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Day to Day Politics: Out of gas, steam, and no energy for gay marriage.

Friday 8 September 2017

On the 4th Anniversary of the election of the Coalition – in this extended period of abysmal governance – two diagonally opposed areas occupy my mind. The only thing they have in common is the manner in which the government of the day has so incompetently handled them

No party in the history of Australian politics has been so pathetically incompetent in dealing with gay marriage, climate change and energy than the Liberal and National parties.

Policy failure of this magnitude in some other countries would invoke street protests, but the laconic attitude of our citizens is equally pathetic. To think that after 10 years we still don’t have an energy policy is an indictment of all politicians and it highlights the failure of our democratic system.

Governments have access to the very best science and knowledge yet political considerations always seem to take precedence.

Even when we have an opportunity to reach a bi-partisan agreement, as imperfect as it may be, the party who has so frustrated all moves to put the future of the planet first, continues in its defence of coal.

The former failed Prime Minister Tony Abbott leads the charge (as he does with marriage equality) of Government backbenchers who would forego this opportunity in the interests of the coal producers. One has to wonder what special knowledge they think they have that would make it superior to the best science available and the dictates of the capitalistic market they so adhere to.

An observation

“Are you really doing what is important? What you believe in, or have you just adjusted to what you are doing.”

For one or indeed both sides not to take up this opportunity of a bi-partisan solution is a disgrace, tragic for the planet and an indictment for our people in so much as we stood by silently, allowing it to happen.

An observation

“Never be afraid to step over the shadow of your negativity.”

Marriage equality has also been with us for many years with poll after poll saying that Australians want to join other enlightened societies who have thoughtfully adopted it.

So the few words that I have scribed here are not about coal and the rights or wrongs of it. Nor are they about gay versus traditional marriage. They are simply about making decisions for the country. They are about putting the country before political considerations. About us before you.

At present the greatest danger to our governance is this elected Government who seem to be unable to make decisions. The standard of governance is so low at the moment that if there were a process by which it could be removed it should be enacted immediately.

An observation

“We are given the gift of foresight however, we choose to be reactive rather than proactive. Why is it so?”

After having been in power for four years it’s easy to blame others. It also draws attention to your own failings.

I, like many others, was sitting around on Thursday anxiously awaiting the High Court’s decision as to whether a so-called plebiscite is legal. There are many who say it is not, but equally there are many who say it is.

Although it is my intention to vote “yes” in this silly survey, I had hoped that the verdict announced by the High Court would have told the government that what they are doing is unlawful. That they should be doing what they were elected to do. While I waited I directed my thoughts towards the four years of turmoil we endured under Abbott and now Turnbull.

If you believe in progressive democracy, as I do, you cannot pre-suppose that the party you support should win every election. What you are however entitled to expect is that whoever wins will govern for the common good. Abbott displayed not one iota of good governance. He governed for those that have and never considered those who have not.

Turnbull is tied to the least intelligent but most powerful of his party and governs accordingly.

An observation

“It is far better to form your own your own independent opinions relative to your life experience and reason than to allow yourself to be blindly led by others.”

It’s 11.40 AM and I’m looking at some comments on the Canberra Times:

“The government is gambling that the High Court will accept its arguments, and that the postal survey can proceed,” Professor Williams wrote in a piece for Fairfax Media earlier this week.

“It may be hoping that the momentum built towards the vote will dissuade the court from striking it down. This, though, may be a poor bet. The High Court has a long record of frustrating governments that seek to operate outside the law.”

Constitutional expert George Williams thought they would knock it back: “The vote is also constitutionally adventurous because it has twice been rejected by Parliament. This leaves the government open to the attack that it lacks the legal authority to conduct the survey. Nothing in the submissions put by the Commonwealth to the High Court alters my view that the survey will more likely than not be struck down.”

It’s the fourth anniversary of the election of the Coalition government. Four years ago today Tony Abbott defeated Kevin Rudd in the 2013 federal election.

At lunch time I scan the web and it would seem that the government is less confident and is exploring other options.

“The head of the Australian Bureau of Statistics, David Kalisch, said the ABS and Mathias Cormann’s Finance Department had begun contingency planning last week.’’

But low and behold early in Question Time a message runs gayly across the bottom of the screen announcing that the High Court had dismissed the challenge to the postal survey.

This of course means that it will now go ahead and the representatives we elected will be able to squib what we elected them to do. Vote on important decisions. The survey should win the day at a cost of $122 million to confirm what surveys for many years have shown.

And an invitation to sign a joint letter of support for marriage equality was refused by the Prime Minister thus indicating the importance with which the Government holds the survey.

Lyle Shelton, managing director of the Australian Christian Lobby had this to say:

“With the people’s vote now confirmed, the Coalition for Marriage will continue to provide the Australian people with information regarding the consequences of changing the Marriage Act for them and their family – the impact on free speech, freedom of religion and the rights of parents to have a say on whether their children are taught radical LGBTIQ sex and gender programs at school.”

Joseph Carli wrote:

“With the High Court decision going the way of the Govt’, it gives vicarious approval also to the Govt’s interpretation of how the survey ought to be managed..a “mandate” if you like..for the “no” vote mob to lean on the decision as a sort of approval of their actions. A dangerous precedent.’’

For his part the Prime Minister could have shown a more conciliatory stance. He would have been aware that many would have been disappointed with the courts decision. Instead he unleashed his inner demons and let fly at the Opposition Leader with snide sarcasm castigating him for once denying marriage equality. It was a continuance of the bad governance we have come to expect from this government.

My thought for they day

“Good democracies can only deliver good government and outcomes if the electorate demands it and it doesn’t come about by people disengaging from the process.”


  1. Terry2

    The cruel change introduced into the Marraige Act in 2004 by the Howard government and the one that gets least attention was this :

    88EA Certain unions are not marriages

    >A union solemnised in a foreign country between:

    >(a) a man and another man; or

    >(b) a woman and another woman;

    must not be recognised as a marriage in Australia.

    This was introduced to frustrate those who may go to New Zealand , Britain, Ireland or any of the other countries that would allow a same sex couple to marry. There was no need for this additional punitive twist of the knife but that’s the way Liberals are.

    If this opinion poll fails to get up, this restriction will still apply and continue to make Australia a laughing stock to the rest of the world and act as a banner proclaiming our prejudice, our political immaturity and our latent homophobia.

    I had committed myself not to participate in this opinion poll as I see it as akin to a Roman forum with the wretched Christian held at the mercy of the gladiator awaiting a thumbs up or down to determine his fate : I will however reluctantly vote and voteYES.

  2. Michael Taylor

    I used to work with a bloke who’d take an hour to decide whether he wanted a pie or a pasty for lunch. It’s a dilemma that I’m sure Malcolm faces on a daily basis.

  3. James Cook

    Excellent article John. I can empathise with your frustratioin at our elected reps.

  4. Peter F

    Michael, I suppose that your colleague must have been terribly thin.

  5. Jack

    No matter which government has the reins, they’re always curtailed by their corresponding right or left wing voices.
    One way this could be solved is to give the winning government a longer term.
    Let’s double it to 6 years then whoever gets in has some clear air to make decisions, rather than worrying about the political cycle.
    We’d might actually see things get done for the good of the country instead of trying to appease the far sides

  6. Michael Taylor

    Peter, he’d sit at his desk thinking about it all morning. By lunchtime he’d come to a decision. It was a daily dilemma for him. Pie or pasty? Pie or sandwich? Pasty or sandwich? Ham or beef on my sandwich?

  7. Harquebus

    “an indictment for our people in so much as we stood by silently, allowing it to happen.”
    An indication of a weak protected society perhaps?

    Failing governments do not come as a surprise to me and neither will a failing Labor government. Physical realities must be factored before any real progress can be made.

  8. John Lord

    Was he called the pro. As in procrastinator.

  9. Möbius Ecko

    I heard of another failure of this government, but anyone would be hard pressed to directly link it to the government.

    Since the election of Turnbull, there has been a spike in road deaths, injuries and accidents, especially for light trucks but also a significant increase in heavy truck accidents. We can pin where the increase in truck accidents has come from, and it was a Turnbull populous election campaign policy, one that helped him scrape over the line, but has now ruined many families and businesses.

    This increase in road accidents comes despite some State governments, most especially NSW, throwing record amounts of money into roads and road safety.

    That there’s a Federal government link to this upward spike can be seen by the fact the relevant Federal minister has ordered an enquiry, yes yet another L-NP enquiry, into the spike to ascertain what’s happening. I think it has about a year to report.

    Just on the matter of government enquiries, I clearly remember the time the L-NP in opposition and MSM hammered Rudd for the amount of enquiries he initiated in his first six months of office. Not only did the Abbott government blow that amount away in their first six months, the L-NP government has since gone on to initiate a record amount of enquiries.

    It’s their way of appearing to do something when they are floundering around on policy and need to delay things, and they can stack the enquiry to favour their standpoint or give them the outcome they desire. This marriage equality survey is but a continuation of that.

  10. Kyran

    Off the back of Mobius Ecko’s comment;
    “The Government wants you to believe that somehow owner-drivers who on average receive $32,000 a year compared to employee drivers on $56,000 a year, that they want to keep getting $32,000 a year.”

    “So I will continue to negotiate with the crossbench in good faith because this is good policy. It is good legislation and we need to clean up the building and construction sector in Australia.”

    Yeah. That was Tango and Cash, talking about the RSRT.
    As Mr Lord has pointed out, “The only thing they have in common is the manner in which the government of the day has so incompetently handled them.”
    Do we tango?
    Mr Lord also pointed out;
    “The former failed Prime Minister Tony Abbott leads the charge.”
    With respect, he has never led a charge. He has attempted to manage retreats, all the way back to the 1950’s. Never a charge.
    “They are simply about making decisions for the country. They are about putting the country before political considerations. About us before you.”
    You will never achieve forward vision, when focused on the ‘rear view mirror’.
    Grateful, as always, Mr Lord and commenters. Take care

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