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.