ANALYSIS ‘Fiasco’ in Parliament shows why Australians hold disdain for their leaders
With the spotlight on the behaviour of our politicians and their treatment of women, the New South Wales Upper House couldn’t have given a better example of why Australians hold so much disdain for their leaders.
Liberal John Ajaka retired from politics in March, leaving the Presidency vacant. A vote was held to replace him. Fellow Liberal Natasha Maclaren-Jones (the Premier’s pick) was nominated by the government, and secured 20 votes. Peter Primrose got 14, and eight were informal.
Game over? No.
Labor refused to accept the vote, because Natasha Maclaren-Jones did not secure a majority of the House. They feared she would not be “independent” as Chair, and would be “told what to do”.
Six weeks later, in a desperate (and ultimately misguided) attempt to push through the stalemate, the government marched its pick into the Chair.
Natasha Maclaren-Jones forcibly took control, a move met by shouting, jeering, and finger pointing from the Opposition benches that can only be described as vicious.
Leader of the Opposition in the Upper House Adam Searle said Maclaren-Jones “stole” the role. His Deputy, Penny Sharpe, called it a “coup”.
But separate sets of legal advice prepared to inform the House had opined that Maclaren-Jones was the elected President.
According to both the Solicitor-General and Bret Walker SC, the informal votes should be discounted, and therefore Maclaren-Jones had a majority of the formal votes and was the new president.
Ultimately, she was rolled (the Greens, Animal Justice Party and Shooters voted with Labor), and replaced by conservative Matthew Mason-Cox.
In a boardroom, it would be called bullying. On Macquarie Street, it’s called tactics. Two sides, with a blinkered determination to land a political punch, at any cost.
The Liberals had lined up a woman to face the firing squad. Labor MPs were all too keen to take a shot. The spin machine went into overdrive. The Liberals claim Labor had publicly humiliated a woman. Labor says if the Premier was serious about promoting women, she would do it within her own cabinet.
Liberal Catherine Cusack said it best: “This has been a fiasco and nobody has honour in what’s occurred.”
A chaos so ugly, yet so predictable, it could only be seen in the arena of a blood-sport we call Australian politics.
And with all sides equally responsible, no wonder there’s so little hope for change.