THE RIDICULOUS NEWS that Clive Palmer and his remaining two Senators will abstain from voting on legislation — on the dubious pretext of “chaos” resulting from the unfortunate contortions over the Liberal Party leadership — is an anti-democratic travesty; Palmer United MPs will continue to enjoy salaries, air travel, staffing and other taxpayer-funded perks for not doing their job. Such a refusal should coincide with departure from Parliament.
It is one thing for an MP to abstain from voting on a single bill, perhaps on principle, or due to a conflict of interest.
It is another matter altogether to simply refuse to vote on legislation altogether, as an act of wilful buffoonery designed to attract attention.
But the announcement by Clive Palmer that the remaining MPs from his silly party will refrain from voting on all legislation until the Liberal Party leadership (and thus the Prime Ministership) is “resolved” is a wanton piece of anti-democratic thuggery that deserves to be met with expulsion from federal Parliament.
Clive Palmer is on the record many times over the past 18 months as being flatly opposed to Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s government; it seems that in his mad, bad stampede to hound former Queensland Premier Campbell Newman out of office, Palmer has lumped Abbott into the same category as the feisty Queenslander, and with leadership “chaos” (and what might constitute its resolution) being highly subjective concepts, it seems that once again Palmer is attempting to position himself as some kind of arbiter of acceptable standards of political conduct.
If Palmer wants to take action over unacceptable political conduct, he should perhaps seriously review the behaviour of his own party since its unfortunate inception.
Taxpayers resource federal MPs quite generously, with Palmer and each of his Senators paid in the vicinity of some $200,000 each; all are provided with staff, managed offices and other resources, and all are entitled to free travel and accommodation provisions for travel to Canberra.
In short, these individuals are not paid to do nothing: in taking advantage of these provisions, something is reasonably expected from them in return.
What Palmer might think — or demand, decree, or seek to engineer — where the leadership of other parties is concerned is utterly irrelevant to what he and his lamentable Senators were elected to do and (in the context of the Liberal Party and the Coalition more broadly) Palmer forfeited any right or justification he may once have had to input into such matters the day he stormed out of Queensland’s LNP because it wouldn’t behave in office as he expected it to.
There is also no political convention that enables any member of Parliament to cite “chaos” as a pretext for abstaining from voting on legislation, and certainly not where a proposed blanket abstention across all matters before its Houses is concerned.
Should Palmer make good his threat — which would complicate the ability of the government to pass legislation, and see the Palmer United Party fall into line with the similarly unthinking opposition to passing legislation of its brainless former Senator, Jacqui Lambie — it would constitute a reprehensible course of action, and one which should be used by opponents on all sides of the political spectrum to help ensure Palmer forces are preferenced out of winning election to any seat in any jurisdiction in any circumstances in future.
After all, aside from entertainment value that relies on the “train smash” principle, the Palmer United Party adds nothing constructive to politics and government in Australia.
I would hope that any absences from either the Senate or the House of Representatives that contravene Parliament’s Standing Orders are vigorously monitored and pursued: and that should any grounds under these provisions for expulsion from Parliament be satisfied, that the Abbott government will pursue these in an attempt to rid Canberra of the ugly blot on an already tarnished institution whose name has been further besmirched by the masquerade of malice as principle by this most undesirable of political entities.
Perhaps Clive Palmer should look in his own back yard before making faux stands of righteous indignation over “chaos” where the activities of others are concerned.
After all — directed to abstain from all votes on legislation — his Senators voted down a workplace relations bill last night.
It says it all, really.