Canberra circus

In the short time between magazine issues, a lot has happened in Canberra! The Liberal Party knifed Malcolm Turnbull and kicked him out of the Prime Ministership, causing him to quit Parliament and run away to New York. 

Unfortunately for the government, the people of Wentworth weren’t very happy their MP wasn’t the Prime Minister anymore, so they voted in an independent to replace him, making the government lose their majority in the House of Reps.

So now we have a new Prime Minister, and a government which is hanging on by a thread. Let’s take a closer look at what got us into this mess in the first place. 

The Spill 

Just after midday on Friday August 24, it was announced that Australia had a new Prime Minister named Scott Morrison. Morrison was Treasurer in the Turnbull government and Minister for Immigration and Border Protection in the Abbott government. 

The spill happened because Peter Dutton and the conservative factions in the Liberal Party got sick of having Malcolm Turnbull and his environment-loving and climate-change-hating in the country’s top job. They decided Peter Dutton would do a better job of it but unfortunately for him, Dutton’s colleagues in the Liberal Party disagreed and put Scott Morrison in the top job instead. Which was probably a good choice, because Morrison is vastly more popular with the electorate, and looks vastly less like a potato than Peter Dutton does.  

Was there any good reason to spill?

Not really. Malcolm Turnbull, and to a lesser extent Michael McCormack (leader of the National Party and deputy Prime Minister), have blamed a “determined insurgency from a number of people, both in the party room and backed by powerful voices in the media”.
Christopher Pyne said that it’s all Labor’s fault.

The conservative faction have said that it was the failing policies of leadership which led to their replacement - particularly the NEG and the big business tax cuts. These two policies were so disastrous and awful in the eyes of the party that their key architects, the former energy and environment minister and Treasurer, have also been given the boot with Turnbull. Just kidding, they’re the leader and deputy leader now. Go figure.

Scott Morrison has answered this question by saying that he is PM because his colleagues chose him to be. When asked why, he says because they did. Why though? Because. Because why? Well, because.

So, what has changed?

Honestly, not too much. The coalition government are still anti-science, anti-workers and anti-doing anything which doesn’t fulfil an ideological battle they’re having.

Ministers: Julie Bishop is out, and a bunch of key power-brokers have been given tidy ministry positions as a reward for the coup. Frydenburg is deputy leader of the party and Treasurer. Dutton has kept his 
super-ministry of Home Affairs but lost the immigration portfolio.

Slogans: “Jobs and Growth” is out, “Strong, Safe, Together” is in. As is a “new generation of government”.

Renewed focus on Anti-Union Legislation 

From Scott Morrison’s first day in the top job, he has made his anti-union agenda clear.

At the same time as the Royal Commission into banks was finding hundreds of thousands of breaches of criminal law, the government was trying their best to push through legislation which would make it easier for the government to deregister unions and intervene in who runs them.

Morrison’s first port of call was appointing ex-anti-union lawyer and former bank executive Kelly O’Dwyer as the minister for Jobs and Industrial Relations. She has appointed Graeme Watson as senior advisor, previously a notoriously conservative member of the Fair Work Commission.

Morrison has also taken to calling Bill Shorten union-bred, union-fed and union-led. Rather than cracking down on his proven-to-be-criminal mates in the banking industry, Morrison has decided that targeting worker-led organisations like ours is where his priorities lie.