Cartoon: By Bill Leak.
Leading a minority government is an art form, requiring the ability to form an alliance of disparate groups, giving them enough to guarantee their support, but not enough to subvert your own agenda. When the other parties it is mooted with are reasonable, there is a chance of success. It is also necessary to secure a decent working margin.
Gillard had failed on both counts. In her negotiations, she not only had to make a deal with the extremist Greens, but also a group of obsessive independents who are unable to see beyond their personal obsessions towards the bigger picture. To compound this, at the end of the process, she ended with a fragile majority of one. This brings us to the Thompson affair.
Craig Thompson, a Labor member, is chairman of parliament's economics committee. After revelations that his union credit card was used to pay for prostitutes, engagement of escorts, and substantial cash advances, he sued, had to drop the case and borrow between $90 – 150,000 from the Labor Party to meet his legal bills.
He has claimed that someone else used his card and $15,000 was repaid by someone else in relation to this. It has now been revealed that the money referred to, has nothing to do with the money paid was nothing to do with this transaction. Meanwhile his claims have been further undermined with revelations that the signature was his, his mobile phone was used to do the booking, and his driver’s license was used as verification. Here is Barnaby Joyce on this:
Gillard faces two choices. She do the principled thing and sack him from his committee, relegate him to the back benches and prepare to sack him. It seems though that she will do the second, which is to tie the party to Thompson until the situation becomes untenable. At that point she loses her majority and goes to election with the carcass of Thompson strapped to her leg.
Given that any election is likely to result in a situation where the Greens hold the balance of power in the Senate, thus making the country effectively ungovernable, she needs to do a deal with the Liberals. In such a deal, rather than just go to an election, a double dissolution should be the aim. In such a deal, the two parties need to swap preferences ahead of the Greens, in order to marginalize them.
Much of the current trouble was caused by both parties preferencing the Greens, which resulted in them getting a disparate representation in the Senate. Labor is screwed regardless of what it does. It would be a far, far better thing to do, to create the situation where the nation may rid itself of obsessive’s and move on toa brighter future.
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