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The Elephant in the Room

Every now and then, I remember the story of the emperor’s new clothes, where it takes a child to point out what everyone should be able to see. It’s always worth asking what’s so bloody obvious that we miss it in the casuistry of political debate.

So there’s only one woman, says Abbott’s defenders, so what. In this party, we appoint on MERIT, we don’t have some artificial quota system. Would you have someone less able appointed to a position just BECAUSE she’s a woman?

Abbott’s detractors, reply by saying that it’s a sad state of affairs if you don’t have any women of merit. And so on.

To the observer, both arguments have some superficial appeal. The trouble is that the Liberals are lying.

How can you say that ALL appointments are on merit, but a number of positions are reserved for National Party MPs? Isn’t that a quota system?

That’s different, someone will say. How? I will ask. Well, they’re a separate party and as part of the Coalition, they’re entitled to a number of Ministerial positions.

Oh, so how does that sit with this?

Mr Abbott again ruled out becoming the leader of a minority coalition government, if the September 7 federal election results in an outcome similar to that in 2010.

Herald Sun August 5th

So the Nationals are part of the Liberals when it comes to talking about minority government, but they are separate when it comes time to appointing the ministry and are entitled to some positions because they’re Nationals. So don’t call it a quota system.

And, of course, Labor’s “coalition” with the Greens and Independents was an evil conspiracy, but the Liberal’s coalition with the Nationals is the natural order of things. Just like having “the grown-ups back in charge”.


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