Federal Politics


Worthy issues lost in the chaos

If you only knew the chaos which is the last parliamentary week as everyone tries to get all they need before Christmas.

It is a very dangerous week for all, as the tension, otherwise known as being sick of each other, plays on and frays the nerves of all participants. I have to admit, I thought we may have had an election because of the evident turmoil.

The left of Labor have rolled the Prime Minister, never a good omen for the career prospects, on the recognition of Palestine. I am sure there will be quite some interest that an unambiguous, bipartisan position that has been held in Australia since 1948, on the integrity of Israel's borders, has now been made ambiguous.

We have departed from a joint position with our major ally, the US, in favour of foreign policy on the run from a left caucus gone rogue. Now all would agree that the Left has been getting walked all over and no better example exists than its latest endorsement of Pauline Hanson's boat policy, but why does Israel have to be the whipping boy for the Left's weakness on virtually every other policy?

The AWU issue just got brought back out by the people who came out to put it away. The Prime Minister's ex-boyfriend Bruce Wilson's statement that Ralph Blewitt was occasioned to burying money from what the Prime Minister termed as their ''slush fund'', in the backyard does not help credibility.

Why put money in the bank when you have a perfectly good back yard?


It is almost as if they were trying to hide the funds from proper scrutiny as Mr Blewitt was unsure of how to explain to a bank, or anyone else with a slightly inquisitorial mind, exactly how he came by his little subterranean benevolence.

The Murray-Darling Basin Plan concluded with more a whimper than a bang after being massaged and negotiated within an inch of its life.

It should be noted that the accusation that the opposition is incessantly negative is, like many accusations in politics, a political talking point that does not stand the rigours of closer investigation.

Minister for Water Tony Burke negotiated with state and federal politicians from the Coalition over months and the conclusion was the passage of a plan that NFF president Jock Laurie said was as good a deal as we were likely to get. The default position was a plan negotiated by the Greens who had wished to take up to 7600 gigalitres out of the Basin.

This would have resulted in a form of Murray-Darling Basin year zero where the economy would be devastated and Australia, far from being the food bowl of South-East Asia, would be relying on South-East Asia to feed us.

The ultimate goal of the Greens, to return us to the forest floor to eat beetles and nuts would be a step closer. The reality that the Greens' concern for social justice does not extend to the 2.2 million who live in the Basin was on display as we saw the policy objective that put frogs ahead of people.

The sadder reflection of the parlous and caustic state of end-of-year politics is that lobbying for issues of worthy moment becomes nearly pointless.

While Mr Blewitt and Mr Wilson are arguing about who did what when with other people's money and whether or other Prime Minister Gillard knew why and how when they were all mates together, means that nothing much else gets done in Parliament. For Labor that may be a blessing.

I have just been dealing with industry groups asking for some of Australia's gas reserves to be quarantined for Australian manufacturing; certainly an issue worthy of consideration.

Yesterday another group was lobbying for the assistance of the government to create a rail corridor from the coal areas of Queensland to the iron ore reserves of Western Australia creating massive steel mills either side, between which would run fully-laden trains of coal going over and iron ore coming back.

These are the ideas that deserve attention in Parliament.

Sadly they will not get that attention because by a range of actions, from Craig Thomson to the carbon tax, Australia and apparently members of the Labor caucus have lost confidence in the leadership.

Labor states that Australia no longer complains about a Parliament on crutches so they are happy with them.

No, they are just resolved that the process is crippled.

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


Comment are now closed