Is there a Federal Opposition in Australia?
June 29th, 2009 · Greg Atkinson · 17 Comments
We all know the theory of how our Westminster flavoured form of democracy is suppose to work. We the people vote, the votes are counted and we end up with one of the two main political groups running the country. To make sure the group that wins the election and forms government does not get out of control, the losing side is suppose to keep an eye on things and be ready to take over if the people decide to make a change at the next election. But clearly things are not working that way in Australia at the moment.
I am not very impressed with the way the Rudd Government is managing the country but sadly it is starting to look like there is no alternative. The Federal Opposition is in complete disarray and Malcolm Turnbull is as popular with the people as flies are at a BBQ. What is even more frightening is that Joe Hockey is even considered leadership material and this just shows how shallow the Coalition’s talent pool is these days. Would anyone seriously put Joe Hockey in the Lodge?
Malcolm Turnbull is without doubt a smart and talented chap but he does seem to be fearless to the point of just being reckless. He pushed his luck too far going after Kevin Rudd over “utegate” and has now effectively diminished the Opposition’s ability keep the Rudd Government in check.
I did my best to ignore all the fuss regarding if Kevin Rudd and Wayne Swan tried to do a mate a favour. Of course they did in some shape or form, but what exactly is so surprising about that? Both major political parties rake in millions of dollars in donations from individuals, interest groups, companies, unions and even foreign multi-millionaires like Lord Ashcroft. Does anyone seriously think that most of this donation money is handed over because the donors are simply generous?
The truth is that a large political donation buys access to either a politician or a political party. There are even fund raising dinners where if you pay more you can sit at the same table as a prominent politician. I would call this selling access to a politician (who is a publicly paid official) but I am sure the major political parties would call it something else.
In theory we all have access to our political leaders but the chances are if you write a letter to a Government Minister you will get a form letter reply from one of his staff with the Minister probably unlikely to pay much attention to your views or concerns. However if you had provided say a ten thousand dollar donation to help that Minister win his/her local electorate then I am guessing you would get little more attention.
So a car dealer lent Rudd a vehicle to use during his election campaign and in return this dealer might have got some extra attention when he was looking for some Government assistance..so what? If the Federal Opposition wanted to take the high moral ground then they should have also presented a bill to overhaul the way political donations are handled.
Instead we have had Malcolm Turnbull lead the Opposition on a witch hunt that achieved absolutely nothing except that a public servant was used and hung out to dry. (oh and a lot of time was wasted by the Federal Police and undoubtedly a lot of other public servants as well)
Have we had a rigorous debate about wasteful Government spending lately? No. Has the Opposition clearly conveyed some alternative policies in the last few weeks? No. Has the Opposition being doing a good job of being in Opposition? No. So if they cannot even manage being out of government properly then why do they expect anyone will ever vote them back into power again?
I do feel Malcom Turnbull would be a good leader and Prime Minister but he needs to learn when to attack and when to bide his time. He reportedly gave Brenden Nelson a hard time for being too weak when Nelson took over the leadership of the Coalition in 2007, but now that Malcolm’s approval rating is lower than Nelson’s was it seems like some bad karma catching up with Mal.
Sometimes it is good to be tough, but sometimes it just means you are on an ego trip and I think Turnbull has let his ego get the better of him recently.
You might be wondering what has any of this got to with with the stock market or the economy? The answer is everything, because both the Government and The Opposition need to function properly for the economy to be well managed.
We need the Government to be held accountable for how they spend our money, we need Government forecasts challenged and most importantly we need to have a viable alternative to the current Government at the next election so we do actually have a choice when we cast our vote.
If the Rudd Government is returned at the next election simply because the Coalition cannot sort themselves out then this would be a major blow to democracy in Australia. It is bad enough that we have so little choice to start off with but to essentially have no choice at all would be a tragedy for the nation.
Finally here is a classic clip from the classic movie “This is Spinal Tap” which pretty much sums up how Federal Opposition is performing at the moment. At least Spinal Tap eventually made it to the stage…I wonder if Malcolm and his gang will ever make it. Enjoy!