Lifting the veil of a hung Parliament

Thursday, 24 November 2011 

The government’s standing in the last Newspoll may have been abysmal, but not enough to detract media attention from the main target at the moment. Abbott is now getting caught between an old guard who want him to restore values, no matter how politically unacceptable, and those who recognise that filling the gap with a phoney obstructionism backed by a phoney populism has now run its course.

Jenkins’ resignation will only add to the heat. Abbott made a brave attempt at claiming Jenkins was needed to tend to the crisis in the ALP, but it is Abbott who is in the process of losing a member and ending his chances of bringing this Parliament to a speedy close. The lousy handling of Slipper will further contrast Abbott’s people skills unfavourably to Gillard’s. It will reduce his ability to portray this as a Parliament in crisis and take away the momentum from an opposition leader who has little else to rely on.

In the near term, it is also good news for Gillard facing a threat from Rudd, as it takes away a relatively painless possibility of Rudd taking back the leadership through saving the government by doing a deal with, say, Katter if Wilkie goes.

But as seen by the last Newspoll, what’s good news for Gillard is by no means good news for the government. Nor does easing the hung state of Parliament necessarily mean good news for Labor. Rather than holding the government back, the hung Parliament has forced it to adopt the reforming agenda of the independents that at the last election, it made clear it didn’t intend to have.

No matter how much the government, and its supporters, want to now pretend otherwise, we wouldn’t have had a carbon tax being passed already if it hadn’t been forced by a hung Parliament, and the Greens, to do so. Indeed, the first benefit will be to ease the pressure to bring in pokie reform as well, which, despite being backed by the electorate, is still managing to spook a feeble government. At least now, it will become clearer where the real problem lies.

Posted by The Piping Shrike on Thursday, 24 November 2011.

Filed under Tactics

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10 responses to “Lifting the veil of a hung Parliament”

  1. dedalus on 24th November 2011 4:37 pm

    Not disagreeing with you, piping. But funny that the political reporter on ch 9 just called the proposed poker machine reform as “hugely unpopular”. That only further confirms nine as the most contrarian of the networks.

    I think it’s too early to say how today’s speakership change will play out with the electorate. But I suspect it makes Tony Abbott’s position untenable within his own party, if through nothing else but on the basis of his poor management skills. Not that the government should toast a victory too quickly, for it’s not unknown for a blow to an enemy to in due course rebound via the lipshooting of a more electable leader.

    PS: Pardon the overuse of negatives, I’ve been subjected to a lot of vuvuzela on ch24 lately.

  2. fred on 24th November 2011 5:11 pm

    This, below, may be relevant to this:
    “Indeed, the first benefit will be to ease the pressure to bring in pokie reform as well, ….”

    Looks like Harry may actually be wanting to support the anti-pokies legislation.

    “FEDERAL parliamentary Speaker Harry Jenkins has made an extraordinary entry into the poker machine reform debate, arguing government has a responsibility to deal with the misery suffered by problem gamblers.”

  3. Michael (the other one who occasionally comments here) on 24th November 2011 8:57 pm

    Call it a prediction if you want but I see a compromise on pokies in the offing: no to mandatory pre-commitment, yes to $1 maximum bets. It’s such a neat solution:
    1) The clubs lobby gets the rug pulled out from under it. (The very least they deserve.)
    2) Labor MPs in NSW and Qld – not to mention Oakeshott and Windsor – can tell their voters community life as they know it won’t end.
    3) The Greens get their pokies policy up.
    4) Andrew Wilkie saves face: “I wanted mandatory pre-commitment but there wasn’t a majority for it – and I’m not going to bring the government down for failing to secure it because anyway a) I can’t now and b) if it wasn’t for me we wouldn’t have got this far on pokies”.

  4. Robin on 25th November 2011 4:15 am

    I agree with you Piping about the timidity of this government. Without the whip of the Independents and Greens, nothing would have been done at all.

    However, I am of the opinion that other than the Pokies and possibly coal gas seam extraction, this government was going to shut up shop next year anyway and cruise to the next election in 2013, hoping that it has done enough in the first year and that it is seen as competent as a result to get it over the line.

  5. The Piping Shrike on 25th November 2011 9:30 am

    Quite possibly that’s the plan. Although they don’t seem to be at cruising altitude at the moment.

  6. dedalus on 25th November 2011 9:53 am

    Timidity? Are you serious? This “government” is not “this” government as you call it; it is not solely the “Gillard” government, it’s the continuing government comprising a front bench which hasn’t changed since 2007.

    And if risking the entire enchalada going hugely into deficit as a response to the gfc, a risk which worked, is being timid, then yes, this government is timid; if risking its survival on the eve of an election by changing its leader is being timid, this government is timid; if confidently outmanoeuvring the opposition when dealing with the independents is being timid, this government is timid; if doggedly pursuing a price on carbon while their poll numbers crash is being timid, then most certainly, this government is timid.

  7. The Piping Shrike on 25th November 2011 1:03 pm

    Doggedly pursuing a price on carbon? I thought Gillard made it perfectly clear that the only reason she back-tracked on her election promise not to introduce a tax this term was because it was necessary for Green support. If it was up to this Labor government alone, we wouldn’t have one now, but instead fiddling with a Citizen’s Assembly thingy.

    As for the braveness about getting rid of Rudd, as soon as it was done, to get “back on track” they delayed the ETS even further, watered down the mining tax and toughened up on asylum seekers. True, tactically it was dumb, but brave? Hardly.

  8. dedalus on 25th November 2011 9:32 pm

    Peace Piping. I never used ‘brave’. I used ‘risk’. I used ‘timid’ in its contrary sense.

    Words mattter. eg ‘Lie’ vs ‘promise’. Different meaning. Important.

    For what it’s worth, the government presses on oblivious to poll numbers. That’s my basic point, arguing that such a course of action is anything but timid.

    For this I’m betting my mark on the dame with the red hair, or the guy with the name of brown.

  9. Riccardo on 28th November 2011 9:16 pm

    I think TPS point is it wouldn’t matter who ‘governs’ in the current state of affairs. Face it. Cameron is no C/conservative. Berlusconi’s bunga bunga provided us with entertainment, which is more than any Italian government will ever do because none can be relied on to do anything. Gillard is not a Leftist nor a leftist.

    Of all the people cowering under the canvas on the lifeboat, Rudd can at least see out the front to where the lifeboat is drifting.

    The rest have no idea what is going on and talk like drinks will soon be served in the lounge, after the temporary interruption to service is fixed and the big hole in the ship is patched.

    TPS can see out of the canvas at the sinking wreck of the Australian Political System, which is descending to the bottom as we speak.

  10. Riccardo on 28th November 2011 9:38 pm

    Any good australian news reporting anyone can recommend?

    Sick of reading the Fairfax lifestyle supplement with a bit of news on the front; the Australian reads like a Uni Liberal Club rag and now has the paywall on it; New tabloids written for 14 year olds (no, not joking on this one, its true).

    We need an Al Jazeera australian domestic edition or some such thing. Of course it would help if we had some news to report.

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