I was listening to talkback radio yesterday morning. The voters of Yeerongpilly were asked to say whether or not they supported their 'rogue' MP, Carl Judge, who has fallen foul of LNP bigchiefs in the 'Party Room'. Only one, a lady, rang in to say that, although she didn't carry a candle for the LNP – I think she may have confused candles and torches – she thought Campbell Newman & Co were right to deal firmly with recalcitrant backbenchers. In the middle of her comments, however, gremlins scrambled her phone so we couldn't hear a word.
If you voted for Newman et al last March – and you're a good Aussie catholic to boot – you might like to light a candle for him today. It sounded to me like one almighty intervention on that phone. At the very least, it was an ominous omen. Newman flew off on a trade mission to India today, leaving the charmless Jeff Seeney in charge, whose demeanour is unlikely to woo moaning minnies back into the fold. He doesn't appear at all concerned about losing three Members in as many days: so maybe they were right to complain.
Carl Judge isn't the first. Earlier in the week, Condamine MP Ray Hopper left the LNP to join (Bob) Katter's Australia Party because, he claims, backbenchers aren't being listened to. And then the former chairman of the important Ethics Committee and Member for Gaven on the Gold Coast, Alex Douglas, got into a spat with Newman about whether he'd wanted to stand down or whether he was persuaded. Carl Judge was 'dis-endorsed', allegedly for refusing to pledge allegiance to the Premier.
Will Judge and Douglas now become Independents? A much worse scenario is that they will tip big-noise resource investor Clive Palmer over the edge into forming a new political party. He has convinced himself that a quarter of Queenslanders would vote for him. Dear gods. A couple of days ago he held a press conference on the steps of the Parliament building in Brisbane to announce he would make a decision over the weekend. Am I the only person who thinks it outrageous that Palmer should use such a location to entertain the media? Is this privilege extended to all mining company bosses?
Meanwhile, among the Feds in Canberra, it was also the end of term. If you thought Parliamentary conduct has been abysmal during the last few months, this week it reached new depths. The Opposition Deputy, Julie Bishop, went into Groundhog Day mode as she repeatedly asked the same question of Julia Gillard at PM's Questions, demanding an explanation of Ms Gillard's alleged involvement, as a young lawyer, in the setting up of a union slush fund. The words sleaze and smear (pronounced smee-ah in Aussie) were overused this week. Leader Tony Abbott sat impassively as his number two generated her own sleaze, by inconsistently accounting for conversations with one of the chief protagonists in the union mire, thereby undermining her case against the Prime Minister.
In poll after poll, Australian voters register their disillusionment, disaffection and disinterest with regard to pollies of all parties. Political commentators decry the lack of talented, charismatic leaders. There will be a federal election next year. Let's hope that nationally the electorate doesn't follow the example of Queenslanders last March who were desperate for a change but didn't think through the alternative. Nine months later, serious cracks are appearing.
2012 is a year in politics here that most people will want to forget. There is now a long holiday for everyone: in Australia the end of the calendar year is the end of the school year and the political term. Let's hope when the politicians return they can raise their game and deal with some of the real and massive issues that they're there for.
This post was last edited on 1 December 2012