An Australian Green senator, Richard Di Natale (Victoria) has spoken of the importance of the smaller party maintaining its identity if it enters coalition. The remarks were made at the New Zealand Greens’ conference in Christchurch (NZ Herald).
Sen. Di Natale spoke of changes to the current Labor Party minority cabinet’s program that his party could claim credit for–putting a price on pollution, a new $10 billion investment in renewable energy, and free dental care for children–but also of the fear of the credit not being noted. “The key issue is knowing when not to compromise,” Dr Di Natale said. Moreover,
Maintaining your identity when there is a perception that you are part of the government is a huge challenge.
Such are the perils for small parties. However, based on polling in the run-up to this year’s Australian election, claiming credit for policy seems like the least of the Greens’ current concerns. Rather, they need to be more worried about keeping enough senators after the coming debacle for Labor to protect the few policy gains they’ve managed since 2010.
Tasmania has a legislative council election today. There is no general election for all 15 MLCs. 2 or 3 MLCs are elected from uninominal districts for 6 year terms each year. A large majority are independents.
The backwash from the Gillard frolic continues. The opposition has put a motion of no confidence on notice for the budget meeting of the parliament in May. This motion will not require a suspension of standing orders and therefore will not need an absolute majority.
I’d be astounded, (but as we all know I’ve been astounded before) if the government tried to prevent a debate on this motion. They are unlikely to have the numbers in the house to vote against debating the motion, which means if they really do not want to have the motion debated there is always the possibility of seeking a prorogation. Prorogation would be dangerous because it would terminate the budget debate and the government needs to pass the budget before 30 July.
I hope the governor-general would reject that advice, but at least it would be a test case for whether the governor-general is a benign mentor or a mechanical idiot so at least the cause of political science will advance.
In the wake of Thursday’s chaos a number of senior ministers have resigned. They have been replaced by relative unknowns whoa re thought to be deeply loyal to Julia Gillard. The government’s electoral standings continue to decline. In today’s Newspoll the 2PP is 58/42 to the Coalition.
While there is no truth at all to DC’s dastardly assertion that all Australian MPs are golpistas, Simon Crean, senior minister and a former opposition leader, has called on Julia Gillard to resign the prime leadership. I’d be astounded if there is not a change, and then presumably there will be a caretaker government while the new leader tries to form a government.
The Northern Territory has a new chief minister. That is perhaps not notable enough for fructovotantes except that Giles is Austraia’s first indigenous head of government and for the manner in which he deposed his predecessor. Terry Mills was replaced as leader of the Country Liberal Party, and therefore as chief minister, while attending a trade mission in Japan. Presumably he phoned in his resignation to the Administrator of the Territory.
That makes two head of government removals on the Coalition side in a fortnight.
A Victorian Coalition MP (who is under investigation for misuse of parliamentary resources) has resigned from the Liberal parliamentary party. The numbers in the legislative assembly are now Coalition 44, Labor 43, Independent 1. There is a by-election for the seat of Lyndhurst on 27 April.
Victoria has a fixed term parliament and it is absolutely unclear which way the new independent will vote should Labor win the by-election. It is also absolutely unclear if the resigned MP will be able to remain in parliament after the investigation is concluded.
It really seems to me that if the assembly is where the government is formed, there need to be an odd number of members.
Julia Gillard just announced a federal election for 14 September. This raises a number of slightly troubling issues, not least the religious significance of the day for Australian Jews. She will ask the governor-general later today, to agree to issue writs for the September date. I’d be surprised if the governor-general does not at least state that she retains power to appoint a different prime minister in appropriate circumstances and to accept different advice on the election date. While there are precedents from Queensland and New Zealand for very long pre-election announcements, they were both by governments with a parliamentary majority in their own right.
I imagine a prime minister being “rolled” over foreign policy issues is not common, especially when the issue is nothing more than how to vote on a symbolic United Nations General Assembly resolution. But such is the precariousness of both Julia Gillard’s grip on her party and the Israeli government’s diplomatic strategy that this is exactly what happened earlier this week.
The Australian government had planned to vote against the resolution to upgrade the status of the “nonmember state” of “Palestine” at the UN. However, Gillard’s Labor Party cabinet members forced her to change Australia’s position to abstain.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Bob Carr, who met Ms Gillard before cabinet, drove the push to oppose the Prime Minister…
Ms Gillard had wanted to vote no while the Left faction, which is pro-Palestinian, wanted to vote for the resolution.
The Right faction, which would usually support Ms Gillard, backed an abstention, in part due to the views of its members that the government was too pro-Israel, and also because many MPs in western Sydney, who are already fearful of losing their seats, are coming under pressure from constituents with a Middle East background.
I might note that we Jews, too, have a Middle East background,1 but presumably the SMH means Australian citizens from Arab or other Muslim countries. There just aren’t enough Jews in swing districts, apparently.2
One source said Ms Gillard was told the cabinet would support whatever final decision she took because it was bound to support the leader but the same could not be said of the caucus.
“If you want to do it, the cabinet will back you but the caucus won’t,” a source quoted one minister as telling the Prime Minister.
Meanwhile, the German government has also announced it will abstain. When you lose Australia and Germany, even only to abstention on something symbolic, it may be a signal that your diplomatic strategy is lacking.
Former Israeli PM Ehud Olmert has said he would support the Palestinian Authority’s UN gambit.
The “resistance”, so to speak, of the Palestinian organizations and their sympathizers abroad to recognize this basic fact is at the very core of the conflict. [↩]
And I do not know the views of the Australian Jewish population, but I assume its organizations would favor a no vote on the UN resolution. [↩]
Apparently Julia Gillard’s speech on the motion to the dismiss Peter Skipper as speaker is getting considerable play for its forthright qualities, so I thought it could be worth giving some background.
John Gillard, the prime minister’s father, died recently. Alan Jones, a Sydney shock jock, told as Liberal party fundraiser that John Gillard had died of shame over his daughter’s lies. The public backlash to the remark, once it was published has been, to say the least, considerable and the Opposition has been somewhat on the back foot.
Last year Gillard arranged the resignation of the Labor speaker and the election of Peter Slipper, then a Coalition MHR, to that office. Shortly after Slipper’s election one of his staffers, James Ashby, started an action against Slipper in the Federal Court for sexual harassment. The Commonwealth was a co-defendant to the action and this week settled with Ashby for $50 000. New evidence filed by Ashby in the proceedings was released this week. It included a text message by Slipper making dismissive references to female genitalia. If you are desperate for the actual text message I’d invite you to read the court file.
The Opposition then moved the House to dismiss Slipper from the speakership on grounds of his misogyny as shown by the court evidence. That motion failed in the House. The Gillard speech was delivered in opposition to the motion. Slipper resigned as speaker shortly after the defeat of the dismissal motion. Abbot probably did not much help his motion by saying that the government should have died of shame and tying himself neatly into the Jones imbroglio. It’s now been revealed that 2 independent MHRs, Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott, had advised Slipper, before the dismissal debate, that his position was untenable. Windsor and Oakeshott opposed the dismissal motion.
So, yes, it it was a powerful speech and perhaps it is worthy of emulation as a way of answering whispering campaigns. However it was also given in defence of a speaker who had clearly shown himself to be at least as misogynous as Tony Abbot, the actual target of the speech.
After the disastrous Slipper appointment the numbers in the House have altered somewhat in the Opposition’s favour. The new Speaker, Anna Burke, is a Labor MHR so the government is down 1 because the speaker cannot vote except on a tie. The number if independents has increased by 2 since the general election. Slipper is one. The second is Craig Thompson, an ALP MHR mired in a union corruption scandal who has been suspended from the ALP. Neither Slipper nor Thompson has a serious prospect of retaining their seats at the next election.
The prospect of an actual change of government is limited because the term is running down and for various unbearably complicated reasons the window for an early general election is closing quite rapidly.
Oh, and the former prime minster, Kevin Rudd, has been raising his public profile recently.
The Australian Capital Territory, which possibly has the worst acronym in the known universe, (the ‘ACT Electoral Act’ is an example that springs to mind) is having a general election on 20 October. There are 2 districts with magnitude 5 and one with magnitude 7. The electoral system is Hare-Clark STV.
The form of government is not Westminster. The legislative assembly elects and dismisses the chief minister directly.
I know I thought this about the Northern Territory and I was wrong, but this may end the 2 year run of unbroken Labor electoral losses.
And now that we know all about this minuscule election, the subject of capital districts is so chaotic that Wikipedia does not even manage a unified page on the topic.
The Northern Territory of Australia goes to the polls this Saturday. 25 MLAs are to be elected from SMCs by majority preferential voting. There is no second chamber. The numbers in the old parliament were 12 ALP, 12 CLP and 1 independent.
Because the territory is remote and thinly populated there is usually very limited polling. What we have suggests the Henderson labor government may actually be returned to office, which would be a first for Labor governments in some years.
There is a by-election today for the seat of Melbourne in the Victorian legislative assembly. State by-elections are normally not that significant.
However, the Victorian Liberal government only has a majority of 1 in the assembly (not counting the speaker) and the ALP opposition really needs to hold this seat. The state seat overlaps the federal seat which is already held by the Greens. The ruling Liberals have not presented a candidate. The by-election has become somewhat of a proxy for Julia Gillard’s leadership and for a recent campaign by some ALP elements against the Greens.
Queensland is electing a new legislative assembly today. The assembly is 89 MLAs, all elected from single-member districts. The sitting ALP government is expected to be slaughtered. In an unusual move the opposition LNP is running a candidate for premier who is not a sitting MLA.
If by my laws you walk, and my commands you keep, and observe them,
then I will give-forth your rains in their set-time,
so that the earth gives-forth its yield
and the trees of the field give-forth their fruit.
--Vayikra 26: 3-4