NSDid Scott Morrison really get Parliament back in February when he couldn’t control his own agenda? A crazy or charged final rush to a summer reprieve isn’t unusual, but the government’s reeling to the finish marks the prime minister’s worst two political weeks since his secret wildfire crawling into Hawaii.
The government had to stop a controversial religious discrimination package – legislation it so desperately wanted to pass in the House of Representatives. Same for the voter ID package the coalition wanted to put in place before the 2022 campaign. The National Integrity Commission that Morrison promised for three years hasn’t even been delivered.
The crash and burn in the last two weeks was very much a war. Morrison’s deputies will not play ball. Liberal senators refused to vote on government proposals. Liberal moderates made clear they wanted an actual anti-corruption commission rather than the government’s silly proposal, and a group went on strike against a religious discrimination proposal they feared was a sword aimed at gay children and teachers, not a shield.
There was all that. Then hit Jenkins review. It was as bad as you’d expect. Australia’s Gender Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins told us that more than half (51%) of people currently work in Parliament I had at least one bullying incidentor sexual harassment, actual sexual assault or attempted sexual assault, while 77% have experienced, witnessed or heard of such behaviour.
Immediately, reinforcing the scale of the cultural problem—in the day when victims of misconduct were traumatized by having to address Jenkins’ catalog of their worst experiences—Brothers of Parliament marked visions through Show off like a bunch of bullies in the schoolyard. Does the voice of these jokes rise so that no one hears the crying of the woman? I wonder some days.
Christian Porter confirmed his departure from public life long ago – reminding people that he’s still there. Rachel Miller, the former government employee who featured prominently in the Four Corners episode heralding Parliament’s #MeToo moment, has made a comeback New charges have been brought against Alan Tudge, her ex-boss, a man she had an extramarital affair with. Morrison must have finally hit his limit at that point, because with business closed Thursday, Tudge, who has denied the allegations, has stepped down from his ministerial duties pending the investigation.
There was more, but a basic recount will do the trick, because my goal this weekend is to not look back. We need to look forward.
It is clear that things are quite a challenge for the Prime Minister at the moment, and he is on the clock for an election. Morrison looked for weeks as a captain looking for a knockout punch.
The Prime Minister wants a fight with the Labor Party that will help his chances of re-election. Anthony Albanese spent the better part of three years refusing to give him one. Morrison had to design fictional alternative scenarios. But the fighting season is upon us now.
Given that reality, Albanese on Friday took his biggest political risk as Labor leader. It’s a perfectly safe prediction to say that if Labor loses the election next year, Friday’s politics will be presented as one of the reasons.
Progressives don’t like hearing this, but climate policy has been part of the reason Labor has lost every federal election since 2013. There has been a lot of internal pain about what to do. Labor workers have asked themselves how they can maintain ambition when the party needs to win seats in Queensland, and fill existing seats, including voters in the coal district of Hunter Valley.
After these questions were wrapped in most of this period in opposition, Albanese and Chris Bowen The jumbo plane landed on Friday. The last election, 2030 target was 45%. This time, the target will be 43% – and unlike before there was economic analysis to better explain the actions.
Climate science clearly tells us that a medium-term target for emissions reductions greater than a 43% cut is needed. But the outcome of the previous election tells us that not all Australians are ready to accept the rapid transition that science requires. So 43% is the agreed landing point.
Naturally, Morrison went straight to war. The war of climate ambitions remains as it has always been: hyperboloid, dumb as a bag of hammers, destructive to the national interest, and destructive to Australia’s standing internationally.
But Morrison showed on Friday that he’s ready to go to war anyway, just to get something in control. anything actual.
No matter that the prime minister, in the run-up to Cop26 in Glasgow, attempted to design a higher emission reduction target for 2030 himself (although not as high as 43%) Barnaby Joyce frustrated him. All of those climatic pivots were pre-Glasgow.
Before Labor revealed his number, Morrison was swinging in Parliament, dusting off one of the coalition’s favorite stretches. If you vote for Anthony Albanese next year, you get a Labor/Green coalition. horrifying. weird. scary.
Now before anyone else catches their eye, I encourage you to explore the path that Morrison has charted, because post-election alliances are interesting thought experiments if you spend a few minutes putting the scenarios together.
Let’s start with the first note. Both the government and the Labor Party believe that it is entirely possible that the upcoming elections will result in a hung parliament.
So it’s not just Albanians who may flock to reach sweeping agreements on confidence and supply soon after Australians have cast their vote. It’s entirely possible that Morrison is in this research, too.
Now I am clearly a journalist, not a clairvoyant. I don’t know how the next few months will turn out. But I can note: The liberal moderates are clearly concerned enough about competition from independent “teal ducks” – the networked group of climate-minded rebels operating in liberal-controlled seats – to make a fuss in Canberra.
The Climate Group 200 that supports these freelancers has I managed to raise more than 4 million dollars From more than 6000 donors in less than four months. Money doesn’t buy love for a nascent political movement, competent campaigns or flawless candidates, but it does help. Perhaps some of these rebels will take seats from the liberals. Perhaps the whole adventure will be a huge bust.
Let’s go back to the climate ambition war resume for a moment. You really have to wonder if Morrison’s choice to fight with Labor to achieve its new 2030 goal actually boosts the chances of independents winning some of these contests — raising the risk of a minority government getting out of the death penalty.
The old dumb fight pick may still be a hit in Gladstone, but I’m not convinced it’s a positive in these urban benches. As they say in the classics, only time will tell. If some of these independents succeed in collapsing, it is worth bearing in mind that they will represent constituencies with liberal leanings.
I suspect that independents like Zaleigh Stegal, Allegra Spender (in Wentworth) or Zoe Daniel (in Goldstein) would face pressure domestically in a minority government scenario to try and work out a deal with Morrison first, rather than go back to a Labor government.
It is unlikely that we will see a repeat of the detailed minority government agreements reached with the then Gillard government in the 43rd Parliament. But I suspect locals will want their new independent to demonstrate whether or not Morrison is open to better climate policy, or a tooth-brushed anti-corruption agency, in exchange for a simple guarantee of trust and supply.
Will Morrison be willing to solidify the coalition’s climate policy to stay in government? It’s a really interesting question when you turn your mind to it. What will it do?
And most importantly, what will the citizens do? There is a core group in the nationalist party room vehemently opposed to short- and medium-term ambition. But when choosing between staying in government positions and doing more, which motive prevails?
So just know this. When Morrison explodes in the weeks or months between now and the day he sets out to meet the Governor General about secret Labor/Green coalitions – understand that there can be more than one side making a deal.
Understand, too, that deals can revolve around the same set of issues.
Between now and Election Day, no matter what annoying sounds you might hear, there’s a lot to play with.