The federal Coalition government is on the skids. It seems only a matter of time before it will be forced to an early election.
The latest sign of panic by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was the November 20 decision to delay the last sitting of the House of Representatives by a week to December 4.
The stated justification for this blatant lock-out of opposition and independent MPs — that it would facilitate the passing of equal marriage legislation by the end of the year — does not wash.
The Senate is due to vote on the equal marriage bill, and the string of undemocratic and homophobic amendments likely to be moved by Coalition Senators, by November 30.
The government claims that the House will sit the following week and continue until the legislation is finally passed.
But this is just a furphy.
Turnbull is afraid an earlier sitting of the House, due to start on November 27, would allow more time for Labor, the Greens and a few maverick Coalition MPs, to push through a bill to establish a royal commission, or a commission of inquiry, into the Big Four banks.
If such an inquiry were to be passed, it would effectively amount to a vote of no confidence in the Turnbull government. It would signal the beginning of the end.
The government has made defending the Big Four banks from public exposure one of its key policies. Defeat on that would make its survival untenable.
Queensland Liberal-National Senator Barry O’Sullivan has foreshadowed a private member’s bill for a commission of inquiry into the banks, which has similar powers to a royal commission. It would not only scrutinise the banks, but also superannuation, insurance and other services associated with the scandal-plagued sector.
While a royal commission needs to be set up by the executive, a commission of inquiry can be passed if both houses of parliament agree.
The government is also feeling the pressure of the dual citizenship fiasco. Labor thinks it has a chance to defeat the Liberal’s John Alexander in the byelection for the Sydney seat of Bennelong.
If Labor’s Kristina Kenneally wins Bennelong, the stage would be set for a possible vote of no-confidence. If enough cross-bench MPs agree the government could fall by the end of the year or early next year setting the scene for an early federal election.
The stakes are high. The anti-union, anti-refugee and anti-environment agenda of the Coalition, set in train by extreme conservative Tony Abbott in 2013, but largely maintained under Turnbull, would be in question.
As the Labor Party is putting forward an agenda which is only marginally different to that being presented by the Coalition, the social movements are going to have to step up the pressure on many fronts. This is where Green Left Weekly comes in.
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