Contrary to the thrust of Malcolm Colless’ analysis herein, a fresh assault on Trade Union powers and privileges by the Coalition strikes me as neither prudent nor indicated by the transitory effects of polls.
But the political sands have shifted significantly since the heady days of Labor’s victory. Concern about the erratic style of government, which can be traced directly to Kevin Rudd’s preoccupation with policy micro-management, is starting to show up in the polls and Labor is not the sure-fire election winner it was a few months ago.
Perhaps. Still, unless we assuage resultant concerns somewhat, there’s nothing quite like perceptions of vested interests being threatened to guarantee massive electioneering war-chests flowing to the wrong hands. In the 2007 NSW State election, for instance, one major card the ALP held was concerns about the security of public-sector employment.
From what I can discern, journalists tend to make far too much bother about purported leadership tensions in political parties. Above a certain point, increased titular power brings diminishing returns in terms of influence.
Take my own party, for instance. While I’m not too keen on either of the Hon. Members for Wentworth or Higgins (much preferring the Hon. Member for Bradfield), both men have nonetheless maintained in their public life a certain integrity and dignity which seems ill-served by their respective ambitious acolytes.
Assertions that Mr Costello faces a stark choice between assuming the Liberal Leadership and resigning as an MP strike me as fatuous. The Station of back-bench MP is a fine one which allows for greater detachment from the sharp end of decisions than are requisite to one fully bound by considerations of Cabinet Solidarity while still allowing for the excercise of discernment and advocacy.
As such, so long as he remains capable of doing so (confirmed by the occasional customary bout of support from his electors and pre-selectors), I see no impediment to Mr Costello honourably discharging his duties as Member for Higgins. Should it somehow come to pass that Mr Costello is eventually prevailed upon to be made Leader of the Commonwealth Parliamentary wing of my party, his resistance to flattery shown so far should place him in good stead.
Today’s report that a certain MP failed in his application for membership in a branch within his Federal Electoral Conference has predictably been greeted with howls of outrage from interested parties.
Without reference to the specifics of Mr Morrison’s case, I’ll note that it is crucial for effective functioning of branches that their respective ethos is acknowledged by prospective members. In particular, perceptions of petty ambition need to be addressed by applicants; also, one regrets to note that questions of external stature are (or at any rate ought) be irrelevant to assessing an applicant’s fitness for membership. In my capacity as Treasurer of Haberfield Branch in the Liberal Party, I may note that (ceteris paribus) I’d consider (say) a former High Court Justice equally eligible for membership of my branch to a dustman. Indeed, considerations of appearance would, if anything, require me to do my utmost in order to avoid perceptions of favouritism arising to those who would, by virtue of their status, be seen as potentially in a position to pull strings.