Wednesday, 17 August 2022

Downunder's previous Prime Minister

is in trouble for "secretly" swearing himself in as Minister for This and Minister for That during the pandemic. We already had Ministers for This and That so this is being touted as a "Trump-like power grab". 

The present government is naturally making claims about the actions being illegal and it wants an investigation. The media has pounced on the politician they love to hate and are making some wild claims about it all.

Constitutional lawyers are being rather more cautious and suggesting that section 64 of the Constitution may not actually have been  breached.  This is the section which states  "Sec 64. Ministers of State. The Governor-General may appoint officers to administer such departments of State of the Commonwealth as the Governor-General in Council may establish. Such officers shall hold office during the pleasure of the Governor-General". 

They could be right or they could be wrong. If the matter ends up in the High Court we may find out. 

My own feeling is that it would have been much better for the previous Prime Minister not to do what he did and that it would have been much much better not to do it apparently so secretively. It does make it appear that he might have been attempting a power grab.

In all this however we need to remember that the Covid19 pandemic was also in the midst of a pandemic of hysteria. Governments all over the world were not sure what to do, how to cope, who to ask, where to go and more. 

Downunder was no different. Mistakes were made. There was always the possibility that one crucial government minister was going to be too ill to function. Having a back up available must have seemed like a sensible option. 

Were these actions really taken in secret or did people simply not communicate? Were they the actions of someone who did not trust his Ministers to do their job or were they the actions of someone who was trying to run the country in the face of a relentless campaign of criticism from the then Opposition and the media?  

The then Prime Minister was in a no-win situation. Had he made his actions public then the media would have had a field day - quite possibly to the point where it would have been impossible for decisions to be taken.  Our Commonwealth Public Service is not known for willing cooperation with that particular side of politics. As many of those "public servants" have happily pointed out to me there are ways of delaying decision making and delaying action which can add a great deal to ensuring a government is considered incompetent. "Yes Minister" is closer to real life than many would like to believe.

There are calls for the previous Prime Minister to resign. There are similar calls for the Governor-General to resign as well. Nobody seems to be asking the obvious questions. One of these is surely whether decisions were made as a result of these appointments which were deliberately designed to cause harm? 

Until that question is answered then those criticising would seem to be doing it for reasons of personality not purpose. 

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