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Crikey says: don’t mention the (upcoming) war

Major parties strike a deal on Iraq. Mayne on reporting season’s last-day losers. How the govt is breaching its own terror laws. Brandis’ warning to whistleblowers over East Timor leak. Undercover at World of Congress of Families. NT’s Adam Giles to be rolled? More questions than answers at SBS staff meeting. Kim Williams’ lucrative gift to News. Industry ties at climate deniers’ love-in. And anything goes! Alan Jones’ musical theatre comeback.

Why did Labor join with the government this morning and head off the Greens’ motion for a debate about our return to war in Iraq?

As soon as the Senate convened this morning, Greens leader Christine Milne moved to suspend standing orders “to move a motion relating to the parliamentary approval for the deployment of  Australian troops to Iraq”. Labor opposed the motion. It was supported by NSW Senator David Leyonhjelm — who expressed support for Australia’s involvement and the hope it would lead to a separate Kurdish state — PUP Senator Jacqui Lambie and Nick Xenophon.

The debate might have proved embarrassing for Labor, which is keeping close to the government on Iraq issues at the moment, unlike when Simon Crean bravely and correctly stared down internal opposition and led Labor to oppose the first Iraq debacle in 2003.

But there’s another reason, revealed by Xenophon: Labor and the Coalition have struck a deal to not consider “complex and contested motions … including foreign affairs motions” without a “proper opportunity for debate”. According to government Senate leader Eric Abetz, such motions “can have unintended consequences” (unlike, of course, foreign policy blunders). The aim of the deal is to prevent the crossbench parties and independent senators from trying to initiate debates that the major parties may find inconvenient.

The deal was agreed the week that Nick Xenophon moved a matter of public importance debate on Attorney-General George Brandis’ bizarre change to the government’s position on the occupation of East Jerusalem by Israel, which caused ructions within Labor as well as requiring the intervention of Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to repair the damage done by Brandis.

So we now have a bipartisan agreement not to debate the very issues that require the most thorough airing because the major parties might find themselves having to express a “complex and contested” opinion. It speaks volumes for the sad state of contemporary politics.

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  • 1
    j.oneill
    Posted Monday, 1 September 2014 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    All of which rather confirms the view that we do not have a real or principled opposition. In the Labor party. Both major parties take their orders from Washington. Australia’s best interests? You must be joking.

  • 2
    klewso
    Posted Monday, 1 September 2014 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    How can you vote for either?

  • 3
    CML
    Posted Monday, 1 September 2014 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    Outrageous! Why do we bother voting then, if ‘our’ representatives are not going to represent us?
    From my perspective, I see no reason to be involved in the political system as it stands. Another informal vote coming up in 2016, unless the Labor Party significantly changes its policy on a number of things.
    And NO, I won’t be voting for anyone else!!

  • 4
    Luke Hellboy
    Posted Monday, 1 September 2014 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    Yet another blatant example of the ‘two ice-cream vendors on the beach’* metaphor of two-party politics. The similarities between the policy positions of both parties far outweigh the differences (especially when it comes to what they actually do, not just what they say.) This is why big businesses donate equally to both parties and lines up lucrative ‘consultancy’positions post-political career, because they know that whoever wins, we (the public) lose. It makes a mockery of voters having a choice. Having government made of a coalition (a real one, not the current slave/master one) of minor parties and independents seems like the least worst option as the weakening of vested interests may leave at least a little room for public interest.

    *[Two ice-cream vendors set up their stalls on a beach. One of them sets up 1/4 of the way in from one end the beach and the other one does the same at the other end, so they have the same amount of people within the closest walking distance to their stall. One vendor realises that if he moves closer to the centre of the beach, he can take some of the customers on the other side of the halfway point, while keeping the customers out to the far end of his side. The other vendor sees this and does the same thing. In the end you have both of the vendors side-by-side in the middle of the beach and the people on either end of the beach angry that they have to go so far to get their ice-cream.]

  • 5
    Iskandar
    Posted Monday, 1 September 2014 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    Yes, why indeed is Labor in bed with the Liberals? Are they not supposed to be an opposition with their own points of view and interpretation of events? It seems both the Liberals and the Another Liberal Party both have their heads so far up Amerika’s arse that neither sees the light of day. Tanya Plibersek’s performance in “The Insiders” is a case in point. After some waffling about ISIS and what we should do she quite correctly drew attention to the fact that the situation is a consequence of the Bush-Blair-Howard lies about Iraq, and then proceeded to spout the latest crop of lies about the civil war in Ukraine and Russia’s alleged “invasion”. She happily talked about Australia’s supplying of arms to Kurdestan, seemingly unaware that this could also be construed as an “invasion” of a sovereign state. There may be words stronger than “rank hypocrisy” but they would not be printable.

    Perhaps it’s time to reconstitute a Communist Party just to have a credible opposition.

  • 6
    Neutral
    Posted Monday, 1 September 2014 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    Indeed. The inane pettifogging and lack of intellectual rigour applied by the political duopoly is only matched by their respective cheer squads.

    Our democracy has been broken for a while now. Where are the leaders with vision, clarity and integrity?

  • 7
    klewso
    Posted Monday, 1 September 2014 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    Abbott Right? Or Abbott Lite?”

  • 8
    Alex
    Posted Monday, 1 September 2014 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    Very sad, indeed.

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