When John Howard departed the political scene in 2007, there began an era of instability that has all but destroyed legitimate democracy in Australia.
I am in my 87th year on this planet and I have never witnessed a more shameful Parliament than this one. Sadly, only a few of our Parliamentarians are aware of it. They live in a world of utter unreality, totally divorced from voters who now feel a huge sense of insecurity.
What can we do about it?
Nothing at the moment.
We have to wait for an election and hope that the deadwood in all Parties will be wiped out and replaced by Independents of quality who will force quality debates that will result in fine policy decisions.
Barton and Deakin achieved this with minority governments in the first decade of Federation 120 years ago and passed historic legislation that serves us to this day. They had brains and vision and they were leaders who had people skills. Our current Parliament hasn’t got these attributes and never will.
How did we get into this mess?
Let’s spare a moment or two to take a look at those who have led us since Howard.
The longest serving of them was Julia Gillard and she was by far the best, a superb negotiator one on one. She suffered hugely from being female and the hatred that was generated against her has continued against women to this day. This has been emphasised by the shameful treatment handed out to Julie Bishop in recent days and the constant bullying of women seeking to serve Australia in a male dominated environment.
The worst was Tony Abbott. Totally out of his depth, hugely vindictive and with a frightening brand of ancient religion. He plagues the Parliament and will continue to do so until he is thrown out. Most of the blame for the decadence of Parliament right now rests at his door, but his closed mind won’t let him realise it.
Malcolm Turnbull was a huge disappointment. He sold his soul so he could get enough votes to defeat Abbott and kept selling it in order to stay there. Finally, he had nothing more to sell. But, the manner in which he was assassinated was primitive in the extreme and all who took part in it must hang their heads in shame. They have soiled the Parliament beyond repair.
Kevin Rudd had a supreme ego and an obsession with micro management of the government and the media, plus no capacity whatsoever to make and keep friends. They were fodder to be used. But, he did achieve a few things which leaves him slightly ahead of Abbott, even though his desperate need for revenge was almost on par with Abbott.
So, Morrison has to try to sort out the mess. This is an impossible task as he leads a hugely divided Coalition where relationships have been destroyed to the extent that there are dozens of people in his team seeking revenge against former friends in a wide range of ways for a myriad of alleged sins.
It is vital for Australia that a election happens tomorrow. The poison has to be drained away.
It seems to me that Parliament is driven by ego at every level and it has been fostered by the supreme egos of Rudd, Abbott and Turnbull. Their example has left not one shred of humble service in its wake.
And political nous has almost disappeared. For all his sins, Howard had nous. He could smell trouble miles away. The debacle of this last month would never have happened on his watch.
Can I suggest that everyone in the Parliament buys and reads a splendid book called ‘Team of Rivals’ by Doris Kearns Goodwin? It tells the story of the Presidency of Abraham Lincoln.
He won office by a narrow margin and then filled his Cabinet with his major and most powerful political enemies from his own Party and from all the other Parties. But, each one that he chose had stature and ability. He welded them into a team, drawing out their finest skills and allowing them to get all the praise for their achievements. On the day of his assassination, they stood around his deathbed with genuine tears flowing.
One said, ‘He now belongs to the ages’. And he does.
Could it happen in Australia right now? No. Nevertheless, we need it desperately.
Can I return to our Founding Fathers?
They achieved the Federation of Australian States in just a dozen years despite having to overcome huge parochialism and against devious political enemies. But, they felt a huge sense of calling to make Australia work. They met regularly at the Melbourne Club to agree on the tumultuous legislation needed to create a working nation. They were statesmen and nation builders first, politicians last.
There must be some good people somewhere in our current Parliament who can now step forward and make it happen again.
We will cheer them to the echo if they do.
Yours at Large
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