Allan Takes Aim Blog

Minority government for better democracy

Posted on: 31 August 2010


Firts Published The Chronicle, Canberra, Tuesday 31 August 2010

Although a hung parliament isn’t the end of the world Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard will find that leading a minority Government comes with costs. Because they will be relying on the support of Independents and, although unlikely in the case of Abbott, the Greens MP, they will need to be more consultative or face the possibility of a fresh election, something that neither would wish to be responsible for.

They wouldn’t want a fresh election because they know voters distrust them and also say there is little to choose between them. This is understandable because much of the media, on which the community relies for information, says there is little difference between them.  

I don’t agree. At the election Labor and the Coalition had clear differences. The Coalition’s broadband policy was different; it thought Julia Gillard’s education revolution and computer program for schools were disasters as were its health and climate change polices. And that’s only a few of the differences.

On that basis alone, it could be argued that democracy would be best served by the Coalition becoming the minority Government because it attracted more first preference votes than Labor. That apart, the hung parliament could also bring the current electoral process into question because it could be said that Australia’s electoral process has failed because it discriminates financially in favour of the big parties? That it discriminates is clear because it decrees that public money can only be given to parties if they received 4% of valid votes at the last election.

Is this fair? I say not. Indeed, in 1984 when Parliament, composed mainly of the two major parties, made this decision, it was not to protect voters interests but their own, because it ensured small parties and Independents (notwithstanding the success of Independents at this election) almost certainly would be frozen out of the democratic process.

As for the Federal election, apart from alleged commonality of policy, what disengaged and disgusted many voters was the blatant political assassination of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd by Senator the Hon Mark Arbib, the Hon Bill Shorten MP and Senator David Feeney, assisted by Labor power brokers Karl Bitar and Paul Howse, an action later endorsed by Deputy Prime Minister the Hon Julia Gillard. Perhaps I’m old fashioned but the behaviour of these politicians leads me to suggest that the appellation Honourable for politicians should be discontinued.

But why assassinate Rudd? With Rudd out of the way the powerbrokers thought Labor’s chances of winning the as yet unscheduled next election would be improved. I suspect they thought that with gifting Julia Gifford the Prime Ministership, so too would their positions.

And so Prime Minister by assassination Julia Gillard, in an effort to establish herself in her new position, called an early election thinking most voters supported the Rudd assassination. The results, so far, seem to indicate they didn’t.

Because of self – interest, no doubt Arbib, Shorten, Feeney (and supporters) hope Gillard becomes Prime Minister in a minority government only because it is likely to keep them safe. But will it? I don’t know if they are interested in history or Shakespeare, but they would be wise to remember, as would Julia, what Tudor King Henry IV, another leader of Welsh descent, said in Shakespeare’s Henry IV, part II: ‘uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.’

At the same time, they know also that whether as leader of a minority Government or as Leader of the Opposition, Gillard’s position will be shaky and so will keep their eyes peeled and ears to the ground in case Labor gangs who disagreed with the Rudd assassination are lying in wait, political knives sharpened, ready to assassinate them.

 If only to even things up it is necessary to say that Tony Abbott’s accession to the Liberal Party Leadership was not free of skulduggery either. Indeed many think people with sharpened political knives helped ease him into the job. 

However, if he becomes Prime Minister, I doubt any Liberals would think of deposing him. On the other hand if he doesn’t become Prime Minister he, too, should beware that some Liberals with sharpened political knives will want to ease him out of the leadership.

The Chronicle for Canberra’ s best community news. Published every Tuesday

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12 Responses to "Minority government for better democracy"

In 1966, Charles de Gaulle was quoted in “Sons of France” saying “When I want to know what France thinks, I ask myself”. I fear that Tony Abbott, if Prime Minister, would have the same attitude toward Australia.

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