Vulnerable Government stuck in crisis mode
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.