So the State Labor Government finally realises its one-vote-one-value dream through legislation that redistributed electoral boundaries in Western Australia. “Foul!” brayed the Libs and National Party. “Gerrymander!” The new boundaries favoured Labor, they howled. And the Nats were so severely disadvantaged that they appeared destined for extinction at the next election.
O the irony.
Labor out on their arse, their fate determined by the Nats who find themselves more powerful than at any time in their history. So powerful that ultimately they, not the electorate, have decided the outcome of the cliffhanger election and put the rabble that was and IS the WA Liberal Party into office.
Only a month ago, the Libs were widely regarded as a joke, if not a State liability – an Opposition so dishevelled and weakened by intra-party division and sheer ineptness that even Lib members were lamenting that they were incapable of performing their fundamental role of keeping the Government on its toes through exposing defective policy and rigorous debate of the pros and cons of new proposals. No one gave them a monkey’s of ousting Labor from office at the next election.
Has resurrecting Barnett – a faded and failed past leader on the eve of retirement from politics – magically and instantly transformed a laughing stock of a party into a credible State Government…literally overnight? I don’t think so. But The People have spoken – sort of. I wonder how many of us out in the electorate would have knowingly entrusted our vote to Brendon Grylls to determine the Government in the event of a hung parliament?
But the Nats’ new power reaches further than merely determining which major party governs the state, and having a bloody big say in that process. Grylls stated openly that the over-riding reason that they chose the Libs as their governing buddies over Labor was to deny the Greens the balance of power in the Senate. This opens a clear passage for any legislation the Nats and Libs come up with.
Thus, the Greens, who attracted more votes than ever before, will have less say in the Senate than before the election. This is surely a glitch in the democratic system, which purports to represent the will of the people in the parliament. It’s the will of Grylls that is prevailing here.
You can’t help but dips yer lid to the bloke, though. He’s a political Moses of the bush, parting the Red Sea of Labor’s one-vote-one-value “gerrymander” and leading his party from extinction to salvation.
Further, he had the guts and cool to hang tough on his pledge not to form a coalition with the Libs, bent both major parties over and played one against the other to extract the best possible deal for the bush, subjected them (and the electorate) to an excruciating wait… then deferred to tradition and went with the Libs after all. Smart game. You gotta doubt that he ever really contemplated a Labor alliance.
But shit, is it right that a minority party that represents only a tiny proportion of WA’s population should have such power in determining where our money goes? Grylls’ Royalties for Regions demands a whopping 25% of the state’s mining royalties go to the bush.
The bush has been well-served by our political system in recent times. The Howard Government’s wranglings with Telstra, for instance, pandered to an expectation from country dwellers (a Lib/Nats support base that could not be ignored), that they enjoy ALL the mod cons of the city courtesy of the taxpayer, regardless of the incredible extra costs the tyranny of distance in this vast country imposes on rural infrastructure.
Ask any Yank about getting a mobile connection in the middle of the Nevada desert and they’ll look at you with incredulity.
Broadband services do not, generally, extend to many isolated rural regions of the US, and where they do, they are not government financed.
Yet in Australia, bush-dwellers expect the rest of the country to fork out to wire up tiny communities scattered over the rural expanses of the country. When you make a choice to live in isolated areas, there are pros and cons. Some aspects of isolated rural life are cheaper by far than in the cities – real estate, for example – while others are more expensive. Grylls’ Royalites for Regions assumes that it is the responsibility of governments, and therefore all taxpayers, to subsidise – nay, to pay for in total – those more expensive aspects of bush life.
Why should the urban community shell out extravagant amounts to compensate for the isolation that is, after all, the choice of rural folk?
What else does Mr Grylls, erm Barnett, erm Grylls, have in store for us? U-mining and GM crops, for sure. A reversal of the one-vote-one-value legislation, and a Lib-Nats gerrymander in its place. Aw, let’s take the thinking out of it. Just have a look at the conservative policy manifesto and tick every box you see.
And here’s another irony. The Libs couldn’t scrape together enough support to form government in their own right, yet we now have an alliance with as much power as any conservative government in WA political history.
Who could have imagined it would happen like this: a tired old pilot in the cockpit hostage to the whims of a brash young co-pilot with zero flying hours and a destination in mind that the bulk of the passengers were unaware of when they bought their tickets.
Fasten your seat belts, ladies and gentleman. We’re anticipating severe turbulance ahead.