Tuesday, 8 March 2016
This was Coalition Prime Minister Malcolm Bligh Turnbull frothing at the mouth in March 2016:
"The 2013 Senate election was really an embarrassment for Australian democracy," he said at the Liberal State Council meeting on the Central Coast.
Now at the time writs were issued for the 2013 federal election there were 34 Liberal/Nationals senators, 31 Labor senators, 9 Greens senators and 1 independent.
After that election there were 33 Liberal/Nationals senators, 25 Labor senators, 10 Greens senators, 1 independent senators and 7 minor party senators.
With some senators resigning from minor parties in the first two years the mix is now 33 Liberal/Nationals senators, 25 Labor senators, 10 Greens senators, 4 independent senators and 4 minor party senators.
The Senate still functions - sitting days are per usual, estimate hearings go ahead as normal and committees function as well as they ever did.
So why all this faux outrage on the part of the Turnbull Government, which resulted in it introducing the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Bill 2016 in the Lower House on 22 February and attempting to ram it through the Senate as I write?
Well it wasn’t because that very large Senate ballot paper led to a high informal vote – in fact 2013 saw the third lowest informal vote since 1977 when it came to casting votes for senators – and it wasn’t because the ballot result meant the Coalition had drastically fewer senators as they went from 37 senators in the 43rd Parliament to 34 in the 44th “hung” Parliament.
The real reason that Turnbull & Co are up in arms is because the Senate rejected the most punitive of its 2014-15 budget measures. You know, the ones that were blatant ideological attempts to begin the dismantling of universal healthcare, affordable university education and the welfare safety net.
The fact that the Senate was merely reflecting the outrage of much of the national electorate continues to be ignored, as Malcolm and his cronies blame those pesky minor parties and plot to comprehensively ‘own’ the Senate next time round.