Dear Christian: Just wondering whether there is any hope on the horizon for the Democrats as a political force in Australia?

Dear Sean: Yes – but probably no. The Democrats went to the last
election as “The Lie Detectors” – the Senate watchdogs. Probably they
did their best work, however, as proof readers – picking up unintended
consequences of legislation and presenting win-win amendments that put
them in the spotlight and saved the face of ministers.

The Democrats will find it harder to amend bills – something,
ironically, the government might miss – and will be unable to block
legislation.

Democrats are trying to look on the bright side of this. Holding the
balance of power, some say, may have offered relevance and media
coverage – but the party got hung over the 10% they didn’t get
right, not the 90% they did.

Andrew Bartlett warned that the Coalition could end up in control of the Senate at his National Press Club speech during the campaign.

The final outcome, however, was probably the worst possible for the
Democrats. It’s not that there were too many Greens elected, but too
few. If the Greens had performed the way Bob Brown’s boasts suggested,
there’d be many more of them about to take their seats – and
show themselves up for the utter ratbags with no understanding of
parliamentary processes that they are. Unfortunately for the Democrats,
they failed.

There will be no yardstick for the Democrats to demonstrate against how
responsible minor parties can make a positive contribution to the
parliament after 1 July. The surviving Democrats will probably function
as quasi-independents and go on and lose their seats when they face
re-election.
————————————————
Dear Christian: Taking into account the UK series Little
Britain, are there any staffers of either gender who are suffering
unrequited lust for the prime minister?

Dear Tony (is that your real name?): You’re not trying to float
the rumour about our prime minister and one of his staff again, are
you? Come off it! I know that in the wake of the John Major/Edwina
Currie revelations we should never rule anything in or out, but as
John Howard said himself during the campaign, who do you trust…
————————————————
Dear Christian:The Daily Telegraph had a good laugh
earlier in the week at Kim Beazley for staying in humble digs on the
CBD fringe when he’s in Sydney, but it would have had a go at him if he
took a suite at the Park Hyatt, too. Can politicians ever win?

Dear Stephanie: No, of course not. The Tele’syarn
was hilarious – great tabloid stuff with its references about “the
aging two-storey inn” that the Opposition Leader seems to have adopted
as his temporary Sydney base, its “1970s time warp… beige furnishings,
grey carpet and archaic airconditioning”, how “with no pay television,
Mr Beazley must rely on radio and free-to-air news bulletins to keep
abreast of issues” and the obligatory “in-house dining choices are
slim” (boom boom!) gag.

The quotes from the host were pretty good, too: “I don’t know why he
stays here, you would have to ask him. You wouldn’t expect someone like
that [here]. You would think he would stay near the Harbour somewhere.”

Still, the Bomber isn’t avoiding the suites with Harbour views because
Jade Jagger and the other visitors for Sydney Fashion Week have booked
them out. He knows opulence isn’t a good look. The media laughed at the
Howard family’s summer holidays in a humble motel at Hawks Nest, near
Newcastle. Howard’s the one laughing now – and he’s now got the views,
too, at Kirribilli House. And Pauline Hanson’s post-prison stay at the
Palazzo Versace didn’t do her much good – even if she probably
pronounced “Versace” just like Nomi in Showgirls.
————————————————
Dear Christian: You managed to avoid answering a question asked
in last week’s consulting room section. To refresh your memory, here it
is again: “Who would you rate as the most perveable of our political
leaders if they were, say, cavorting at Bondi Beach in their swimmers?
(You can add Matt Price if you like).” You instead posed
theoretical boundaries on the question, limiting those who could be
considered for the hypothetical cavorting and, for some reason, instead
brought up Natasha Stott-Despoja in her bathers in 2001. As I see
it, the question still stands.

Dear Kristin: A lot of questions in politics don’t get direct answers.

Peter Fray

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