The Labor Greens alliance has independents Windsor and Oakeshott by the short and curlies. Or over a barrel if you prefer.
They have been conned.
Their fond notion that they might have a respected voice in a new inclusive government or have some say in policy is drying up like a light dawn mist on a hot Summer day.
The offer of a ministry to Rob Oakeshott was never more than a farce.
It would have been impossible for him to take up such an offer without ridicule and complete loss of credibility if it became known that he had discussed a possible ministry in NSW state Labor with then premier Morris Iemma. So of course Labor (who else could it have been) made sure that it became known just at the crucial moment.
So now Simon Crean, whose idea of rural is the high end of Lygon St, becomes minister for regional Australia.
Bill Shorten, the Governor General’s son in law, is minister for everything to do with money except completely stuffing up the economy, which is still Wayne Swan’s job.
Peter Garrett, formerly minister for stuffing up things in people’s ceilings, is now minister for stuffing up things at schools, a portfolio he takes over from now Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
Kevin Rudd’s reward for stopping leaking annoying stuff to the press and pretending to support Julia is that he now becomes minister for bad breath and annoying the Chinese.
The two independents who supported Labor have nothing to do except stay out of their electorates and think about their job prospects of three years time, if this government lasts that long.
They will have no voice in parliament at all, nor any power to compel Labor to keep the promises it made to ensure their votes. They must support Labor whatever it does, or run the risk of an early election. If that happens, voters in their electorates will punish them mercilessly.
More on this theme from Peter Smith at Quadrant Online:
A lot has been made of the Government having to kowtow to these so-called independents. The kowtowing is over. It lasted for 17 days. The independents will now do as they are told. As turncoats, they will be as much despised by those whose ranks they have joined as by those who they turned against. Exactly what are they to do; where are they to go; when Gillard, Swan & Company tell them to fall into line. There is nothing to do about it and nowhere to go. They have cast their die. If they think differently, they are dumber than they look.
They need the Government to look as though it’s working to prove they were right; to shore up their own positions and tattered reputations. Any truculence on their part will simply make a new election, and their own demise, more likely. As it is, the Government will last as long as Gillard wants it to. If she sees the polls turning in her favour she will take advantage of it. The agreement with the independents to go a full term is worthless. Anyone who could knife Rudd in the back only minutes after making an agreement with him will have little compunction about doing over a couple of turncoats from the bush.