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Julia Gillard must call an election now

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Julia Gillard must gain a mandate from the people.

There is nothing wrong with a sitting Prime Minister being pulled down in the middle of his or her term by the Parliament, because a Prime Minister needs the confidence of the lower house to form government under the Westminster system. If a PM is, for example, destroying the nation, it is a very good feature of our system that they can be deposed mid-term with relatively little fuss. It is like a safety-valve or a reset button that allows us send the incumbent down the plank and get another to do the job before they really stuff things up. I'm not saying Kevin Rudd was, mind you...


FACTS:  for right or wrong reasons, Kevin Rudd had lost the confidence of the House of Reps and Gillard held it. People are making much of various unelected power-brokers in the union movement pulling the strings and toppling Mr Rudd and it is certain they did just that. Nevertheless, the fact remains that if a majority of the parliamentary Labor Party had told them to bugger off, these now not so “faceless grey men” could never have deposed the prime minister. Only our elected representatives can do that.

But now that the act has been done an election must be called at the earliest possible time. It seems that everything needful has been done that was needed to be done to “get the country back on track” (as Gillard repeats at every opportunity). Really, now that the mining tax issue has been resolved, what other catastrophe is there to fix? Refugees? Puh-lease.

No, an election must be called now.

The last election was framed, and we voted, in a clear presidential style contest between John Howard and Kevin Rudd. Though we do not actually vote for the prime minister in Australian elections as such, in practical terms we do. We know who the leaders are and vote for our local member as a proxy for this person to a large extent. Let's face it, we don’t really know our local members in most cases, but do end up getting a feel for a prime minister. More than that, we obviously need to have confidence in the person running of the executive wing of government when this wing has such vast powers.

We didn't vote for Gillard, but now she is running the ship. Let the people decide whether they want her as captain.

As Alex Mitchell says in his article ‘Democracy 101′, published by the Fairfax Press on Sunday July 4:

“[Wait] until the Liberals, down the track, dump a prime minister for a reactionary demagogue [mid-term] and then watch the Laborites howl to high heavens.”

It is perhaps a weakness of our system that we do not vote directly for the prime minister. Therefore, it is only proper that political parties not seek to exploit this weakness and put our democracy at risk simply because they covet power so ardently. The dodgy South Australian election put the spotlight on Labor and their ruthless and amoral approach to retaining power. What happens next in the federal sphere will be a fascinating litmus test for the federal Labor party and the new prime minister in particular.
   
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