Flat White

Don’t panic, don’t panic!

20 November 2017

4:31 PM

20 November 2017

4:31 PM

If Malcolm Turnbull was a character from Dad’s Army he’d surely be that old smoothie, Sergeant Wilson. He’d consider proceedings a little below him; a little humdrum. And, if the balloon did go up, the last thing you’d expected him to do is lose his head. Or so we would have said once upon a time.

The truth be told, Malcolm Turnbull never fails to disappoint.

And disappoint he has once again with his decision to rearrange the parliamentary calendar.

He sent out that youngster Pike — sorry, Pyne — with the news this morning. His statement read:

The Australian people expect their Parliament to respect the clear mandate of the marriage survey and legislate for marriage equality before the end of the year.

We also need to ensure both the House and the Senate do all they can to resolve the citizenship issue. That is the commitment we have made and that is what the Australian people expect.

The Senate has set a timeline that means it is unlikely to finish debating the marriage equality bill until 30 November.

On that basis, and as the House is not currently sitting, the Prime Minister and I have consulted the Speaker and asked that he set an alternative day for the next meeting of the House, in accordance with the Standing Orders.

The House will resume on December 4 at 10am, not November 27, and will sit until marriage equality is law and all citizenship issues have been dealt with by the House [his emphasis].

No doubt — as the bolding suggested —  this was supposed to make the PM look decisive. As if he was dealing with the big issues.

Instead, with the parliament two government members down, short of a majority and with a Speaker constrained from bailing out his own side under most circumstances by the standing orders, it looks like panic.

Panic and incompetence because even if Barnaby Joyce romps home at the New England by-election on December 2, he won’t be able to suddenly appear on the floor of the House of Representatives, deus ex machina-like, because of the formal mechanics of the process.

So much pain for no conceivable gain.

Old smoothie or silly old duffer?

Illustration: BBC Television/YouTube.

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