Kinder, gentler polity… Um? What was that?

“I, meanwhile, am still helpless with laughter at the new improved Tony Abbott’s call for a kinder, gentler polity.” – Me, 27 August. It seems my cynicism was justified. This was “I don’t really mean this” Abbott speaking, not the “read my lips” Tony. Abbott 2, not Abbott 1.

Is Australia’s "kinder, friendlier" Parliament dead before it has even sat?

@PresidentCOB: Lib Senator George Brandis tells ABC @612brisbane Fed Govt "has as much legitimacy as the Pakistani cricket team"… Brandis says Coalition won more seats… and more votes.

Today’s lead story in The Sydney Morning Herald offers more on the “new paradigm”:

THE Greens and the independents have offered Tony Abbott the opportunity to help govern from opposition, saying they would pass any policies with which they agreed, including paid parental leave, whether Labor liked it or not.

As the political establishment comes to grips with the concept of minority government, the Greens leader Bob Brown said the Parliament belonged to everybody, not just the government.

”Please think about it,” he said.

He was backed by the independent Tony Windsor, who suggested the Coalition tone down its venomous attacks on the government and independents.

”There’s good stuff that can come from anywhere and that’s why the Liberals are silly to be running this sort of stuff,” he told the Herald.

”They can do things with us and the executive won’t have the power to shut them down. The opposition can be part of the government, too.”…

The accompanying poll reads thus at the moment:

Poll: Should the Greens and the independents support legislation put up by Tony Abbott and the Opposition?

  • No, it is the government’s job to propose new laws.  22%
  • Yes, all bills should be assessed on their merits.  78%
  • Total votes: 633

My current local member, Tanya Plibersek, is reading the signs:

Edmund Burke, the 18th-century British parliamentarian said, "All government, indeed every human benefit and enjoyment, every virtue, and every prudent act, is founded on compromise and barter."

With good management and much effort, we may be embarking on a golden age of Australian democracy.

The Labor government will continue to pursue its investments in education, health, broadband and the environment but has also agreed to boost our efforts in regional Australia with an investment of $10 billion.

The independents and the Greens have their own views on a range of topics but with no party having an outright majority in either house, compromise will be the order of the day.

Still, this compromise may be the making of us all. Many believe that John Howard’s downfall as prime minister can be dated from the time he won control of the Senate. WorkChoices couldn’t have been passed without control of both houses.

Democracies can flourish when a wide cross-section of the community’s views are represented. Having to negotiate compromises before introducing legislation into the House of Representatives – not waiting until the Senate – will be more difficult for ministers, but not impossible, and many cases beneficial…

My grandfather, Roy Christison, would have been fascinated. He always maintained that voting on party lines was the ruination of politics.

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