Excerpt from “Dummies for Poltics”…
Or should that be “Politics for Dummies”?
In today’s lesson, we were going to learn that a double dissolution was not, in fact, a situation where everyone was dissolutioned with both sides of politics, but we are instead going to concentrate on “breaking news from Canberra” because it’s such a rare event.
The question on everyone’s lips is When does the general election get called? Well, yes, I know that Turnbull has announced that it’ll be on July 2nd, but that’s not the same as calling it because convention would dictate that the government enter a caretaker period and don’t do anything too controversial like approving a string of taxpayer funded ads telling us what a swell job the government is doing (in a totally nonpartisan way, of course).
Once an election is called, then both houses of Parliament should be dissolved and the caretaker period should begin. While there are no hard and fast rules about caretaker periods, there are conventions. In particular, the government should “take care” during the caretaker period, and taking care has been a very hard thing for the Abbott/Turnbull/Abbott government to actually do. For example, they’ve been very careless in losing a couple of ministers. And while Arthur $inodinos was misplaced, he has been put back in the ministry by Mr Turnbull. Some are suggesting that this seems like a careless appointment as there’s a very real chance that Arthur may be unable to recall whose side he’s actually meant to be on and, with a memory like that, it’d be hard to give him a diplomatic appointment to anywhere but the Vatican… Or possibly Antarctica, but unfortunately we don’t have an embassy there.
So let’s be very clear here so that even Barnaby Joyce can understand: Turnbull has announced the election date, but he hasn’t called the election. This means that the campaign hasn’t begun and there’s no caretaker period so the Coalition can carry on as normal taking absolutely no care, and if Labor announces any policies then there’s no need for the government to respond beyond the usual: “Well, that’s just Labor being negative and we’re getting on with the job of governing and we have no need to concern ourselves with anything apart from jobs and growth/stopping the boats/fixing the budget/innovation/change and continuity/being all grownup and staying up past nine!”
Once the Budget is out of the way, then Malcolm can go and visit Sir Peter Cosgrove and tell the Queen’s representative that he’d like a double dissolution and Sir Peter can shake him by the hand and tell him that it’s been nice knowing him and he’ll be sure to mention him in his memoirs, even if only under great political bloopers.
Of course, there’s no hurry for this. Malcolm can take his time. He has until the middle of May for a double dissolution which is… Oh my, I’ve just checked the calendar and it seems that it’s only about three and a bit weeks away. Goodness gracious, I wonder if the Liberals are prepared… I mean it seems to have taken them all by surprise! Yes, I know that they all knew that the election would be called then. (Apparently there was a plan that if it happened that the independents actually caved in and supported the Bill, then the Coalition Senators all vote against their own legislation to give the trigger and this would be the sort of genius unpredictability that the media keep praising Malcolm for…)
On a side note, I too sometimes have that erratic unpredictability where nobody knows what I’m doing, but nobody ever praises me for it. They usually just take the glass of wine out my hand, tell me that while my dancing is really beautiful, it’s inappropriate in this particular venue and suggest that maybe an early night would do me good… This is a personal story by the way and has nothing to do with anyone in politics, and I have since paid for any marble tables broken on such a night!
Yes, they all knew when the election was. But that doesn’t mean that it didn’t sneak up on them. I mean we’ve all had that experience of looking at the calendar and going, “Oh my gosh, New Year’s Eve already. It seems like it was just last week that we were celebrating Christmas.” And the poor Liberals have been distracted for the first two years by trying to ensure that by stopping the boats so quickly that we didn’t just forget what a remarkable non-caretaking feat that was. I mean, it was hard to keep us caring when it’s obvious that so many people don’t. Then poor Malcolm took over and he’d hardly finished gloating before he had to make plans for an election. And there was so much he intended to do. I mean, he’s only just moved into the Lodge and he doesn’t even have a selfie for every room yet.
So be kind to the Liberals and don’t judge them too harshly. They’ve been busy in government and haven’t had time to actually make policy.
And, of course, once they move into caretaker mode… It’ll be too late!
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