Tagged with Alexander Downer

The Coalition implosion

From Wikipedia:

Implosion is a process in which objects are destroyed by collapsing in on themselves. The opposite of explosion, implosion concentrates matter and energy. An example of implosion is a submarine being crushed from the outside by the hydrostatic pressure of the surrounding water.

Or a conservative government reeling from a disastrous electoral loss.

The Liberal and National parties are both looking for new leaders after the election, after Vaile resigned and leader-in-waiting Costello refused to accept the job. Costello is pathetic — it makes his taunting of Kim Beazley over “ticker” look all the more insipid. At least Beazley had the courage to step up when his party needed him (in 1996, after Keating was defeated). Now, after coveting the Liberal leadership for years (but never having the balls to challenge) Costello says he doesn’t want it. All tip and no iceberg, indeed.

Next we’ll have a series of former Ministers quitting their seats — Costello, Downer and Ruddock are not going to hang around on the opposition back benches; they’ll take their bat and ball and go home as soon as it’s decent (three months, citing the need to spend more time with family, or illness, or whatever excuse they can cobble to cover their ignominy). Probably one or two others will go with them — we’ll have to wait and see who’s been able to secure a suitably comfortable Board appointment or consultancy over the Christmas holidays. Possibly a few lower-house seats will change hands at by-elections.

So who will lead the two conservative parties? Barnaby Joyce says he’ll accept the leadership of the Nationals, but it would be a break from convention for a Senator to lead a party that holds seats in the Reps. Joyce would be a good leader and would thoroughly reinvent the cow cockies’ party — he’d probably also destroy the Coalition. So they should definitely go with him. But they won’t — Peter McGauran and Warren Truss will share the leader/deputy roles between them, just you wait and see. Yawn…

The Liberals are really scraping the bottom of the (very shallow) barrel with Turnbull, Abbott and Nelson, with Robb and Pyne angling for the second-banana role. Paul Keating offered a very considered analysis of the merits of the various contenders yesterday on The World Today:

ELEANOR HALL: So who should lead the Liberals at this point?

PAUL KEATING: Well I don’t know who should lead the Liberals, but I mean, I know who I wouldn’t be going for. If they take Tony Abbott they’re just going to go back down hill to wherever they’ve been. He’s the one most like Howard ideologically, you know, the last, he’s what I call a young fogey. Howard was the old fogey. He’s the young fogey.

Brendan Nelson – well I liked him more when he had the ring in his ear, actually.

ELEANOR HALL: Malcolm Turnbull?

PAUL KEATING: Oh Malcolm – Malcolm is a bit like, I did that cracker night speech years ago about the big red bunger. You’d go and light it up and you’d stand back for the big explosion. I fancy Malcolm is like the big red bunger. You’re lighting up, there’s a bit of a fizz, but then nothing, nothing.

ELEANOR HALL: What about Julie Bishop then?

PAUL KEATING: Well, I think, I don’t know her but if I was voting this very second I’d probably give it to her because I like women. I always reckon they’re battling in public life, and anyone who can break through, like Julia has, you know.

You look at the girls in the Labor Caucus, I always barrack for them, the whole lot to them – Susan Ryan, Ros Kelly, I got them into the ministry, every one of them.

Obviously I’m hoping for the dream team of Abbott and Pyne — but maybe that’s just my schadenfreude addiction speaking. They’ll probably go for Malcolm Turnbull as leader and, if she declares an interest, Julie Bishop as deputy.

Obviously either Turnbull or Nelson would drag the party back towards the left, back towards that distant place where they lost their soul, while Abbott, Pyne, Bishop and Robb will steadfastly keep them at the right, where they have been repudiated and face years in opposition from coast to coast (not counting the Brisbane City Council, now the most powerful elected Liberals in the country).

Still no final results for the Senate, but the hopes of a Green resurgence are clearly dashed. The Greens will go from four senators to five or maybe six, not enough to hold the balance of power in their own right. The worst news of the election is the loss of Kerry Nettle from the Senate — probably the most talented and brightest Green we had. If the Senate is really going to be hostile, we’ll probably have a double dissolution within three years, which will be good for the Greens.

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To the black heart of our democracy

Both Brent and I are going to Canberra later today for the annual conference of the Australasian Society of HIV Medicine. We’ll be in Canberra until Saturday night and, as these events tend to sap the very life force out of your humble scribe, I doubt I’ll have the energy or time to post much if at all during that period.

I am hoping to find time to nip off and have a wander through the NGA or the National Museum (which I’ve never seen) but the program looks pretty full from touchdown to departure, and of course Canberra in September isn’t somewhere one lingers any longer than duty requires.

With Parliament having been prorogued for the election, the national capital will, at least, be mercifully devoid of politicians, although I note that both Tony Abbott and Alexander Downer are on the program for the opening ceremony of the conference. I won’t be too disappointed if it turns out they’ve withdrawn at the last minute due to campaign commitments – there’s no more reason for them to be wandering the windswept streets of City Hill than me.

The pollie they should have booked is the always-entertaining Trish Worth, who is in the news this week, causing a stir with some really stupid remarks comparing asylum seekers to animals:

Ms Worth told hecklers at the forum, organised by Justice for Refugees, that there were “some very practical reasons” for mandatory detention.

“I mean, if you bring a dog into this country, or a cat from some countries, they … look can you just hear me out? There are certain tests to be carried out, there are health checks,” she said. [SMH]

Worth, who holds one of the most marginal Liberal seats in the country (not for much longer, I suspect) reckons she’s been taken out of context and that she didn’t really mean to compare refugees to mangy dogs as such. The PM has (surprise surprise) stood by her.

Several refugee groups have also come to her defence, pointing out that Ms Worth is one of the more compassionate members of the government when it comes to asylum seekers.

She’s not a bad person, just an exceptionally stupid one. And she’s not alone among our legislators in wearing that mantle. Alas.

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