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.