Give The New Guys A Chance

Surprise! Not Your Villain du Jour

Ricky Muir – he of the Roo-Poo flinging Youtube videos and much media ridicule – entered Parliament House as a new Senator this week. By 10:30am this morning he had made news, first by not letting the Abbott Government have its way by steam-rolling the Carbon tax repeal. In a surprise move, Muir broke ranks with the Palmer United to defeat the government’s motion to force a vote on the the Carbon Price repeal. After lunch, he sided with Palmer United and voted to preserve ARENA, which, surprised most onlookers.

Maybe Mr. Muir was going to surprise everybody any way. The way he had been portrayed by the media made him look like a dimwit yokel, but I felt at the time it was a beat up. By hook or crook, we in the electorate seem to have managed to send a totally ordinary citizen into the Senate. If our chief complaint is professionalised politicians, then surely we have to leave some ground open for rank outsiders to come in and have a look for themselves. While Mr. Muir didn’t look promising going in, partly because of the immense vagueness of his party’s platform, this week so far shows that he may yet turn out to be a reasonable, centrist man to have in the senate to balance views. So far his two major contributions don’t seem to be those of an ideological extremist or a radicalised desperado.

The other surprising tidbit that emerged during the week was how Glenn Lazarus – aka The Brick with Eyes – was instrumental in bringing Clive Palmer to the middle of the debate so that the emissions target would be kept. This was remarkable in as much as it showed the Palmer United Party is not Clive Palmer’s puppet show, and that in turn he was somebody who was going to be persuaded by his new senators.

Again, it’s hard to imagine just what would bring a retired Rugby League great into politics in this way – especially after Mal Meninga made a famously bad attempt at it – but it is clearly evident we can’t be dismissing him on the basis of his previous career or his current party affiliation. The fact of the matter is we don’t know much about the policy position of the Palmer United Party simply because the party is so new and everything seems to be made up on the fly. They can conjure Al Gore from a hat, so who are we to judge what they can accomplish? The PUP Senators represent an open end, rather than a closed, conservative alternative.

The silver lining on the generally angry black storm cloud that is the Abbott Government is that the Senate is so fractured that it’s just going to have to fight out every policy morsel on its merits. This means that it can’t bundle together things hoping for a horse trade. This Senate is fractious enough already that if anything it’s going to be more parsing and demanding than previous Senates. This means that while the Carbon Pricing will likely be repealed, it is going to get replaced with an ETS of some description – even if it is priced to zero until certain conditions are met. It’s quite the circus, but the point is that the Abbott government will find out just how little an endorsement it got from the electorate for it to be able to claim any kind of mandate. Our hopes actually rest with Ricky Muir and Glenn Lazarus being centrist, reasonable people. It’s a far cry from the Democrats but they may well turn out to be more credible and laudable in the history books than Meg Lees and Natasha Stott-Despoja.

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