Yesterday in Canberra, Australia, there was a leadership rumble in the governing Liberal National Party coalition. Incumbent Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was assailed by former Minister of , Peter Dutton, over his failure to grasp the real aims and objectives of the National Energy Guarantee. It came as after 38 consecutive polls showed the persistent gap between the Australian Labor Party and Liberal/National Party only succeeding in growing – the A.L.P. on 55% and able to comfortably govern; the Liberal Nationals on 45% and probably wondering how to safely and cleanly dispose of Mr Turnbull’s political carcass.
So, what would it mean if Australia had another rumble and it resulted in a Labor-led coalition? The LIberal National Party would have some seriously huge questions to answer both to the Opposition, but also the Australian voting public. Such as:
- Few in Australia now seem to have any confidence in a Government iinvolving individual Peter Dutton or Tony Abbott – two mean who seem to have scant regard for the nature of federal governance
- If the Turnbull Government falls, will there be the risk of others such as Fraser Anning, with openly hostile views towards minorities, trying to take over
- Is Bill Shorten fit to be Prime Minister of a country that is increasingly clearly saying “Go” to Malcolm Turnbull, should Labor win an election or will Tanya Pilbersek take over before then?
These questions are important, but I don not think that Australia can solve this identity crisis it is having without exploring a much bigger problem: Labor and the Liberals have become so much like the Democrats and Republicans in the United States. Fighting each other just for the sake of fighting each other, with almost toxic levels of contempt. Unable and unwilling to admit sometimes one party or the other may have better legislation.
I have already explained how the arrival of more refugees is not likely to cause adverse effects in New Zealand. I have also in the past explained how we have one of the best screening programmes in the west for newly arriving refugees and asylum seekers.
Also, the Australian leadership as it currently stands is non-compatible with New Zealand on a range of issues, from refugees and climate change to national security. The idea that has been floated that Australia should actively contribute to the armaments industry world wide by manufacturing and exporting armaments to whomever if it means jobs for Australia is fundamentally flawed. If this goes from being a daft idea on a back room whiteboard to being reality, it also puts a withering glare on the larger A.N.Z.A.C. identity that the two countries share.
New Zealanders in Australia are known to have it tough. Whereas other nations have clear paths to permanent residency or citizenship Australia does not have one for New Zealanders, thereby depriving New Zealanders living there a host of rights that go to Australian citizens, and nationalities of other countries where this is possible.
No one said murder or any other serious criminal offence is okay, but deporting people not originally from Australia back to where they came from is not okay if their lives are in danger. It is not okay, if that nation is recovering from a major disaster, to lump it with people who are Australian citizens because of some random isolated event in their past. So to deport people who have lived in Australia for nearly their entire life, and know nothing about New Zealand, have any connections there or support threatens to make already unstable people into time bombs.
Abandoning any effort at all to make good on Australia’s climate change commitments under the Paris Accord does not just undermine Australia, but also those nations that are trying to up hold their commitments.
I do not know whether the Australian Government of Malcolm Turnbull will fall. It might survive somehow to the next election, but its inability to do anything constructive for both Australia or the international community at large makes me doubt that its eventual demise will be a bad thing.
Certainly not to New Zealand.