Slipping into crisis

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It’s probably not surprising that this week’s topic of discussion is politics.

After all, there’s enough drama around at the moment to make Laurie Oakes skip down the street with girlish glee.

But I think the discussion needs to go beyond what Peter Slipper did or didn’t do, however that’s not to say the allegations against Mr Slipper are not serious.

He is under immense pressure and these career-threatening allegations could have explosive consequences.

The Slipper story is a big one and makes for compelling reading, but I doubt anyone was surprised to hear of yet another issue surrounding a politician.

Federal politics these days is more soap opera than it is policy and vision.

I’m just waiting on one of the commercial TV networks to launch a new reality show focused on the daily lives of politicians. How good would it be to vote a few of them off the island?

Someone who is teetering on the edge of getting voted off is Craig Thomson.

Unlike Mr Slipper, Mr Thomson hasn’t stepped aside while investigations into his behaviour continue.

The allegations relate to Mr Thomson and the use of a Health Services Union credit card.

Given the accusations, bad press and investigations surrounding him, one wonders if Mr Thomson would have still been in Parliament had Julia Gillard not needed every last vote she could get given the precarious balance of her leadership and Labor’s power.

You know, everything going on in Federal Labor at the moment has happened before, in a not-too-far-away galaxy.

The stigma and public perception now surrounding the Federal Government is similar to what plagued the NSW Labor Government through its final years.

As it paraded its way through a procession of Premiers (and ruined the career of Kristina Keneally –  who would have been a solid Opposition Leader right now had she not been forced to skipper a sinking ship), Labor sunk deeper and deeper into crisis until the public finally got to have one big swing at them.

The irony of Ms Gillard being the nation’s first female PM and Ms Keneally being the state’s first female Premier, and both of them failing, should not be lost on us.

In both cases Labor has stuffed up potentially iconic, breakthrough moments by panicking and looking for public sentiment similar to that when one sees a cute puppy dog in the window of a pet shop.

Federal Labor has a trust and integrity issue, much like State Labor had developed.

That’s what makes the issues surrounding people like Mr Thomson and Mr Slipper even more serious, because they contribute to a view that the government, and the Parliament, is bereft of real leadership and control.

And while Mr Slipper may not be a member of Labor, Ms Gillard was the orchestra leader that elevated him to speaker and hence her judgement is again in question.

The real baseball bat to the back of Labor’s head will be delivered by an angry public once the carbon tax is implemented.

With electricity prices set to rise and a significant portion of those rises attributed to the carbon tax, the electorate as a whole will in no way to respond to any fluffy image the government wants to put out there about why the carbon tax is such a good thing.

Other services will follow in price rises and how Ms Gillard and her government could possibly survive the rocky first year of its implementation and then win an election has got me stumped.

Houdini couldn’t even get out of this.

Ms Gillard is clearly hoping that the electorate will blame the power companies, the supermarkets and other retailers for price rises, and not link it to the carbon tax.

I think she’ll be mistaken.

The long-term solution to this mess is the public voting Labor out when we go to the polls next year.

The short-term solution is for the independents who are propping up this rabble to pull the pin, to potentially save not only their own careers but the nation from more of this mess.

Julia Gillard turfed out a sitting PM, and only remained in the role after the 2010 election thanks to the ‘independents’.

She has never really had the support of the Australian people to lead the country.

That has never been more evident than it is now.

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