Skip to comments.Allegations against Labor MP Craig Thomson could be the end of Gillard
Posted on 08/24/2011 6:30:54 PM PDT by naturalman1975
The silence of one man is killing the Gillard Government.
The public can only watch in despair at the latest political episode of a ridiculous soap opera.
Craig Thomson stands accused of misusing funds in his previous life as a union official. His credit cards and mobile phone were used to pay for prostitutes and bankroll his election campaign.
Normally you can't shut politicians up, especially if they perceive someone has done wrong by them.
But apart from saying he denies the allegations against him and someone else spent the money, Thomson says nothing else. He has not taken the many opportunities available to him to stand up in Parliament and give his full account of a saga that is dragging down an already drowning government.
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Now the drama has stepped up a notch. NSW police are certain to investigate after the Health Services Union today decided to refer the allegations to police. Fair Work Australia is already investigating the matter.
If the police clear Thomson, Gillard's defence of him will have been justified.
If they decide he should be charged that will ramp up the political pressure.
Because of the fragile nature of the hung Parliament that has Labor holding power by a single vote, Julia Gillard is forced to express full confidence in a man who won't express full confidence in himself.
(Excerpt) Read more at heraldsun.com.au ...
It's a matter of numbers.
In Australia, the government is determined by which Prime Minister and their party (or coalition of parties) can maintain a majority in the House of Representatives over matters of confidence and the budget.
There are 150 Members, which means you need 76 for a majority (as the government normally provides the Speaker who generally only votes to break a tie, this would actually effectively give them a 75 to 74 majority.
Following the election last year, Labor won 72 seats. The (conservative) Liberal/National Coalition won 73 seats. Labor managed to get over the line by an agreement with the sole Green MP, and the support of three of the four Independents in the House. This gives them the magic 76.
Labor did supply the Speaker, bringing them back to 75.
The Liberal/National Coalition has the support of one elected Independent, while one National Party MP has now said he's a semi-independent who does not feel bound by the coalition agreement, but who is still likely to support it on most issues, meaning for the purposes of confidence, it now has 74 MPs - either 73 Coalition +1 Independent, or 72 Coalition + 2 'Independents' depending on how you count that last National MP.
If Labor's Craig Thomson has to resign, a by-election would need to be held for his seat of Dobell, which he won by a margin of about 5%. Current Opinion Polls put the Coalition ahead by about eight percent, so it is likely that seat would fall to the Coalition in a by-election.
We would them have a Parliament where Labor had 71 MP, and the support of 3 independents and a Greens - 75 - and the Coalition has 73 MPs, but one Independent and one semi-Independent National MP - 75.
And as one of Labor's MPs is the Speaker, who only votes in a tie - the Coalition would functionally have a majority of 75-74.
The Opposition could pass a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister (and she might well lose one or more of her Independents at that stage as well - why prop up a government that will fall whether you support it or not, when you have a chance to try and join the winning team), and should that happen, the Prime Minister has one of two choices.
She can ask the Governor General to dissolve the House of Representatives so there can be another general election. In the circumstances, there is no reason the Governor General would not grant such a request. On current polling, Labor would be defeated in a landslide at such an election, given us a conservative government.
Or the Prime Minister could advise the Governor General that she cannot continue to form a government, and the Governor General would have to commission a new Prime Minister who could command a majority of the House on confidence and supply. The only realistic choice in that situation would be for the Governor General to immediately commission Tony Abbott as Prime Minister of a minority Liberal/National conservative government. I suspect that one of his first actions as Prime Minister would be to ask the Governor General for a dissolution of the House of Representatives himself, and she would probably grant it (she might ask him to attempt to govern for a time, but I doubt it in this case). In which case, again, the polls indicate that the end result of that election would be a conservative Liberal/National government with a substantial majority in the House - it would still have a minority in the Senate. Not much can be done about that for the moment.
Will all this happen? It's largely down to what Craig Thomson does. If he is convicted of a criminal offence which carries a potential sentence of more than two years in prison, he becomes ineligible to sit in Parliament, but he is, of course, entitled to a presumption of innocence unless and until he is convicted. The fact there is a police investigation, or even if he is charged, doesn't disqualify him - only a finding of guilt and a criminal conviction would. He is already under pressure to resign, and that will grow, if this scandal continues to grow. But he is also under pressure to stay from his own party. The question becomes how much pressure he can take, and what he decides is most important - himself or his party. And also, if at some point, the scandal becomes damaging enough to the Prime Minister to prevent her supporting him.
There are advantages to being able to throw out a sitting PM ... before his/her term in office has passed an arbitrary calendar limit.
Gillard and Rudd, what disasters.
Hoping she gets the boot, but I’m skeptical somehow.
And if this doesn’t get rid of her, she doesn’t have to call an election for a long time.
Just a question for you guys. Do you plan to have a real conservative, or instead follow the European route with a leader who is only sightly less liberal than a real Liberal
In other words, is your new ‘conservative’ going to say that road price is a terrible idea, so it shouldn’t be implemented until 2014, rather than 2012 (as the liberals would do), or would he say that it is such a bad idea that it shouldn’t be implemented at all.
Makes a big difference if you want to be wealthy country for the next few decades (something we’ve already rejected, by the way, with our debt).
Tony Abbott, the leader of Liberal Party, and therefore both leader of the Liberal/National coalition, and Leader of the Opposition, is a genuine conservative.
Not all of the party is (in particular, Malcolm Turnbull who was the leader before Abbott in 2009, and who some people would still like to see as leader, is very much a centrist), but Abbott is, and so are most of the leadership team.
One of his main agendas if he gets into power is to cancel the current Labor government’s massively expensive spending on a national broadband network (although parts that have already been completed will remain in place to avoid wasting money already spent) and instead encourage private industry to do it, and to block the even more expensive ‘carbon tax’ system. He is also committed to rolling that back, if it is put in place before he takes office.
Parliamentary systems are interesting things to watch and research.
But, from a distance.
Mush less stable than the constitutionally divided representative system we have. More prone to wide swings in either the electorate or the ruling majority party or the personality leading that majority party. No confidence votes. Seemingly arbitrary calls for elections. Governor Generals. All very alien concepts for those not exposed to such things.
Imagine whoever the Speaker of the House is becoming the President after each election every two years and reshuffling a government who then has to go and receive audience from the President (who is a ceremonial figurehead appointed by the Queen of Someotherplacefaracrosstheocean) each and every time a vote doesn’t go in his/her favor.
Thanks, that is a good start...although it’s still reactive, rather than pro-active. But the country is probably not yet ready for pro-active conservatives yet (we even aren’t, even here at FR...just mention means testing Social Security and you’ll see what I mean).
It looks less stable than it is.
In terms of stability, since the Second World War, Australia has had thirteen Prime Ministers. The United States has had twelve Presidents. Not much difference there (and one of our thirteen Prime Ministers was a caretaker after the disappearance of Prime Minister Harold Holt, and only served until a replacement could be chosen). You have had eight occasions when the party holding the Presidency changed. We have had eight occasions when the party holding government changed.
No confidence votes.
They exist in theory, but in practice, no Australian Prime Minister has ever failed to win an explicit Motion of No Confidence. The House of Representatives did pass one on November 11 1975 at the height of the Dismissal Crisis, but it had already been dissolved by the time the motion reached the Governor General. They are, in practice, rare in most Westminster style Parliaments.
Seemingly arbitrary calls for elections. Governor Generals.
The Governor General is the primary reason the system is stable. An apolitical figure who is required to ensure that things like elections aren't arbitrary, but who will only grant one if satisfied of the circumstances.
All very alien concepts for those not exposed to such things.
Yes, but coming up with any system that works is historically pretty rare in this world.
Imagine whoever the Speaker of the House is becoming the President after each election every two years and reshuffling a government who then has to go and receive audience from the President (who is a ceremonial figurehead appointed by the Queen of Someotherplacefaracrosstheocean) each and every time a vote doesnt go in his/her favor.
Well, first of all, they do not have to go to the Governor General every time a vote doesn't go in their favour - the Labor government lost a vote yesterday. It's not that uncommon (most of the time I wouldn't even know it had happened but the one yesterday was a little unusual so did get noticed). There have only been six occasions in Australian history where a Prime Minister lost a vote in the House of Representatives that was serious enough to require a visit to the Governor General, and the last of those was in 1931.
Secondly, the Queen is not the Queen of Someplaceovertheocean, but is the Queen of Australia. Yes, she's also the Queen of the United Kingdom, and another fourteen other realms, but if you are trying to understand the system, it is important to realise she rules separately in each of the 16 Commonwealth Realms. And while the Governor General has a lot of ceremonial duties, they also have some important real ones as well.
Great work, naturalman. I enjoy the reply and your hard info.
Touche, ya Digger. And, Advance Australia Fair.
“All very alien concepts for those not exposed to such things”
Yes, I’ve always liked our system, but yet most democracies seem to go with the parlimentery system, even if they have sort of figure-head “presidents”, like for example Israel.
I mean, I can see it where you’ve got a monarch.
Does any other country use our 3 branches system?
I also don’t get why 49 of the 50 states have bicameral state legislatures. Nebraska has managed fine with just one house. I’ve always thought this, since like 6th grade. It’s just a bogus way to get jobs for pols.
Great summary! Saw a poll today in the SMH that had the
Coalition leading Labor by 60 -40 on two-party-preferred in Thomson’s district. If Labor pull the current Speaker, I have to think lots of Australians would see it as a desperate attempt to cling to power. G’bye Julia!
I mean, I can see it where youve got a monarch.
The United States didn't have much choice. It had to create a new system from scratch. And the first attempt - the Articles of Confederation and the Confederation Congress - didn't actually work all that well.
And really, it's second attempt was quite heavily based on the British Westminster system - just with a modifications to address what the Founding Fathers saw as the greatest faults of that system. And some of those modifications were so clearly improvements that over the next century, Westminster adopted them into British practice - four of the great British Reform Acts of the 19th century involved codifying practices the United States had adopted first. The same thing happened in other ways in some other European nations as well.
So when from the mid 19th century onwards, more colonies and groups of colonies started seeking self government, the government systems they set up - even if based on their mother country's - were also heavily influenced by that of the United States. Australia is a good example of this - its constitution is explicitly a mixture of British practice of the 1890s (following the Reform Acts) modified with ideas drawn from the US Constitution. It's why we have a Monarchy and a Parliament which consists of a House of Representatives with roughly equal sized constituencies, and a smaller Senate with an equal number of Senators for each state.
Does any other country use our 3 branches system?
Again, Australia does. Executive, Legislature, and Judiciary, explicitly in the Constitution.
The Executive is the Executive Council of Australia which, legally speaking, consists of all Government Ministers, past and present, and is headed by the Governor General, but in practice consists of the Governor General and the Federal Cabinet. Because all Members of the Cabinet are Members of the Legislature, in most ways, the Governor General is the Executive. He or she is bound by conventions as to how they behave and so in most cases, it really just a rubber stamp for the actions of Parliament - provided everything in working as it should. In the case of a crisis, the Governor General actually has very broad powers to resolve that crisis. They're just not meant to use them very often. But it's there, and it's real.
Your President is far more likely to use his veto powers than our Governor General is, but if our Governor General chooses to veto, there's nothing Parliament can do about it. The thing is, no Governor General has ever used this power, because no government has ever presented a Bill for signature that was so egregious as to justify it. Because they know if they did, it would be blocked.
The Legislature is obviously Parliament, and the Judiciary consists of a variety of courts, from the High Court of Australia, down through the Supreme Courts of the states, through County Courts, Magistrates Courts, etc.
I also dont get why 49 of the 50 states have bicameral state legislatures. Nebraska has managed fine with just one house. Ive always thought this, since like 6th grade. Its just a bogus way to get jobs for pols.
Again, looking at the Australian experience, all of our states except one have a bicameral state Parliament. The exception is Queensland which abolished its upper House in the 1920s. Queensland is also the state which has come closer to having a fascist government than any other in Australia, which spent decades preserving itself in office through constant gerrymandering of electoral boundaries, and which was totally and completely corrupt. So it looks like the Upper House might actually do more than it looks.
Actually, there are reasons for them if you look at how they were originally structured. One of my friends is an Earl and he did sit in the British House of Lords until the right of hereditary peers to do so was abolished in 1999. I've talked about this with him, and his (admittedly self serving view) is that the existence of the British House of Lords with hereditary peers in place ensured that Parliament had people in it who were dedicated to preserving all that was good about their country - because their country's heritage was their family heritage (consider - the Prime Minister at the time of the Reform Act of 1832 which I mentioned previously was Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey - there is still an Earl Grey today - the 6th Earl Grey - who was a member of the House of Lords until 1999, as just one example), and also because they know and expect their country's future to be their family's future. It is their role to look at the long term implications of the laws and acts of Parliament, while it is the lower houses job to look at more immediate effects. Most Upper Houses, though not hereditary, have tried to tap into the same idea - longer terms, at least, sometimes very different ways of entering them, and other mechanisms to ensure they are less concerned about immediate concerns. Whether it works or not, depends on the legislature - and is often a matter of opinion.
Well, as a conservative, I thought it was a disgrace what happened to the house of Lords in Britain. Once again Egalite runs amok.
I can definitely see the need for an upper house nation wide, but perhaps they are useful at a state level. The only think I know for sure about Nebraska is that Johnny Carson came from there.
The Earl Gray, they’re the ones with the tea! They must have been pretty important to have a tea named after them (him?).
Keeping an eye on OZ.
Comments? evaluations? ...if any.