Monday, February 06, 2017
Monday Forum - Australia's political imbroglios
A case in point is the story of Camp Victory, a KNIL (Dutch East Indies Army) camp at Casino in Northern NSW. This photo shows Dutch soldiers at nearby Evans Head. I knew about the camp, I knew that it occupied a place in the history of the Indonesian Revolution, but had no idea of the complexity involved. Did you know, for example, that the Dutch East Indies Administration is the only official Government-in-exile ever established on Australian soil?
This forum, it is hard to go past politics.
In my last Forum I posed the question of the administrative competence of the Trump administration, a question triggered by the migration Executive Order. Events since then have been a bit of a roller-coaster. The obvious administrative problems with the Order were its ambiguity and its impact on existing visas. This first forced a series of clarifications such as the applicability to green card holders, the second triggered the legal cases and consequent uncertainties.
One effect of the whole controversy is that it totally overrode Prime Minister Turnbull's attempt to set out directions for the Turnbull-Joyce Government though his press club speech to the point that I have yet to read it. The latest public opinion polls give Labor a lead on a two party preferred basis of 54-46 partly due to the rise in support for One Nation. Personally, while I understand the causes behind the rise in the One Nation vote, I am a little bemused by the extent to which it is holding despite the strangeness of some of Ms Hanson's views. To my mind, this is low grade populism, unlikely to build a sustained political movement. Am I wrong?
The Australian Parliament resumes this week. Having been trumped and thus lost the opportunity to set a new direction, the Australian PM faces a new set of distractions.
One is the gay marriage issue. Here the PM is caught between a rock and a hard place, between a plebiscite approach that can't easily get up and a conservative wing in his own Party that won't support a change without a plebiscite and maybe not even then. He has an Abbott doing a Rudd, with Cory Bernadi threatening to set up a new conservative party.
Actually, from my viewpoint, the sooner Senator Bernadi goes the better. An Adelaide city boy, I have seen no evidence that he understands the rest of the country well enough to build a decent political base. To my mind, he confuses deeply held views among a relatively narrow slice of a national electorate with chances of political success. In total, Bernadi's supporters are significant, but I doubt they are strong enough at particular electoral level to give him any real chance of gaining lower house seats.
In retrospect, the PM's decision to change the Senate voting arrangements to remove minor parties was unwise. We now have a a proliferation of centre-right or right groups that are far more significant than the previous somewhat ramshackle cross-bench.
This aids Mr Shorten for the present. Labor's main challenge, the Greens, are suffering their own internal tensions. One Nation is actually Labor's biggest threat, for the party does have appeal in some traditional Labor seats.
As always, feel free to go in whatever direction you want regardless of what I have said here or the topics covered. .