Federal Politics


Problems take back seat to the farce

Sometimes the whole political creature gets so fascinated with its own navel, the media staring intently full frontal at it as well, that frustration in the suburbs and the regions goes from anger to bitter disillusionment. Neither Craig Thomson nor Peter Slipper is going to resign and therefore the current demise of the government is greatly exaggerated.

The independents will always choose the sinking boat to the shark-infested sea of their electorate. They are waiting for an act of ''gross malfeasance'' before they would withdraw their support for the current chaos. Well what are they looking for? An active terrorist cell at Aussie's Cafe in Parliament? A bordello on the second floor of the Senate or maybe an ''alleged'' bank robbery could tip the Independent's scruples? It is so depressing, so I will turn my attention to issues before the nation rather than inside the parliament.

In this column at the start of the year, I stated that ''Europe is in more strife than the US and it appears, whether they like it or not, that Germany and southern Europe may soon split the economic sheets''. This process is now under way and as I stated before, could make the first GFC look like a mere preamble to the real one. Without wishing to be Cassandra, two years ago I warned about the global debt issue and Australia's naivety to its own debt trajectory.

The grim assessment of exposure to southern European debt is now seminal to any economic prognosis. The Australian Parliament is applying for its fourth debt ceiling in three years, taking its overdraft limit to $300 billion. In Canberra this will be paid back with your job, and the fault lies with those who got you into this financial mess.

It is always perplexing when the government concentrates on an issue that we have not a chance of affecting, such as changing the temperature of the globe with a carbon tax, but they cannot select a speaker without creating a national crisis or properly resolve getting the Member for Dobell to pay back the lazy half a million that he has lifted from his furious union members.

Similarly we pay for, and are asked to believe without question, Professor Tim Flannery's and Will Stefan's dire predictions of imminent devastating global warming, yet all the resources of Treasury, only a year out, seem incapable of coming within a bull's roar of what our deficit will be.


But now to a domestic problem for Australia which, if you wait long enough, you will even see in the ACT. This is a problem that has been quietly growing and is now out of control in many areas of regional Australia. It is a problem that we could solve if we concentrated more on the actual job of government and less on the personal soap opera and climate metaphysics.

Wild dogs are not dingos. They are a large mongrel breed that savage both domestic stock and native animals such as koalas. Enlightened souls in an urbane environment may start sniggering now, suggesting the wild dogs could fix the kangaroo problem in Canberra, but in many areas of Queensland lambing is impossible because the dogs eat them. Dogs that have had tracking devices placed on them at Charleville have been shot a month or so later 600km away near Moree. Wild dogs working in packs can devastate calving and if you want to see real cruelty, watch wild dogs mauling a calving cow.

The wild dog fence has fallen into disrepair in areas because of the flood, baiting is haphazard and the effect of the baits has diminished. You can get professional doggers in to kill this vicious pest but at $500 a dog and maybe a hundred on a place, it is for many beyond their budget. This is the conversation you have at the Charleville Show.

The government's ability to close down the live cattle trade but unable to be even cognisant of the issue of wild dogs is a classic portrayal of how Australians have become completely disillusioned in the efficacy of government. You can see them switch off as you ask ''what can the government do to help?''

The government, in their eyes, is not capable of anything apart from a litany of rolling fiascos and pathological spending. The government is a second grade soap opera masquerading as adults on the nightly news.

Barnaby Joyce is the Nationals' Senate Leader.