Monday 1 December 2014

I sympathise with the Australian Defence Force's

request for a pay rise in keeping with inflation but I cannot condone the antics of the senator who is threatening to block all legislation until that happens.
I believe defence forces should be paid fairly and, if they see active service in a war zone, they should be paid very fairly indeed. I am not one of those people who say, "Well, that's their job" and then expect them to do it on a pittance.
But I also believe that Senator Jackie Lambie is wrong. For those of you in the rest of the world let me explain who she is. She was elected to the Senate at the last election on the PUP (Palmer United Party) ticket in Tasmania - on 6.58% of the vote. It is only the peculiarities of our electoral system for the Senate that allowed her into politics on such a small percentage of the vote. 
There are other Senators there on an even smaller percentage of the vote. They wield a disproportionate amount of power.
Lambie wields more power than most. She is female and identifies as indigenous - both things help her get media attention. She knows how to use the media. She is outspoken and revelling in the attention she is getting. Her vote counts - as all votes should -- but it counts more than most because she is not a member of the government or the opposition.
And now she is not a member of the PUP either. It was perhaps unlikely that she would remain a member of the PUP for long. She is too independent minded for that. She is not a team player. She resigned from the PUP - cynics might say she used the PUP in order to get elected and then ditched them. I suspect they may not be too far off the mark. It may not be what she started out thinking but she soon came to the realisation that real power lay in being an "independent". Analysts now say she would be re-elected as an independent if there was an election and she put her name forward as a candidate. Yes, people might well vote her in again.
But right now she is not behaving in the way people expected her to behave. She was voted in as a member of the PUP. She has resigned from the party and claiming the right to vote as she chooses. That's wrong.
It is wrong because people voted for her on the understanding that she was a member of a team with a certain set of policies. She gained a seat because of our system of compulsory preferences - not because she was, at the time, the candidate of first preference but because she was the second or third.
And now she sits in one of the most powerful positions in parliament. She can make or break legislation - and mostly she will break it even if the government caves in on the issue of defence force pay. She will break legislation because she has tasted power and she wants to go on tasting it.
The Senate was set up as the states' house. It has long since become something else. That needs to change. Nobody should wield as much power as Lambie.


Jan said...

If she no longer belongs to PUP, she should resign and take her chances as an independent in another election. It is dishonest and unethical to remain elected when no longer representing those who elected her. I actually emailed her several day ago about this.

Anonymous said...

Same thing happened here with Martin Hamilton-Smith - calls himself an "independent Liberal" now but has a ministry in a Labor government. He should have resigned and allowed a by-election. Ros

Anonymous said...

I agree. Nobody should have that amount of power with so few votes. If we have preferential voting preferences should be counted if a candidate has a reasonable number of first preferences, and there are too many getting in with very few first preferences.

Even the preference votes which are distributed should be from candidates with a fair amount of first preferences.

(Doing the maths to work out what a fair number of votes would be would do my head in!)

catdownunder said...

We need to do away with preferences, especially compulsory preferences