AUSTRALIA is fortunate to have such a close election result.
In a timely piece of serendipity, the former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has illustrated why accountable, minority government (or a minority in the Senate) is so much better than the alternative three-year dictatorship that is delivered by majority government and control of the Senate.
The Chilcot Report into the Iraq war provides a chilling insight into the actions of one man in taking a country to war, in providing a catalyst to lure other countries, such as Australia, to follow.
By taking unilateral action in throwing such strong British support behind the US, other countries were caught up in the “Coalition of the Willing”. They believed the constant (and incorrect) assertion that Iraq had “weapons of mass destruction”. Although only four countries had troops on the ground in Iraq, there was support from nations as widespread as Denmark, the Philippines, El Salvador, Italy and Korea.
Under John Howard, Australia joined our US, Poland and UK allies in what (along with the Vietnam War) is now perceived as one of the biggest mistakes of modern history.
Recently re-elected independent Tasmanian member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, even suggests that the 2005 Bali bombings and Lindt Café siege are part of the fallout from Australia’s involvement.
He argues it not only “turbocharged” Al Qaeda, it created the ingredients for the rise of Islamic State. At the time, Wilkie was pilloried as a whistleblower for exposing the weakness of the intelligence on WMDs. He has finally been properly vindicated.
The then Leader of the Opposition, Simon Crean, was addressing the National Press Club explaining why Labor did not support the war when the first strikes against Iraq took place.
Crean argued on March 20, 2003, this was “a war we should not be in. A war to which 2000 of our fighting men and women were committed many months ago but we’re told about last Tuesday. A war to which we are one of only four countries prepared to join the US in putting troops on the ground, despite claims of a coalition of up to 30. A war which for the first time in our history, Australia has joined as an aggressor.”
Former Prime Minister, Paul Keating, as reported in “The Sydney Morning Herald”, pointed out Australia was “perhaps the most successful multicultural society in the world”, with the settlement of a large Muslim population, but “John Howard put the torch to that… now we live perpetually with the spectre of terrorism and racial strife, visited upon us by his prejudices and lack of judgement”.
And here’s the rub. With an Australian Parliament now comprising such a widespread range of views, a full review of such circumstances could be expected before going to war. The latest election has delivered parliamentarians who were born in places such as Egypt and Iran, there are more indigenous Australians and those whose origins reflect our widespread multicultural society. We have our Xenophon and our xenophobes.
All views will be able to be expressed, tested and discussed in a free and open debate. We can expect to see an end to the arrogance of Abbott and Hockey arguing they had a mandate despite, for example, breaking promises about no cuts to education, health, the pension, the ABC and SBS.
A minority government is an ideal way to ensure minority views are heard. A Senate without a majority can provide sensible review of government legislation and actions. The Australian people have elected wisely.
Michael Moore was an independent member of the ACT Legislative Assembly (1989 to 2001) and was minister for health.