Watch it, sunshine
Bob Brown should be first to chip in to Rob Oakeshott’s swear jar which the independent MP says needs topping up any time someone says the Labor government has a mandate.
The Greens leader appeared to contradict Oakeshott when he wrestled with the mandate question on Lateline last night. Asked what he thought of the member for Lyne’s view that the Gillard government shouldn’t be claiming to have a mandate, Brown replied:
Well it’s got - we got a proportional mandate, and it’s got the biggest mandate amongst the make-up of government, ah, and it’s certainly now got a stronger mandate than the Coalition.
But it’s a working mandate in collaboration with the independents and the Greens and we all bring our own sectional mandate to what should be a very productive government.
Well that’s five different types of mandate so if Oakeshott’s swear jar is $2 per infringement then that’ll be $10, thanks Bob.
By Brown’s addled thinking, if you count WA National Tony Crook as a Coalition MP, Tony Abbott should be the Prime Minister. (And doesn’t that sentence make you pine for the good ol’ days of hollow speculation just last week?)
Anyway, the points is that now The Greens finally have the kind of clout they’ve wanted for years, Brown needs to work on his delivery.
With the government’s majority so delicately balanced it would grind all policy implementation to a halt if Prime Minister Julia Gillard needs to run around putting out spot fires of disagreement between Labor, the Greens and the independents every time one of them does an interview.
Even today Tony Windsor was blindsided by Wayne Swan’s declaration of intent to legislate on the mining tax ahead of a tax summit agreed with the independents.
Gone is the comfort of being a party that could berate all others for their positions on the environment and immigration. The Greens are now partners in a brittle government which has the potential to fracture at multiple points. Brown doesn’t just have to avoid being overly critical of Julia Gillard, but has to think about Oakeshott, Wilkie, and Windsor too.
And that’s before this government puts together a strategy for dealing with Tony Abbott and the Coalition.
Brown’s clumsy dismissal of Oakeshott’s warning on mandate claims doesn’t amount to much but it is a signal of how fraught minority government can be, with any of the key players potentially finding themselves suddenly cornered by simple questions about their views on each other.
If you were under the impression that the surrealism of the past fortnight would suddenly disappear now we have a government, there are reports Brown said today he wanted to make this the “sunshine Parliament”.
Perhaps we can have a rainbow court system and a unicorn army to go with it.
In seriousness, the Fantasia-esque qualities of national politics since the election will soon be replaced with what Oakeshott warned would be “ugliness”. Brown needs to sharpen himself for it.
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