Vul­ner­a­ble Gov­ern­ment stuck in cri­sis mode

Sunday Mail - - OPINION -

THE cit­i­zen­ship cri­sis rock­ing the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment has taken an­other dark turn with the res­ig­na­tion of John Alexan­der leav­ing Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull now lead­ing (if that is the right word) a mi­nor­ity gov­ern­ment.

Mr Turn­bull’s Gov­ern­ment now holds only 74 seats in a House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives that has been re­duced for the mo­ment to 148 be­cause of the res­ig­na­tion of Mr Alexan­der and, pre­vi­ously, for­mer deputy prime min­is­ter Barn­aby Joyce.

La­bor has 69 seats while cross­benchers hold five. It means the Gov­ern­ment will need the sup­port of at least one cross­bencher to pass leg­is­la­tion.

All of which leaves Mr Turn­bull and his Gov­ern­ment in a highly vul­ner­a­ble po­si­tion, no mat­ter that he be­lieves he en­joys cross­bench sup­port on mat­ters of sup­ply and con­fi­dence.

Still, there is no doubt La­bor Leader Bill Shorten will be look­ing to ex­ploit the Gov­ern­ment’s weak­ened po­si­tion.

No-con­fi­dence votes will be called on and ev­ery day will be­come an­other ex­er­cise in point-scor­ing.

Then, of course, the Gov­ern­ment will re­tal­i­ate by dig­ging into the parent­age of all La­bor MPs, look­ing for oth­ers who may be sus­cep­ti­ble to the same trap that caught Mr Alexan­der.

And caught in the mid­dle of all this ridicu­lous pol­i­tick­ing is the great Aus­tralian pub­lic, be­wil­dered that it has come to this.

A pub­lic left won­der­ing why, when the na­tion has so many se­ri­ous is­sues to re­solve – eco­nomic growth, jobs, health, ed­u­ca­tion, en­ergy – that Can­berra is spend­ing so much time talk­ing about it­self.

Won­der­ing why, when the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity is ask­ing se­ri­ous ques­tion about Aus­tralia’s treat­ment of refugees on Manus Is­land, MPs are ob­sess­ing about which coun­try their own im­mi­grant par­ents ar­rived from.

There is lit­tle doubt that the pub­lic’s faith in pol­i­tics and politi­cians has di­min­ished markedly over re­cent years. Trust and faith in the sys­tem is all but gone.

How far vot­ers have strayed from the ma­jor par­ties is likely to be brought into sharp re­lief in the next six months, even if Mr Turn­bull doesn’t call an early fed­eral elec­tion.

Queens­lan­ders go to the polls in a fort­night; South Aus­tralians and Tas­ma­ni­ans in March.

By then, the drift away from the ma­jor par­ties could be an avalanche as names such as Pauline Han­son and Nick Xenophon at­tract record num­bers of votes.

La­bor and Lib­eral will then have only them­selves to blame.

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