Wilkie or won’t he

Image by Matt Golding- WA Today

And he did…sort of.   Andrew Wilkie withdrew his support for the Gillard Labor government because they failed to honour a written commitment given to him as they were scrambling to form government, that they would support mandatory precommitment in poker machine venues.  Setting aside whether that would have worked or not what really happened here?

Julia Gillard reneged on an agreement she had given him supposedly because it didn’t have the required Parliamentary support.   She gave the commitment at a time when she needed his support to form government When Peter Slipper jumped ship from the Liberal Party to become Speaker in the House of Representatives therefore giving her an extra vote she no longer needed Wilkie’s support.  She couldn’t continue to push ahead with what he was asking because members of her own party in New South Wales and Queensland who are in marginal seats were under a lot of pressure from their local clubs not to support the legislation.  A bad look if a Prime Minister gets rolled by her own party on the floor of the House, so easier to break a promise.

And let’s face it she doesn’t have a problem breaking promises….”Kevin Rudd has my full support”…”there will be no carbon tax under any government I lead”.   Political expediency is everything for our Julia.

And what about Andrew Wilkie.   Some will say a man of conviction, a man who stands by his principles.   This is a bloke who stood up to the Federal government over whether or not Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction or not.    I would argue that point with him because I spent a fair bit of time with a lot of Melbourne Kurdish people a number of years ago who had first hand knowledge of entire villages wiped out by chemical weapons that Saddam used on them.  So I”ve always been a bit skeptical about Andrew Wilkie’s assessment of Iraqi capabilities at the time the second Gulf War began.

In this case though, Wilkie has decided that he can no longer support a government who broke a commitment they gave him.   He had no trouble supporting that same government when it broke a pre-election commitment given to the Australian people about the fact that a carbon tax wouldn’t be introduced.  And that is the problem with moral high horses, you run the risk of being called a hypocrit if you don’t consistently apply the same standards to all promises instead of just the ones that you want them to keep.  You cannot vote to support legislation that breaks one promise and then yell and scream about the same people breaking another one.

The sooner the next election comes the better.  Irrespective of who has the power let’s hope that we don’t have to put up with wacky independents with pet causes that hamstring proper decisive and honest governance.