In 1975, the then Whitlam Labor government, which had been in power for just three years after 23 years in opposition, was being hounded ruthlessly and viciously by the press and the Opposition, over a series of events that pale in comparison with what we are witnessing in Canberra today.
A seemingly innocent, if not poorly thought-through attempt to raise overseas funds for infrastructure projects went horribly pear-shaped. Ministers were replaced for misleading parliament and the whole affair prompted a calculating Opposition to block supply. This ultimately led to the sacking of the government by the Governor-General, on the grounds of ‘extraordinary and reprehensible’ circumstances.
Comparing that episode in our political history with the farcical events of today, we must wonder why the Governor-General has not stepped in already, to resolve what is a much more serious example of ‘extraordinary and reprehensible’ circumstances.
In just over five years, the government has had three prime ministers, lost its majority, refuses to account for the legitimacy of one of its senior ministers and has a serious undermining factional issue that threatens its ability to govern effectively.
To ignore the oncoming impact of climate change, and trash a bi-partisan National Energy Guarantee (NEG) plan that would ensure distribution and supply of electricity, is a disgraceful abdication of its oath of office.
The NEG was designed to provide certainty to the business sector and its future investment plans, something which is critical to the economic well-being of all Australians.
Then came the resignation of Julia Banks, the threatened resignation of Craig Kelly who is about to lose preselection, former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s call for an early election to save the NSW Liberal government and the very public statements of discord by Craig Laundy, Julia Bishop and others. It demonstrates all too clearly, the government has become so toxic, it cannot govern.
The Labor Opposition has ruled out blocking supply, presumably to maintain the high moral ground and probably comfortable in the knowledge that a federal election is only six months away. Its consistent lead in the polls over the past two years almost assures it of winning in May 2019.
But can we afford to wait that long? With such chaos in play, a prime minister who appears unable to control his party and the internal party blood-letting only threatening to worsen, surely it is time for the Governor-General to act.
We are entering a critical time, economically and diplomatically and are entitled as a people and a nation to have this matter addressed.
Our economy is slowing as we speak, in line with a slowing of the Chinese economy. Confirmation of this can be seen by the fall in clearance rates of weekend auctions in the housing market. They have fallen from an average of 69% a year ago to 48% today. Furthermore, our growth rate is insufficient to cater for what will be rising levels of job seeking in 2019.
Tensions between the USA and China and the emerging conflict between Russia and the Ukraine will be a testing time. The present government has lost its credibility with our international partners and is in no position to deal responsibly with these issues.
We need certainty in decision-making and confidence in our administrators. At the moment, we have neither. Without sufficient prompting, the Governor-General will not interfere. We need a movement to campaign for a March 2nd election.
There are too many reasons not to act. The prime minister, Scott Morrison, is clearly out of his depth and his parliamentary and party woes further weaken his government’s ability and its competence. They should present themselves now to a bewildered and increasingly unsettled people. But they will never do that. The prospect of an electoral wipeout makes them shudder.
They will stay in government until dragged kicking and screaming from the government benches.
Something has to give. What will it take to mobilise a protest movement? If a small group of schoolgirls can mobilise a national one-day school strike on a non-existent budget to protest inaction on climate change, how hard can it be for Bill Shorten and the Opposition, Get Up, Change.org and other such groups with all the resources at their disposal, to mobilise and bring the government to account?
We should be demanding an election on March 2nd, 2019 on the grounds of extraordinary and reprehensible circumstances, just as happened in 1975. To wait until May only allows this pathetic collection of misfits to inflict further damage on our economy and our international reputation.
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