So here we are again. Federal parliament finally is reconvening, a mere four months since it last met and eight weeks since Malcolm’s world turned upside down on election night.
But it’s not the Westminster pomp and ceremony, nor the now-mandatory smoky homage to the Australians who arrived by land bridge rather than boats, that are keeping Canberra-watchers agog as the forty-fifth Parliament opens.
It’s the imminent first post-election Newspoll.
After the last however many weeks – we asked the Australian Bureau of Statistics to count ‘em, but we didn’t trust their numbers – the 50.5-49.5 2PP of election day is likely to have slid a good bit in favour of Mediscare Bill and his motley Labor cohorts.
There is one certainty as the political battle formally recommences: if you’re a Coalition supporter, the next Newspoll almost certainly will be a shocker, and much political and Press Gallery mayhem will ensue. But that will only be the start.
Malcolm Turnbull and his supporters haven’t shown a political clue about how to tame the Senate Kraken they themselves awakened by their double-D folly. Cory Bernardi flirts with undesirable fringe elements in the name of reclaiming who he terms “conservatives”. Free speechers are shouted down. Then there’s Tony Abbott, deposed after his own leadership mistakes but suddenly looking less a pariah as Turnbull struggles with his self-inflicted mortality. Where’s the unity, the stability, the discipline?
Meanwhile, Bill Shorten and Labor MPs delude themselves they won the election, but by behaving like winners look like winners while the government flails about like a bad swimmer caught in a rip.
And those populist sharks – be they Greens, X-ers or semi(?)-loony Hansonites – are now dominating the political and media agenda with mad-eyed, intolerant, egotistical zealotry reminiscent of Salem witch-hunters, and putting paid to any sensible policy debates for the next three years and probably much longer.
All while our economic boat takes ever more debt-laden water as it wallows in the dangerous swells of international uncertainty.
O brave new world, that has such people in it! Like Miranda in The Tempest, one may very well say that, but in what now passes for our politics they’re all Calibans.