Proof our democracy is dead
AUSTRALIAN democracy is dead. The Labor Party killed it and the Liberal Party dug up the body and stomped on its bones.
Both our parliament and our parties have now descended into anarchic farce. And the carnage has been so mindless, the idiocy so virulent, that it can no longer be contained.
No matter what happens in the next days or weeks the Coalition is already headed off a cliff and the Labor Party has only managed to save its body by sacrificing its soul.
By the time the Liberal Party gets its next leader, be it Peter Dutton or a desperate rearguard action from Scott Morrison or Julie Bishop, they will be the seventh prime minister in 11 years. And just like that other 7-Eleven they got there by selling crap and dipping into workers' back pockets.
One wit quipped that Australia was now just like Italy without the good food but that is too kind. We are more like the Middle East without the submachine guns or Central America without the CIA.
And yet of all these coups that have cost the nation a generation of good government, not one - not a single one - has been in pursuit of a genuine cause.
They have been the work not of true believers but party rats who roped millstones around the necks of their victims and then kicked them to the gallows for no other reason than that they could.
The first victim was of course Kevin Rudd, who once described action on climate change as "the greatest moral challenge of our time" only to later decide the challenge was so great it belonged in the too hard basket.
Mr Rudd was forced to dump his emissions trading scheme and tried to bring in a mining tax instead. He then got knifed by Julia Gillard, who had urged him to dump the emissions trading scheme, and Wayne Swan, who had urged him to bring in the mining tax.
Where else but Australia could a prime minister get executed by both his deputy and treasurer for the capital crime of following their advice.
Having killed off Mr Rudd's carbon price, Ms Gillard then reinstated it in order to win power with the Greens, who had killed it off first.
This in turn paved the way for Mr Rudd to kill off Ms Gillard and her carbon price and replace it with his carbon price. However neither could save either from Tony Abbott, who had previously killed off Malcolm Turnbull for his carbon price.
For a country that doesn't have a carbon price that price seems very high.
Labor thought they could play the public like a cheap TV hypnotist. Kevin Rudd was back again, the carbon tax was no more, asylum seekers were somewhere else, it was all just a dream …
But unfortunately for Labor the only dreams were Tony Abbott's and they had all come true. In 2013 he romped home in a landslide victory not seen since, well, Kevin Rudd's. And on the way through he famously promised almost everything under the sun: "No cuts to education, no cuts to health, no change to pensions, no change to the GST and no cuts to the ABC or SBS."
It could be argued that Mr Abbott broke every single one of those promises but the latte left obsessed almost exclusively over the ones that affected their favourite TV shows.
More saliently, you would have to wonder why on earth Mr Abbott would bother to say such a thing when cuts to the ABC and SBS were precisely what his core supporters were hoping for.
Either way, that election eve pork barrel quickly became a barrel of lies. So much for the conviction politician. He also threw in a surprise tax hike for good measure, which set a lot of blue blood boiling.
But Mr Abbott did keep his three word promises. He stopped the boats and he axed the tax and they were the two things the Tory base cared about the most. So why was he rolled again?
Ah yes, because he wasn't a very good communicator and he'd lost 30 Newspolls in a row. Doesn't that seem the very definition of irony now.
At least in launching his own late night coup Mr Turnbull had the decency to admit the cause was purely cosmetic.
Indeed, Mr Turnbull's Shakespearean flaw may well be that he seems incapable of telling a lie - which is probably why he waffles so much.
In the real world this is of course a great virtue but in politics it is a death sentence. Instead of constructing a compelling bullshit narrative of why it was vital for the party and the nation that he seize control, Mr Turnbull instead chewed on his spectacles while speculating that he would probably be a better spokesman for Tony Abbott's policies than Mr Abbott himself.
That confidence has served Mr Turnbull well in his private pursuits but in public it is about as effective an armour as the emperor's new clothes.
He confidently advocated for a republic in 1999 and got rolled, he confidently advocated for action on climate change in 2009 and got rolled and he confidently brought on the leadership spill in 2018 and … Well, watch this space.
But again, why is Mr Turnbull now subjected to a leadership coup? What principle is so noble and pure that it requires yet another prime ministerial assassination and the almost certain decimation of the Liberal Party?
Well gosh, let's see. First it was that Mr Turnbull and Josh Frydenberg had crafted an energy policy that promised to lower electricity prices while at the same time meeting the international reduction targets Australia had signed up to in Paris and which had been overwhelmingly passed by the Coalition party room. Targets that Tony Abbott had endorsed. What a monster.
And so in an effort to placate his opponents, namely Tony Abbott, Mr Turnbull offered to pull the targets out of the legislation so that the government would no longer be bound by them.
But then those same Liberal opponents accused him of placating the Labor Party because the ALP would not be bound by the targets when they won government, which they were almost certain to do because his Liberal opponents wouldn't let him get his targets up.
Suddenly the only target in Malcolm Turnbull's energy policy was on his own back.
This in itself should tell you everything you need to know about sacrificing your soul in politics. As soon as people know you'll bend over for a pack of cigarettes everyone becomes a smoker.
And so now yet another prime minister is about to be rolled for no reason other than pure and brutish self-interest. This is what happens when our rulers rip up the rule book as they did in 2010 and have done in every single term of government since.
Our parliament has been reduced to the animalistic law of the prison yard. We have paved the way for government by vendetta.
The pretence of policy is, as we have seen, bullshit - although to describe it as such does discredit to bullshit itself. No cowpat has ever so cruelled democracy.
Nor is the current opposition exempt from the stench. Bill Shorten has knifed more leaders than anyone in the parliament and then tried to squib on being opposition leader because he assumed he himself would be knifed before he got a shot at the Lodge. Tragically, he was wrong.
The Greens are equally culpable. Had they supported Mr Rudd's original emissions trading scheme in 2010 he would never have been rolled and Australia would have an ETS today. Instead they would rather protest endlessly into the void and send the planet they pretend to love into oblivion because nothing is ever perfect enough for their brain dead socialist utopia.
And of course One Nation are just brain dead full stop.
There used to be a broad consensus about national interest in the parliament. Some things used to be bigger than party politics and personal ambition: The great economic reforms of the 1980s, the gun laws that made Port Arthur the last mass shooting on Australian soil, matters of foreign affairs, trade and national security. All of these were underpinned by wise men and women who understood that political fights belonged on the playing field, not in the stands.
Now that sensibility has been lost. Once respected institutions and conventions have been trashed by self-interested tribalists who behave like drunken teenagers at a house party. And for what?
Tragically, and amazingly, no one seems to ever think that far ahead. If Mr Dutton does indeed roll Mr Turnbull on his second strike what happens then?
The Libs hurtle into an election that they will still almost certainly lose, Mr Dutton will have to spend half his time trying to save his own seat, Mr Turnbull will quit altogether leaving another seat to be won and another leader torched, Ms Bishop will probably go as well costing massive political capital, Mr Morrison will sit in the wings waiting to roll Mr Dutton when his time comes around, Mr Abbott will be back in the ministry but soon back in opposition and of course he's bound to be quiet as a mouse. So who's going to be the next Liberal PM when all the smoke clears? Alan Tudge?
This would be dumb enough if it had never been done before and yet it has, time and time again, and the results are always disastrous. Oscar Wilde's Lady Bracknell famously observed that to lose one parent was a misfortune and to lose two looked like carelessness. What would she say about four prime ministers?
The power players in politics these days are like dogs chasing a car. They love the excitement but not one of them has any idea what to do if they actually catch it. But when it comes to the fragile fabric of democracy itself they are more like a gorilla playing with a matchstick man. No wonder ever more voters are fleeing to the volatile extremes that will only fuel the firestorm.
Meanwhile all these honourable members who pretend to love our country so much have turned Australia into an international laughing stock. The only people not laughing are us.
As a closer, here is a fun fact: If Malcolm Turnbull survives for just one more month he will become the longest serving prime minister Australia has had in more than a decade. Just think about that.
And now think about the fact that he may not survive a week, let alone a month. This means that in not one of the last four elections has the elected prime minister served a full term. And in not one of the last four elections has a party kept the promises it made when it went to the people.
Or of course the Turnbull camp could call a snap poll and bring the whole thing crashing down just to spite their enemies.
Either way, that is not democracy. Democracy is dead. And its killers are running the country.