Who’s on second?
With mere months until the NT election in August, there’s a fun question being debated in the territory’s legislative chambers: who the hell is the opposition?
Normally that’s a pretty easy question to answer: the party with the most seats is the government, the party with the second-most seats is the opposition, and everyone else is the crossbench — the crazy diamonds that make our parliamentary system shine on.
The problem in the Northern Territory is that there’s currently a tie for second place thanks to the wandering allegiances of Jeff Collins, member for Fong Lim.
Originally a Labor MLA, Collins then quit the party and sat in parliament as an independent. Now he’s joined the relatively new Territory Alliance as its second MP — which brings that party to level-pegging with the Country Liberal Party.
There’s a way to settle this question: get the parliament to vote on who is the official opposition. Except that the Territory Alliance wants to exclude Labor from the vote, figuring that Labor sees the alliance as a threat after the recent close-run Johnston byelection.
So there’s currently a dispute a-brewing over whether the speaker should decide who is the opposition, or whether there should be a parliamentary vote, or whether it should be settled the traditional Territory way: blindfolded croc-fight.
And it’s not just academic either. The party that’s deemed to be the opposition will likely score themselves a million or so in extra funding, travel allowances, staff and offices. For, um, the next 20 weeks or so.
Dude looks like a tradie
There has been a lot of coverage of Scott Cam’s appointment as our national careers ambassador, on the grounds that he’s being paid $345,000 for a 15-month job in which his main duty so far seems to involve huffily defending his salary.
While there’s a fair question as to what value taxpayers are getting in terms of public dollars spent per terse exchange about his need to support his family, one little giggleworthy detail has been largely overlooked: the name of Cam’s company.
A quick search on the ASIC registry confirmed that yes, the government’s anointed Tradie General is the owner of, ahem, Scam Media.
And sure, it’s just an amusing consequence of the name of its principal, S. Cam. But honestly, Morrison, you’re just walking into this stuff now.
The worms are coming
While Australia is panicking about the spread of COVID-19, you might think that it would be accompanied by some sort of a national biosecurity lock-down going on across our wide, brown land. And you’d be wrong.
Queensland has historically been the frontier of Australia’s biosecurity threats, partially because it’s the bit that’s closest to the rest of the world, but mainly because the cane toads are hellbent on overthrowing us.
But there have been several troublesome outbreaks of late, most recently the seemingly unstoppable spread of the “fall armyworm“. And it’s happened during a period when the advisory group to peak body Biosecurity Queensland was taking a two-year break from meeting.
It’s not clear why the group wasn’t getting together, and the state Labor government has been less than helpful in explaining it beyond denying that it was because the group couldn’t meet gender representation targets (which is the favourite explanation doing the rounds at the moment, as reported by InQueensland).
But it does mean that the government wasn’t getting expert advice when considering changes to the state’s Biosecurity Act last year, which seems problematic.
Still, what are the chances of there being anything devastating creeping in? Hey, it’s not like there’s been any outbreaks of the potentially catastrophic African swine fever sweeping through south-east Asia at the mo… oh, really? Indonesia, you say? Ah. Never mind.