Wednesday, 25 August 2010
Note how the evening news has changed. There's no longer a reliance on mind-numbingly dull press conferences where the relevant leader tries as hard as possible to score points against the other group. No more sound bites and repetitious slogans (tick). What we see instead are shots of party leaders sitting around tables, talking (tick).
The three have the power to give government to either the Labor Party or the Liberal-Nationals Coalition. In addition, there's the newly-elected renegade Nationals MP from Western Australia, Tony Crook, who wants to sit on the crossbenches as well. And then there's the likely winner of the seat of Denison, in Tasmania, the independent Andrew Wilkie. He has not declared his hand either but refuses to sit with KatWinShott, which he says is a de-facto party with three factions. And then we have the Greens' Adam Bandt, who has declared for Labor.
The demands KatWinShott have made are of a different order from what we're used to. Already, commentators have expressed frustration at the new paradigm that is ruling Australian politics (at least temporarily). The knives are being sharpened.
But the three are armouring themselves with mildness and conciliation (tick). They want to talk with portfolio holders - the ministers and shadow ministers current in the caretaker mode administration. They want costings to be released to them. They want to reform Question Time, political donations, TV advertising rules. (Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick.)
They're asking to be allowed to do something to address the voters' dissatisfaction with 'the system', and these requests are part of that push to increase transparency and to make Parliament more representative of the People.
They want private members' bills to be given more space in Parliament, for example (tick). After all, there's no mention in the Constitution of political parties but it is the parties that are the major focus of the status quo. KatWinShott says this is a perversion of the system.
Rob Oakeshott also says that multi-party governments are the norm elsewhere, so why not here?
So while the punters continue to watch the polls carefully and the party leaders continue to make conciliatory noises on and off, let's slow down a little and listen to the voice of reform. It might just be that the result of all this negotiation is a system that better represents what we want, rather than feeding a machine that has clearly come very close to rusting up completely.