Daily Bulletin

The Conversation

  • Written by Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra
The Conversation

Given her status as holding two vital Senate crossbench votes Pauline Hanson is at times, in the eyes of senior government figures, She Who Must Be Obeyed.

And so it was last week, when Hanson announced she was striking, to press the cause of straitened dairy farmers. She wouldn’t vote on non-essential legislation.

The fallout was palpable. The government wanted her support for a particular bill. Ministers and the Prime Minister sprang to attention. The upshot was Hanson won a concession the Nationals backbench hadn’t yet been able to land.

But there was a price. Some Queensland and NSW Nationals were furious - so much so that a leak to the Courier Mail’s political editor Renee Viellaris canvassed the possibility of a “spill” attempt against deputy leader Bridget McKenzie, who is agriculture minister.

There was no move at Monday’s party meeting but there was criticism of McKenzie - who was at Senate estimates - in her absence.

The episode is important in its detail because it reflects the division and frustration in a party that in the past has often taught the major parties lessons in unity.

The saga began with Hanson’s vociferous and emotional campaign for measures to help struggling dairy farmers, who are suffering from very low prices.

But it was her proposed no show on legislation that exercised the government. It was particularly anxious to have her support when the vote comes on its legislation to enable the royal commission into the exploitation of disabled people to obtain material from state institutions.

In general, it needed to break the Hanson “strike”.

Read more: VIDEO: Michelle Grattan on the government's drought policy - and the trust divide in politics

Social Services Minister Anne Ruston and Senate leader Mathias Cormann (the government’s “fixer” with the crossbenchers) swung into action.

Surely something could be given to Hanson on dairy? McKenzie was already working on a code of conduct - which would increase the negotiating power of the milk producers - but it was to be a long job.

McKenzie had indicated to Nationals colleagues the code would not be ready until next year. Indeed, One Nation was told the same thing early last week.

But suddenly the impossible became possible. The drafting was accelerated; the proposed consultation time shortened.

The deal was done on Wednesday. McKenzie wrote to Hanson saying the code would be ready later this year.

Discontented Nationals were left fuming. One Nation, their bete noir in bush seats, could claim the credit.

As one puts it: “[McKenzie] can deliver for Hanson but she can’t deliver for us.”

Read more: We can’t drought-proof Australia, and trying is a fool's errand

The Nationals leadership tried to make the best of an awkward situation by taking the initiative on another front - the latest government move on drought.

They mustered their troops for a Thursday morning news conference to announce the cash grant for farmers coming off the Farm Household Allowance after they had reached their four year limit. Under questioning at that news conference McKenzie indicated the exposure draft for the dairy code would be released within days.

But the Nationals had failed to forewarn the Prime Minister’s Office of their news conference. So the government had the spectacle of Scott Morrison unveiling the cash grant on radio at the same time as the Nationals’ appearance, and trumpeting it as a scoop for John Laws. Then the Nationals were upset at finding themselves overshadowed.

It was an appalling lapse in communications at the top level of the Coalition.

That snafu came against the background of the Nationals feeling increasingly frustrated that Morrison has been crowding them out on drought policy, taking ownership of the issue.

McKenzie’s position is not seriously at risk. The Nationals don’t operate like that. Anyway tossing her out would be an enormous call, not least because she’s a woman, but also because whatever the claims about her limitations as a minister she is a good retail politician for the party.

But the leaking is evidence of how much trouble there is in the Nationals party room, and the wider disgruntlement between the Coalition partners.

Authors: Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

Read more http://theconversation.com/view-from-the-hill-breaking-pauline-hansons-strike-has-taken-skin-off-bridget-mckenzie-125580

Writers Wanted

I studied 5,000 phone images: objects were more popular than people, but women took way more selfies


Bad reactions to the COVID vaccine will be rare, but Australians deserve a proper compensation scheme


Pacific tourism is desperate for a vaccine and travel freedoms, but the industry must learn from this crisis


The Conversation


Prime Minister Interview with Ben Fordham, 2GB

BEN FORDHAM: Scott Morrison, good morning to you.    PRIME MINISTER: Good morning, Ben. How are you?    FORDHAM: Good. How many days have you got to go?   PRIME MINISTER: I've got another we...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Prime Minister Interview with Kieran Gilbert, Sky News

KIERAN GILBERT: Kieran Gilbert here with you and the Prime Minister joins me. Prime Minister, thanks so much for your time.  PRIME MINISTER: G'day Kieran.  GILBERT: An assumption a vaccine is ...

Daily Bulletin - avatar Daily Bulletin

Did BLM Really Change the US Police Work?

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has proven that the power of the state rests in the hands of the people it governs. Following the death of 46-year-old black American George Floyd in a case of ...

a Guest Writer - avatar a Guest Writer

Business News

Cybersecurity data means nothing to business leaders without context

Top business leaders are starting to realise the widespread impact a cyberattack can have on a business. Unfortunately, according to a study by Forrester Consulting commissioned by Tenable, some...

Scott McKinnel, ANZ Country Manager, Tenable - avatar Scott McKinnel, ANZ Country Manager, Tenable

InteliCare triple winner at prestigious national technology awards

InteliCare triple winner at prestigious national technology awards Intelicare wins each nominated category and takes out overall category at national technology 2020 iAwards. Company wins overal...

Media Release - avatar Media Release

Arriba Group Founder, Marcella Romero, wins CEO Magazine’s Managing Director of the Year

Founder and Managing Director of the Arriba Group, Marcella Romero, has won Managing Director of the Year at last night’s The CEO Magazine’s Executive of the Year Awards. The CEO Magazine's Ex...

Lanham Media - avatar Lanham Media

News Co Media Group

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion