The Westminster System . . As Not Practised in Canberra.19 February 2012
Australia may have the Westminster parliamentary system but there’s a mjaor difference in one respect. And if Australia would just adopt the procedure, as in Westminster, we’d all have more interesting programmes to watch on television and the media would have nothing to write about.
In the UK, the leader of a political party is chosen by the MEMBERS of that party – ALL the members, not just the parliamentary ones. So to elect a new leader, an election has to be called, time given for nominations to be received, literature sent out to thousands of members all over the country, and then the election held. When Gordon Brown resigned, I think it took about 4 months.
In Australia, someone challenges a leader in the middle of the afternoon, the parliamentary party meets the next morning. Et voila, there is a new leader by lunchtime.
The Liberal Party is on its third leader since the Rudd election in 2007. And we all know what happened to Rudd – challenged in the evening, out by morning coffee break.
And now there are loads of rumours of a challenge to Julia Gillard. The media love it; the general public is pretty sick of it. The media stirs it up, in a slack news week, the opposition parties plants a seed of a rumour, a secret meeting etc, and everything else takes a back seat while we’re all wondering who is going to be leading the country tomorrow. I have no way of knowing whether the current rumours are just that, or are based on any hard evidence or insider knowledge.
But I really wish we could concentrate on something else.