I don’t know if you’ve ever watched the sea lions at Pier 39 in San Francisco. I’m reminded of that querulous and stinking marine rabble whenever I encounter the Turnbull government in my media. The sea lions are a nasty bunch, and they fight a lot.
I now can’t picture Malcolm Turnbull as anything other than a self-congratulatory pinniped in a top hat, barking and clapping his flippers at his own cleverness as Lucy throws him a fish.
While the PM hastened to reassure the country that he had “excoriated” his rogue MPs (including ministers) who left parliament early on Thursday afternoon, the real issue is not that the LNP have taken this event as “wake-up” call for their one-seat majority government, but that such a call was needed in the first place.
Surely someone (a staffer, one of Dutton’s ninety, yes that’s ninety spin doctors) could have reminded the government that with a one-seat majority, everyone really needs to stay till the end.
That seasoned politicians holding powerful positions (and, apparently, their entire staff) need such a fundamental “wake-up” call is worrying indeed. What it confirms is what I’ve long suspected: the LNP perceive governing as a game weighted in their favour that they are entitled to win, without any particular merit, or even by actually playing it. Any challenges to these perceptions are dismissed as little more than the grumblings of opinionated upstarts.
Turnbull’s first sitting week after the election was woeful. First thirteen of his backbenchers defied him on the matter of Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. Next, for the first time in some fifty years, the government lost three votes in the House of Representatives because of the Thursday bunk-off. Thankfully, they’ve now gone home for a few days.
On the matter of Section 18C, it’s interesting that the cohort advocating a “watering down” of the section are those who are the least likely to ever need the protections it offers. Read this piece by Jeff Sparrow on the co-option of speech laws for their own benefit by those who have no skin in the game.
Similarly, those most vehemently opposed to marriage equality are those who can in no way claim to be, in reality, affected by it.
(If such people are seriously concerned about a perceived debasing of the institution of marriage, they urgently need to make infidelity illegal. Imagine that).
I think it’s safe to say that politics has ceased to be much to do with good and fair governance, and is now almost entirely to do with the furtherance of the interests and ideologies of largely (and sometimes large) white men. In this they differ little from the sea lion colony in which the dominant males rule in their own interests, biting great chunks of flesh out of dissenters and shoving them, bleeding, back into the sea. It’s every pinniped for himself.
They even savage the young, and the ones with the loudest bark win.