Malcolm Turnbull’s big political gamble to call a double dissolution election appears to have backfired spectacularly.
Now facing the very real possibility that he won’t be able to form a majority government, and will have to negotiate with a number of independents to patch together an opportunity to retain power, Turnbull’s looking as wounded as he does frustrated at what the political process can do to even a once popular and ‘common-sense’ leader.
But Turnbull’s gamble has done more than potentially destroy his political career. It’s created a new look Australia in which certain voices of fear and intolerance will now have a significant say in policy outcomes — or will at least lead much of the national conversation.
Indeed, he’s become the prime minister that put Pauline Hanson back in the Senate with not one, not even two, not three, but potentially four Senate spots. Hanson claims it could be as high as six (more conservative estimates put the number at two).
Her party One Nation, once well known for its irrational fear of Asians, now pushes an anti-Muslim agenda. It wants to hold a Royal Commission into climate change and Islam, to ban religious garments in public spaces, to ban Muslim immigration and mandate the use of cameras and surveillance in mosques and Muslim schools. It wants to “clean up” the family court system, and overhaul the Child Support Agency.
Of the top four Senate spots One Nation could win, three of them would be held by men. Hanson might be a woman leading the party but as Malcolm Farr writes today, it’s really a party dominated by angry men. Many of her policies are the “products of seething, marginalised men, often middle-aged, who are seeking explanations for life not being optimal.” Hanson’s being adviser by former Peter Slipper staffer, James Ashby.
Meanwhile in a throwback to the nineties, Hanson still claims our suburbs have been “swamped by Asians”. Yep, she still doesn’t like it. And so don’t a large number of Australians, apparently, enough to give One Nation 9% of the Senate vote in Queensland.
This is a significant part of our new look Senate. A significant part of our new political discourse.
Turnbull can now commiserate with another world leader reeling after losing a political gamble — British PM David Cameron.
Campbell too took a vote to the people that backfired on him, the Brexit referendum that delivered the ‘leave’ result, a referendum called by Cameron to appease members of his own party. While he campaigned on the ‘remain’ side, he will now go down in history as the PM that instigated the proceedings for Britain to leave the European Union.
We’re still yet to see what will become of Turnbull after losing his own political gamble. The vote counting continues again today with a number of seats still undecided. It’ll be tough for Turnbull to achieve the majority he needs. Even if he can form government, it’s seriously questionable whether he’ll be able to retain his party’s leadership.
He gambled and lost. Now we all live with the consequences.