Ok, I’ve always thought that a politician’s mandate was to vote for the policies they espoused during the election campaign. Granted, circumstances change and they may need to compromise in order to achieve anything. Similarly, changing circumstances may lead to a politician reassessing their support for particular policies. To me, a mandate has never meant that all the other parties simply say such-and-such party won enough seats in the House of Representatives to form government so we need to forget the policies we took to the election and just go along with whatever they say. To me, I’ve always thought that those pesky minor parties managed to get senators elected had also been given a mandate to vote a particular way.
Sure, there were some anomalies when senators were being elected with a handful of votes. But let’s not forget that this was as a result of preference deals involving the major parties, not because of some coup d’etat. Once elected, we surely expect anyone to stay true to most of their stated principals. People wouldn’t expect, for example, a member of the Sex Party elected to the Senate to turn around and say that, as Cory Bernardi belonged to the party which had formed government in the House of Reps, then they’d be seeking his advice on all future votes.
But it seems that I’m wrong. Listening to the Liberals over the past few years, I’ve reached the following conclusions about what a mandate means:
- Labor never has one. All Labor Party policy is subject to review and should be blocked if it either isn’t something the Liberals like, or if it runs the risk of making them popular.
- The Liberals have a mandate if they win the most seats in the House of Representatives. Or rather, they have a mandate if they have the most seats when they combine theirs with the National Party. If Labor form a coalition with The Greens, this is cheating and parties shouldn’t be allowed to do that unless they already had a coalition agreement even if that coalition agreement gets renegotiated after the election.
- Even if Liberals/Nationals need independents to support them to form minority, then they still have a mandate even if they and the Nationals still don’t have most of the seats in the House. In this case, just the fact that they are government means that they have a mandate and nobody should block any of their policies.
- Even if they’re not the government, they still have a mandate, because Labor’s policies are so evil and wrong that they know that at the next election, they’ll be voted back in because, as Christopher “The Fixer” Pyne told us, they’re an “election winning machine”. If they’re returned at the subsequent election, it’ll be because of the media’s failure to explain that Labor should never be allowed to govern.
- If the Liberals do form the government, then their mandate extends to all the things that they intended to do but forgot to tell us about in the election campaign, as well as anything that they want to change their mind about because they’ve listened to the people. We may hear more on this last one when it comes to superannuation. In the next few weeks, the government may announce that they’re not proceeding with some of their changes on super because they’ve realised that there’s even more savings to be made by cracking down on welfare than they suggested in the week before the election, as well as concluding that there’s no point in educating people at public schools because they’ll all be unemployed anyway.
All in all, while some might conclude that each elected representative has a mandate to stick to their principles, that isn’t the way the Liberals see it. The Senate, the Opposition, the independents and The Greens are all just examples of the sort of red tape that stops entrepreneurs being able to make a bucketload of money, and, after all, that’s what’s important. If a thing isn’t profitable, then it shouldn’t be allowed. Private operators make money out of TAFE, so they’re ok. All right, it might have been better if some of them had actually trained some of their students, but that would have involved a whole lot of complicated paperwork.
Whatever, I’m looking forward to Turnbull’s legislation to protect the CFA. Given the Liberals strong opposition to big governments and nanny states, I’m wondering how it can be worded without seeming like a direct contradiction of their core values.
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