The Nothing Singularity consuming Do-nothing Malcolm grows every day now. Via Nothingfax:
Turnbull government MP John Alexander has resigned from Parliament after British authorities were unable to uncover any evidence to support repeated assurances he was not a dual citizen.
Mr Alexander’s resignation – five days after Fairfax Media revealed he was likely a dual citizen by descent – will trigger a byelection in the former tennis champion’s Sydney seat of Bennelong, and means Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has lost his parliamentary majority.
“I have always believed that I am Australian and solely Australian,” Mr Alexander said.
The 67-year-old told Mr Turnbull he intended to resign during a “business-like” phone call about 6pm yesterday.
Turnbull government MP Nola Marino may have acquired Italian citizenship through marriage, in what would represent a new twist in the eligibility crisis that has engulfed the federal Parliament.
Ms Marino’s case also highlights a gap in the proposed new disclosure regime being debated by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, which does not consider the possibility of dual citizenship attained through marriage.
The PM is considering recalling parliament for an extra day the week before Christmas to deal with any issues arising from his citizenship disclosure plan.
The development comes after fellow Liberal MP John Alexander declared he was still waiting on “conclusive” advice from the UK Home Office about his citizenship status. There is mounting speculation he will resign by Monday, sparking a byelection in his Sydney seat of Bennelong.
Considering, mulling, calling a committee, floating a brain fart policy, withdrawing same, following Labor’s lead. We’ve seen it all before. A whole lot of nothing that only serves to feed The Nothing Singularity that is engulfing the government.
Minister for Nothing, Chris Pyne, tried to deflect to Labor:
Leader of the House Christopher Pyne says the government will “definitely” refer Labor MPs under a citizenship cloud to the High Court, as he calls on Bill Shorten to force those members to resign so there can be several by-elections before Christmas.
Mr Pyne’s declaration comes a day after the Liberal Party’s John Alexander became the fifth government MP entangled in the dual citizenship crisis and announced he would resign from his seat of Bennelong after failing to clarify whether he was British by descent of his father. He could head to a by-election as early as December 16.
Conceding there was no precedent for referring MPs of other parties to the High Court, Mr Pyne said the parliament had to be “certain” Labor members like Justine Keay, Susan Lamb, Madeleine King and Josh Wilson were sitting in parliament “legitimately”.
Richo summed up The Nothing nicely:
The extraordinary partisanship of Christopher Pyne on this issue is now an added discomfort. Pyne has become a major hypocrite and that comes from someone who has always liked him. His performance yesterday where he criticised the opposition for lacking integrity on the citizenship saga was outrageous. To be followed by the Prime Minister taking the same tack rang alarm bells. After slamming Bill Shorten for running a “protection racket” for Labor members Turnbull says should be referred to the High Court, our PM looked even worse than what he has over the past few agonising months. Apparently, the ego and the arrogance have reached a point where he believes all Australians are mugs who do not possess the ability to remember.
That Turnbull could offer that commentary after doing far worse with Barnaby Joyce demonstrates how duplicitous he has become. This is the same man who defied logic and proper governance by allowing Joyce to roll along in his ministerial office and vote in parliament as if there was no problem. All of this was done because our PM was so clever and so prescient that he knew Joyce would be cleared. He even went as far as to say “and the High Court will so hold”. The High Court then unanimously held against Joyce, making Turnbull look even more ridiculous.
At Domainfax there were excuses for The Nothing:
It is easy to overlook, amid our volatile politics, that the nation has not seen anything like this before.
Such is the scale of the 45th Parliament’s unravelling that reporters have struggled to keep up and the Prime Minister has been unable to maintain a consistent line, much less project authority.
Failing governments, like fish, usually begin stinking from the head down. But Malcolm Turnbull faces no challenger. Instead, his parliamentary majority is drifting away for reasons that have nothing to do with policy nor internal dissatisfaction with his management.
It’s a constitutional crisis removed from the leadership, and in many voters’ estimation, detached from common sense. But that does not make it less real.
And Paul Kelly tried to fill The Nothing with nice words:
It is a core issue of principle and morality. Turnbull would be unwise to misjudge this sentiment given the revived leadership consciousness within the party. The strong feeling among Liberals seems to be that leadership stability must prevail for the management of the citizenship crisis. The pivotal factor, however, is how much damage is done to Turnbull during the crisis and how the Liberals respond down the track as the by-elections play out and the party examines its prospects next year.
Turnbull’s major problem, as ever, is his majority of one, the upshot of last year’s disappointing election result. With even a modest majority, the dual citizenship issue would lose much of its current lethality. Shorten demonstrates on a daily basis his ability to mobilise the issue against the government, declaring the government just moves from “crisis to crisis” and that Turnbull cannot solve the problem. That, of course, is a statement of institutional truism.
Turnbull, in truth, has few options in his predicament. His job is to set in train the process to resolve the issue with by-elections next year. As he told Fran Kelly on AM this week, the consequence is likely to be “a series of by-elections” and depending on the result “that could have consequences for the government”. Those consequences are some months away. The crisis will play out slowly, very slowly, amid a mood of chronic instability. The stakes could not be higher. It will become a test of our maturity and of our institutions. Expect the parliament to be chaotic and semiparalysed. Turnbull’s difficult task is to ensure the government doesn’t look semi-paralysed as well.
Good one. A Do-nothing Malcolm minority government is going to be the most singularly ineffectual nothing that has ever engulfed the parliament. Moreover, the politics of The Nothing Singularity consuming Do-nothing Malcolm is, by some empty twist of fate, the perfect exemplar of his nothing government. He will be blamed for it for this very reason.
Peter van Onselen is mulled the absurd to fill The Nothing:
Let’s not bury the lead: this opinion piece argues for a John Howard comeback, explaining how and why it’s a viable idea. Do I think it’s going to happen? Of course not. Is the piece a lighthearted game of fantasy football applied to the political class? Yes, it is. However, I’d invite readers to try to identify the downside to any of the implications that follow.
But the Loon Pond knows where The Nothing leads, via Chris Kenny:
It is more than a prime ministerial meltdown, parliamentary showdown, internal breakdown and constitutional shakedown. We seem to be suffering the sum of all our mistakes. Christmas always looked a long way off for Malcolm Turnbull and now the nation must long for a festive season reboot in the hope of more order and purpose in the new year.
Politics, as a rule, is never as good or as bad as it seems but coming months could bring a series of by-elections, a change in prime minister, a minority government, a general election or all of the above. Prospects for good governance seem remote. Even the tortuous path to same-sex marriage is more perilous as opponents seek to exploit the disarray. It is 10 years this month since Australia voluntarily, but not knowingly, departed from good government.
We approach the end of 2017 seemingly ungoverned and almost ungovernable. The Prime Minister is paralysed by indecision and surrounded by obstacles. The parliament is fragmented and intransigent. Labor is obstructive and ascendant. The media is Balkanised and superficial. Universities, bureaucracies and public broadcasters are activist and misleading.
…The Prime Minister increasingly is captive to events rather than shaping them. Weighed down by his own Newspoll ballast, Turnbull’s inability to create a sense of purpose or define a narrative means he has hit this unforeseen citizenship crisis without the momentum and authority to carry him through. He seems stuck, with survival the only imperative.
He has started to crack under the glare. His shrill invocation of the Holocaust to defend Josh Frydenberg’s citizenship status was over the top. Turnbull also snapped back at provocations on breakfast television. His self-assessment that he was a “good man in a crisis” was redolent of Margaret Thatcher’s line that being powerful is like being a lady: if you have to tell people you are then you aren’t.
…While ever a government is alive there is Micawber’s hope that something will show up. But the forecast looks torrid for the Coalition. Some of the wisest heads in parliament and punditry point out that the modern habit of leadership switching is fatal. To dump another prime minister, like another swipe on political Tinder, runs the risk of confirming the shallowness of the enterprise.
But there is a large counterpoint to this assessment and that is that the person who created this scenario was Turnbull. The Coalition should have learned all the lessons about stability, weathering difficult times and avoiding leadership convulsions. But Turnbull took them down this path in 2015, inviting intense pressure to perform and a hellish denouement for failure. Voters know this. It is why the Coalition has lost standing in the polls, not to Labor but to breakaways on the right.
This is why one leadership alternative will always remain for the Coalition: not another unexplained contortion but a reversion. Yes, just like Rudd. Not in the midst of this citizenship crisis, to be sure, but a return to Abbott cannot be ruled out because it would reinstall someone elected in a landslide in 2013 and robbed of a chance at re-election. Marginal MPs know Abbott would fight Shorten on core issues dividing the major parties. He is not popular but he has legitimacy and known campaigning skills. As has been the case since 2009, Turnbull and Abbott remain the only Coalition options this side of an election.
And moves are afoot to fill it:
Senior ministers have lost faith in Mr Turnbull’s judgment over the fallout from the High Court decision on MPs’ eligibility, which has led to two by-elections and speculation a general election for the House of Representatives could be called in February rather than an expected series of by-elections.
…Julie Bishop is well ahead of Mr Turnbull as preferred Liberal leader, and both the deputy Liberal leader and Peter Dutton are ahead of Mr Turnbull among the “lost Liberal legions” who have turned to One Nation since the last election.
While Mr Turnbull’s supporters have blamed Tony Abbott for destabilising the Liberal Party, and there have been calls for his return as leader, the reality of the Liberals’ partyroom, which decides the leadership, is that Mr Abbott does not have the support for a challenge and the top contenders are Ms Bishop and Mr Dutton, as the conservative candidate.
Mr Abbott would likely be included in a cabinet without Mr Turnbull and is considered a chance to be opposition leader again, but is unlikely to have the support to be returned as prime minister.
Today’s Newspoll survey shows Ms Bishop well ahead of Mr Turnbull as preferred Liberal leader, 40 per cent to Mr Turnbull’s 27 per cent, and Mr Dutton on 11 per cent, but the Foreign Minister’s strongest support is among Greens and Labor voters, with Mr Turnbull edging out his deputy among Coalition voters 42 to 39 per cent.
The Nothing Singularity has come for its progeny. The danger is that it forces the Party to shift leaders before it is ideal. A year away would be better, offering the prospect of a honeymoon election for the new leader.
But at the rate that Do-nothing Malcom’s Nothing Singularity is consuming all in front of it, by then, there will be nothing left. From Newspoll today:
Malcolm Turnbull has suffered a horror slump in support as the citizenship crisis engulfs parliament, with voters slashing his lead as preferred prime minister at the same time as he faces new threats to his authority and signs of cabinet division over his leadership.
Voters have delivered a damaging blow to Mr Turnbull’s standing as preferred prime minister, cutting his rating from 41 to a new low of 36 per cent and narrowing his lead over Bill Shorten to just two percentage points.
In its worst result since February, the Coalition now trails Labor by 45 to 55 per cent in two-party terms in a swing that would cost the government more than 20 seats, just as it prepares for another snap by-election in a bid to keep its slim majority in parliament.
The latest Newspoll, conducted exclusively for The Australian, shows the Coalition’s primary vote has fallen from 35 to 34 per cent after a fortnight of bitter argument over citizenship, only the second time core support has fallen so low under Mr Turnbull’s leadership.
When we elected Do-nothing Malcolm we tore off a little piece of The Nothing Singularity and it wants it back.