A Slippery Surface
It was an extraordinary final parliamentary sitting week for 2011; the greatest shock being the resignation of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Harry Jenkins.
Being in the other place, I never served ‘under’ Harry but my observance was that he carried out his duties with good grace, humility and a generous dose of humour.
It was apparent that my colleague Christopher Pyne managed to frustrate the Speaker through his unrelenting point scoring against the Labor Party, but it was equally clear that Speaker Jenkins admired and respected Pyne’s tenacity.
This tenacity was on full display as he nominated a long list of Labor lightweights to replace his retired sparring partner – to no avail. The fix was in and Peter Slipper shrugged off his allegiance to his third political party and became an independent MP as Speaker.
To say we were disappointed in a colleague who had received so much personal support over many years is an understatement. I suspect Labor’s short-term political gain may ultimately be a very painful slip-up.
The fix was also in in the Senate. Labor and the Greens combined their numbers to limit debate on dozens of pieces of legislation. The end result was that twenty Bills were passed into law without any debate whatsoever!
And Labor call this open and transparent government.
The action continued in the Senate with Greens leader Bob Brown being referred to the powerful Senate Privileges Committee in respect to a $1.6 million donation and some Greens’ questions related to the business interests of the donor. There is a lot at stake in the outcome of this investigation, not least of all further exposure of the hypocrisy of many within the Australian Greens.
Unfortunately, the Greens are still running the show with a weak and unprincipled Labor Party, led by a weak and unprincipled Prime Minister who refuses to seriously challenge Bob Brown’s authority.
One of the final acts of this parliamentary year was for the Green-Labor government to cancel the three parliamentary sitting days scheduled for this week. These three days would have enabled the Senate to have a full and frank debate about the myriad of legislation forced through without debate by sheer weight of numbers.
Even though these sitting days had been on the calendar for many months, they clashed with the environmental love-in scheduled for Durban in South Africa. We have now learned that the price of democracy is a first class trip to Africa to boast about imposing new taxes (for no environmental effect) on every Australian family. It’s not just the green hierarchy attending though; two football teams of bureaucrats will also be living it up on the taxpayers’ purse.
To what effect we can only guess. We already have a bigger, broader tax on carbon dioxide than any other country. Our tax is scheduled to be enacted just as a history of climate change deception by leading scientists is exposed through damning leaked emails.
Unfortunately, this year’s final parliamentary sitting week has only reinforced the view that under Labor and the Greens, our country is headed in the wrong direction.