Sheer volume of legislation isn’t necessarily a metric of good government: it can certainly be true that sometimes the government that governs least governs best.
But right now Parliament is, quite literally, running out of legislation to debate — not because the government is in the grip of a libertarian orthodoxy, but because it refuses to bring forward any bill that might be defeated in the Senate. Under the Abbott government, legislation has become a tool for wedging Labor, rather than for getting anything done — witness the government’s effort yesterday to gut the Environment Protection And Biodiversity Conservation Act to try to prove that Labor cares more about “inner-city greens” than jobs.
The dearth of legislation is unlikely to change any time soon. Cabinet only considered two things on Monday: the environmental law changes and the same-sex marriage plebiscite/referendum mess. That was the extent of its business. Next week’s cabinet meeting has been cancelled because there’s nothing to discuss. The legislation program given to the joint party room for approval this week, which often can run into double figures, featured just five bills.
Everything else is on hold. The government has abandoned: tax reform, fixing the deficit, federation reform, industrial relation reforms, and superannuation reform. All too hard for an inept government that is so internally focused it appears to have forgotten how to govern at all.