today’s protesters is to ruin the spirit of Australia Day and — through international media coverage — shame and humiliate Australia in the world on the one day of the year we are entitled to bask in the good things our great country has to offer.

And at the end of the day, nothing has been achieved in the area of Aboriginal issues.

Indeed, today’s protest will merely harden stereotypical attitudes against the Aboriginal lobby.

Neville Bonner would rightly be turning in his grave, given what has been done in the name of his people today.

I can only say that I hope the perpetrators think it was worth it.