Phillip Coorey has an interesting piece in the AFR today setting out Liberal options.
- Dump the paid parental scheme
- Split the mining tax repeal legislation
- Bring down a mini-budget (even if it isn’t called a mini-budget)
But it was this bit that caught my eye:
The soonest this government would call a double dissolution would be late next year. And not before it had achieved three things: demonstrate clearly that the Senate was making the country ungovernable; pass the laws – which Labor and the Greens will support – to stop the likes of Muir and other micro-parties gaming the Senate system ever again; and restore its fortunes in the polls so as not to ensure its own demise by sending everyone back to the ballot box.
I don’t disagree with the analysis – but I think the government faces two problems:
- Right now I don’t think that they have made the case that the Senate is making the country ungovernable. To be sure the Senate has been holding up legislation, but that has been legislation the broader community doesn’t understand and of what it does understand, it doesn’t like.
- The government needs to work very hard at restoring its fortunes. This means that people other than Scott Morrison have to step up. Right now he (and I do like Bronwyn Bishop) is the only solid performer. Niki Savva had some words of wisdom on this point on Thursday:
Hockey is talented and a good parliamentary performer but he doesn’t think strategically and fails to grasp that his words have consequences. Each one matters, whether it’s to journalists or to his colleagues, who complain about his general crankiness, his sensitivity to criticism and his propensity to surround himself with backslappers.
He is the Treasurer, not Jacqui Lambie. He has to be well-briefed and measured in everything he says or does.
Yes – Joe Hockey needs to step up a notch and stay up at that level. He has potential to be a great Treasurer – but on his current form people will think of him in the same terms as Wayne Swan and not in the same terms as Peter Costello.
Then there is the third point: Playing silly-buggers with the Senate voting system to “to stop the likes of Muir and other micro-parties gaming the Senate system ever again”. Well what does that mean? Who are these “micro-parties” that annoy so much? Well I count PUP, LDP, FF, AMEP and Xenophon as being the ‘micro-parties” while the ALP, the Coalition and The Greens as being the majors.
So what happened at the last election (including the WA re-run)? So I did some quick and dirty number analysis (yes I know Senators are voted in on a State basis etc) looking at the overall national vote.
The LDP had to get over 500,000 votes to get one Senator, the ALP over 300,000 per Senator. PUP just over 200,000 per Senator. Okay those are national figures and so on, but it does give some indication of national support for the various parties – it isn’t clear that “reform” to make it difficult for micro-parties to gain representation would be entirely legitimate.
The other thing that needs to be mentioned is that ALP-Greens vote was down by about 9.5% on the 2010 election – but the Liberals didn’t pick up those votes. They went elsewhere – why is that? The message is that the Liberals (and the Coalition more generally) need to lift their game.
Here in Victoria a Labor-lite Liberal government is about to lose office after just one term, the NSW Coalition government, also Labor-lite, is likely to survive. So far the federal Coalition government has been tough on rhetoric, tough on asylum seekers, but soft on the actual debt and deficit and entirely slack in explaining what they are up to, and why they should remain in office. They should learn from the Victorian experience.