CITIZENS of all stripes can chortle in amusement at the chaos of the 45th parliament.
Conservatives, Greens, Labor, nutbags of the lunar extremes in all directions can all barely restrain their glee as the centrist Turnbull, with no real constituency of his own, gets torn apart trying to ride too many horses at the same time.
Cabinet ministers now consider themselves such Olympian creatures that they’re beyond simple protocols like not leaving the meeting until it has adjourned.
On the Labor side, Sam Dastyari would rather have foreign companies pay his personal expenses than put his own hand in his pocket, and he is far from alone in considering himself above bearing any cost.
In the Greens, Sarah Hanson-Young appears to believe her party is beneath her, throwing tantrums on marriage equality and her recently removed asylum-seekers’ portfolio.
Parliament gets grislier still when you look at the Senate cross-benches where Pauline Hanson has brought the worst of Saturday night at the bowls club to the national stage.
The quietest of the disturbing One Nationers, Brian Burston, last week made it clear that he was offended by the Family Court’s bias in favour of the welfare of the child.
It takes a very special human being to be opposed to the interests of children.
At the same time a peculiar alliance is concerned that free speech will disappear if Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act is not amended. At the same time these warriors of freedom ignore the protections afforded to them by Section 18D:
“Section 18C does not render unlawful anything said or done reasonably and in good faith:
(a) in the performance, exhibition or distribution of an artistic work; or
(b) in the course of any statement, publication, discussion or debate made or held for any genuine academic, artistic or scientific purpose or any other genuine purpose in the public interest; or
(c) in making or publishing:
(i) a fair and accurate report of any event or matter of public interest; or
(ii) a fair comment on any event or matter of public interest if the comment is an expression of a genuine belief held by the person making the comment.”
Free speech would appear to be just fine, but those same warriors of freedom don’t appear to have a problem silencing doctors trying to report abuse in offshore detention centres. It’s almost as if the issues have nothing to do with free speech at all.
And yet, what are the alternatives?
If all this must pass, and it’s hard to not sincerely hope it passes sooner rather than later, what comes after?
Little of the alternatives on the ballot box inspires much confidence. Last week the Arts Party tried to put a brave face on its vote in the 2016 election: “At the last Federal Election, Arts Party senate candidates received a top six preference vote from almost 1.4 million Australians (1,372,827 to be exact), that’s more than 10 per cent of all voters.”
On a ballot paper stuffed with dangerous weirdoes to be worthy of a “six” vote by 10 per cent of the population is not something I’d be writing home to mum about.
If Australian democracy, the idea that ordinary people should be allowed to decide who governs, were to fail, one has to ask who benefits?