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.

 

 

Flipping The Bird: Angry Wilkie Dumps Gillard

“That Sir which serves and seeks to gain/ And follows but for form/ Will pack when it begins to rain/ And leave Thee in the storm.” — from King Lear, by William Shakespeare

At the risk of mixing metaphors — or at the very least, classical authors — the events of the past couple of days could almost be described as Machiavellian.

Yet the little speech of sage advice from the Fool in King Lear sums it up for me.

Developments over the weekend that Julia Gillard has abandoned her agreement with key Independent Andrew Wilkie to introduce mandatory pre-commitment legislation to govern poker machines, and that Wilkie in turn has withdrawn his support for the Gillard government, smack of political expediency in the most hypocritical and noxious of fashions.

18 months ago, Australia ground to a halt for 17 days whilst it waited for Gillard — supposedly Bob Hawke’s heir when it came to building consensus — to cobble together a hotchpotch of alliances to bridge the gap between the pitiful 72 (of 150) seats Labor garnered at its first attempt at re-election and the 76 in total required for the barest of functional majorities.

75 votes on the floor of the House is good enough: the body in the Speaker’s chair makes the total number of voting MPs 149, so 75 wins.

It’s an important point.

But back to the deals that kept Gillard and the ALP in office.

Everyone was bought off with something: for the Communist Party Greens, it was effective control of the government’s operational agenda, along with a number of specific undertakings to indulge their lunatic Stalinist platform; for conservative Judases Oakeshott and Windsor, it was barrels of cash for their electorates; and for Andrew Wilkie, it was the implementation of mandatory pre-commitment at poker machines around the country in an attempt to tackle problem gambling.

Thus far, Gillard has kept the faith with Messrs Oakeshott and Windsor, but they must be wondering uneasily when their turn will come. Certainly, they are all too aware that this government and this Prime Minister do not act in good faith when it comes to their supposed allies.

Having realised how electorally lethal the Greens and their God-forsaken agenda are to the mainstream majority in this country, yet beholden to its alliance with them out of sheer numerical necessity, the ALP has gone out of its way in recent months to distance itself from, belittle, frustrate and betray the Greens in an attempt to differentiate itself from its Coalition partner.

Completely innocent of any principles rooted in decency or propriety, Labor exercised the miniscule degree of persuasion required to convince Liberal Party turncoat, serial non-performer and generally contemptible excuse for an MP, Peter Slipper, to abandon his Party (which he abandoned the National Party for some 25 years ago) and accept a hefty pay rise — tarnishing the august role of Speaker in so doing — to buy another vote on the floor of the House of Representatives.

And to enable the right and royal shafting of Wilkie and his poker machine reforms.

I’ll be honest — I have always thought Wilkie’s approach to this issue was characterised with more than a little of the “light in the eyes” syndrome; even so, I fully concur that the issue itself is one that requires something to be done, and urgently.

More to the point, I’m old-fashioned: a deal is a deal, and I take a dim view of people who do not operate on the same basis.

Gillard’s excuses, and her “reasoning,” are not only wrong, they are inexcusable.

“There is inadequate support in the House of Representatives to pass the reforms Andrew Wilkie was seeking,” she droned.

Really? Then why do the deal in the first place?

Methinks it has more to do with the fact nervous Labor MPs, facing outrage from the services clubs and sporting clubs that often constitute the hubs of the communities they represent, are more concerned with their seats.

And let’s look at the numbers: there are 72 Labor MPs, all with a vote given Slipper now sits in the Speaker’s chair; the Greens’ Adam Bandt and Wilkie are an additional, guaranteed two more.

For Gillard’s assertion of “insufficient support” to be true, what she is really saying is that she couldn’t round up a single extra vote from Oakeshott, Windsor, Coalition-inclined but independently minded Bob Katter, or WA National Tony Crook.

Or, put another way, she’s so poor a leader she literally couldn’t convince one person to vote for the laws, given the ruthlessness with which the ALP caucus is bound to support parliamentary policy.

Of course, as a leader Gillard is abysmal, but we’re talking about a sales job here with the odds stacked in her favour: two of the four gentlemen I have mentioned are in alliances with her!

And a third — Crook — confirmed today that he had only ever been approached once on the issue of pre-commitment: once, once, after 18 months of the issue being canvassed.

Clearly, little or no serious attempt was ever made to honour the deal.

It was all about keeping Labor bums — I use the term advisedly — in ministerial jobs, holding onto ministerial salaries and perks, and bugger anyone who got in the way.

In other words, standard Labor Party operating procedure.

Gillard claims her “compromise solution” (read, two-tenths of nothing) is superior: it replaces a mandatory, legislated national reform with a trial confined to Canberra and not due to be further proceeded with until 2016 — thus effectively kicking the issue a term and a half down the electoral road, by which time Labor will likely be attempting to regain a handful of the dozens of seats it lost on its way into Opposition.

Or in short, a “solution” providing a clear road map to doing nothing.

I have very little time for Andrew Wilkie; others can make their judgements about his party-hopping and lack of integrity, but for once I feel for him.

He is angry, and rightfully so; and he has conducted himself with quite some dignity on having discovered, to quote Richard Nixon, the exact length, depth and breadth of the shaft.

Certainly, his attempt to be neutral (not supporting no-confidence motions unless misconduct is involved, maintaining good relations with the government and so forth) is noble, but unconvincing; and he has already warned the government of “consequences” should it attempt to shaft him a second time.

Any idiot can see Wilkie is livid, and justifiably so.

But it gets worse.

Labor MPs have been issued with what is known politically (and elsewhere) as a “shit sheet” offering direction on how to deal with the issue of Gillard’s latest act of betrayal.

“Say that politics isn’t perfect,” the shit sheet says. “Say that often compromises need to be found.”

Er…no, not in this case. It is a lie, and it is a flagrant breach of a written contract.

It suggests talking about John Howard needing to remove GST on food to deliver most of the GST package.

Dangerous ground here:

  • Howard was actually delivering on a promise (as opposed to running away from it);
  • Removing food was the only way politically possible to deliver the other 85% of the GST package;
  • Far from running away from something he promised, Howard did everything he could to honour that commitment; and
  • The example is completely flawed in any case — in any meaningful sense, Gillard is delivering, effectively, none of what she committed to deliver.

You have to shake your head and laugh…not from amusement, mind, but out of sheer cynicism.

And remembering Gillard is increasingly obsessed with threats to her leadership, it’s pretty obvious she’s more concerned about the stormy weather she has wilfully headed into over the past 18 months than she is with anything of any real consequence to anyone except herself.

Here in Australia, we have a worthless, useless, gormless and spineless government, led by a worthless, useless, gormless and spineless Prime Minister.

But we have more than that.

We have a government — not merely content with spin, glib slogans, smug stunts and empty rhetoric — that is fundamentally dishonest, wilfully deceitful, inherently untrustworthy, and downright dangerous.

Add into that the fact that whilst it can’t honour any good faith shown to it by others — be it the voters who trusted Gillard and Labor, the MPs who re-installed it in government on what should have been binding undertakings, or anyone else — Gillard and Labor are happy to loyally protect and entertain folk from other quarters.

Folk like Craig Thomson, accused of misappropriating hundreds of thousands of dollars from an employer to feed a penchant for hookers, and who is the subject of multiple criminal investigations.

(To say nothing of a Fair Work Australia investigation that has mysteriously taken years not to be finalised…join the dots…)

Folk like Peter Slipper…we all know the stories — if I go down that track again, I’m going to lose my temper.

It’s one thing for there to be “honour among thieves;” it’s another matter altogether to operate under the watchword of “dishonour among murderers.”

Perhaps the ALP slogan at the next election should be “Treachery Is Everything.”

It would neatly sum up Labor’s approach to government.

Wilkie, whichever way you cut it, has flipped the PM off — and rightly so, in my view.

This tawdry little episode is further proof (if any were required) of an intellectually and morally bankrupt government that must be shown the door at the earliest available opportunity for the good of the country.

What do you think?