Once again the Liberals have shown themselves to be the party of ‘No’. Premier Colin Barnett of Western Australia has taken his bat and ball and gone home from the Health negotiations.
Whenever the Liberals' vote is needed in the national interest they withhold it. Wherever co-operation is required, they are absent. They attend negotiations, but not in good faith, even when big concessions are offered. When they don’t get all they want they either spit the dummy and go home, or, as with the ETS, reneg. They are like barrackers in the cheap seats, big grins on their faces, always with something smart-arsed to say, or with contempt in their hearts, but nothing constructive to add to the debate. No policies, no framework, no ideas, no contributions… the word that best describes their attitude towards governance of the country is ‘No’.
The SMH headline from Tuesday afternoon says it all:
Deal with Labor leaders
I think the voters will be gradually coming to that conclusion, too.
90% of the country (as represented by five Labor premiers and two Labor Chief Ministers) has gone with the deal...not the original deal, but a genuinely negotiated one, with extra incentives put onto the table in answer to expressed objections. Negotiations have proceeded in good faith. There have been hurdles in the way, seemingly insurmountable arguments and objections, but somehow in the backrooms of Canberra and the state capitals, a deal was hammered out.
Except in Western Australia... and wherever it is Tony Abbott is currently riding his bicycle or surfing a breaker.
First we had Abbott's no-policy negativism at the Press Club debate. Abbott was so weak on that occasion he was mauled by a worm. Then Colin Barnett left the country when Health negotiations reached fever pitch in recent weeks. That was his way of saying, 'Eff you all' to the rest of Australia. Recovering from his drubbing at the debate, Tony Abbott went riding his bike as a diversion. Peter Dutton, the Shadow Health spokesman, has been off the air, too worried about cherry-picking safe seats, for months. These losers are supposed to be mature politicians, but their strategy revolves around just saying ‘No’. Why? Because they can.
This negativism abounds in other areas too, especially in Parliamentary proceedings: pointless 'Points Of Order', useless, doomed divisions, filibusters, welching on deals... and then they have the hide to taunt the government for not being able to get its reforms through, as if the Liberals had nothing to do with blocking them!
To asylum seekers they just say, ‘No’. They don't say what they would do. They only ever tell us what they won't do, like the demented nihilists they are.
Egged on by their media cheer squad (thankfully diminishing in size, if not in volume as yet) they have convinced themselves that, if they make things hard enough for Rudd, government will just fall back into their laps. It is so much easier to block and defeat almost every initiative the government tries to get up and running than to contribute constructively and positively. It is also completely, utterly, bone lazy.
Clinging to the last vestiges of anachronistic parliamentary powers left to them after their decimation at the last election, cheered on by a corrupt media run by a wizened, bitter old man in New York, they and their shills stick to the belief that a miracle is about to happen, anytime soon. They mindlessly obstruct everything in order to make government in Australia almost impossible, waiting for the day when the scales will be lifted from what they assume is an adoring public's eyes to make way for their triumphant return, meanwhile conserving as much energy as possible by eschewing policy development, and lately even rational thought.
I am not so sure that the rest of the Australian public, after seeing a universal Health deal put in jeopardy by a Liberal government representing just 10% of the voters, will acclaim Barnett's, Abbott's and Murdoch's unrelenting negativism for too much longer. Over 65% of the Australian public wants health reform. Even in Western Australia the figure is above 50%. We came so close only to see the Liberals' favourite word trump what could have been a truly historic, unanimous, agreement. That word is ‘No’. It is the shortest, but most appropriate epitaph I can think of for a once great party that had reduced itself to daydreaming about the glory days and putting its periodic electoral fortunes ahead of the country's best interests.
Only they know what's best for Australia. Only they can save us from dreaded change. Only they can be trusted to keep the country on the rails until the hated Rudd is swept away to electoral oblivion later on in the year. In the meantime they just say ‘No’.