Prime Minister Julia Gillard and AWU boss Paul Howes. Mr Howes has made it clear he has the Prime Minister's back.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard and AWU boss Paul Howes. Mr Howes has made it clear he has the Prime Minister's back. Photo: Glenn Hunt

Mr Paul Howes; I don’t remember that name being on any ballot paper at the last two federal elections. I don’t remember Mr Paul Howes with his hand on the Bible or holding the constitution and swearing an oath of office with the honour and obligations that come with it.

I cannot question Paul Howes on behalf of the Australian people in the Parliament as to what his motivations may be as he slinks around the elected parliamentarian’s orbit. Who are Howes’ masters and what party does he attend?

      Mr Paul Howes, national secretary of the Australian Workers Union, revels  in his involvement in organising  the numbers, an external usurper, who changed a Prime Minister in Australia. Where is his declaration of members and senators’ interests so I know who is sending him presents? 

              Mr Paul Howes has been at it again in the past fortnight saying that he has the Prime Minister’s “back”, referring obviously to his influence on the outcomes inside the Parliament. Obviously we do not need parliamentarians when we have Mr Paul Howes to organise things for us. Who needs to vote for politicians when we have Howes?

              It is part of the colour and movement of a dying government. Remember the Greens saying they were, politically speaking, splitting the sheets over the failure of the government’s mining tax?

 Well, on Monday after brief in-chamber negotiations with the Leader of the Senate, Senator Stephen Conroy, and manager of government business, Senator Jacinta Collins, the Greens voted with the government in support of the present mining tax.

 The vote was in the Senate so there was no risk of the government falling if they voted against Labor.

                     There appears to be unfathomable belief by Labor and the Greens into the naivety of the public, that they believe the public will not realise that their emphatic statements rarely match their actions. Sometimes they are mismatched by reason of incompetence, but it is the other times that are more of a concern.

                    The Treasurer’s numbers that he earnestly predicts from behind the podium are so wrong they are comical. The debt, deficit and predictions of taxation revenue streams leave no confidence and the surplus that now looks like a deficit in the order of $10billion to $15billion, is the latest example of incompetence. 

                         There is a craving for competence, a purging of the usurpers from the palace and a return to some form of authenticity or silence in the utterances of parliamentarians. There is, in my view, a complete loss of confidence that there is any form or substance in the  present arrangement. Kevin Rudd is not helping this.

           His actions of late have moved from the legitimate testing of public support to the sulking, indolent actions of a malcontent. If Mr Rudd is going to stand, then do so. But, instead he plays with the public as some form of sport to teach his Labor colleagues a lesson.   The  fate of the nation is not a plaything, neither for Paul Howes nor  Kevin Rudd.

               We have a serious problem and it is $262billion in gross debt as well as the implicit debt of the states that no doubt if push came to shove would end up being pushed onto the Commonwealth. That would take the total to more than $500billion in debt.

               Now is the time for an honest appraisal of the debt and a realistic plan on how on earth we are going to pay it back.

When the people who tell us it is not a problem are the same ones who told us the mining tax would earn $2billion in its first year and we would have an actual surplus of  more than $1billion, then we have a right to be more than sceptical.

                  Australia did not suffer from the global financial crisis because of the mining boom. It is idiotic to laud ceiling insulation, school halls and $900 cheques as our elixir. Very few are that stupid to believe it. So why not inform those unwitting few and agree with the rest and just desist from reading this ridiculous economic epitaph?

              The first part, the most essential part of dealing with a problem is acknowledging what your problem is. The next step is putting in place a brutally honest management plan to deal with it.

Whatever path Labor chooses, let us hope they do it decisively, honestly, imminently and without any assistance from the unelected, overexposed Mr Paul Howes.

   Barnaby Joyce is the Nationals’ Senate leader and the opposition spokesman for regional development, local government and water.