Modia Minotaur

Trawling the airwaves to spare you the agony!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Now For The Bleak Midwinter

Federal Parliament has now risen for the mid-winter recess, and I'm willing to bet that the man in charge is going to require a good few cups of tea to recover. One sure sign of Howard getting the willies about something is that he dons the invisibility cloak. Other than an interview on Today (I won't link it, it's all that's wrong with Aussie television) and some truly agonising footage of him watching the World Cup in his favourite green-and-gold tracky dacks, Howard hasn't been very vocal or visible. Perhaps he was too busy in the party room, rushing to put a lid on the dissident MPs who still refuse to accept a revised Offshore Asylum Seekers Bill, which is entirely contrary to the deal negotiated by these same MPs less than a year ago. As it happens, consensus was not reached, and it appears that Howard will either go to his planned meeting with Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono empty handed or cancel the visit altogether. Meanwhile, Barnaby Joyce was up to his old tricks, and unlike his vile claim that giving the cervical cancer vaccine to twelve year olds was effectively encouraging promiscuity in pubescent girls, this is one issue on which he and I agree.

Meanwhile, Nick Minchin was speaking out in pretty frank and arrogant terms about the government's plans to change the Senate committee structure, which it could (and apparently should) because the government has the numbers. There was nothing said about what will happen once the Coalition no longer have the numbers, nor any good reason given for dismantling what some have described one of Australia's (if not the world's) best democratic instruments. It's also the instrument which uncovered such inconvenient truths as the Children Overboard scandal, the Stolen Generations, as well as made strong recommendations against the adoption of the above bill on asylum seekers.

This is just the latest of Minchin's anti-democratic initiatives, another of which largely went under the radar (Alan Ramsey has belatedly noted it today) and which I intended to have a good spray about on my blog when it was passed - the Electoral and Referendum Amendment (Electoral Integrity and Other Measures) Bill. Well, if you think `electoral integrity' involves such things as allowing large corporations and wealthy individuals to donate more to political parties (of any stripe) without scrutiny, the banning of prisoners from voting (in contravention of the European Court of Human Rights), the closure of electoral rolls as soon as an election is announced (something about whichc the Australian Electoral Commission has clearly stated its strong opposition, describing it as `a backwards step') give my regards to Chairman Mao, Mr Minchin. The latter element will particularly disadvantage younger voters who have turned 18 since the last election.

I don't pretend that Average Joe knows or cares particularly about the composition of the Senate, but all of the above contributes to the general notion of an arrogant government. Howard has always prized his ability to feign humbleness and keep dissidents on the leash.

Have another cup of tea, John.

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