Oz Blog News Commentary

Quality control

March 3, 2016 - 23:54 -- Admin

Australia has a two-party system, where the Labor Party and an established Coalition of parties contend to form government. Each of these parties (the Liberals in particular as the lead party in the Coalition) have a responsibility to choose candidates worthy of the responsibilities of government. It's easy to pick out examples where you don't like an MP and use that as an example of systematic failure, but the Coalition as the incumbent government have work to do in vetting candidates and drawing a line under unacceptable behaviour.A need for interventionMal Brough helped the Coalition get rid of Peter Slipper, thus helping to hasten the end of the last Labor government. After all that effort it might have seemed unfair to exclude him from preselection for Fisher in 2013, but revolutions eat their own and the LNP should have waited until police processes had been exhausted. The reasons why he has chosen not to recontest in 2016 are the same as those for which a functioning party should have vetted him out of contention. Looking at the LNP cohort in Federal Parliament, none of them are much chop. There are 22 LNP Members of the House of Reps (Queensland has 30 overall) and six Senators (of 12). Only Karen Andrews has a future. Six - Warren Truss, Bruce Scott, Warren Entsch, Teresa Gambaro, Ian Macfarlane, and now Brough — are waiting out their time. Stuart Robert will probably be a shadow minister next time the Coalition go back into Opposition. Brandis and Ciobo are floundering out of their depth. Dutton will probably lose his seat in a swing big enough to carry Labor into office, especially if he devotes too much time on punishing little injured children. Canavan is another culture warrior low on ammunition. Jane Prentice would make a perfectly nice Minister but the dolts will barge ahead of her. The LNP have done a lousy job in talent selection, but then again they probably don't have much choice. Now that the central premise of the LNP - presenting a united front at state level - has been revealed as a hollow joke, they have an obligation to put their best people forward (Joanna Lindgren? Really?). The very prospect of Newman’s ninnies slouching toward Canberra should fill everyone, Queenslanders or not, with disgust. It isn’t appalling, it isn’t funny, it’s just a disgrace from a state that is finally getting off its knees: every other party has managed to find some talent (except Clive, and he’s proving my point). Nobody with any other options wants to be a LNP MP, and it’s sad for the LNP that they have worked themselves into that position. Leaking submarinesGreg Sheridan lied when he denied receiving the leaked National Security Committee papers from Abbott about the submarines. Nobody in any position of authority should have commented on it; Abbott tipped his hand when he did so. Defence Minister Payne was the real target here: a factional opponent of Abbott’s from NSW, Abbott is trying to perpetuate Kevin Andrews’ laughable claim that removing him from the portfolio was a risk to national security. He hasn’t just missed the target (one does not simply wound Marise Payne and flit away), he’s made himself the issue.You just can’t go around leaking top secret documents and be a credible government. If you’re a party of government, you can’t put someone who does that into your parliamentary team. There are some issues that are bigger than faction or party: this is one of them. The Chief of the Defence Force and the Secretary of the Defence Department were right to negate the substance of the issue. Those guys do not mess around and nobody messes with them. The press gallery cannot simply report this as he-said-he-said argy-bargy any more.J’accuse Tony Abbott of leaking that material, but I recognise that finer minds and keener students of Canberra skullduggery are on this case. If my suspicions are confirmed, the NSW Liberals have no real choice but to disendorse Tony Abbott as a candidate. I don’t care that he doesn’t have another job to go to, or that Curl Curl is full of dickheads who love him. No party of government could tolerate someone who tools around with top secret material. In the 2007 election it was easy to follow the easy line that Rudd was cruising to victory, but real aficionados of politics were following closely Tony Abbott’s careening efforts in helping marginal-seat Liberals get unemployed. Abbott is doing that again, but instead of Tasmanian hospitals he has crossed the line into national security issues. The Liberals have to get rid of him.If you thought Trent Zimmerman was tough standing against homophobia, wait until he has to take on the baddest homophobic, sexist, top-secret-leaking, don’t-give-a-damn bully of them all, in his capacity as NSW President of the Liberal Party. And take Abbott on, Zimmerman must - for the sake of party and nation.Zimmerman and Payne are mates. Any other NSW Liberal who pulled something like that - any of these losers, for example - would already be toast by now. If the Liberal Party is to have any credibility at all, it cannot tolerate someone who leaks national security documents for a cheap headline (and headlines don’t come any cheaper than Sheridan’s). The legal powers that the AFP and Defence have in investigating Sheridan and related parties are the very ones passed by the Abbott government, which caused an outcry at the time from journalists - real journalists, that is. Actual investigative journalists warned it would be used against journalists and journalism. Press gallery didn’t speak out on this issue in any meaningful way - they tend to be really bad at reporting legislation and debates and actual core business of parliament, and anyone who stood up for journalists and journalism would have their access limited. Now that legislation is demonstrably being deployed against a journalist, they have nothing to say about that either. Turnbull is convinced he can ladle out another dollop of smarm and calm the waters: this might work on anyone but Abbott. At Goldman Sachs, Turnbull could sic the lawyers onto a recalcitrant employee, but the Liberal Party doesn’t work that way. He needs a combination of toughness and deftness that he probably doesn’t have. The press gallery think this is about Turnbull vs Abbott, but it isn’t. It’s about the success or failure of the quality control systems that make representative democracy possible. The press gallery and those who employ them are part of those systems, and they’re quite simply fucked. Labor have played this impeccably (imagine if they hadn’t. Imagine some ragged old lefty had spoken out against the very construct of “national security”), but can they be trusted to go on? Now it is time for the Liberals to wake up to themselves. If you want a reputation for targeting threats to national security, never mind kicking down the door of some young loudmouth in Punchbowl: start closer to home.