FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Disease of Caretaker Governments

A tear should be shed, though keep in the singular.  Australia’s first female Prime Minister Julia Gillard and probably last for some time, is no more.  Elected by unelected officials, she was knifed by the same individuals who encouraged the knifing of her rival, the now re-elected Kevin Rudd.  Promoted by individuals an electorate would scarce recognise over an individual loathed for his personality and his dislike for factions, Australian politics stutters to its farcical climax come September.

The Australian opposition always termed them the factional bosses, the deranged nits of the Australian Labor Party who preferred favours to democracy.  But the unstable mind is a terrible punishment, and the Australian public have found that their new Prime Minister is their ex-Prime Minister who was deposed in favour of the ex-Prime Minister.  One leader (Rudd) could campaign but not govern; the other (Gillard) govern but not campaign.  The bifurcation of the ALP’s leadership has been its source of torment and doom.  Tribalism remains it source of misery.

On the basis of this recent conduct, there is much to be said that Australian politics in its current form should be abolished, its politicians either promoted to the Sylvan idyll (the equivalent of a cobwebbed House of Lords) or banished to some imitation of Devil’s Island on terms of hard labour. Better still, given its tardiness in protecting its citizens, the Australian government should petition for Australia to become a U.S. protectorate.

A note on the not so dearly departed. Gillard was always an extension of other people’s programs, their designs laced with factionalism, a person who might have done better had the blade remained in the scabbard.  Her skills as a negotiator were never promoted, advertised or encouraged.  A minority government is no mean feat, and gathering the views of independents is a rare skill in the Westminster system.

But every triumph of the Gillard government became an bumbling error. The mining tax did not yield the amount it should have.  The mining companies always had the better accountants.  The issue of refugees arriving by boat never went way – here, the Gillard government decided that it should go one better than the conservative Howard government and excise the entire mainland in abject defiance.  Evidently, its lawyers aren’t much better than the accountants.

Gillard’s supporters, who were as reliable as Politburo hacks on the take, are now in retreat.  Peter Garrett, not the best musician to gyrate in rock history, was a poor minister and has announced his retirement as Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth.  “I believe I have always acted in the best interests of the Party and the Government. I was a front-man who chose to be a team player and make a difference in politics.”  A band is a not a party but don’t tell Garrett, one of the least able politicians since governors began being appointed by the imperial authorities.

Similarly, the spineless ex-deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan, a person who always managed to make sound economic management look like an act of massive mismanagement, is handing in his resignation.  “Politics is a tough business.  The experience either makes you bitter or better.  I choose the latter.”  Standard rot follows: the ALP knows how to help working people, much is “on the line” and so forth.  Rudd’s return will be Labor’s return.

Gillard herself suggested, not very convincingly, that Labor MPs “don’t lack the guts, don’t lack the fortitude, don’t lack the resilience to go out there and argue Labor’s case.”  Even, it seems, when it is fictional.  Regarding the nature of the opinion polls, Gillard also suggested that her colleagues had shown “spine in the face of that pressure.”

So who do we now have leading the ALP and the Australian nation?  Rudd in his second bloom, a person deemed a mood freak, a micromanaging fascist with religious inclinations and a punishing God.  He calls staff members late at night wishing them to provide him with material. He sits on decisions.  He panics in the headlights, the nerd of nerds who finds paralysis at the end of analysis.

The current shambles of a government, this paraplegic sham, this mangled show, is what the Australian electorate has before it come September.  Do you elect the chronically insane, or a fresh set of independent political figures who regard policy above faction, service above patronage?  At this point in time, the Opposition leader Tony Abbott has all the cards, though his own credentials on stability are questioned. He is the wolf hiding in not so convincing sheep’s clothing.

There is no better time now than to seek an independent, elected leader of the country, one above the party drones who fear the demise of their feathered posts.  An executive separate from Queen and the party machine, an end to the permanent regime of caretaker governments.  The Westminster system needs reform.  Now wouldn’t that be novel?

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

More articles by:

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

November 14, 2018
Charles Pierson
Unstoppable: The Keystone XL Oil Pipeline and NAFTA
Sam Bahour
Israel’s Mockery of Security: 101 Actions Israel Could Take
Cesar Chelala
How a Bad Environment Impacts Children’s Health
George Ochenski
What Tester’s Win Means
Louisa Willcox
Saving Romania’s Brown Bears, Sharing Lessons About Coxistence, Conservation
George Wuerthner
Alternatives to Wilderness?
Robert Fisk
Izzeldin Abuelaish’s Three Daughters were Killed in Gaza, But He Still Clings to Hope for the Middle East
Dennis Morgan
For What?
Dana E. Abizaid
The Government is Our Teacher
Bill Martin
The Trump Experiment: Liberals and Leftists Unhinged and Around the Bend
Rivera Sun
After the Vote: An Essay of the Man from the North
Jamie McConnell
Allowing Asbestos to Continue Killing
Thomas Knapp
Talkin’ Jim Acosta Hard Pass Blues: Is White House Press Access a Constitutional Right?
Bill Glahn
Snow Day
November 13, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
The Midterm Results are Challenging Racism in America in Unexpected Ways
Victor Grossman
Germany on a Political Seesaw
Cillian Doyle
Fictitious Assets, Hidden Losses and the Collapse of MDM Bank
Lauren Smith
Amnesia and Impunity Reign: Wall Street Celebrates Halliburton’s 100th Anniversary
Joe Emersberger
Moreno’s Neoliberal Restoration Proceeds in Ecuador
Carol Dansereau
Climate and the Infernal Blue Wave: Straight Talk About Saving Humanity
Dave Lindorff
Hey Right Wingers! Signatures Change over Time
Dan Corjescu
Poetry and Barbarism: Adorno’s Challenge
Patrick Bond
Mining Conflicts Multiply, as Critics of ‘Extractivism’ Gather in Johannesburg
Ed Meek
The Kavanaugh Hearings: Text and Subtext
Binoy Kampmark
Concepts of Nonsense: Australian Soft Power
November 12, 2018
Kerron Ó Luain
Poppy Fascism and the English Education System
Conn Hallinan
Nuclear Treaties: Unwrapping Armageddon
Robert Hunziker
Tropical Trump Declares War on Amazonia
John W. Whitehead
Badge of Shame: the Government’s War on Military Veterans
Will Griffin
Military “Service” Serves the Ruling Class
John Eskow
Harold Pinter’s America: Hard Truths and Easy Targets
Rob Okun
Activists Looking Beyond Midterm Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Mid-Term Divisions: The Trump Take
Dean Baker
Short-Term Health Insurance Plans Destroy Insurance Pools
George Wuerthner
Saving the Buffalohorn/Porcupine: the Lamar Valley of the Gallatin Range
Patrick Howlett-Martin
A Note on the Paris Peace Forum
Joseph G. Ramsey
Does America Have a “Gun Problem”…Or a White Supremacy Capitalist Empire Problem?
Weekend Edition
November 09, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Louis Proyect
Why Democrats Are So Okay With Losing
Andrew Levine
What Now?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Chuck and Nancy’s House of Cards
Brian Cloughley
The Malevolent Hypocrisy of Selective Sanctions
Marc Levy
Welcome, Class of ‘70
David Archuleta Jr.
Facebook Allows Governments to Decide What to Censor
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Zika Scare: a Political and Commercial Maneuver of the Chemical Poisons Industry
Nick Pemberton
When It Comes To Stone Throwing, Democrats Live In A Glass House
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail