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You say potato and I say potahto

10/10/2010

If anyone is watching Australian politics, then you may well be aware of Coalition policy in recent times.

When Tony Abbott came to lead the Coalition he opined that they opposition was in the business of opposition.  The fact that Malcolm Turnbull had not been cost him the top job. This man is not into consensus.

And this maybe his undoing.

Now while this may be all well and good to play contrary politics for the sake of being contrary, the man who wants to be called Prime Minister is showing a new hand.

It started small. Very quickly after realising he needed the support of the independents to form government, he said it was time for a kinder gentler polity. This lasted all of two and half weeks.

The independents managed to etch out a reform agreement with a caveat at its heart that required Tony Abbott to demonstrate his willingness to show his true colours.

The reform in question was in regards to the pairing of the speaker. This was always meant to be a matter of consensus. A voluntary agreement that allowed whoever that was to govern a buffer by who ever was in opposition to offer a pair.

Tony Abbott loved the idea! Especially when he believed it was he that was to govern. When that unfolded against him, he resorted to form. I imagine that who ever has the contract to work on maintenance in parliament was smiling the day Tony Abbott took out his anger against the furniture and the walls.

Tony Abbott first contested the constitutionality of the reform and showed that it was not just some of the things that he said that people should not believe, but some of the things on paper as well.

I can not blame him. It was an attempt to bring down Julia Gillard’s threadbare government before it even had a chance to sit. In retaliation, Gillard attempted to seek a speaker from the ranks of the opposition and by so doing, seemed to  jeapordise her relationship with Harry Jenkins.

Meanwhile, in front of the cameras, Abbott paraded his open love and affection for Jenkins as a speaker and goaded the ALP to reappoint him. Behind closed doors however, there was a leak in the Coalition wall.

It turned out that at least one person was not happy with Tony Abbott’s reneging of the reform deal. Alex Somlyay was in negotiations to become deputy speaker. The rumour that circulated was he was even willing to offer the ALP a pair.

This came as a double blow for Tony Abbott. Firstly, how dare a member of his Coalition, let alone a liberal party member do this to him! But the second blow was that the it was later revealed that the Alex Somlyay and the ALP had been in negotiations for nine days.

The usual suspects were livid with Joe Hockey almost invoking the Life of Brian term, splitter.

After a little argy bargy, Somlyay backed down on Saturday the 24th of September with parliament to start sitting on the following Tuesday. Tony Abbott was all smiles and was no doubt having what he thought was the last laugh.

It’s a pity that Tony Abbott does not like AFL.  If he did, he would have seen a very disconcerting sight. There was Julia Gillard watching the 2010 AFL Grand Final(version one). She seemed totally unconcerned that Alex Somlyay had rejected the ALP offer.

As history showed, she had every reason to not be worried. Peter Slipper was elected as Deputy Speaker and again Tony Abbott was doubly livid. Post the election he congratulated the person who nominated Peter Slipper and the person who seconded the nomination, but he did NOT congratulate Peter Slipper himself. Tony really can be a bitter bitter man.

The real issue of his anger was in the way the numbers had fallen for Mr Abbott. 78-71. This means he must have lost the vote of Tony Crook and Bob Katter in that vote OR it means there is another member of the Coalition with a little disappointment in regards to his leader.

All the while though, Tony Abbott had started his potato, potahto policy.

Prior to parliament even sitting, Christopher Pyne signalled the Coalition’s intent to not only oppose government policies, but to also oppose bipartisan convention. General pairing was now a question it seemed.  No longer will the opposition simply offer a pair as had been the case for years. It is quite possible that this intent is what lead to Peter Slipper taking the job of Deputy Speaker, and if we are to believe Tony Crook when he said he did not vote for Peter Slipper as Deputy Speaker, then there is at least one other Coalition member who regards this breaking of bipartisan convention by Tony Abbott a significant problem.

But now Abbott is about to engage in his most disgusting move yet in my opinion if he does do what I believe he will do.

Having already played contrary politics throughout the election campaign and the fact that he is not Prime Minister is a sign that his policies, or rather his contrary response to those of the now current government, failed to gain him a majority.

So Tony needs a game breaker. One that will win him what he most hotly craves:  Public support.

It is my belief that Tony Abbott is about to play politics with the lives of the soldiers in Afghanistan. No more it seems is he willing to be bipartisan on the issue despite the fact he has on numerous occasions has committed and doubly committed his Coalition to a bipartisan approach.

To me, his parties attack on the head of the Australian Defence Association is a sign the game is on.

Julia Gillard and the ALP responded quickly to this threat by putting it front and centre with a visit to the troops and then later highlighting that Tony Abbott was offered a place on her trip but had turned it down.

The opposition was fuming! They huffed and they puffed! How dare the ALP make Afghanistan a political issue!

Especially since they had thought of the idea first.

You see, I believe that Tony Abbott DOES intend to make this a political issue. He intends to find any and all soldiers who may have a problem about the engagement in Afghanistan and force fan their concerns. I also believe the Coalition intends to discredit Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, with the Opposition’s Defence spokesperson David Johnston coming out the Thursday before the weekend of both leaders trips signalling this intent. This is why Julia Gillard responded with the trip to Afghanistan and of course jet-lag-gate.

The business of Opposition is taking a very nasty, ferocious approach. And it has nothing to do with keeping the government to account and all designed strictly to garner votes.

Afghanistan is  now off the bipartisan table.

Potato. Potahto. Tomato. Tomahto.

Lets call the whole thing off.

Actually. It’s a romance in the making if you think about it.

A. Ghebranious 2010 All Rights Reserved

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2 Comments
  1. Catching up permalink

    Doesn’t say much for the chance of a decent debate that is coming in parliament. Nothing is sacred for this man. Noticed Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston was not seen with him on his visits to the troops. Once again public servants are used as bullets. Does it not shame him that these people are in a situation where it is hard to defend themselves. I feel sorry for any Department representives who have to face a Senate Hearing for the next six months.

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