What’s Going On? – Australian Politics

Note: Originally Published June 17th 2017

Australia. The so called ‘lucky’ country. Sure, we are lucky in some aspects, such as the great culture we have, the mateship that makes Australia, well, Australia, and the peace and freedom we have, away from war torn countries and dictatorships. But boy oh boy did we get unlucky when it comes to politicians. I mean, really, it may not seem all that bad in comparison to some other countries (here’s looking at you America). But, in the words of Hamlet (which I honestly never thought I’d actually quote in my out-of-school life), ‘Seems madam? I know not seems.’ Yes, that’s right, Australian politics may seem alright, but in reality, it is one giant mess. Let’s take a look. (Oh, I’m so excited!)

We’ll start with a brief outline of how everything works in the Parliament of Australia. In all it’s simplicity, Parliament consists of the House of Representatives (Lower House) and the Senate (Upper House, and no, not the Senate as in Star Wars). These two levels of government are responsible for decisions made in regards to our nation and its overall welfare. They can be broken down further into a number of parties. There are two main Australian parties, the Liberals, currently in government and currently led by Prime Minister Malcolm Turncoat, sorry, Turnbull, and the Labor Party, currently led by Bill Shorten. The Liberals are also currently in a coalition with the National Party, headed up by Barnaby Joyce. Other parties consist of ones such as Katter’s Australian Party, led by Bob Katter, One Nation, led by Pauline ‘Please Explain’ Hanson, the Nick Xenophon Team, led of course by Nick Xenophon, the Greens, led by Richard Di Natale, and the newly formed Australian Conservatives, led by Cory Bernardi. There are so many more, but we’ll go with these ones for now.

Currently, the Prime Minister of Australia is Malcolm Turnbull. I say currently because of the so titled ‘revolving door’ of Prime Ministers Australia has seen over the years. John Howard was our last Prime Minister who actually held the position for a decent length of time, a few months short of 12 years in office. And then came Kevin Rudd, taking over from Howard in 2007, becoming known as Kevin 07. And this is when the chaos began to rise. Rudd was forced out of power by his own party, his own government in 2010, being replaced by the Australia’s first female Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. Julia brought with her uncertainty about the future of Australian politics, turning on what promises she had previously made in the form of the notorious carbon tax. Julia, like that of her former, was challenged in her position of leadership by none other than the somewhat dissatisfied Kevin Rudd, who wanted another shot at the game. Resulting from this, in 2013, a leadership change occurred within the Labor Party, with Gillard being usurped by Rudd. However, it didn’t last long, as the next election was coming up quite rapidly, and with it, the next partition of the revolving door. The September 2013 election went pretty much as expected, with a Liberal Party led by Tony ‘Stop The Boats’ Abbott taking out the vote in a landslide result, which also led to the imminent departure of Kevin Rudd from Australian Politics, or at least Parliament House. And now to the next part of this somewhat amusing story.

After Abbott took over in late 2013, all he wanted was one thing. Beside his passion for a variety of sports lay another passion. One that enforced a particularly noteworthy policy of his own creation. All Tony ever wanted to do, was stop the boats. He seemed really hung up on this idea, on this spectacular policy of his. Many speeches he gave included that golden phrase: ‘We are going to stop the boats.’ What a phrase, made particularly better when it was spoken by Tony. But, tragically, Tony ran out of time before he could achieve his dream, being back stabbed by a somewhat envious Malcolm Turnbull, or, as many have called him, Malcolm Turncoat. In a leadership challenge that occurred in September 2015, after a failed one just earlier that same year, Abbot and his dream to stop boats were diminished, when the Liberal National coalition made the decision through a vote to install Malcolm Turnbull in the position of Prime Minister in place of Tony Abbott. Julie Bishop also made the big decision to switch sides, joining up with Turnbull so she could gain a promotion of sorts within the government. And so ended the revolving door’s motion, for now at least.

The Labor Party, after the downfall of Kevin Rudd, or should I say the second downfall of Kevin Rudd, made the decision to appoint Bill Shorten as the new opposition leader. And so bringing us to early last year, when an election was called in late April, but not just the standard election everyone would have been expecting. No, Turnbull, in all his confidence and wishing to reinforce his leadership, thinking he could gain even more seats than he already had, called a double dissolution. The first one since 1987. And to go with it, the most ridiculous, extensive election campaign, lasting around eight weeks in total. And by the end of it, the whole of Australia was left bored and tired of hearing the same things repeated over and over for two months. And so it came to be that the election proved what many were thinking would happen. Rather than a significant gain of seats for the Liberals and Turnbull, there was more of a significant loss of seats. This election really couldn’t have gone better for Bill Shorten and his Labor Party, gaining 14 seats in total to bring the tally up to 69 seats for the Labor Party, while the Libs took out 76. A number of other parties also rose up, such as that of the Nick Xenophon team picking up a seat, Katter’s Australian Party also picking one up, and the Greens also picking up their usual one seat. The Senate vote took four weeks to reach an outcome, with the Libs taking out 30 seats (loss of 3), Labor taking out 26 (gain of 1), the Greens taking 9 (loss of 1), One Nation taking out and gaining 4 seats, and the Nick Xenophon Team gaining 2 seats to make it 3 in total. And so began the Parliament that we know today.

Now let’s have a look at the goings-on of Parliament, in particular that of the House of Reps. After the somewhat chaotic election of 2016, Parliament became somewhat of a mess. Although really, for the last decade, it’s been a mess the entire time in all honesty. Nevertheless, Parliament was and still is a mess of sorts. I’ll take a moment here before I go on to just make a small recommendation. If you like great comedy, and you’re looking for a great television show to watch, then have I got the show for you. Parliament Question Time: Tuesdays 2:00pm on the ABC. And if you want more (because they only show an hour of Question Time), you can stream it online. Trust me, it’s great comedy. All politicians that feature are comedians in their own ways. Some notable ones: Barnaby Joyce, the Deputy Prime Minister who does a great impersonation of a tomato. There are three states that you will find Barnaby in when he’s in Parliament: having an afternoon nap, ridiculing other politicians with ridiculous analogies, or laughing so hard that his face becomes a tomato. There was one time, this was mentioned on radio by a caller, he laughed so hard, this guy thought he would have to call emergency services because he thought Barnaby would asphyxiate himself from laughing so much. And then there’s the Manager of Opposition Business, Tony Burke. He gets up from his seat to make a remark, well, attempt to make a remark at least, and usually a ridiculous or humorous one at that, maybe even a snide one taking a swipe at another politician in a subtle sense, and then gets told to ‘resume his seat’ by the speaker, Tony Smith. I feel sorry for Tony Smith, really I do. I really doubt it was in his job description to have to deal with a bunch of children all the time. He’s always giving out warnings, telling people to ‘resume their seats’ and occasionally asking some to leave the room. Even the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader have to be put in line. The government really needs some fixing.

Now we may have to go into a separate article about government policies and money, although I can sum up the money situation right here. Our absolutely brilliant Treasurer, Scott Morrison, has recently stated in this year’s budget, that we are looking at ‘A Better Future’, hoping to be in surplus by 2021. Do we really believe him? Not really. The main reason for my disbelief is that we are currently overdue for a new Prime Minister, and there is a high chance there will be a change, or multiple ones at that, in leadership before 2021.

There’s one more thing I want to touch on before I wrap this one up. That is the man himself, Cory Bernardi. Bernardi has, in recent months, turned the political tables. After being seconded by Malcolm Turnbull last year when he was still a member of the Liberal/National, Party, specifically that of the Libs, he visited the United States, being there to see the chaotic vote that occurred that saw Donald Trump become the 45th President of the United States of America. After seeing what the people of the United States had done, he was, in a sense, inspired, and his return to Australia saw the media rife with rumours that he was preparing to leave the Libs just months after he was re-elected in Adelaide. The rumours were played down for some time, until, on February 7 this year, he made the announcement to the Senate, the Government and to the rest of Australia that he had decided to leave the party. And it was brilliant. Whilst a part of the Libs, Bernardi expressed some controversial viewpoints, such as comments made against same-sex marriage, his opposing of abortion, his expression of doubt of human activities as something that contributes to global warming, his opposing of the safe schools program, and his criticisms of Islam, leading him to express the call for a ban on the burqa being worn in public. Bernardi made a very noteworthy comment when he spoke to the press shortly after announcing his breakaway from the Liberal/National Party to the Senate, stating that all the politicians running the country were living inside the ‘Canberra Bubble’. In essence, this is his way of showing how the people who are running this country are living in their own world, one existing in Canberra, in particular in that of Parliament House itself. Anything that is done or said in this so-termed ‘Bubble’ is typically in favour of the politicians which inhabit and collude within it. These politicians need to recognise that they are not above everyone else, but that they are equal in their humanity to all other individuals who are living within the country of Australia. They need to learn to take into consideration anyone and everyone, and their needs, whether they be financial, sociological, psychological, physiological, humanitarian or whatever else, and meet the requirements of the general public, rather than just their own selves. When they come down to the level of everyone else in the country, away from the multiple properties which many of them own, away from their increasing riches, away from their somewhat easy away-from-work lifestyle, away from the added benefits which they receive, only then will they be able to envisage the right and proper future for Australia. Cory Bernardi has shown us what has not necessarily been recognised by many others. And that it comes directly from a long-standing politician makes it all the more greater in its effect, ensuring the point is highly noteworthy and valid. Bernardi has since begun the endeavour that is the creation of his own party, the Australian Conservatives, which stand, in essence, for common sense. Common sense: something that has been lacking in the political scene for so many years. Bernardi has brought forward a brilliant idea, a spectacular view on the world of politics, particularly of the one which exists in Australia. And, one day in the not-so-distant future, we may see the ultimate demise of the major parties of Australia, and the rise to power of relatively minor parties. We might just see politicians like that of Cory Bernardi, or even Pauline Hanson, attain the currently not-so-coveted role of Prime Minister of Australia.

So I’ll wrap up by saying this. I have seen the mess that constitutes that of the Australian political scene. I know that this disarray of politics needs to be patched up and set right. I strongly believe, in fact I couldn’t agree more, that Cory Bernardi’s idea, his reality of the Canberra Bubble is all too real. I believe in the common sense that Cory Bernardi has released into the world of Australian politics and hope that it allows for the current government, as well as the rest of the politicians who constitute the political scene of Australia, to open their eyes to the rest of the world around them, and to see the diverse range of people who inhabit this nation. I’m sure we will see a number of changes occur within the political scene of Australia in the coming years. My one hope through all of this however, is that politicians will finally be able to realise they are not above everyone else, and that they will be able to finally envisage a better and brighter future for the nation that is Australia.

So there we go, that’s my take on Australian Politics. I know it’s a lengthy one, but I feel that there is a need for these issues to be addressed, and in that I mean properly addressed. I hope that you might have learnt something along the way, and please, I’d love to hear from you on your own opinions on the Australian political scene. So, as always, please leave anything in the comments, in particular your opinions on this topic, and thanks for reading!

JJ

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