- Independent anti-pokies senator Nick Xenophon yesterday questioned Ms Gillard’s commitment to reform, suggesting she may put up a package of changes in the certain knowledge they will be defeated in parliament, in a “double-cross” of Mr Wilkie.
- One must wonder sometimes about the world view operating here. I strongly suspect that The Right Honourable, The Prime Minister, has as much commitment to poker machine legislation as is required to keep her in office. That much and no more. That makes it about as strong as here commitment to the no Carbon tax promise.
- Ms Gillard, speaking in Hobart, where yesterday she held a two-hour meeting with Mr Wilkie on the promised reforms, attacked Senator Xenophon as speaking from ignorance.
- On that score I suspect that Ms Gillard is correct. The ignorance he speaks from is the same ignorance that we are all left in, because the words and the actions do not always agree, and indeed change to suit the appropriate circumstance. It seems that the is no right, no principle, no guiding light on the hill, just the determination to stay in office as long as possible. I watch ‘The Iron Lady’ the other day, and at one point she exclaims of those following her in public office ‘people want office to be someone, in my day people wanted office to do something”
- “Senator Xenophon was not in those discussions yesterday so the people who best know how those discussions are going are the participants in them,” she said. “And both participants me and Mr Wilkie describe them as constructive because they were.”
- I conclude that constructive is polyspeak for inconclusive, or perhaps even the more coy, “I’d rather not say”
- However, after the talks, Mr Wilkie declined to restate his previous confidence that the Gillard government intended to pursue mandatory pre-commitment, whereby punters must set a limit on their losses before they gamble.
- That seems a reasonable position, given that Andrew Wilkie, may be a pain, may be a moralist, may even punch above his weight as a result of the accidents of history, however there can be no doubting the fact that he wants to do something, and will play the cards he has been dealt as best as he is able to achieve that.
- Mr Wilkie has made the passage of poker machine reform legislation, before the May federal budget, a condition of his ongoing support for Labor to govern.
- At the time this seemed like the tail wagging the dog, which it could do as the government was limping, however as the Prime Ministers new second best friend is a priest from Queensland, she does not need to lean so heavily on the whistle-blower from Tasmania. Mr Wilkies opportunity may have passed or it may be yet to come as we await the fate of the member for The Entrance, who may yet face the full extent of the law if the Police in Victoria decide to pursue him for Union Funds that may have been used for more private purposes.
- However, his hold on the government has weakened following the defection of disaffected Liberal Peter Slipper to the Speaker’s chair. Ms Gillard refused to comment on calls by the Greens and Senator Xenophon for an alternative $1 bet limit on all poker machines.
- Mr Slipper, the Speaker of the House of Representatives has effectively stolen a vote from the Opposition to increase the Governments majority. I have no doubt that the appointment of Fr Slipper will bring a number of interesting twists to the mix once the house resumes.
2012 promises to be a year of interest. There is no doubt that in skinniness of the hold on power has weakened government, and that the independents upon whom we have relied to ‘keep the bastards honest’ hove not lived up to our expectations. The Greens have also managed to hold the government and the people to ransom, yet in the mind of the average voter have failed to use their power to any constructive advantage. One imagines that Green voters will vote green because anything else is unthinkable, given the choices, and any body else will just want to quietly move away. I think this parliament has led to a polarisation rather than to gathering of a commitment to a common purpose.
Well if you look at the Asylum seeker issue, as yet unresolved. The Greens adopt a principled high moral ground approach and fail to give the government a quarter of an inch, and the Opposition seems ready to meet the government with reservations, and the Government if left with the prospect of a resolution that they do not want, because the Opposition would appear to have won, or other positions where they clearly cannot win. There seems to have been very little realism in the assessment of the viability of political options.
Ultimately there is one more Christmas before we have to have a Federal Election, and regardless of who wins let us simply hope that they have a viable majority, just let it not be so large they think they are unassailable.