When things get messy

jacqui lambie, cory bernardi, pauline hansonFriday Forum
Your views on the news

One Nation it seems is growing in respectability.

Tony Abbott has called Pauline Hanson a “voice of responsibility”, which marks something of a change of tune considering he once helped fund a prosecution that put her in jail.

Senior Liberal frontbencher and Howard era heavyweight Arthur Sinodinos also said that One Nation has grown more “sophisticated” while defending the deal by WA Liberals to preference them above the Nationals in that state’s upper house.

Clearly the Coalition is recalibrating how it deals with One Nation, as the once seemingly dead but never quite buried minority party continues its stunning resurrection and boasts strong polling numbers.

For most of the period since World War II it has been the left side of Australian politics that was more prone to seriously splinter.

Labor has variously contended with outright opponents or close competitors such as the DLP, the Australian Democrats and the Greens.

However, the right side looks increasingly brittle with former Liberal senator Cory Bernardi taking off to form another party and the threat of any defections in the lower house making the government fear for its majority.

There is also a raft of other political upstarts who perhaps defy easy left/right categorisation, such as Jacqui Lambie who both wants to ban Muslim women from wearing burqas but is implacably opposed to most welfare cuts.

Nick Xenophon is another who is hard to pin down and it was his blocking of the government’s omnibus bill containing a mixture of cuts and spending that prompted Abbott to express his newfound admiration of Hanson.

The increasingly messy Australian political landscape perhaps mirrors the deregulation of the economy – with the old Labor and the Liberal-led coalition duopoly losing market share to a host of start-ups and boutique retailers.

It could be argued that the new politics is more representative – although some might object to what is being represented – but in terms of passing legislation it makes herding cats look like a comparatively easy task.

What do you think is good or bad about the break-down of the Labor-Liberal parliamentary dominance?



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