Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Not Even A Week In Politics

Politics. It has no relation to morals, as Machiavelli once said. Ain’t that the truth.

So this week, and its only Wednesday mind you, we’ve already seen a tsunami (always wanted to say that) of ‘politics’, politicking and political scandal. And that’s not even with Parliament sitting in either Canberra or Brisbane. Both have wrapped up for the year but that hasn’t ended anything.

Number 1 would have to be the Slipper/Ashby affair. No-one has come out of it smelling roses including the likes of former Howard Minister Mal Brough and current Queensland Minister Mark McArdle. But in the end you’d have to say Ashby lost the battle but he did win the war.

As Margot Saville points out here, Justice Rares found the sexual harassment complaint was always vexatious and was made with the sole purpose of discrediting Slipper and bringing him down. “For the predominant purpose of causing a significant public, reputation and political damage to Mr Slipper” in his own words. It certainly achieved that.

But now Ashby’s reputation is also in tatters given his patsy role and he’s been handed a hefty court costs bill. Brough and McArdle have been outed as the brains behind it as well which is quite Machiavellian given Brough has been preselected by the LNP to take on Slipper at the next election. With a choice of those two, expect a massive increase in the amount of donkey votes in the seat of Fisher.

The Government itself does have some ammunition to fire back at the Opposition over the whole sorry ordeal but it’s got to be careful given it appointed Slipper to be Speaker of House in the first place and backed him in numerous motions in Parliament. Its settlement deal with Ashby of $50,000 might also be a source of some embarrassment.

Moving on, next we have Premier Newman’s backflip on the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Now I’m all for the backflip as it will mean life will get just a little bit easier for thousands of Queenslanders living with a disability and their families and carers.

But what a backflip its been. In July, the Premier said categorically that Queensland could not afford the scheme until at least 2014 and he revelled in the faux stoush with the Prime Minister at COAG. And he continued to claim that Queensland just couldn’t afford to contribute to the NDIS and called for the Commonwealth to fund it entirely. He even alluded to it having the potential to make Queensland the “Spain of Australia”.

Come early December though, after a few months of horrendous media coverage as his Government lurched from one crisis to another, all of a sudden the Premier could find some money and Queensland will now contribute nearly $900 million over four years to roll out the NDIS in this State.

So not just a backflip, but a close to $1 billion backflip. And if that sort of money can be found so easily in the face of just a few months of bad polling, imagine what else is sitting under the couch cushions waiting to be retrieved. Me thinks the budget situation and the hysterical talk of ‘debt’ might be a little overstated. But hey, that’s just me.

And finally, we have the Abbott Slush Fund affair. Now many of you probably haven’t heard of this one as it’s struggled to get any traction in the mainstream media. Basically, former Fairfax journalist Margo Kingston nearly spat out her tea when watching Tony Abbott calling for the Prime Minister to come clean on the AWU slush fund issue because she remembers Abbott having some very serious questions raised about his very own involvement in a slush fund controversy.

Margo duly set about writing an article about it all before having all sorts of troubles getting anyone in the mainstream media to publish it. Along came Independent Australia and New Matilda who duly published and now there’s quite a campaign running asking the Australian Electoral Commission why it dropped an early 2000s investigation into Abbott’s conduct around the Australian’s for Honest Politics Slush Fund established to pursue Pauline Hanson for electoral fraud. You know, the case that put her in jail and all that.

The whole saga is better outlined by others here and here. Perhaps though it’s actually a case of some ‘good’ in politics as opposed to the two other examples above. Not from any politician or political party themselves, but from real people and citizen journalists who are working tirelessly to uncover an important issue that goes right to the character of our alternative Prime Minister.

But as I said, its only Wednesday. Who knows what else ‘politics’ will bring us before the week is out.


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