The Slightly Disgruntled Scientist

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Quit Ransoming Yourself

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The Australian federal election came and… well, never really went. Since the nation delivered a decisive verdict of uhhh…, we have a hung parliament and people seem alternately excited and angry about it.

To put it simply: we have 150 seats in the House of Representatives. Whichever party has most of them forms the government. Since no party actually achieved this, we don’t have a government. But without a government most Australians cannot exchange oxygen with the surrounding air (or so you would think), so we need the few independents to figure out what side they’re on and form a minority government.

One recurring complaint about this situation is that these independent politicians are holding the country to ransom.

But as far as I’m concerned, complaints about Australia being “held to ransom” by a few independents are completely misplaced. If anything is holding this country to ransom, it is the fact that we have two major parties who would rather sit and pout at each other than do anything to govern.

One of the independents, Rob Oakeshott, actually suggested that Labor and Liberal form a unity government — that is, they put their differences aside, learn to share, and form a government themselves. This idea was treated like he’d forgotten a law of physics — presumably because it would have taken them too long to find any differences to put aside.

Given this, whingeing about the independents writing lists of demands or taking their time makes no frigging sense! What the hell is the logic behind excusing 145 politicians deciding not to govern with each other at all, just because they don’t feel like it, while simultaneously criticising five politicians for deciding not to govern with each other just yet? (Consider this: if it were an exact 75-75 split, whose fault would it be then?)

Think about it this way… either:

  1. There are 145 politicians who don’t represent 97% of Australians and are just being stubborn, in which case those other five are the only ones doing the work for which they get paid and it’s the loafers who are at fault; or
  2. They do represent most Australians, in which case we are letting ourselves be held to ransom. Since the whole point of a ransom is that it’s not done with the victims' permission, it can’t be a ransom at all, can it?

Q.E.D.

Finally, consider the upside of this outcome. It’s been weeks since the last half-baked handout, crazy tax scheme or ridiculous wedge issue was announced. If things keep up the way they are, this blissful state could continue for days. Face it — this is the best “government” we’ve had for decades. Don’t jinx it.

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