So, Australia hasn’t had a proper government for around three years. The Abbott experiment was a mad scrum of throwback ideas, awkward doorstops and daily outrage followed by months of inaction.
The start of the Turnbull experiment was a melee of ideas, broad smiles and a collective sigh of relief that we finally had a prime minister who spoke in complete sentences and didn’t walk like Donald Duck.
But as it turned out, a prime minister who spoke in complete sentences was too much to hope for too. Fasttrack to a year later and we still have a prime minister who speaks in three word slogans and looks like a ghost of his former self but with a manic grin on his face. Meanwhile Prime Minister meekly submits to the schoolyard bullies and nothing gets done; nobody is obviously in charge and the government limps on. At least I think it does – no-one is paying attention.
But it’s got me thinking. Do we need government at all? Maybe we are a self-governing society. People are still going to cafes, going to the beach, going to work and getting paid. They are still getting married, going to the doctor, going to school and catching up with friends. They are going on diets, they are exercising, they are planning holidays and continuing to ignore politics. Life is going on as normal.
In Belgium a few years ago a hung parliament meant that a caretaker government with very limited powers was put in charge for nearly 18 months. And exactly the same thing happened. Life went on! Who knows, maybe it was better with fewer politicians. I do realise Australia has a majority government, but in a way it is similar to a hung parliament – we have a gridlocked agenda and a parliament not able to make decisions.
So, here’s my solution – a plebiscite question as follows: Does Australia need a government? Yes/No.
And … make the result binding, please.
The Coalition has had a the parliamentary equivalent of a truck wreck in the M5 tunnel this week. Even Tony has lost a little of his lopsided smirk, although he still has a mad glint in the eyes. Joe the Whinger looks even more sulky than normal, Georgie B has stopped talking and Malcolm in the Middle is looking like he just ate something indigestible, causing him to regurgitate the words “efficiency dividend”.
Even the Coalition’s best friends, Bolt, Jones and Janet are turning on them, which has got to have even the most deluded ministers choking on their genetically modified Wheaties in the morning.
Thank goodness they appointed one woman to the inner cabinet. Seemingly the only half-competent minister (mind you swanning around the world in designer outfits ain’t so hard), Julie B. is out campaigning in a state election that will give many Victorians a mini opportunity to give the Federal government a piece of their mind. And possibly a piece of their finger too.
It’s hard to imagine a government could be so incompetent, especially a no-surprises, no-excuses, grown up government like we were promised. It’s also hard to imagine they are going to be able to vacuum up any policy “barnacles” off HMAS Abbott before the Christmas break.
Higher education is looking like it’s school’s out. Imagine negotiating with a newly-liberated Lambie on that, while the Defence Forces pay issue still languishes. As for GP co-payments, the on again off again lovechild of Joe and Mathias is still bobbing around and Tony just doesn’t seem to have the ticker to kill it off good and proper. As for Tony’s own lovechild, the paid parental scheme for rich people, he just can’t admit defeat, let alone poor policy. Let alone poor policy on the run without cabinet consultation. Let alone poor policy on the run without cabinet consultation because the country can’t afford it due to the budget crisis.
So, the Coalition Christmas break is likely to be very bleak indeed. Especially at Casa’s Turnball, Hockey and anyone with the titles Backbencher after their name. Scrooge has come early to the Coalition this year and, just like mum and dad always said, Santa doesn’t give presents to bad children and some of those Coalition kids have been very very bad this year.