Nov 14, 2017

Don’t turn your back. Don’t look away. And don’t blink. You’ll miss another crisis.

Federal politics is now so chaotic it may be time to think about writing off the 45th parliament altogether.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

“The last Senate election was widely criticised. Australians were astonished to see people elected to the Senate whose primary votes were a fraction in the case of one senator from Victoria, about half of 1% of the vote … I think Australians were shocked by some of the results of the election." Malcolm Turnbull, February 2016

“If your local vote is for Labor, Greens or an independent, and you are in one of the 20 or so key battleground seats across the country, it is a vote for the chaos of a hung parliament." Malcolm Turnbull, June 2016

Free Trial

You've hit members-only content.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions


Leave a comment

43 thoughts on “Don’t turn your back. Don’t look away. And don’t blink. You’ll miss another crisis.

  1. Xoanon

    I think you mean Alt-Ctrl-Del. Needs a complete reboot. And I agree, the Parliament at the moment can’t be said to be a reasonable reflection of the people’s will as expressed at the ballot box last year.

    A new election would be an appropriate resonse to the crisis – and if I was in charge I’d go for broke and hold two referendums at the same time – one on reforming section 44, the other on installing the Aboriginal “voice to Parliament”.

    1. lykurgus

      They tried that – the DD, remember? Sack the whole non-Malcolm-voting Senate and get a new one that would recognise his greatness. Dear Leader thought it would be a glorious vindication of his magnificence…
      …and instead, it was… this…

      1. Rais

        Reverse Midas touch, when everything he touches turns to dust.

    2. Barnes Graham

      I can’t agree with reforming Section 44. it is quite explicit and enforceable as it is. It’s up to the politicians and their parties to tighten their candidates’ scrutineering in order to avoid such embarrassments in future. That said, I agree that our Aboriginals deserve a stronger say than they have at the moment. It can only be beneficial if they feel less “left out”.

    3. klewso

      Why change it?
      If Labor can verify citizenship (as seems the case thus far) why can’t other parties; especially “The Born to Rule” ….. unless they’re illegitimate?

  2. Saugoof

    It’s telling that the two Greens senators and Nick Xenophon and Jacquie Lambie resigned right away, unprompted. While the One Nation, National and Liberal senators and MPs (except, it seems, for John Alexander) had to be dragged out kicking and screaming.

    1. Xoanon

      Their enormous sense of Entitlement was weighing them down.

      1. Barnes Graham

        I’ll buy that one!

  3. ken chapman

    It’s a shame Senator Lambie is going, she at least looked after the interest of veterans. Yes the representative process was & is terrible with too many micro-parties / lone wolf senators. Now fringe is the new normal & as a member of the silent majority I hated the situation

    1. Xoanon

      I won’t miss her mindless Islamophobia though.

    2. Kelly

      My problem with Jacqui Lambie was that she could only empathise within the limited range of her own personal experiences. So low income people, centrelink recipients, single mums, parents of ice addicts, veterans she cared about. But she had no imagination to understand anything beyond her personal experience, thus no empathy for Muslims and some pretty awful racism.

      1. Charlie Chaplin

        True, Kelly, but you can turn that around and apply it to ANY politician and Lambie was the only one with any experience of low income people, Centrelink recipients, single mums etc.

        None of the other politicians have any experience of anything outside their comfortable, middle-class or higher, high income bubble. They have no more experience of Muslims than Lambie did. Less, actually. Lambie’s hatred of Muslims comes from the ADF. It’s part and parcel of the culture. A very necessary part: you can’t exactly point soldiers at Iraq or Afghanistan and tell them to risk their lives killing nice people, can you? You have to tell them those Muslims are the enemy and the enemy is bad.

        But the other professional politicians certainly know how to exploit Muslims to whip up fear and blame in the electorate. Not to mention a willingness to keep waging war on Muslim countries and locking up Muslim refugees.

        If you want something to blame for Lambie’s Islamophobia, blame Australia. The state created it. The state profits by it. The state perpetuates it.

        1. Xoanon

          “You have to tell them those Muslims are the enemy and the enemy is bad.”

          Except that pretty well all the people in those countries are Muslim, including the ones the army is supposed to be protecting. Even soldiers would need to be able to master more subtlety than that.

      2. James Richards

        But isn’t that the case with all politicians? Kelly O’dwyer has ONLY banking experience, Tony Abbott has ONLY student politics’ experience, Bill Shorten has ONLY Union experience. I really miss Ricky Muir, because his life experience better equates to mine.

      3. klewso

        Passionate as she is, Lambie exemplified that adage about “a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing”.

    3. Barnes Graham

      We need more Reps and Senators who’ve had their hands dirty in Parliament – Jacqui and Doug Cameron should have more such colleagues. There are all too many lawyers & accountants in white collars and three piece suits there at the moment – and that’s across the board!

  4. craig

    In this analogy, Ctrl+Z would only undo Jacqui Lambie’s resignation. Also, unless you’re using the on-screen keyboard, you don’t click on keys. GET IT RIGHT, BK.

  5. Wayne Cusick

    I think the Senate voting should be reformed again before the next election.

    No above the line voting.
    Minimum 1-12 votes to be cast
    Random order of candidates in a group/party.
    Random order of groups/parties on the ballot.

    1. Rais

      You’ll never get the big parties to agree but it would certainly be more democratic, if much slower to count.

    2. Nudiefish

      I like this idea.

      As far as democracy is concerned, the entire voting system is rigged to support the major parties. A true independent standing for the senate would be crushed by the rules, re: naming conventions and a requirement for 500 signatures prior to being nominated for candidature.

      1. Barnes Graham

        Question arising: how many ratbag minority candidates are surreptitiously funded by the Major Parties merely to confuse the Rubes and turn the Senate Ballot papers into “tablecloths”?
        I support the two previous comments – they make sense.

    3. James Richards

      Yes! Great idea. Although I for one will continue to savour the delite of writing the Number 124 beside Pauline Hanson’s name.

  6. Itsarort

    Poor Lambie, maybe now she’ll be able to get that “root” without the rest of the world watching. It is such an old Aussie Army ‘throw away’ comment; only a complete arsehole would use it out of context to besmirch her. For those unfamiliar with the phrase, it just means, “I’m inundated with absolute crap from all sides and I need a break”.

  7. old greybearded one

    I am not in general a fan of Lambie’s ideas, but I admired her guts and sometimes was in complete agreement. It does seem crazy that you can be a soldier and not be a senator.

    1. Barnes Graham

      From another Old Greybearded One: It is indeed crazy! Surely wearing the Queen’s uniform and the Oath of Loyalty sworn by all soldiers should be sufficient. Perhaps there IS a need to amend S.44 to this effect, and I would support such in a referendum. We definitely need more Politicians who’ve had their hands dirty – Doug Cameron and Jacquie Lambie are not enough. I hope she clears this confusion and stands again.

  8. Stuart Johnson

    Surely if you want to make a case that Anning has betrayed voters it’s the thousands who voted above the line to get a One Nation senator rather than the 19 who specifically voted for him personally below the line who are more of an issue.

    1. The Curmudgeon

      Excellent point: it’s a proportional representation system with tickets- so the low primary votes of (ultimately successful) candidates down the ticket may be useful for a throwaway line, but they do not constitute an inherently evil or undemocratic phenomenon. If the candidate at the top of the ticket gets more than a quota of votes, his/her surplus can elect someone down the ticket with no primary votes. Nature of the system.

    2. Decorum

      It’s still not clear yet that he’s actually done a Bernardi: it seems PH may have evicted him. Being flanked at his swearing-in by two of the most dishonest Senators in Australia – Bernardi and Leyonhelm – is not a great look, but.

      1. klewso

        I’m inclined to think he was banished for back-answering the Halloween Pumpkin.

    3. lykurgus

      Despite having no idea he’d resigned until he saw it on the news.
      What? That sound OOC for PHON?

  9. James Goode

    The loss of Lambie is a tragedy. While I may often disagree with her, she is worth her place. Many members of the senate are not.

    1. craig

      She was an opportunistic racist who voted purely out of self-interest and nothing else. She is demonstrably not worth her place.

  10. AR

    There are fortunately severe mechanistic reasons why another D/D is almost impossible to hold within the next 6-12 months.
    However, with 15% of the Senate under consideration and an unknown number of by-elections for Reps – temple-shaking enough for any ogvernment, never mind this razor edge balanced collection of misfits, fukwits, throwbacks and seat polishers – there is clearly a need for the G/G to exercise, not the notorious reserve powers, but the quotidian requirement that government is decided by the ability to Control the Floor of Parliament.
    There is only one resolution of this imbroglio acceptable in a democracy and that is a full election.
    End of.

    1. Itsarort

      Agreed, a bit of a no brainer really. Conspicuously absent is that very suggestion, out there in mainstream media world.

Leave a comment

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details