There are various meetings our Prime Minister attends which, because of their importance for national security, and good governance of the nation’s affairs, remain top secret. There is also the business of cabinet confidentiality— the inner workings of the government that remains secret men and women’s business until official announcements are made. Usually, in some form or other the citizens of Australia get to know something, no matter how small, of what is being discussed, planned or discarded by our Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, in all aspects of her work for the welfare of the nation.
But there is one meeting that never sees the light of day. A meeting so secret, so tightly confidential that you never read about it, hear about it, or ever know what was discussed. It is the meeting between Julia Gillard and Greens’ leader Bob Brown that takes place every fortnight, when parliament isn’t sitting. It is a sort of Arsenic and Old Lace ceremony with both never, for a moment, taking their eyes off their respective tea-cups.
It seems extraordinary that one man can do a deal that gives him more guaranteed access to our Prime Minister that any other government minister or any other member of the national parliament. Everyone else in the country — citizens, bureaucrats, ministers, members and presumably, Labor functionaries, would have to make an appointment to see Julia Gillard. That is, except Senator Bob Brown — he has a signed piece of paper to prove it.
It wouldn’t be so bad if at the end of the fortnightly Julia/Bob meeting the public were told “we discussed this or that”, but no, we never hear a word. What secret deals are done? What moves are planned? Is the Prime Minister threatened or bullied? What exactly goes on? Why do we hear absolutely nothing? It might as well be Iran where everything needs to get the nod from the Ayatollah.
Looking on the bright side it might be just two lonely people enjoying a cup of tea and a scone. Then again, on the dark side, it might be plans that involve diabolical ideological policies requiring a bit of social engineering that includes a tad of deviousness. Who knows what goes on every second week? We, the public, don’t. Presumably the ALP Caucus doesn’t. Presumably the cabinet doesn’t. This is stuff between Julia and Bob. How pathetic is this minority thumb-screwed Labor government? How weak!
Oh, and by the way, the Greens have a quite clear policy on secrecy, which reads: “Full accountability of government and corporations to the broader community”.
While the Bob-Julia-meetings-deal is held together by the need for support from the lone Green member for the lower house, Adam Bandt, all that changes in a few weeks. Come the 1st of July the Senate will have:
30 Liberal/National senators
31 ALP senators
9 Green senators
2 other senators
Come the 1st of July the Julia/Bob meetings take on a more serious stature. Just how legislation and parliamentary procedure will change, is unclear. Will parliamentary Bills come from cabinet, go to the ALP Caucus, then get the tick, or nay, from Bob at the fortnightly meetings? Or will Julia and Bob sort out stuff that then goes to cabinet and finally on to caucus for their muted approval? This is the sort of mess the deal with Bob the Builder has turned into. But of course we won’t know … which is the reason why one has “secret” meetings.
Just how the Liberal/National coalition plans to handle this new Senate structure is yet unclear. Obviously both the Liberal/National senators, and the ALP senators, are going to become irrelevant in the Senate as all business is going to be conducted beforehand by Julia and Bob — unless of course some Labor senators undertake massive testosterone treatment. While the chances of that are remote, a revolt in the Senate would be sensational and might restore some respect for the ALP.
Anyone who believes that the current carbon dioxide tax, the future ETS, the madness of solar panel rebates and feed- tariffs, the pink batt caper, the wind-farm nonsense and the mining tax isn’t being driven by Green policy and threats to withdraw support from the minority government, just isn’t following the plot. Since September the government of this country isn’t taking place in parliament, but is being driven from a Green Star Chamber. Things are decided by Bob, but Julia cops the flack.
One of the most extraordinary aspects about the political theatre involving the carbon dioxide tax is the way the Greens have skirted around the subject of electricity prices hitting the less well-off. All you get is a blithe reference to “compensation”. That’s it! Their interest is a sham. The ultimate victims of the increase in cost are the 20,000,000 Australians at the middle and bottom of the food chain. That’s where the pass-on effect of the carbon dioxide starts and stops.
In a weekend ABC News item entitled “Brown downplays electricity price rise”, Bob Brown’s reaction to the announcement of an estimated 30% electricity increase by 2013, was: “It’s just that we’ve got our market configured wrong because coal-fired power is hugely subsided. Take those subsidies away and renewable energy looks better and better.” Spot the spin. Nothing about the price increase, just how it “looks better” if you juggle the rhetoric. The Greens really don’t give a toss about increased costs and how people will find the money to pay for their green ideology.
It is a good idea to read and reread some of the highlights of the Green’s platform, every so often:
Zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050
A minimum of 40% reduction of 1990 levels by 2020
Abolish secret ballots before strikes
Abolish Private Health Insurance rebates
Ensure natural monopolies and public services are under public ownership
Remove Australia from free trade agreements
Nationalise the rail system
Children 16 years of age to vote
Abolish the IMF, World Bank and WTO
Free university education for Australian citizens, permanent residents and refugees
It is essential to remember that item two of the above, 40% reduction of carbon dioxide by 2020, is a mere nine years away. That Labor senators are prepared to belittle themselves by being party to the secret meetings between Julia Gillard and Bob Brown, sort of reinforces the message of John Faulkner last week … the ALP has lost its way and is TOXIC.
If Julia Gillard wants to debate policy with the Greens, the place to do it is in the manner outlined in 1901 — the National Parliament. Anything less is simply grubby.