The Government as Sea Lions

Our Guest Poster, Jennifer Wilson of No Place For Sheep, has some eye-watering images of the current régime rabble for your delectation. I’m afraid they will be seared into my memory forever.

Thank you, Jennifer!

CNN iReport

I don’t know if you’ve ever watched the sea lions at Pier 39 in San Francisco. I’m reminded of that querulous and stinking marine rabble whenever I encounter the Turnbull government in my media. The sea lions are a nasty bunch, and they fight a lot.

I now can’t picture Malcolm Turnbull as anything other than a self-congratulatory pinniped in a top hat, barking and clapping his flippers at his own cleverness as Lucy throws him a fish.

While the PM hastened to reassure the country that he had “excoriated” his rogue MPs (including ministers) who left parliament early on Thursday afternoon, the real issue is not that the LNP have taken this event as “wake-up” call for their one-seat majority government, but that such a call was needed in the first place.

Surely someone (a staffer, one of Dutton’s ninety, yes that’s ninety spin doctors) could have reminded the government that with a one-seat majority, everyone really needs to stay till the end.

That seasoned politicians holding powerful positions (and, apparently, their entire staff) need such a fundamental “wake-up” call is worrying indeed. What it confirms is what I’ve long suspected: the LNP perceive governing as a game weighted in their favour that they are entitled to win, without any particular merit, or even by actually playing it. Any challenges to these perceptions are dismissed as little more than the grumblings of opinionated upstarts.

Turnbull’s first sitting week after the election was woeful. First thirteen of his backbenchers defied him on the matter of Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. Next, for the first time in some fifty years, the government lost three votes in the House of Representatives because of the Thursday bunk-off. Thankfully, they’ve now gone home for a few days.

On the matter of Section 18C, it’s interesting that the cohort advocating a “watering down” of the section are those who are the least likely to ever need the protections it offers. Read this piece by Jeff Sparrow on the co-option of speech laws for their own benefit by those who have no skin in the game.

Similarly, those most vehemently opposed to marriage equality are those who can in no way claim to be, in reality, affected by it.

(If such people are seriously concerned about a perceived debasing of the institution of marriage, they urgently need to make infidelity illegal. Imagine that).

I think it’s safe to say that politics has ceased to be much to do with good and fair governance, and is now almost entirely to do with the furtherance of the interests and ideologies of largely (and sometimes large) white men. In this they differ little from the sea lion colony in which the dominant males rule in their own interests, biting great chunks of flesh out of dissenters and shoving them, bleeding, back into the sea. It’s every pinniped for himself.

They even savage the young, and the ones with the loudest bark win.

SF Gate


328 thoughts on “The Government as Sea Lions

  1. North Korea nuclear test suspected after ‘artificial’ quake

    North Korea is suspected of carrying out its fifth test of a nuclear bomb, after a magnitude 5.3 earthquake was detected close to its test site.
    South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said it had been an “artificial quake”.
    It quoted an unnamed South Korean government source as saying the tremor was highly likely to have been a nuclear test.
    There has been no confirmation from the North as yet that a nuclear test has been carried out

  2. Steve Koukoulas asks what is the point of budget repair when we have high unemployment and underemployment

    Comment #4 from ligaff has some cracker links including

    Robert Reich on why the rich should pay tax

    Business Insider

    I am about to plow through Steiglitz

    Alpho says

    Both those numbers are on the low side of right – the ABS figures undergo a lot of massaging before they are published. Here’s a better source, although neither is it perfect:

    But the point remains the same, although the figures are twice as bad as the government would have us believe.

  3. So it looks as if the Liberals are getting a bit of blowback over the Dastyari issue? This:

    And Pyne getting done over by Stefanovic this morning.

    They didn’t think this one through at all. Looking for a quick scalp and trying to drive a wedge through the ALP. Not sure where it’s going to lead yet, but it does have the potential to do things to Turnbull that’ll make Utegate look like a rehearsal.

  4. The NE is ever helpful

    Tony Abbott has implicitly criticised Malcolm Turnbull for a knee-jerk reaction to the Four Corners program on the Northern Territory’s Don Dale juvenile detention centre and accused the ABC of bias.

    It is the latest of several policy interventions from Abbott before the resumption of parliament next week.

    In July Turnbull called a royal commission into the Northern Territory detention system the morning after the Four Corners program which featured graphic footage of treatment of boys at the centre.

    On Friday, Abbott told Alan Jones on 2GB radio the story was “shocking” but it was “a pretty one-sided report”.

    “When the rest of the story started to come out it appeared things were not nearly as black and white – so to speak – as the ABC presented them,” he said.

    “Governments normally need to pause and think before they take precipitate action. And I am confident this royal commission, given its terms of reference, will come up with a reasonable report.

    “But you’re right, Alan, normally governments should not respond in panic to TV programs.”

    • Tony is still following Kevin Rudd’s ‘How to get revenge’ handbook to the letter. In fact, he’s doing more than Kevin ever managed.

      Tony is making the most of Turnbull being overseas. Every day there’s been another interview, another speech, another idea put forward and every time he has managed to insert criticism of Turnbull or a challenge to Turnbull. Tony even managed to squeeze in a bike riding stunt, just to remind us that he is still fit and active while Turnbull needs nanna naps every afternoon.

      I think there has been more MSM coverage of ‘What Tony’s doing’ than there has been comment on Turnbull.

  5. Jack the Insider has a look at the Dastyari kerfuffle. Is the Kitchen Cabinet a “Bermuda Triangle for politicians ?

    Dastyari is a very good retail politician with a deep connection to what is the Australian electoral jewel in the crown — western Sydney. For that reason alone, he will be back on the Labor front bench in relatively short time…………………………………As a sort of spooky aside, it transpires that almost half of the guests on the ABC’s Kitchen Cabinet with Annabel Crabb have now left the arena since the show first started in 2012, posing something of a dilemma for politicians. Do they want to be seen as a dab hand at slow-cooked pork belly or do they want a political career that lasts longer than five years?

  6. Hello everyone.

    I have a late finish at work today, so won’t be able to manage a Friday evening thread. Stand by, however, for a Saturday Special.

  7. You really are an idiot, Sprout.

    Peter Dutton has excused his department’s slow processing of Syrian and Iraqi refugees, suggesting other faster countries were not taking the same security precautions.

    Australia has been criticised for only settling 3,532 people after former prime minister Tony Abbott pledged one year ago to take in 12,000 Syrian and Iraqi refugees.

    World Vision, Oxfam, Save the Children, Plan International, Care and Amnesty International labelled the delay “incomprehensible” and called for the full 12,000 to be settled by March next year.

    However the immigration minister said on Friday he could not commit to a firm deadline, and defended the inaction of the Australian government when asked how Canada was able to settle more than 30,000.

    “Canada has a very different approach to the security checks they’re conducting,” Dutton told ABC radio.

    The scrutiny that we apply is greater than Canada there’s no question about that … because we want to make sure we aren’t bringing people into the country that would seek to do us harm.”

    When asked if he was suggesting that Canada was letting in potentially dangerous people, Dutton said he couldn’t comment because he didn’t know the details about Canada’s program.

  8. Bananas and Showboat get a dressing down

    Australia has been urged to put all trade discussions with Britain on the backburner and concentrate on securing a good agreement with the European Union.

    Overnight in Brussels, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Trade Minister Steve Ciobo were quizzed about their plans for a UK deal by several European politicians, who are still reeling from Britain’s decision to exit their organisation.

    “If you want to get a serious trade deal with the European Union then you will have to focus on the European Union and make that your sole negotiation. You cannot have side deals and side negotiations with the United Kingdom.”

    The UK and Australia cannot hold formal talks until Brexit takes place but at a meeting this week in London, the two countries agreed to establish a Trade Working Group — a move Mr Martin said “was a dangerous strategy for Australia”.

    “[Australia] is sending such strong signals to the UK … but the EU-Australia free trade deal negotiations were pushed for by Britain, and a lot of the other countries aren’t particularly worried if it happens or not,” he said.

    Other members of the Parliament suggested the UK talks could derail or delay a deal with the 28-member European Union.

  9. Adam Giles is confirmed to have lost his seat of Braitling in the NT by approximately 27 votes (assuming that holds up in the compulsory recount).

    Willem Vestra van Holthe has lost Katherine by 28 votes as well, meaning that this is the first time since the NT parliament started in 1974 that a Labor MP has won in Katherine and probably Alice Springs too.

    Unfortunately Labor’s Lynne Walker appears to have lost Nhulunbuy, but only by 7 votes to an Independent. It’s close enough to go down in a challenge, but it’s likely a loss there regardless.

  10. I wonder if MSM, at the request of the big end of town, are propping up Turdbull because they don’t want a return to Abbott. They don’t want Labor to win, they don’t want Abbott in so what is the alternative?
    Maybe they just have to support Turdbull.
    Things will get interesting. Abbott is definitely manoeuvring.
    When will Abbott make his challenge?
    Presumably it will be determined by the polls. When Turdbull gets a run of 48-52’s I reckon he’ll make his move.
    On another note re: Dastyari.
    Of course he was a goose.
    However, as many on Twitter have been pointing out Dastyari made a speech where he said he was shocked that Australia was run by 10 companies: the big 4 banks, BHP, Rio, Fortescue, Woolies, Coles and Telstra. I can’t recall the exact quote but the Australian or Terror described him as fighting the banks.The conclusion drawn by some is that “..if you take on us you’ll pay the price..” When looking at the treatment of Dastyari compared to the Libs it makes you wonder


    Sorry, but it’s already booked out – some people must prefer this to, well, iI dunno really. Burning the soles of your feet with red-hot pokers? Having root canal work without painkillers? Having bamboo stakes driven under your fingernails?

    I’m wondering just how many seats were available for this. Two? Four?

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