The decision to cancel this coming week’s sitting of parliament is typical of the entire Turnbull Political Methodology: obfuscate, prevaricate, delay, then ultimately make a bad decision. For sure, Labor would have exploited the absence of Barnaby Joyce and John Alexander to the hilt, and it is likely that the week would have witnessed any number of cheap Shorten/Burke stunts. And for sure, leadership speculation would have clogged the airwaves.
But in a democracy, the answer to a troublesome parliament is not to get rid of it. As columnist Janet Albrechtsen amusingly tweeted, quoting Bertolt Brecht, following news of this week’s ‘cancelation’: ‘Would it not be easier in that case for the government to dissolve the people and elect another?’
Mr Turnbull should have used the opportunity to show proper leadership in a difficult time. Instead, the public are left with the impression that when faced with circumstances beyond his control, Mr Turnbull will run and hide.
Although the specifics of this missing week will quickly be forgotten as we enter the festive season, and Australians thoughts turn to barbies, beaches and bushfires, the lingering impression is of a leader who retreats to the breezy sanctity of his harbourside mansion when the going gets rough. No amount of selfies on trams can overcome the negative power of such imagery in the public’s mind – an out-of-touch, aloof, indecisive and arrogant leader in hiding. As always, a quick check of such political judgment against the ‘Gold Standard of Good Government’ (copyright M. Turnbull) is telling. Can one imagine John Howard, or indeed Tony Abbott, resorting to such a defensive stunt? Of course not. Mr Howard would have taken the fight to Labor with double the zeal and energy. But then again, Mr Howard was never foolish enough to rely on the mysteriously-hacked Mr Pyne for sound advice.
Speaking of whom: Far be it from this magazine to question the veracity of the claims made by the Minister for Defence Procurement about the hacking of his phone which apparently led to the early morning appearance of a tweet in his name ‘liking’ a gay porno site. The tweeting activity occurred, it is said, whilst Mr Pyne was fast asleep. Perhaps it did.
But several questions remain. Firstly, why has the matter so casually been dismissed? Is ASIO investigating? Will arrests be made? Mr Pyne is responsible for procuring 50 billion dollars worth of French submarines. If his personal accounts are so easily or hacked, surely this poses national security questions?
But let us assume – hypothetically – that the account was not hacked. The question then becomes: why is Mr Pyne so keen to deny any suggestion that he or someone else may have been ‘liking’ ‘gay porn’ on his phone? After all, Mr Pyne is on record defending the Safe Schools program, which was the focus of great concern from the No side during the postal plebiscite. This ‘anti-bullying’ program is shoved down the throats of schoolchildren whether they want it or not, and whether their parents want it or not. It advocates and celebrates homosexuality, transgenderism, queerism etc. with online links to sites which include such choice educational tips as: ‘Top / Bottom: terms used to describe someone’s role during sex. A top is the person who is doing the penetration. A bottom is someone who receives it.’ If such descriptives are a necessary and desirable component of our kids’ education, why is Mr Pyne so keen to disassociate himself from inadvertently ‘liking’ visual depictions of such ‘normal’ activities? Surely what’s good for the goose is good for the poodle?
Which leads us to the question of religious and parental protections in this new world of ‘marriage equality’.
As far as this magazine is concerned, the most obvious way forward is to make scrapping 18C part of the same-sex marriage bill. This will guarantee parents and others freedom of conscience and their right to free speech.
Yet instead, the PM first vowed that religious protections were more important to him than same-sex marriage itself. Then he changed his mind and declared that he had no intention of legalising ‘discrimination’. Then the Attorney-General, after first backing that proposition, suddenly decided he wished to inject a whole raft of human rights lefty mumbo-jumbo into our constitution, despite conservatives having spent decades successfully resisting such a calamity. (For results – check out the EU). Meanwhile, Senator James Paterson came up with by far the most sensible recommendation (a Bill that clearly and literally spells out very specific exemptions for parents, celebrants etc.) only to have Mr Turnbull foolishly turf it out. Then up popped Peter Dutton and Dan Tehan warning – correctly – that the government risked enshrining sharia into our own legal system. Now we have some touchy-feely quango, including the head of the woeful HRC, spending the next four months scratching their heads before delivering what will in all likelihood be a version of the disastrous Brandis Bill of Rights. The Turnbull Methodology: obfuscate, prevaricate, delay… then make a bad decision.