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The Chain of Responsibility

There are certain responsibilities when you are driving a vehicle. You are required to comply with rules such as not being affected by drugs or alcohol, not checking your social media accounts while driving, maintaining control over your vehicle, parking only where allowed and so on. Some who make a living by driving have to comply with additional rules. For example, taxi and ride share drivers have to obtain authorisation from their state’s transport department as do drivers of buses. Truck drivers have a system of graduated licences and additional regulation which effectively means that not everyone with a truck licence can legally drive semis or ‘B Doubles’ on our major highways.

The transport industry also has ‘Chain of Responsibility’ legislation in most states. While all legislation is complex and there are differences between jurisdictions, the ‘Chain of Responsibility’ legislation requires all those in the transport industry to be responsible for the safety of the national transport fleet. So if the company manager or supervisor requires a truck driver to perform an action that is inherently unsafe, or the person consigning the freight requires the task to be completed in an unsafe manner, the person giving the direction can be held responsible for the consequences of the illegal instruction rather than the driver of the vehicle in question.

Pity there is no ‘Chain of Responsibility’ legislation for the Coalition Government. They seem to have no concept that they have been the government for over 6 years and therefore own the responsibility for their actions. Here’s a couple of examples.

On the first day of the 46th Parliament, Finance Minister Cormann was interviewed by Virginia Trioli on ABC’s News Breakfast. Cormann was being asked to discuss how the proposed tax cuts would be passed by the Parliament by the end of the week.

VIRGINIA TRIOLI: Look, here’s what I’m interested in, because you clearly have the numbers on the crossbench to pass that tax bill in its entirety. The Centre Alliance see no impediment. That’s their phrase. Cory Bernardi votes with you. Jacqui Lambie is on board. Why this repeated focus on Labor, Labor, Labor, to quote Barnaby Joyce?

Or Trade Minister Birmingham on ABC’s Insiders the previous weekend, again on the proposed tax cuts:

Simon Birmingham: We want to work with whoever is willing to pass this. But it is a stain on the Labor Party that will last all the way through to the next election. If they block and vote against tax relief for hardworking Australians. Now, what we know is that they say they’re going to try to amend this and put an alternate proposal forward. Not an alternate proposal that they took to the election, mind you. So they are saying that they won’t support the proposal the government…

Why should the opposition just roll over and support whatever dross the governing political party puts to Parliament? In the 46th Parliament, as in previous ones, no political party achieved an absolute majority before preference distributions. Therefore, no political party has the right to suggest that the public expects them to legislate whatever their policy planning process suggests is a good thing without discussion, debate or change.

Abbott, when Opposition Leader, gave the impression he would not support anything promoted by the Government of the Day. Benefit for the country, the environment or those with a disability (or even truth or accuracy for that matter) didn’t alter the constant negativity and obstruction. Gillard’s Government in particular showed some responsibility by working with others to achieve real and beneficial change for the country while highlighting the obstruction of Abbott. There is a large difference between highlighting actions taken by others and blaming them for an adverse outcome. While there may have been occasions where the legislation didn’t meet all of the objectives of the Gillard Government Party room or the ALP more generally – 50% of something is better than 100% of nothing.

By contrast, the current Coalition Government is hellbent on blaming the ALP for its failure to be able to work with the cards it was given. The ALP is the official Opposition – their job is to not just oppose but to suggest alternatives to government policy that, in their view, would provide a better outcome now and in the future. The ALP seems to understand both parts of their job as they were indicating they may not vote for legislation giving billions in tax cuts to high income earners in the term of the 47th or 48th Parliaments while offering suggestions on bringing forward middle-income earners’ tax cuts to generate additional economic activity. The ALP’s job isn’t to roll over on all the legislation put up by the Coalition and ask for a tickle on the tummy for being a good lap dog.

The ‘Chain of Responsibility’ in the transport industry extends to the Managing Director – if the person holding that role demands an employee to do something illegal, there are consequences. It’s the same in politics, the ‘Chain of Responsibility’ goes up to the Prime Minister. If he (in this case) can’t get his legislation through Parliament he should wear the consequences and either negotiate, withdraw or amend the proposal so the majority of Parliamentarians agree with it. It’s certainly a realistic expectation, Gillard did it for three years. Morrison’s failure to accept the ‘Chain of Responsibility’ for his government’s lack of consensus, negotiation skill or compromise is not the fault of the ALP or anyone else but himself.

What do you think?

This article was originally published on The Political Sword

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  1. Patricia

    Snotty still has not twigged to the fact that as the head honcho the buck stops with him.

    Everything that this government does, whether it comes directly from him or not has his imprimatur on it and he owns it and if it hits the fan the muck goes straight back to him.

    That is what we pay him the big bucks for. To take responsibility for those he leads and for the decisions that they, as a group, make.

    I would suggest that the inability for him to do this is why he was sacked from his tourism jobs.

    He is one of those bosses who takes all the credit for what his team does without giving due recognition and places the blame on his team when things go wrong, but never on his own decision making.

    The reason they blame the ALP for everything that they do is because the media never, ever challenges them and the people believe them.

    It is the “when you are on a good thing, stick to it” method and this government knows it works, they know that the majority of the people are basically stupid and believe what they read without making any moves to see if it is true or not.

    Blaming the ALP means that they never have to take responsibility for what happens in the aftermath of the legislation that they pass.

    The fact that it is all lies is irrelevant to them.

  2. pierre wilkinson

    meanwhile, Labor capitulated, not by abstaining but by completely giving in to the blackmail efforts of blaming Labor by the government and the media, thus endorsing their negativity

  3. Kaye Lee

    The thing that really galls me is that they keep saying we won the election so you have to do as we say. Every person sitting in that parliament won the election.

    Labor won all the seats in the two Territories and more seats than the Coalition in Victoria, NSW and South Australia, with a tie in Tasmania. If you leave out Queensland and WA, Labor won 57 seats to the Coalition’s 43 in the six other states and territories.

    The Coalition got 41.44% of the first preference votes. Labor and the Greens combined got 43.44% of the first preference votes. Two per cent more of the electorate wanted to elect a candidate from one of the two main progressive parties.

    Gawd I wish a Labor person would say this.

  4. guest

    I remember when Sally McManus published an updated list of the Abbott’s bloopers and lies. It was an extensive list and I am sure it contributed tot the failure of that man as PM.

    Labor needs to be bold. That Labor hummed and hahed over the Adani mine is a matter held against it. It was wedged by its own timidity.

    So also Labor must hammer the Coalition for its flattening of tax over the next five years so that so many wage earners will be paying the same tax rate as the wealthy – a rate whereby the less wealthy pay more, in effect, than the wealthier.

    Labor should be asking very forcefully what the Coalition is going to do about results of the Banking Royal Commission – if anything.

    Morrison is weeping about the rate of suicide in Oz – which some say shows compassion – while it could be shown that policies – or lack of – cause stress and trauma which lead to anguish and hopelessness.

    There are strange things going on with regard to monies changing hands in favour of government associates which need to be addressed.

    What I cannot understand is how Adani can hang around long enough to persuade governments that Adani has the solution to the Oz economy, that it can have utilities built for it, that it can begin mining preparations before it has been completely cleared environmentally, and can operate at reduced royalties and with a considerably reduced rate of employment upon which so many unemployed hang their hopes.

    All that while any mention of the consequences of burning fossil fuels is ignored, suppressed or denied.

    Labor has enough ammunition here to blow the Coalition apart. And part of that ammunition are its own polices which have been denied by the scurrilous shenanigans of the Coalition pretenders.

  5. Kerri

    They are incapable of negotiating.
    Their only weapon is bullying.
    They think they can shame the opposition into agreeing with them.

  6. New England Cocky

    Vote COALition get nothing!! Remember the COALition is a policy fee zone.

    When we see the spirited Albo of his youth firing into the ranks of the Liarbrals then we may see a resurgence of the ALP. Don’t hold your breath! There are too many comfortable middle class kids filling the political consultation groups and not enough grass roots unionists standing up to the blatherers or calling out the bullies and departmental demigods presently setting misgovernment procedures.

  7. Aortic

    Just watched again Abbott being utterly destroyed by Kerrie O’ Brien and Tony Jones when he was opposition leader. When questioned on critical issues such as climate change policies, why they were against the forward looking ALP NBN proposals and the economy in general, his answers were based on school halls and pink batts. He rightly said to Kerrie he was no tech head but as someone answered him rightly when Abbott asked how they were going he yelled dickhead. I would love to sit the bastard down and delineate what exactly his contribution was during the too many years he was a blight on our political scene. Still never mind we still have a brilliant Environment Minister , whatever her name is, who I am sure will burst from her Canberra Bubble and blind us all with her solutions for the critical pink batts question and solar roofing for all the school halls. Can’t wait either for the Morrison/Trump meet in Washington. The Orange One will have to be constantly reminded by that bastion of academia Kellyanne Conway, that the PM is coming from Australia not Austria.

  8. Florence Howarth

    PM is attempting to accuse Labor of stopping his drought bill. Once again untrue.

    A good leader must know when to fold when to compromise.

    No PM except Howard when he gained control of both houses has got all they want.

    Negotiation is the name of the game. The art of the possible.

  9. wam

    The government were gifted the benches by bobby and have every right to pursue their agenda. If they use all the resources at their disposal with a pragmatic aim to weaken labor who would be surprised.
    Gillard had to compromise because she had neither a mandate nor a majority. Scummo has no need to compromise as he has both the mandate and, with a couple of brides, the majority.
    Albo is vulnerable when scummo ties policies together? Albo is vulnerable when narrow nose mouths his sweet sounding platitudes? Albo is vulnerable when labor does or doesn’t. Albo has nothing to lose by banging scummo’s mob for words like ‘we are generous’ and narrownose and his boys pontificating instead of mea culpa-ing and for christ’s sake get a quality candidate against brandt.
    Beauty kaye nothing like facts to present a point of view. By the way your opinion, as to why labor got flogged in Queensland, would complete your post?

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