Idiot Questions

I am delighted to see that there is no plausible category for “Australian politics” at this blog.

While trying to figure out US politicking my eyes just glaze over completely when it comes to Australia.

But I did have to take a quick peek today as a standard test for dementia is to ask “Who is the Prime Minister of Australia”.

Last time I was asked I replied that his excellency the Governor-General had not seen fit to consult me on such matters, which confused the questioner.

The question is not quite as bizarre as the standard request for confirmation of identity by date of birth – the only truthful answer being “I was far too young to know”.

But the assumptions behind this question do reflect a total ignorance of both Australia’s constitutional arrangements well illustrated in current reports, so I have selected the English revolution as a category.

Unlike America there is no fixed office like the President who residents could reasonably be expected to be aware of.

The Prime Minister is not mentioned in the Constitution and is simply the person commissioned to form a government on the basis that they can persuade parliament to provide funds for the operations of government.

As far as I can make out that person is or will be Scott Morrisson, at least briefly, because after winning by 45 votes to 40 against Peter Dutton for leadership of the Liberal party his opponents within that party pledged support.

That margin is small enough it could well have been affected by Malcolm Turnbull’s endorsement of the opposition party’s claim that Dutton might not be eligible because of some technical ineligibility to sit in Parliament.

Turnbull said.

“I cannot underline too much how important it is that anyone who seeks to be prime minister of Australia is eligible to be a member of parliament.”

All the reports I have seen missed a central fact.

Every Minister is only required to become a member of Parliament within 3 months.

The threat implicitly being made by Turnbull was that enough opponents of Dutton would join with the opposition to refer the matter to the High Court and that in the (unlikely) event of Dutton being removed from Parliament by the court, his marginal seat would be lost at the by election and the one seat majority would be gone so there would be an immediate general election even if a safe seat was found for Dutton as new party leader.

That threat was credible as “enough” would be just a couple and merely joining with the opposition to refer Dutton would do major damage.

But why on earth did the opposition make that threat credible?

Tactically I would have thought the Liberals would do worse and the ALP would do better if Dutton had defeated Morrison.

My best guess is that they have not just lost the plot on politics, but even on politicking.

That guess may be influenced by over exposure to how absurd things have got with responses to Trump in the USA and Brexit Britain.

But all one can do in the current bzarre parallel universe is make half baked guesses.

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