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A nation held to ransom

With a Coalition majority in the lower house but not in the Senate, the fate of the nation now lies in the hands of six Senators – three from South Australia, two from Queensland, and one from Tasmania.  The two most populous states are not represented in this power block which will, for the next three years, have the power to pass or block every piece of legislation to come before the parliament.

Already, the smaller states are over-represented in the Senate.  Tasmania has one Senator for every 43,500 people and South Australia, one for every 139,750 people.  NSW has one Senator for every 666,000 people and Victoria one for every 531,600.

In both NSW and Victoria, Labor won more HoR seats than the Coalition (45 seats to 37) yet, when it comes to the Senators who will make the decisions, they are unrepresented.  Likewise the territories, where all 5 seats went to Labor.

We are now in the hands of Pauline Hanson and the seriously weird Malcolm Roberts representing Queensland and the One Nation ‘policy’ agenda, Cory “slippery slope to bestiality” Bernardi and two Senators who represent a party which used to be called South Australia Best to push the SA agenda, and Jacqui Lambie who is fiercely Tasmanian and focused on veterans – a recipe for horse-trading.

These people will be under huge pressure for the entire term, without the assistance of the staff available to the major parties.

Are they capable of making decisions in the best interest of the nation as a whole?  Will they use their position to get favourable treatment for their state or cause?

Time will tell whether spin and trinkets outweigh evidence-based decision making.  It’s going to be a long three years for all of us but especially so for the six who will effectively rule the country.

Rex, Stirling and Jacqui, we are in your hands.

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22 comments

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  1. Ill fares the land

    And none of the Senatge crossbench makeup would be a problem if the cross benchers weren’t all seriously flawed individuals with limited intellect in varying degrees, although Bernardi is probably the smartest by a fair margin. But he is captive to the absurd notions of small government, neo-liberalism and ultra-conservatism. Lambie,and Hanson are both nincompoops – intellectually and behaviourally. Both have had their abrasive rantings affirmed by voter support (draw your own conclusions on those who are drawn to both of these appalling examples of humanity – proof that in many cases we elect examples of the worst of us into the parliament. Worse, neither is a better politician for the time they spent in the parliament and Hanson is likely to be the scorned lover. She got Morrison into government with her preference deals, but now the LNP really don’t need her at all – they will focus on the other cross-benchers, thus sidelining Hanson, who will only become more irrational. Neither see their deficiencies as anything but a strength, so of course, neither sees their failings and both are examples of the Dunning-Kruger effect writ large.

    Speaking of that effect, although there must be other syndromes that are equally apt to explain space-cadet Roberts, but he is one seriously deranged and deluded puppy. His anti-climate change rants and gibberish can be proved false quite readily, but as would be expected, any challenge to his bizarre ideas only sees him double down on his own stupidity. Both of the Centre Alliance appear normal, but again, are drunk on their power and as invariably happens with the incompetent, the courting they will receive will only serve to convince them them of their importance. Woe is Australia. We voted them in and we have to endure the damage they and the LNP under Mr McShouty, leader of the cult of quiet Australians, will do over the next three years.

  2. Kerri

    If the Morrison government has a mandate, why do they need crossbench support??

  3. johno

    I wonder if Malcolm Roberts has thought of hypnosis for a career. Maybe that’s it, he is using hypnosis on Pauline. Ahhhh, this is what conspiracies are made of.

  4. Andrew Smith

    Always been sceptical of many independents and/or micro parties actively or indirectly being used to disrupt parliamentary processes, on behalf of mostly Conservatives.

    This has become another feature of Anglo (and other) democracy driven by or indirectly supported by Conservatives and related media whether US, UK or Europe where liberal parliamentary democracy is being attacked or compromised (we saw no govt. for months) to conserve a form of status quo that seems to preclude change ie. anything progressive, innovative, diverse or pluralist; like an inverse form of authoritarianism.

    Conversely, in addition to megaphones in media, favoured institutions e.g. Christian Churches are fawned upon, while judicial systems are leveraged (or even intimidated) into supporting draconian measures, for the long term.

    Seems to be perversely analogous to ‘great replacement theory’ narratives (‘brown people will outnumber white people’) but it is more than race, it’s also about class/status and how a minority aka 1% can influence electorates, governments and legislation (supported by many willing dupes and useful idiots), for their own benefit and maintaining status.

    Look over there, nasty immigrants, unionists, minorities etc.

  5. Stephengb

    Based on these 6 Senators, the LNP have a majority in both houses. 5 of the six are closet LNP and Jackie Lambie is ex military and they notoriously vote LNP.

    Labor can vote against whatever they like, the government will get its way, and then will be responsible for any consequence good or bad.

  6. David Evans

    What a joke! Australia you have been conned yet again. Some of these “senators” couldn’t raise half a brain between them, yet they will be determining Australias’ fate until the next election, 3 years? Surely Australia can do better than this?

  7. Yvonne Robertson

    “Already, the smaller states are over-represented in the Senate.”

    I think you’ve mistaken the constitutional purpose of the Senate. It’s supposed to be the equalising power to ensure that the smaller states get a fair go rather than being at the mercy constantly of the larger ones which are heavily represented in the House of Reps and based upon population numbers.

    The Senate is supposed to be the State’s House not another House of political parties. To suggest that the larger states ought to be overly represented in both Houses of the nation’s parliament would be like suggesting that those individuals with the most money deserved the lion’s share of political influence! Look how well that plays out for the country…

    If the Senate did the job they were supposed to they would be representing their States over all issues, not the parties they seem to be beholden to.

  8. Potoroo

    The smaller states are not over-represented in the Senate – having two states dominating both chambers is exactly the problem our system is designed to avoid. The problem is that in an age of selective media consumption and fake news, the disenchanted have not just abandoned the increasingly tired and failing neoliberal majors but embraced ignorant and destructive alternatives. It is a deeper and more pernicious problem than having a Senate constructed to offset the demographic bias in the House of Representatives.

  9. TuffGuy

    So why does Tasmania have so many Senators?

  10. Kaye Lee

    Fair points Yvonne and Potoroo. It’s just that, the way things stand, only two states voted in more Coalition HoR members yet we are being told that “the people have spoken.” Queensland have spoken more like.

    Tuffguy, all six states have twelve senators each and the territories 2 each.

  11. Phil Pryor

    The Australian flag is coated with Queensland senate shit, plus whoopy spirit ghost fantasy romanist Bernardi, a Mussolini wet dream. It isn’t very democratic, but any system can be tweaked and rigged, as did Playford and Jo B-J years ago. A thousand days of dopiness…

  12. David Stakes

    Too true, the cross bench is representative of the people who put them there. Scary times ahead.

  13. Aortic

    Does the phrase ” unrepresentative swill” come to mind.

  14. New England Cocky

    The two senators each for the territories are actually unconstitutional but Garfield Barwick CJ allowed their election to stand regardless. Barwick also had a hand in the Whitlam Dismissal.

  15. Karl Young

    Dear Jacqui Lambie

    Please don’t vote for the 3rd Tax cuts.Plainly they are irresponsible.

  16. Zathras

    Why does Tasmania have so many Senators?
    Quotas – those things some politicians do or don’t believe in, depending on circumstances.

    When you consider comparative State populations a Tasmanian’s vote is more important than is a New South Welsh-person’s.

  17. Potoroo

    @Aortic

    “Does the phrase ” unrepresentative swill” come to mind.”

    It shouldn’t. The notion that the democratically elected Senate is somehow not as representative of the will of the people as the democratically elected House of Reps was self-serving cant when Keating said it and it still is now. If anything, that it’s easier for people not in one of the major parties to get elected to the Senate arguably makes it more representative than the House, not less. The Australian Democrats and the Greens have done sterling work over the years, keeping the bastards honest, so the real question is why the shift away from progressive third parties and towards the neo-fascists. That you don’t like the representatives the people chose does not mean the system is inherently flawed, much less that the only answer is to cluster together in the failing centre.

  18. Matters Not

    Re:

    any system can be tweaked and rigged, as did Playford and Jo B-J years ago.

    Just for the historical record re Joh.

    The Queensland “gerrymander”, first introduced by the Labor Party (ALP) government of Ned Hanlon in 1949 used a series of electoral zones based on their distance from Brisbane.

    After 32 long years we saw the election of a Labor Government under Goss who had the political capital and numbers to fix it – but declined. Squibbed it according to some.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legislative_Assembly_of_Queensland#Queensland's_“gerrymander”_1948–1989

  19. Christine Farmer

    The Senate has its present numbers because it was planned as the “States’ House” as a condition for Federation to ensure that the interests of the smaller states were not overridden by the larger and more populous. These days the concerns of the Senate have very little to do with the interests of individual states. Hence Keating’s “ unrepresentative swill” ; unrepresentative in the sense that at voter level, it’s definitely not one vote, one value, nation-wide.

  20. Keith Thomas Davis

    After reading all the comments, which present some pretty clear and interesting points of view … makes me wonder whether we really need the States and a Senate at all. I know I’m dreaming with that thought … but why not have a bit of a dream now and then?

    If we get rid of all the State Pollies & State Parliaments & State Governor Generals with their grand mansions, and send some of their duties down to an expanded Local Government level, and some up to the level of the (wish wish) Australian Federal Republic … perhaps we’d save a bit of dosh, and all those beautiful State Government buildings could be converted into social housing for the homeless, the poor, and the disadvantaged?

    Pollies love to say that they believe in and respect the intelligence of the Australian voter, but I see no verifiable evidence whatsoever that Pollies believe in such a thing at all. However, that slight matter aside, a Senate-less & State-less Australia would force the Australian voting public to accept some personal responsibility, once every three years, to keeping the Federal Bastards honest. We’d be forced to exercise our intelligence. I don’t need the Jacqui Lambie’s and others of this world to do that on my behalf.

    On the AIMN page there are often discussions about what alternative forms of Federal Government could be possible for Australia whereby national resources and services etc would be delivered equitably across the nation. Unity Government, Republican, First Past The Post , the Swiss Model etc … well a State-less Australia, without an Upper House, would sure swivel the eyeballs in the direction of finding a workable alternative solution pretty quick smart.

    To my mind the adversarial Westminster System is a cobbled together dud inherited from House of Lords/House of Plebs land. The parent Westminster System, given the current Brexit fiasco, appears to be an even greater dud … wow … what a System to base your own System of governance on.

    As I said, I know I’m just dreaming with all of this. While I do think that our current system of government could be vastly improved upon, I also reluctantly accept that a State-less Australia would also mean no State of Origin Footy to divert the masses from the raw realities that surround us all. Without such an annual Circus of the Boof, the country would probably implode!

  21. wam

    The slogan:
    A grand in the hand for the millions of workers.

    A $150m to tassie and save some gas for us to lower prices puts jacqui and the boys in your camp.

    The morning shows are full of the $1000 the low income earners will get when the libs tax reforms are passed.

    How is labor going to vote??? Will they even get to talk about the bill?

    They are excited about the prospect of a 30% flat tax for workers from $45k to $200K. And shamed labor for disincentive of high tax an indoctrination chatter from a conservative fast talking anti-labor greenwood.

    With scummo’s gang having control of both houses, TV, radio and print. With jacqui back on the air.
    Bobby’s folly has put the the loonies into the irrelevant bin with labor.
    All the loonies have is to wedge labor on asylum, and whales. (notice the cry against japan but nothing against the white men eg norway has announced a 28% increase of its annual whaling quota to 1,278 whales larger than the non-white Japanese?
    )
    ps the senate had nothing to do with government and were full of sleepy old men and coiffured women but they organised, formed a closed shop of labor and lnp and are paying themselves huge extra cash to be gammon ministers gammon judges, gammon committee men.
    All designed to give themselves relevance but in reality gets them cash. Bribes, to people like harradine were accepted with no conscience. In recent years the loonies, xenophon and hanson have been smiling all the way to the bank, as they are selling their votes.
    .

  22. corvus boreus

    And there goes yet another set of puerile sledges and baseless accusation by wam, our resident rabid anti-environmentalist bigot.
    Apparently now the Greens (LOONIES!!!) have ‘wedged’ Labor on the subject of Japanese whaling, which they allegedly highlighted over similar activities by Nordic nations out of motives of base racism.

    What a pile of diarrheic delusion.

    The reality is that a motion tabled by Senator Whish-Wilson was passed, with Labor support, which not only specifically censured the Japanese for their recent decision to resume commercial whaling, but also broadly condemned the nations of Iceland and Norway for their continuance of the practice.
    https://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;page=0;query=Source%3A%22AUSTRALIAN%20GREENS%22;rec=2

    So, it seems that wam is yet again, for some strange reason, sowing false ‘facts’ in an attempt to concoct a narrative of discord and division between the progressive parties on an occasion where none seems to actually exist.
    Is it a pattern of deliberate and malicious bullshit, or just serial incompetence at basic fact-checking?

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