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Should the Senate Block Supply?

Was this week’s performance in and out of parliament what PM Tony Abbott meant when he told us “good government starts today”? How did it go?

Well, there are no changes in the PM’s office and he regards any questions about it as ‘impertinent’.

The government’s handling of the submarine policy was an utter shambles with Defence Minister, Kevin Andrews and others displaying confusion all over what is a tender, what is an evaluation, was there a promise for a vote, or wasn’t there.

Embattled Treasurer Joe Hockey was looking defeated as he faced questions about the budget and the latest unemployment figures.

Then the report on children in detention about which Tony Abbott “feels no shame”.

Instead, he lets loose with a tongue lashing that barely hides his anger toward Gillian Triggs and the Human Rights Commission who he said should be ashamed of themselves; a classic case of attacking the messenger to avoid the message.

The Age newspaper editorial today says, “No, Mr Abbott – it is you and your government that should be ashamed.”

Then came the admission of failure by the PM concerning the Close the Gap report on their Aboriginal Affairs policy. Amy McQuire from New Matilda describes it thus, “blackfellas across the nation, particularly in remote areas, are preparing to suffer the devastating consequences of his government’s assimilationist, paternalistic agenda.”

On top of that the latest unemployment figures, the worst for twelve years, clearly demonstrated the government’s austerity policy was the cause, not the solution.

I can’t remember a week when the media was as critical on such a variety of issues as this week.

There is no previous example by which we can compare how bad this government is. They have set a new standard for all future administrations on incompetence, ineptitude, policy failure and public relations. They are the new benchmark.

Should the senate consider blocking supply and forcing a new election? Labor has previously said they would never do this. Yet they, more than anyone, hold the high moral ground on this issue. The treatment of the Whitlam government was a travesty of moral justice in 1975.

The circumstances surrounding the dismissal by the Governor General Sir John Kerr were more a conspiracy of power than any genuine concern for the future of the country.

But what we have today is a concern for the future. At a time when the economy needs real vision with real policies, real solutions, real job creation programs, we have a robotic, ideological mindset in control of the country’s future, a mindset that believes it is heading in the right direction.

That claim alone tells us they are incompetent. How many people out of work will it take for them to see the folly of their ways?

The senate has the numbers. How much self-interest will they display before the reality sets in? Only Labor knows how to arrest a failing economy. With a workforce underutilisation rate heading toward 16% and a disaster in youth unemployment, only Labor knows how to respond to an economic crisis.

In the words of Professor Bill Mitchell, the pre-eminent economist in the country, “They (the Government) are so obsessed with cutting fiscal deficits that they cannot see the future damage they are causing as a result of the appalling state of the youth labour market.”

Michelle Grattan, writing in The Conversation this week says that in what will be a difficult economic year, “the instability within the government will just further harm business confidence.”

Surely we are justified in saying, it’s time.


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  1. paul walter

    No question about it.

    The nation is being driven to the brink of catastrophe by a crew of troglodyte ideologues led, if it’s the word, by a raving nutter.

    National Emergency..

  2. Sir ScotchMistery

    They don’t see what they are doing because they are driven by criminals, priests and flat-earthers.

    To quote someone – “they know not what they do”.

  3. TJDW

    Wholeheartedly agree. The thought of these fascist fools running the country for another 18 months or more is genuinely horrifying. Unfortunately though, blocking supply will never happen.

    There really needs to be a means by which the public can call an early election, not just the Prime Minister. These clowns would never risk such catastrophically idiotic and unpopular policies if they knew they could be turfed out at any time by the whim of the electorate. It would also help to reengage the public on political matters and help to dispel this idea that “It doesn’t matter who you vote for.”

  4. Annie B

    Totally agree John. …. It’s beyond time that some drastic action be taken … and if that is the blocking of supply – then so be it.

    Politically, it can still happen. …

    the 1975 fiasco, was brought about by the interference of Sir John Kerr, when the Senate had not in fact blocked, but had deferred their decisions. …. That’s as I understand it.

    I stand to be corrected – but if it is still a legality in the Westminster system upon which our Parliamentary procedures are based, then Labor might have no choice but to go back on their promise ( we will never block supply ) …… and do just that.

    I hope they do – and very very quickly.

  5. Kerri

    Should we all email, phone or write the various members of the Labor Party pleading to block supply and bring on a Double Dissolution?
    Should Labor and the Crossbench listen to the people and force the end of this self serving, ignorant bunch of idealogues?
    Should Labor and the Crossbench consider the extraordinary damage already done to our International reputation?
    Should Labor and the Crossbench consider the ever widening range of illegal actions from this so called Government?


    Would a petition on give labor the freedom to go back on their promise to not block supply and rescue the nation???

  6. Annie B

    TJDW …

    While it is most definitely more desirable to have the public be able to call an election because of wholesale dis-satisfaction with a current regime, the time in years – it would take to bring this about I would think, would be impossible to establish. Years – decades.

    It would have to be through Parliament initially / through Referendum / and would necessitate a change to the Constitution ultimately.

    And in the meantime – what ? … More of the same fascism that threatens our country right NOW ? … Indeed, if fascism gets a hold, it doesn’t get better – it becomes a far worse and evil thing on an ongoing basis.

    Not sure why you are so sure blocking of supply will never happen ? … would like to know more of your thoughts on that.


    And Kerri ……. I totally agree with all you’ve suggested.

  7. Peter K

    Interesting that the Murdoch press has now enlisted PWC to support the Government’s neo-lib agenda. PWC through the Murdoch press has now added extra zeros on the Debt to attempt to frighten the electorate. No one appears to be wearing the idea. The debt/deficit language of the neo-cons continues

  8. Matters Not

    Bill Mitchell isn’t alone:

    At the end of the day, the public’s debt is simply a transfer of income and interest from one side of the public to the other; you owe yourself the money. The argument that you have to cut it now so that you don’t leave your kids in debt is totally fallacious because if you cut now what you’ll leave them instead is a smaller economy by the time they become adults, which means that the same amount of debt will actually be bigger.

    That’s what happened in Greece; that’s what happened in Portugal; that’s what happened in Ireland through the cuts. It’s doubly fallacious because if you don’t actually pay it now and you focus instead on growth— which is what the administration, through the opposition of Congress and other such nonsense, has done— as those kids get older the economy will be so much bigger that, reciprocally, the debt will be smaller

    A double dissolution won’t be considered by the major parties because the resulting ‘quota’ would ensure many more fringe types will win Senate positions How many ‘Lambies’ or ‘Muirs’ do we really need or want?

  9. Adnil

    I’ve often thought about the option of blocking supply….i agree wholeheartedly we need to do something to halt this maniacal government….if blocking supply achieves this, then so be it. Go to an election now before any more damage is done.

  10. Matters Not

    Blocking Supply has a number of dimensions that haven’t yet been explored constitutionally. It’s worth pointing out that the Fraser’s Opposition never refused supply; they merely refused to consider the Bills which meant that no vote was ever taken.

  11. June

    As always, a great article John. I am not sure what’s more depressing; the state of the economy or the number of Abbott apologists who continue to support LNP. Damned difficult to get over a sense of helplessness as we watch this country disappear down the toilet. On a positive note, the dismal state of affairs is galvanising previously apathetic voters, like me, to pay attention and become more involved in what is happening. I sincerely hope this groundswell forces a tipping point and an early election. Dreaming on …

  12. stephentardrew

    Oh Sir Scotty they certainly know what they are doing with malice aforethought.

    Don’t give em and inch because they would happily skewer you at a moments notice.

    I certainly agree, if possible, block supply.

    Make them scream.

    They are morally bankrupt.

  13. Lee

    I don’t think Labor should block supply. That would leave them wide open to an attack from Pitbull Abbott and the Merde-och media.

    I don’t think Labor are using social media as well as the Greens are and they are in a bind because of their own policies. They need to highlight to the public the same stuff that John wrote about here. But it’s a tad difficult to point out that Abbott’s attack of Gillian Triggs is just an exercise in deflecting attention from his own deficiencies when their own party doesn’t treat asylum seekers any better. Likewise, they can’t point out all the damage caused by austerity policies because they are also buying into the same myths. Labor is desperately in need of a major clean up of its own backyard first.

  14. Sean Stinson

    What worries me most is Labor seem nowhere near ready to take the reins, especially under a pussy like Shorten, pardon my French.

    MN makes a good argument re deficits, but I’m not hearing this from Labor. As long as they continue with the same supply side economics drivel they are not presenting themselves as a genuine alternative. Considering the hammering they got at the last election, they really need argue their case better, or this insane cycle will just continue.

    Thanks John Kelly, you make a good case and I’m inclined to agree, but what’s the point of an early election without a viable alternative government?

  15. Kyran

    Amy McQuire wrote another article a few days before, “They came for the Abbott spill and missed the only story in town”. It highlighted the “conflict of interest” that is inherent in the cosiness of the MSM, the political parties and the “engineering” of the stories. I have no hesitation in commending her articles. With regard to blocking supply and, as always, happy to be corrected, there are no supply bills currently before the senate. There are aspects of the budget still to be considered, because they have not yet been drafted! Supply bills are the one’s that pay the ongoing recurring costs of government, wages, rent etc. I ponder what happens if the senate passes a motion of no confidence in the government. Lambie has already said she won’t vote for anything until they look after ADF personnel, Clive wants the treasurer sacked and Muir has told the senate he was, effectively, extorted. And Kerri, can we include “Federal ICAC” and “adoption of transparency in government guidelines” in that e-mail, letter, phone call etc. The two major parties both need to be kept honest, and they will not do it themselves. Take care

  16. Barry Thompson

    Be patient a little longer.The stoat (member of the weasel family-opportunistic predator) is in self destruction mode.

  17. Keith Warren

    I think they should block supply. Labor and the Libs did promised to not do this after the Whitlam dismissal. And it was a deal made for good reasons and in good faith. But Abbott has broken so many promises and breached his faith on oh so many levels, (Remember them raiding cabinet papers that were supposed be sealed away for thirty years? That was an atrocious breach of convention.) that I feel that all previous deals are off.

  18. Blanik

    Lee, not only does ALP not us social media well but Mr Shorten just doesn’t use any medium at all. I can understand that the ALP wish to keep any plans for change until closer to the election , but to just say nothing at all is simply ludicrous. The ALP need to not only clean up its backyard ; it needs a total overhaul.

    And having a tame GG means that supply will not be blocked

    What is wrong with them? If they are afraid that Mr shorten can’t deliver, why did they elect him with the aid of a shonky election where to caucus votes are worth more that party member votes? Sadly, I can’t see an ALP government being voter for with this man as leader. I don’t know why I feel this way, because he’s never said anything for me to judge him by.

    I’ve said it before and will continue saying it, it’s time we stopped voting for professional politicians. They all seem to be devoid of morals and have raised lying to an art form. Matters not said we don’t need more Lambies or Muirs. I say we need more if that’s what it takes to get a government where the sole aim is the fill their very deep pockets.

  19. Rosemary (@RosemaryJ36)

    I am curious – what would happen if all Labor members resigned their seats in protest at this morally bankrupt government led by an ignoramus?
    Alternatively the idea of a petition via sounds very attractive and should take off like wildfire!

  20. Blanik

    C’mon Rosemary, All Labor politicians resign? And lose their lifelong retirement pension? Not likely.

  21. Robin J Neasey

    Rosemary…..l think you might have spelt that word wrong….. “Ignoramus” ?

    I think “ignoranus” is more suited to Abbott !

    Apparently it’s someone who is stupid and an asshole ! ……courtesy of “The Washington Post”!

  22. Helen in NQld

    Why is this turned around to ask whether Labor can lead? They can’t do anything like as badly as LNP have done. Many of them have been very good Government ministers in the past and they can do so again.

  23. Lee

    I certainly won’t be voting for Labor simply because they are the best of a bad bunch. We’re well overdue for Australians to start demanding better of our politicians.

  24. Jexpat

    The short answer is:

    Not Going to Happen

  25. DanDark

    The thought of blocking supply sounds wonderfully delicious but, yes there is always a but
    “Patience is a virtue” and it truly is a virtue but as humans we get impatient our emotions take over rationality especially when people are suffering and we seem helpless to help them.
    Tones is doing himself slowly and its just a matter of time now, Labor needs to be seen as having clean hands when it comes to Tones and Co’s demise,
    “All good things come to those who wait”
    Let nature take its course and enjoy the House of Tones saga as the end is nigh 🙂

  26. stephentardrew

    As Ruddok goes down one incompetent stooge blames another.

    Keep up this changy newy it’s gunna be different thing cause it’s working a treat.

    How to go from dysfunctional moron to an incoherent idiot in a day.

  27. Sir ScotchMistery

    @Lee – absolutely. Get together with 12 friends and raise some money and find an independent to represent you/your electorate.

    Have a look at what Indi did. Threw a twit out who didn’t represent them and replaced them with someone who did.

  28. stephentardrew

    DanDark: If nature takes its course Abbot will become a fossilized leech.

  29. Blanik

    Yes Sir Scotch, that is indeed the answer. What a spectacular move that was!! And she held off until the very last minute before announcing the plan. Just as Captain Catholic did by his captains call on bringing his spill date forward.

    Peta told him to copy her. It’s way beyond his thinking.

  30. DansDark

    An independent won Shepparton with a massive swing against the Nats safe seat
    She only started to campaign a month before the election
    Anything is possible in the world of politics, just ask Tones and all that talk at the
    start of his govs term about winning the next election in 2016
    They are struggling to survive one term as it stands.

    Stephen T… he will be remembered as not only a fossilized leech,
    but he will always be remembered as the sort of PM we don’t want or need
    There is a lesson for the country in all this,
    Definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome.

  31. ajcanberra

    I’m a public servant. Canberra is, by and large, a public service town. And I am a lifelong Labor/Green voter, inevitably preferencing the Liberals last or close to it (if there are nutjobs like Rise Up Australia on the ballot, for example).
    If Labor blocks supply I will vote Liberal. Yes, even for Abbott as PM and even for one of the fundie dickheads who have seemingly assumed control of the Canberra Liberals. Even for Zed Grade Seselja.
    That “supply” pays my salary, and if I don’t get paid, my family face homelessness and starvation.
    I am not going to vote for a party who will jeopardise my family’s lives by putting me out of work (however temporarily) to try to extort a Government (even one as bad as this one) out of power.
    Fortunately, Labor will not do that. They know full well that they will be blamed for Government being unable to function because there’s no money.

  32. John Kelly

    ajcanberra, I seriously doubt it would come to that. Passionate reactions such as yours should be directed toward asylum seekers.

  33. Blanik

    ajcanberra probably works for the department responsible for keeping asylum seekers in prison. That aside, it won’t happen, aj.

    You know quite well that Captain Catholic has his catholic GG, Sir Peter as well tamed as the Kangaroos in the the general’s back yard. Honestly, aj, “homelessness and starvation” is a very, very, very long bow, but a lot of people who aren’t Federal public servants, do really face that possibility.

    But, I do see your peril and sympathize with your anxiety.

  34. ajcanberra

    It may be worth remembering that blocking supply DOES have actual effects on actual people, John and Blanik. The idea of blocking supply and forcing an early election to get rid of the current reprehensible Government might be tempting, but it will cause real harm if it happens.
    As I said, I don’t think Labor are interested in blocking supply, because I suspect enough actually realise that grinding Government services to a halt may well backfire. But the fact people suggest it, oblivious to what would happen to those of us who actually work for the Government.

  35. Johnnydadda

    Kerri, there’s a petition for a double dissolution that’s been around for a while at
    I believe a senate election couldn’t be held until October 2006, but a half senate election coud be held this year along with one for the lower house.

  36. Matters Not

    Jexpat @ 5:00 pm has it right.

    It isn’t going to happen. (Thankfully). Nor is a petition to the Governor General to dismiss this government.

    While the ‘sentiment’ might have some merit, (and that’s a big might), the implications are enormous. The ‘downside’ far outweighs the ‘benefits’.

    Shakes head

  37. lawrencesroberts

    The Cross Backbenchers will not be interested in blocking supply. Why would they upset the gravy train they have just got on?

  38. Geraldine Reid

    Yes, of course they should. Let’s get rid of this virus that is spreading across our nation, It is not about what the ministers want, surely it is about what the population wants. We must start anew before we bury ourselves in this gross negligence put on us by TA and his cohorts…..

  39. Kerri

    Kyran, agreed I forgot the Federal ICAC. At the very least you would think Labor would commit to this to show their sincerity. A recent Crikey article pointed out that Labor confess to way more political donations than the Libs ever have and they do it voluntarily. Over and above that required.
    Thanks Johnnydada. Just signed!

  40. Blanik

    ajcanberra. Read what I said again!

    I do realise that some of Canberra may be affected if supply is blocked. I have a brother in law who is a PS there. He may be affected too, if this occurs. However, this bastard Prime Minister and his crusaders policies affect a lot more families than the bureaucrats in Canberra. Thousands more are affected. As I said, I understand your anxiety, and you have every right to vote for the fascists if that is your wish, but it matters not simply because there will be no blocking of supply.

    As a bureaucrat in Canberra I imagined that you are reasonably well educated, and must realise that this is the case. Frankly, I can’t for the life of me understand why you posted such nonsense in the first place. However it is interesting to see how the most important person in the universe and beyond is you, and you are the person who is oblivious to all but the the federal public service employees.

  41. Klaus Teufel

    I believe a bill has to be blocked twice, three months apart, before it becomes a DD trigger. So if supply is blocked, people like ajcanberra will be without wages for that period. As will the Armed Forces and the AFP. I don’t see tones putting up a bill to temporarily fund those – maybe the AFP? We know he hates the PS. So by the time a DD can be called, these people will be three months out of pocket.

  42. Bacchus

    Our education system really does have a lot to answer for. Basic ‘civics’ should be covered somewhere over the 12 or 13 years of schooling, surely. 🙄

  43. Annie B

    I too have signed that petition, Johnnydadda, thanks for the link….. I believe there are more out there to put signatures to. Would have to search / research those. The louder we speak the more uneasy this moronic lot will become – especially their leader, who ( from looking at him the past couple of days ) … is buckling at the knees. ..

    I know this is off topic – to a degree…. but the sacking of Phillip Ruddock from the post of Chief Govt Whip, was a filthy slap in the face for a man who has devoted over 40 years of service to Parliament.

    A link that tells the story ( stating one of the theories I guess ) ……..

    Yet that arrogant excuse for a human being made a wonderfully flowery speech about Mr. Ruddock, who is indeed a true gentleman … almost as though the man was taking retirement, not being removed from a senior position and basically demoted in the house. His ‘speech’ is recorded in the above link. ( ugh ! ).

    Wonder what the s.o.b. will come up with next, to grab headlines, make waves, and generally underscore the danger he and his cohorts are to our country.

    The arrogance, the hypocrisy, the utter mean-ness, … I simply cannot get my head around.

  44. Cynthia Mitchell

    After 30 years of being a conservative voter, I finally became “absent minded” and for the 1st time voted for the ALP in the recent Qld. election (as it was pointed out that to vote for the LNP was to endorse TA).

    And NO, I did not vote for TA in the last federal election.
    As I commented to a colleague “he’s far too bogan for me” and by “bogan” I really meant VULGAR.

  45. Metta Bhavana

    Don’t be ridiculous. Blocking supply would evaporate decades of Labor credibilty. It can never be justified. The AIMN seems to be giving too much space to hyperbole over clarity.

  46. Blanik

    For crissake, it won’t happen!

  47. corvus boreus

    Blocking supply to shut/bring down the ‘guverment’?

    It will not happen, and most probably should not happen.

    In my opinion all this lobbying would be better directed to urging/pressuring all reasonable senators (labor especially) to agree to proposals for an independent inquiry against corruption in/around federal politics.

  48. Blanik

    Exactly CB. It shouldn’t happen. Because the LNP did it in 1975 is no justification for the ALP to do it now. In fact, it’s a good reason why the ALP should not even think of it.

    This reign of terror by Captain Catholic will eventually be halted by the fascist parliamentary party. They can’t all be dumped and will eventually react and dismiss themselves.

    What a wonderful day that will be.

  49. corvus boreus

    Cynthia M,
    Thank you for the open-minded honesty.
    There is definitely a validity and virtue in maintaining a degree of rational conservatism within one’s outlook. Fiscal prudence, precautionary consequential assessments, personal responsibility, maintaining reserves of strong defense.
    The radical reactionaries currently promoting dogmatic ideologies and implementing hasty agendas based on narrowly selected advice pervert and betray all that is admirable in defined “conservatism”.

  50. Pingback: Should the Senate Block Supply? | THE VIEW FROM MY GARDEN

  51. cheza

    Ajcanberra when supply is blocked a caretaker government is appointed to coordinate normal everyday functions. So there is no disruption to public servants wages or those on welfare or pensions. That you would vote to keep these idiots in power for this reason worries me!

  52. Blanik

    I suspect that aj is indeed a public servant and works in the ‘prime ministers’ department. S/he isn’t worth worrying about!

  53. Lee

    Ajcanberra is telling porkies. No lifelong Labor/Greens voter will vote Liberal at the drop of a hat, if at all.

  54. Blanik

    Of course s/he is Lee. We’re seeing some of the $4.3million social media surveillance money at work.

  55. diongiles

    The Senate shouldn’t consider blocking supply, Not for a minute. Just grow a spine and DO IT.

    Dion Giles

  56. Sir ScotchMistery

    Many don’t realise that ALP and LNP are really two sides of the one coin. ALP are only progressive in name not in policy or behaviour.

    They won’t block supply because it isn’t in their interest to do so.

    My view shrug and move on and between now and the next election dig up 20 or 30 independents to run for office.

    Shorten is a twat and only in realising that do we understand the men’s game of Australian politics.

  57. Tassykev

    Regarding a Double Dissolution possibility ( in your dreams!!!!). If the ALP ever had a spine to block supply, I would assume the crossbenchers and the Greens would need to be of like mind, and they would be like a bunch of stray cats, all with their own agenda issues. The 1975 Double Dissolution took place with the major backing of the Murdoch and Fairfax media on the side of the Coalition at the time, and voters reacted in fairly predictable fashion, in line with media propaganda strategies. If such an event were to occur today, it is a fair assumption that the Murdoch empire would continue to back the Coalition in spite of their poor polling. People will believe whatever swill is served up by the Murdoch rags. Tell lies often enough so that truth is confused.

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