Just as the government is trying to find its feet at times, the opposition Coalition is also in the same boat. The recent claims of ‘Airbus Albo’ made by the opposition along with their friends on ‘Sky after dark’ really haven’t jelled as an attack line when the government’s response, apparently backed up by the leaders of foreign nations, is they are attempting to undo the decade of neglect to this country’s foreign relationships by the Coalition when they were in power.
While Prime Minister Albanese has seen the insides of a number of Airbus and Boeing products since the middle of May, it’s hard to attempt to equate former PM Morrison’s holiday in Hawaii during the 2020 bushfires and Albanese’s diplomacy trips to Europe and the Pacific in 2022 without making a complete fool of yourself. It’s even harder to do so when Federal Opposition Leader Dutton was on holidays in the USA as Nationals Leader David Littleproud tried make the comparison. Dutton’s office claimed he was attending an “Australian American Leadership Dialogue’ event in Washington for a day or two while there for a couple of weeks.
Another attempted line of attack was the government reaction to July’s flooding in New South Wales. The cries from the opposition were that Albanese should drop whatever he was doing and head back to Australia. The attack was somewhat diminished when it was made known that Albanese was in the Ukraine and the responsible minister was organising resources as necessary. Unlike the media reporting during March when devastating floods hit south east Queensland and northern New South Wales even the New South Wales Premier and Liberal Party member Dominic Perrottet had praise for both the newly minted Emergency Services Minister, Murray Watt, and Albanese during July
Appearing at a joint news conference with Anthony Albanese on Wednesday, Perrottet praised the “great co-ordination” between the two levels of government. “To have the ADF, 100 ADF, on the ground very, very quickly was pleasing. And I think that also inspires and instils confidence in our local communities.”
He made it clear (with a nod to diplomacy) that the latest response was much better than the earlier one, and had little truck with critics’ attempts to claim Albanese (in Ukraine at the weekend, without communications) hadn’t been in touch fast enough. “As soon as he could, he picked up the phone to call me.
Arguably, Albanese’s Government hasn’t been perfect so far. The decision to cancel the ‘emergency pandemic’ payment for those without sick leave on June 30 while pandemic cases were actually increasing wasn’t smart. While it was claimed as a previous government decision, which is correct, other previous government decisions have been changed in the couple of months of the current government. Examples include the ratification of a higher level of emission reduction (43% by 2030 rather than the 28% commitment by the former Morrison Coalition Government) as well as the prosecution of Bernard Collaery and Witness X for whistleblowing the appalling decision of the then Coalition Government to install listening devices to ‘overhear’ the Timor Leste government’s discussions during the negotiations over the ownership of shared undersea fossil fuel resources in the 1990’s.
However bringing forward the ‘emergency’ National Cabinet meeting originally scheduled for Monday 18 July to Saturday 16 July, then announcing the payment would continue until at least September showed they realised they stuffed it up and fixed it as soon as possible. Acting Opposition Leader Sussan Ley’s comment after the announcement,
“The fact is it took universal criticism for the Prime Minister to act, days too late and he owes an apology to every single Australian who has recently tested positive for COVID-19, needed his government’s support and didn’t get it… “
… was even less intelligent that the cancellation of the payment in the first place. The Coalition was in government when it was determined the payment would not be made after 30 June. There is no evidence the Morrison Government would have reinstated the payment if they won the election despite the “universal criticism” that would have obviously occurred?
There are plenty of opportunities for the Coalition Opposition to make a valuable contribution to the political discussion in Australia. To make that contribution they have to think it through. We probably can have a good guess at what the Coalition would have done if still in government, we don’t need them to tell us how they would have failed us yet again.
Opposition is more than criticising the government of the day, it is developing, discussing and promoting alternative policies and pointing out the errors in government policy. The country also needs someone to show when the transparency, ethics and morals of the government of the day are less than ideal. Over the next three years, the Albanese Government will make avoidable and inadvertent errors. You can argue that the cancellation and reintroduction of the pandemic assistance for those with no sick leave is the first. Government should be held to account when they stuff it up, however the Coalition referencing their own lack of insight, compassion or failed policy in the past is not the way to do this.
While the Coalition probably aren’t wishing for a long period on the Opposition Benches in Parliament House, their behaviour so far suggests a different outcome. If your criticism of the government reminds the public why they voted against you in the first place, you’re on a hiding to nothing. While some are offering valuable input and suggestions, including state governments, minor party and independent MPs and sections of the media, the Coalition is fast fading into irrelevance brought about by its own behaviour. We all deserve better.
This article was originally published on The Political Sword
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