Leading article Australia

Unrepresentative swill

7 June 2014

9:00 AM

7 June 2014

9:00 AM

Once again a majority of Australian voters find themselves in the infuriating position of having their clearly established wishes frustrated by an electoral system that seems hell-bent on putting mavericks and madmen in charge of our future prosperity. ‘Unrepresentative swill’ now comes across as one of Paul Keating’s more insightful and accurate descriptions, rather than one of his typically flamboyant insults, as we head towards the imminent arrival in Canberra of the new Senate.

The famous metre-long Senate ballot paper, with its group ticket system of voting, has resulted in a government with a healthy majority being thwarted in implementing its programme, thanks to an obstructionist upper house comprised of minority parties holding the balance of power through a process that throws up winners as randomly as the brightly coloured balls on Lotto night. Throw in the peculiar personality of Clive Palmer, and Australians are being seriously short-changed.

‘Ah, but this is democracy at work,’ cry those who enjoy the twists and turns of this political reality TV show, along with those opponents of the government who delight in seeing its wishes frustrated. Yet the numbers tell a different story, with the likes of Ricky Muir, who garnered a paltry and exceedingly undemocratic 17,000 votes out of a possible 3.5 million, now ‘representing’ Victorians on less than half a per cent of the vote.


Senate voting reform is critical. Rules to prevent gaming the system via ‘front’ parties must be introduced as soon as possible; so too optional preferential voting. But in the meantime, another political ogre looms ever larger on the landscape, to the clear detriment of the nation’s good governance. Clive Palmer is treating his position in the lower house with even less respect and dignity than did the irresponsible duo of Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott, two mavericks who defied the wishes of their largely conservative electorates by propping up the unpopular Gillard government for their own petty purposes.

Mr Palmer appears to be playing a cynical, destructive and manipulative political game based predominantly on his personal love of controversy and his peculiar hatred of Tony Abbott. Elected to the lower house, where he has had little to add on the rare occasions when he is both present and awake, his main powerplay is via his puppets in the Senate. He should instead recognise that the majority of hard-working Australians want the budget repaired as rapidly as possible in order to improve their own chances of becoming wealthier individuals in a nation unencumbered by debt and excessive welfare.

Although we hear a great deal of nonsense from Mr Palmer, we hear very few ideas of economic relevance or substance. Playing tootsies with Malcolm and making snide asides about Peta may grab him the headlines and the wild applause of the Twitterverse, but it’s time Mr Palmer grasped how he is toying with the lives and aspirations of millions of ordinary people.

In praise of Tony’s PPL

Woah! Hold on to your chai-soy-latte. Could the Speccie be about to do a massive U-turn on the Paid Parental Leave scheme? The one that the Left have consistently derided as an iniquitous Tory plot designed to deliver shopping bags full of cash into the pockets of North Shore millionaire yummy mummies? Well, yes and no. On closer inspection, it transpires that those who have screeched loudest and longest about the ‘unfairness’ of this scheme — i.e. the ‘compassionate ones’ of the ALP, the ABC, Fairfax, the unions and Labor’s beloved public servants — are themselves the recipients of PPL schemes far more generous than Tony Abbott’s much-maligned one.

Enjoying salaries well over the $100,000 cut-off point in the LNP’s scheme, a left-wing army of the sisterhood lucky enough to inhabit the ‘elite’ world of the inner-city taxpayer-funded academic, media and political classes already become pregnant confident the taxpayer will pick up the tab for them to sit around for six months no matter how high their salary. Indeed, it is common for mid to senior-level women who oppose Mr Abbott to walk off with double or treble what his scheme will provide.

So Mr Abbott is looking after the check-out girls at Coles and the everyday women from a thousand small businesses who have no hope of ever earning anything like the proud men and women of the pampered classes who hypocritically sneer at his scheme. Either scrap taxpayer-funded PPLs altogether, or if not, at least give Tony’s a chance.

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  • Edward Roy of Vegas

    Well done ‘Sherlock’, while La Trioli et al sneer at the unfairness of it all they have or will enjoy benefits in excess of what is proposed in PPL. In many instance PPL would represents a levelling of potential benefits. Meanwhile this is a work place entitlement so individuals should, within reason, get back some of what they have put in. The ALP/ABC Axis hypocrisy is breathtaking

    • EschersStairs

      Agreed, the Axis of Hypocrisy are found, yet again, to be talking with both sides of their face.

  • Sunray

    Now, if only that well crafted and factual message can make it through Conroy’s bought and paid for FreeTV news filter to the viewers and voters on a regular basis.

  • EschersStairs

    Three cheers for the Speccie on PPL.
    I also recommend you to consider the idea that PPL is a policy response to tax burden in relation to an aging population.

  • Cardinal fang

    If only all politicians were like Tony. Regardless what the issue is, reduce it to a three word slogan. If however the question can’t be avoided reduced to a slogan, nod in a catatonic state and rock back and forth. As or being populist, I’ve yet too see Clive in high vis jacket sloganeering. Your article is nonsense. In the Australian system if a party doesn’t have the numbers in both houses then they have to negotiate. The great John Howard stated that winning an election means a mandate to form government. Well that was when he was in opposition. Of course his statements changed when he became prime minister. So does the unrepresentative swill. When in opposition it is doing the will of the people. When it blocks your agenda up goes the cry for reform.
    Your use of the terms “cynical” “destructive” for Clive Palmer leads to the inevitable question. Are you from another planet? Every day for 4 years Abbot and co got out of bed and told a pack of lies. I suppose because people of your ilk supported them and propagated the fairy tales that you are stuck with them.

    • global city

      ‘Slogan’

  • Chris

    Dear Cardinal fang. Your posturing is nonsense. All news media reduce all policy debates to minimal word slogans. That’s a fact. As columnist Rowan Dean rightly said (recently), politicians on all sides always will (and always did) give plenty of “catatonic” treats to people like yourself. The great John Howard managed to keep the coalition in power and himself *as Prime Minister no less* for how long? And with a total (not just budget) surplus. I wonder how he did that? Why don’t you tell us? And to use your own phrase: “Every day for [6] years [Labor] and co got out of bed and told a pack of lies.” Remember the frenzied and contrived promises of a Federal Labor budget surplus for some 5 years? And they had the majority! In both houses! Finally, “people of my ilk” constituted the majority of Australians in the last Federal election, only helped in part by an electoral preference system. That’s a fact. Not a fairy tale. Perhaps you can tell us why that happened as well?

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