What a Delicious Mess!
The machinery of democracy thundered to a halt and, in a magnificent riposte to the process of Australian constitutional democracy - Australia farted.
The result of yesterday’s Federal Election amply demonstrates the general impoverishment of politics in this country. However, from the dross, disgust and disillusionment emerged some important lessons and, from the dung pile, oozed some unlikely winners.
The election raises yet again the critical lesson concerning the contradiction between ‘democracy’ and compulsory voting. It raises serious questions about the efficacy of Australia’s opaque preferential/proportional voting system. It highlights the antiquated voting and counting processes and, significantly, it speaks volumes about the politically timorous nature of the Australian people who, when given the opportunity for real change – flunked it.
The primary winners from yesterday are the chattering classes and their commentariat who collectively will have no end of fodder to ruminate upon.
The result will be accepted with delight by both cynics and idealists alike. The cynic will delight at the consequential mess and the idealist will rejoice inasmuch the mess might serve as a wake-up call to the nation that its political system sorely needs address.
The rejuvenated ALP/Greens Axis emerged as an unlikely winner. The alternative Prime Minister Bill Shorten conducted a successful, unscrupulous and disingenuous campaign. This is from a man who six months ago was written-off because of his low opinion poll ratings. His was a remarkable achievement. It is worth noting that the disingenuity and simplicity of his campaign proves correct the old maxim about the importance of repeating a story, irrespective of its truth, loudly and often enough!
By contrast, the treacherous Turnbull has, in the alternative Prime Minister’s words, well and truly lost whatever mandate he may have claimed he had. Ironically, it would appear that his treachery and his overweening ego has delivered the Australian people into the arms of a much needed period of political rapprochement. The strong showing by independents and minor parties stands as ample testament to this.
With respect to Turnbull I am particularly reminded of the Gothic eighteenth-century English nursery tale:
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king's horses and all the king's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again.
No amount of spin can ever put Turnbull together again. He knifed his predecessor, he enjoyed a large parliamentary majority, he was supposedly the love child of the chatteratti and business, he engineered and called the double-dissolution election and he botched it.
To watch a man driven by such supreme ego fall from grace in such a spectacular manner is akin to a Greek tragedy. There is something both cleansing and tainting to witness the unravelling of ego into its inevitable denouement.
The speeches delivered last night by both putative Prime Ministers were instructive. Shorten’s was artfully crafted, sneering and pugnacious. Turnbull’s was unscripted, intemperate, accusative and less than gracious. Listening to Shorten was to listen to a trade union leader incapable of concealing his smugness at having ‘stuck-one up’ the bosses. Listening to Turnbull was to listen to pure ego barely able to conceal his infuriation at his humiliation.
Neither are deserving of a place at the High Table.