February 23, 2012

Horse 1278 - Alleged Leadership Spills and Electoral Illiteracy

This may shock people but the truth is that the vast majority of people didn't vote for the Prime Minister. Unless you happened to be in the Electorates of Lalor or Griffith, you also did not vote for for either Julia Gillard or Kevin Rudd either.
The Prime Minister is the customary leader of the goverment in the House of Representatves. In fact the office of Prime Mnister is not directly named in the Constitution Act 1900 either. Government itself is made up of a majority of members who sit in the House of Representatves and even then that majority might theoretically be made up of one, two, three, lots of parties and indeed the whole parliament if that should be.
This presents in my mind a tremendous illiteracy and ignorance by the people of Australia if they suggest that they "didn't vote for Julia" or "didn't vote for this government". No. You are of course perfectly correct with the exac definition of those words but the sentiment that somehow the parliament, government and office of the Prime Minister is somehow violated because people don't understand the system, I find somewhat laughable.

I'd even like to reitterate at this point that although Kevin has resigned from his position as a cabinet minister, that doesn't necessarily mean that he intends to run for the office of Prime Minister. Of course he might do so and that is a matter for the Labor Party Caucus when it next meets on Monday but until then, anything which is said in the media to do with speculations about spills and re-spills are little more than a vast chasing at the wind.

Supposing that Kevin does become head of the Labor Party after Monday, that of itself is still no actual guarantee of becoming the Prime Minister. If a vote of no-confidence is passed by the house, then the Governor-General does have the authority to invite someone else to form government. It might be theoretically posible that after Monday, the crossbenchers switch their alliences and we'd have a new coalition government being formed with a new slightly shifted majority of members, as happened when John Curtin replaced Robert Menzies as PM.
There is also the possibility of a vote of no condfidence; such a move I suppose has plenty of historical precedence, although none in Australia. Technically a vote of no-confidence need only be passed with a hideously simple motion such as the motion which read "That this House has no confidence in Her Majesty's Government"¹ which deposed James Callaghan's Labour Government and installed Margaret Thatcher's Conservative Government in the UK in 1979. Treasurer Wayne Swan has also hinted at precisely that in the suggestion that Rudd was "deliberately risking an Abbott Prime Ministership"². Now I don't know if that's necessarily true but to voice such an opinion was either done in the heat of the moment or through very real naked fear.

I still don't honestly believe that there will be a run for the Premiership by Rudd next Monday. I think a sense of self-preservation by MP's tenuously clinging onto their seats would justify that. Not until the player which has made the signing appears on the park and playing, am I inclined to believe rumours.

¹- http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1979/mar/28/her-majestys-government-opposition-motion#S5CV0965P0_19790328_HOC_190
²- http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-02-22/wayne-swan-statement-on-rudd27s-resignation/3846188

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