Sep 302010

Two conflicting articles by two journos of challengable positions ideologically, in the same equally ideologically challengable media outlet today.

Matthew Franklin, a redoubtable Murdoch flag-waver, makes the claim today that the PM has been “mugged by the new paradigm“. Franklin, in his piece, makes much to-do about the fact that a government was rolled on a vote in the House yesterday for the first time since 1962.The ABC, by the way, states it was the first loss of a vote by any government since 1941. As to who is correct seems rather semantic and especially over such a minor issue, as confirmed by the second article in The Australian today.
Samantha Maiden writes today on the same issue, but with a tad more intricacy than Franklin (Surprise! Surprise!), revealing that the loss, such as it was, appears to have been created by the Speaker, Harry Jenkins, as a message of sorts to his colleagues on the government benches that the position of Speaker cannot be manipulated on his watch. Further, Maiden goes on to allude to the Deputy Speaker position, held now by coalition member Peter Slipper, as being deliberately engineered by Labor, casting the pall of ‘rat’ over Slipper within his own ranks. So, in one literal breath, she lauds the power & position of Speaker, as exercised by Jenkins, and denigrates the Deputy position, as exercised supposedly, by Slipper. Yet, Jenkins himself has made abundantly clear that he and only he will decide who sits in the Speaker’s chair at any given point in proceedings. Peter Slipper a ‘rat’ for accepting a position he is reputedly keen on from a Parliamentary reform perspective? Is it now somehow undesireable within coalition ranks to persue valid Parliamentary reform, and wanting to be seen as such?
The “new paradigm”, which is not really anything new in democratic politics given minority governments have existed and functioned to varying degrees in varying forms for the past 110 years in this country, as well as internationally, will create changed perspectives on both sides of the House. As some more responsible journos have pointed out, the Senate has operated within a similar form of paradigm for decades, with a brief hiatus during the latter half of the Howardian epoch. For neither of the major parties to have a majority is said to be a good thing. I guess it depends on your point of view. Clearly, for those at The Oz, for the coalition to not be in government is not a good thing, or conversely, for Labor to be in government, hardly palatable. But minority governments do work. History is replete with examples. Continual references by partisan media outlets to perceived failures or disjointed governmental functionality does not of necessity make it so. Minority governments work as long as those responsible for making them work do their jobs, and in a democracy, that requires a a cogent, sensible and responsible opposition as much as it requires the same from government elements. Indeed, given those elements exist, and in good faith function effectively, the media is left with very little to do. Of course, that’s hardly likely to slow those within the Main-Stream Media with a cyclopian outlook, is it?