Stanhope / What goes around, unhappily comes around

“Politicians lined up to respond to Trump’s opposition to the asylum seeker deal with no hint of embarrassment at their ugly complicity in the lengthy incarceration of innocent people and children,” writes columnist JON STANHOPE

THERE is a certain karma in the fact that Australia’s first brush with President Donald Trump, as predictably obnoxious and embarrassing as it was, focused on Australia’s obnoxious and embarrassing treatment of asylum seekers on Manus and Nauru Islands.

Jon Stanhope

Jon Stanhope.

Nevertheless, Liberal and Labor politicians lined up to respond to President Trump’s opposition to the asylum seeker deal with President Obama with the usual lack of self-awareness and no hint of embarrassment at the international exposure of their ugly complicity in the lengthy incarceration of these innocent men, women and children.

There has, since this bizarre contretemps and the behaviour of President Trump more generally, been a flurry of analysis of the implications of the Trump presidency for Australia.

A common thread has been the implications for politics and politicians of the Trump “style” and of the mood reflected by the Brexit vote for change from the more traditional parties to right-wing, populist and nationalistic parties and individuals.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has recently joined the parade saying that “the political system is broken” and that in “these unusual times, politics as usual doesn’t cut it anymore”.

This begs the question whether this is the case here, in Canberra? On the evidence of the recent ACT election it is fair to say that the grip of the traditional parties on the local legislature has actually tightened. In the election, independents and minor parties, with the arguable exception of the Greens, created barely a ripple.

Not only was the ALP returned to government after 15 straight years in office, it received a comprehensive and unambiguous mandate to maintain the policies, administration and style of government that it had pursued in the previous term.

The ACT government has, to take just one example, received a mandate to proceed at pace, irrespective of the business case and regardless of the unavoidable and as yet unexplained changes to the form and functioning of Canberra, with a multi-billion dollar tram network.

The people of Canberra, in agreeing to this have also agreed, by extension, that the government should take the steps required to fund the project. It is not clear at this stage whether this will involve extra rates, additional taxes or cuts to existing services such as health or education. Despite this and a run of hefty Budget deficits the electorate displayed no real interest in knowing where the money was going to come from and is prepared to trust the government to deal with these issues as it sees fit.

It would be interesting, therefore, to explore the basis of the ACT electorate’s apparent satisfaction and trust with politics and the political status quo in Canberra.

Does it really signify genuine support for the Labor/Liberal duopoly? Alternatively, is it an incident of a high level of disengagement with local politics and government or perhaps a reflection of complacency born out of the relative prosperity of the Canberra community?

It might be, for example, that for a majority of Canberrans an increase in rates and taxes to fund the tram is of no particular moment and that we no longer hear the voices of Canberra families for whom the cost of living is a struggle and home ownership an illusion.

The same situation does not apply in other places. The almost 20 per cent of the vote that Pauline Hanson garnered at the last Federal election is testament to the disenchantment with mainstream parties in Queensland.

There is great debate about what is feeding the support that One Nation has attracted. I have family and friends in Queensland who tell me that Pauline’s success comes from a combination of saying what many of her supporters think and standing up on issues that mainstream politicians avoid and so create a void.

There is perhaps no better example of this than Pauline Hanson’s recent stirring defence of the right of the residents of Norfolk Island to enjoy the same democratic rights as all Australians.

Eighteen months ago the Labor and Liberal Parties in the Federal Parliament combined, against the wishes of a significant majority of residents and without consultation, to repeal self-government on Norfolk Island, sack the democratically elected government and replace it with Canberra-based public servants.

In the 18 months since these draconian and undemocratic changes were forcibly imposed on residents, Pauline Hanson is the only member of the Federal Parliament to stand in solidarity with and publicly support the people of Norfolk Island.

If you were a Norfolk Islander who would you vote for?

Jon Stanhope was Chief Minister from 2001 to 2011 and represented  Ginninderra for the Labor Party from 1998. He is the only chief minister to have governed with a majority in the Assembly.

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4 Responses to “Stanhope / What goes around, unhappily comes around”

  1. James
    February 20, 2017 at 7:54 pm #

    Mr Stanhope again. What a dreadful, sanctimonious, cultural self-hating, Green-Left, ranting, deluded Marxist he is. I wish that he and his wretched ‘refugees’ would just go away, before they destroy us all.

  2. Isaac
    February 17, 2017 at 11:56 am #

    sanctimonious comments from arguably the most obnoxious politician the ACT has ever produced are predictable as they are laughable.

  3. Bill Crawshaw
    February 16, 2017 at 12:04 pm #

    Appreciated your comments Jon. I think you are correct that most Canberrans are well enough off and/or too busy with work and family to have been bothered to care about the tram project. Several have already commented to me adversely about the destruction of the trees along Northbourne Avenue as if they didn’t know it would be happening. They’ll certainly put two and two together when their rates next hike – but they got the Govt they deserve. Had people in your position leant on Andrew Barr before the election ACT residents may not have been lumbered with the extraordinarily expensive tram project for no improvement in travel times.

  4. Howard Carew
    February 15, 2017 at 4:10 pm #

    Well said Jon
    As a Labor voter for many years I do not feel the slightest bit disloyal in saying that I voted for an independent at the last election.
    I wish the thoughts of you and like-minded people had been echoed by the electorate.
    The tram project is funded partly on the back of the sale of public housing.
    The efforts by your government to make housing more affordable have been largely ignored.
    In short, the government we are stuck with is a pale imitation of a real Labor Government.

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