As previously stated in this tome, Bannerman enjoys partaking of the audio provided by ABC Newsradio from the federal Parliament when it sits. Today’s broadcast from the Senate struck particular chords with the Bannerman, in particular the addresses to the house on the Australian Citizenship Bill 2006 and Australian Citizenship (Transitionals and Consequentials) Bill 2006 by Senators Nettle (Greens) and Bartlett (Democrats).
Senator Bartlett spoke first, of the two, and to my mind was the most impressive of all the speakers on the issue. He adequately identified, as did Senator Nettle, the pertinent issue surrounding the further discussions on these bills, that being the governments reticence to complete what they started in 2005 in the introduction of both pieces of legislation in draft form.
Politics watchers will recall the Howardian attempt to wedge a Beazley-led Labor opposition following the Cronulla riots, with an attempt at introducing a debate into Australian society on what makes an Aussie. Values, beliefs and all that ’touchy-feely’ stuff. The wedge failed because Labor saw it coming. Labor supported the changes to citizenship legislation, with some minor amendments like proposing that applications for citizenship requiring three years permanent residency rather than the conservatively proposed four. Having had their party pissed upon, the Government then proceeded to sit on its collective hands on the citizenship issue until now. Interestingly, we’re now in an election year. The David Hicks issue is coming to a boil, as are the relatively minor issues contained within this legislation with regard to pre-1984 British citizens continuing to be permitted to vote in certain elections providing they hold permanent residency. Post-1984 British citizens apparently don’t hold that right, permanent residency or no.
Andrew Bartlett, in his own quietly spoken but cutting fashion, laid into the government for its transparency on the issue, and its laxness in addressing an issue it started as a political ploy, yet failed to see through when that ploy failed. Bannerman applauds you, Andrew. Bannerman also knows who won the Alan Border Medal, but like yourself, doesn’t regard being able to cite same as a qualifying point in ascertaining citizenship values. Senator Nettle spoke well, as always, identifying the government’s political game-play for what it was, and calling them out on their failure, despite the rhetoric, to follow through on the important issues surrounding citizenship. Bannerman agrees, wholeheartedly. If it’s important enough to use as a political tool, it’s important enough to be seen to be promoted by the government, rather than simply allowing the debate to atrophy for lack of engagement by the instigator.
This issue, among many others, are marks of this governments tenor. Nothing is above being used as a political tool to wedge out any opposition. Everything is a ploy, a tactic. The strategy being to utilise anything and everything in order to hold onto power. That’s all well and good. As a realist, Bannerman fully acknowledges that the game of politics is just that. One of strategy and tactics. Politics is also a game of hearts and minds, which the minor parties are all too well aware of, and the majors, arrogantly ignorant. 2007 is an election year. If, as some pundits are supposing, Howard decides to take that drive to Yarralumla in July, with an August federal election to be done and dusted well prior to the showboat of global politics casting off in America, then there’s precious little time for either of the major parties to come to the realisation that the voters aren’t as stupid as presumed. The Howardians are banking on the fear factor still and Labor is banking on the hope that the Aussie voter has had enough. Both are really too tired to get out of their own road. Or rut, as it were.
On the basis of what was heard today, providing more than a smattering of voters take the interest in Oz politics that Bannerman does, the majors might just be in for a hell of a shock later this year.