This week, the Coalition finally admitted what many had already suspected: preference deals with Pauline Hanson’s One Nation (PHON) and Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party (UAP).
GUNNING FOR WINNERS
Everyone likes to win. Society generally rewards winners. However, progressive societies, the kind most of us want to live in, are also concerned about the way the game is played.
The current iteration of the Federal Liberal-National Coalition appears to have thrown the rules of competition, indeed, of governance, out with the Joyce baby’s bathwater.
Now, yes, every government needs to take steps to maintain power. But how can anyone of conscience be complicit in the election to parliament of people who sell out to gun manufacturers? Of people who believe climate change is a hoax because of … “dinosaurs” and “water”? Or, of people who willfully cheat Australian taxpayers in order to line their own pockets?
PALMER'S CALLOUS DISREGARD FOR VOTERS
UAP Leader Clive Palmer has shown contempt for voters, at best. The worst scenario is that he has knowingly ripped off his own workers and Australian voters. Australian taxpayers footed the bill when the Coalition Government paid his outstanding $67 million in worker entitlements, for which he is facing legal action.
Criminal charges have also been imposed by ASIC for his alleged illegal business dealings.
Palmer has promised to pay the $7 million owed to his Queensland Nickel workers, still outstanding more than three years after they were laid off, initially, only after the Federal Election, and then indicating he had already paid this amount. Palmer has previously referred to these people – his former employees whose entitlements he has until now refused to pay – as "hopeless".
On his initial entry into Parliament in 2013, Palmer’s statement of interests included over 200 companies, directorships and various investments and trusts, all of which he refused to divest because he argued:
"Mate, I've got more money than you could ever dream of, what's the conflict of interest?"
Of course, at least one of these “non-conflicting” interests is an enormous Queensland coal mining operation awaiting government approval.
And it’s not only Clive himself who treats the democratic process with callous disregard. ‘At least 19 UAP candidates have submitted incomplete or inconsistent information to the Australian Electoral Commission’, relating to their eligibility to run for parliament. In one of these cases, the candidate for Hume Lynda Abdo apparently informed the UAP that her parents were born in Syria and Lebanon on four occasions (which would constitute a s44 breach), but the party still omitted these facts in its submission to the AEC.
As Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek put it:
"… What is in it for Clive Palmer? What deal has Scott Morrison made? We know that Clive Palmer does nothing for people without expecting some return on his investment. What's the deal here?"
Well, we now know that the Coalition – whose most memorable achievement over the last four administrations is arguably the Howard Government's gun legislation – five minutes after the Christchurch atrocity, is even prepared to sell out on this vitally important regulation.
TREACHEROUS, TREASONOUS PHONIES
Which brings us to that ever-entertaining, PHON Leader Pauline Hanson and her ever-changing, merry band of candidates. We might laugh at her preposterous ramblings, such as the recent interview she gave on that ever-willing platform, The Today Show, in which she rambled incoherently about dinosaurs and climate change. But funny or not, Hanson and her Party are dangerous.
As managing editor Dave Donovan wrote:
Pauline Hanson’s chief of staff, the infamous James Ashby, and PHON’s number one Senate ticket holder in Queensland, Steve Dickson, revealed One Nation were prepared to sell-out Australian law-making to far rightwing American groups, such as the NRA and the Koch Brothers, in exchange for cold hard cash...
In the opinion of this publication, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party is both treacherous and treasonous, and must be wiped off the electoral map at the next Federal election — likely to be held sometime in May. The fact the Party seems to be run these days by James Ashby – a convicted criminal, who Independent Australia has been repeatedly exposing since 2012 and about whom we published a book – merely reinforces the reprehensible nature of this organisation. Ashby is currently banned from Parliament House after getting into a fist fight with a former One Nation Senator in the reception area.
SELLING OUT AUSTRALIANS
It is not surprising that this Prime Minister would look to cosy up to the likes of Clive Palmer and Pauline Hanson. This is the PM whose elevation to the role is dubious in itself.
Scott Morrison's rise to fame began with him
... winning the seat of Cook for the Liberal Party, despite losing the pre-selection ballot 82 votes to 8, after the opposing candidate, Michael Towke, was disendorsed over allegations of branch-stacking and fraud. These claims were later proven to be false, after a successful defamation action against the Daily Telegraph newspaper. Suspicions linger that Morrison had run a dirty tricks campaign through the media to demonise Towke and parachute himself into the seat.
The culmination of Morrison's ascension is his "accidental" appointment as Leader of the Liberal Party and unelected Prime Minister, after successfully deposing Malcolm Turnbull.
ScoMo is the man who made a name for himself with his unconscionable hard line on refugees. A trophy proclaiming this "achievement" sits proudly in his office. This is the man who repeatedly voted against a banking royal commission. He is the man who refuses to deal with any of the allegations of corruption against his ministers, including the Paladin fiasco, the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, the Murray-Darling Watergate scandal or Peter Dutton’s growing list of dubious dealings, to name but a few highlights.
Is it really surprising that a Party led by such a man would get into bed with the likes of Palmer and Hanson et al?
This editorial was originally published as part of the Independent Australia weekly newsletter. These editorials are usually only available to subscribers and may be read online in the IA members only area.
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