Saturday, August 28, 2010

This All Happened Before.

Senator Steve Fielding has threatened to block supply in the Senate if Labor wins government. This means he would vote against any money bills in the Senate. Since the Senators we elected last Saturday don't take office until July 1 next year, he'll still be there long enough to block next year's Budget. The government — and I mean the entire federal public service here, not just the governing party — cannot operate if the Budget doesn't make it through Parliament, and the only option if it's clear that a necessary money bill won't make it through the Senate is for the Governor General to fire the lot of them and call an early election.

Seem a bit familiar? It's pretty much what happened in 1975, when Labor controlled the lower house and the coalition had the Senate majority. The Libs had had the Senate since Labor was elected, but they finally decided they didn't like the way PM Gough Whitlam was running things, and refused to let a crucial money bill through. The resulting election gave a huge victory to the Liberals.

What galls me the most is Fielding's excuse for this threat. He thinks the election result means we don't want Labor in power any more. Why he thinks it means we want the coalition, who got fewer primary votes and failed just as completely as Labor did to win a majority, is confusing at best. But do you know which party lost 100% of its seats in Parliament as of this election? Oh wait, that would be Fielding's conservativer-than-thou Family First party. Last I looked, a lot more people wanted Labor governing them than wanted nutjobs like Fielding holding any sort of power. It's not like we didn't have the opportunity; FF fielded candidates in every seat as far as I know. We'd have elected them if we wanted them. The bastard's just bitter he didn't get re-elected (although we all knew he only got there in the first place on a preference deal that backfired) and this is his one last effort to cause trouble before we're rid of him.

Maybe this gives us an opportunity. I don't consider it at all probable, but hear (well, read) me out. Fielding holds the Senate balance of power along with the Greens and Nick Xenophon. If the rest of the crossbenchers made the same promise as regards a Coalition government as Fielding made as regards a Labor one, we'd be certain of going back to the polls within a year. Maybe before Christmas. Maybe the major parties would like a second chance at getting a majority, but the backlash from calling another election would hurt whichever party won government this time around and had its supply bills blocked. Is it too much to hope that the major parties could actually work together, like the colleagues they're supposed to be, rather than continue to be bitter rivals who've forgotten what they're fighting over?

Sigh. Of course it is.

Update: the coalition has acted to neuter Fielding's threat. They will not block supply in the Senate if Labor gets in. Finally they're doing something right. Of course, I'm sure this is mainly because they don't feel like they'd win the ensuing election rather than out of a spirit of coöperation, but I don't care so much so long as it robs Fielding of his power and gives us a more stable government.

No comments:

Post a Comment