Normally oppressed minorities like members of the NSW Left deserve
our sympathy. Shadow environment minister Anthony Albanese, however, is asking
for a bollocking.

He’s sent a letter to all Senate crossbenchers about motions in
his portfolio:

The Government now has control of
the Senate. As a consequence, motions that do not have the support of the Government
will not pass through the Senate…

I do not believe it is
appropriate that a majority of my time or the very limited resources of the
Opposition is spent on the detail of the ALP’s response to motions which will
be defeated regardless of the ALP position…

In the past year almost every
Parliamentary sitting day has seen resolutions moved in the Environment,
Heritage or Water portfolios which have required the determination of the ALP
position within hours. These motions have consistently been lodged with the
Senate without any prior consultation.

Albo’s solution?

In future, I will only give
active consideration to Senate motion in which reasonable notice, which I would
regard as 5 days, has been provided to my office.

Great stuff. First, Albo runs up the white flag. The Government
majority in the Senate has always been tenuous. It’s even more tenuous after
the events of the past few weeks.

Then there’s the matter of not knowing what the Senate is there to
do. Albo is a member of the Reps – but surely he remembers from his high school
social studies classes that the Senate is a house of review, somewhere to
canvass issues, even if you don’t have the numbers to deal with them.

Finally, there’s the whole tone of the letter. What’s the next one
going to say? If you sign up to one of my sub-branches, I will happily furnish
you with a copy of my personal ticket so you can follow it at the next AGM?

The memo, doubtless to say, has not gone down particularly well.

Then again, Labor’s not likely to be in power for yonks – so it
doesn’t really matter if it pisses off the Senate crossbenchers or not.

Peter Fray

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