Scott Morrison announced today that the 2019 Federal budget will be presented in April, a month earlier than it usually is. That we would be going to vote in May at the latest was always a given, but this is being seen as a signal of desperation by the Morrison government. With each passing day the possibility we may have an early election called grows.
Immediately after the budget announcement was made, LNP MP Julia Banks declared she was leaving the LNP to join the crossbench as an Independent. A face saving move, perhaps, but commendable nonetheless as she called out dramatic changes in the Coalition’s direction and accused them – as many have this week (and we’re only at Tuesday!) – of not following the will of the people. This leaves the Coalition officially in a minority government, with only 74/150 seats. With Labor and the crossbench seemingly working closer together recently, at least in opposition to the Coalition, the likelihood of any Coalition policies making it through is low. It’s also entirely possible a vote of no confidence could be called.
Yesterday, two things were made clear: the Coalition is hellbent on preventing a Federal integrity commission, similar to ICAC in NSW; and the government has nothing but disdain for anyone who dares to speak against fossil fuels. Labor questioned the Liberal party’s opposition to an integrity commission, which is coincidentally being debated alongside upcoming decryption laws. Such laws would be an extreme invasion of privacy for those using mobile devices and apps, and open them up to a number of potential security threats if these backdoors are extorted by others. If the phrase “if you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to worry about” applies to our privacy online, then surely the same could be applied for “if the government has nothing to hide then they’d have nothing to worry about” in regards to corruption. Considering the blatant abuses of power and obvious corruption in Parliament, one has to wonder why an integrity commission is even needed; maybe just ask Timor-Leste about the spying incident during negotiations for a maritime boundary and resources, and Alexander Downer and Ian Macfarlane’s connections to Woodside Petroleum during that time and now. Corruption exists, the Coalition are just trying to hide it.
Adam Bandt, a Greens MP, mentioned to the Prime Minister the planned student strikes happening this week, and asked that they be recognised. A number of school students will be protesting and calling on the government to end their support of fossil fuels in an effort to save their generation from inheriting a world damaged irreparably by climate change. Morrison’s response was not to recognise the strikes, nor the message of them. Instead, he rallied calls of ‘hear hear’ from his own party by slamming the rise of political activism among students, and saying what he did support was children in schools. Coming from the man who literally brought a chunk of coal into Parliament, it’s not a surprising answer.
In both of these matters, the utter contempt our government shows towards the Australian people is disgusting. They had to be dragged into starting up the damning Royal Commission into banks (after voting against it for so long), and it seems the same tactic will again be required to bring in a Federal integrity commission. It’ll be interesting to see what comes first – losing a number of seats in an election, or losing seats due to charges of corruption. My money is on both happening very soon.