The neverending story of an election that could take out Malcolm Turnbull
Malcolm Turnbull and John Alexander in happier times in April this year. Photo: AAP Technically, the Korean war is ongoing. Technically, the 2016 n election has become similarly open-ended.
Its distended double-dissolution campaign was excruciating at the time, imparting a sense that it would never end. Now we find… it hasn’t!
Even the “job lot” evaluation of the “citizenship 7” by the High Court in October, failed to settle things.
Just days after that landmark ruling, the Senate president admitted an undisclosed British allegiance that rendered him ineligible all along. Other names would also be thrown into doubt.
More will follow.
Fully 15 months after Malcolm Turnbull’s desultory, self-financed campaign reached its dispirited underwhelming conclusion, government MPs are turning out not to have been legally elected.
Backbencher John Alexander is the latest. His Saturday resignation was admirably decisive when it came but remember, it followed months of fevered media coverage during which time the high-profile former sportsman dithered in a don’t-ask-don’t-tell fog of ignorance about his own antecedents.
Voters are understandably frustrated. Some ask how the law – in this case Section 44 of the constitution – could be so infuriatingly petty and inflexible.
But many also wonder about foolish politicians too slap-dash to comply with a recognised constitutional requirement, and often, too self-interested to speak up until outed.
As his wafer-thin majority crumbles, a besieged Turnbull is putting a brave face on things, hoping that Labor will lose a few also.
That may be. But as things stand, the government that Tony Abbott initiated with a strong majority, has become a minority operation.
Joyce appears safe in New England, and JA, as he was known in a different “racquet”, should hold Bennelong in Sydney’s north – a seat Labor has snared just once, when Maxine McKew defeated John Howard in 2007.
While Turnbull cannot be blamed for the shoddy legalling of Coalition candidates – an organisational responsibility in all parties – there is no avoiding the fact that his precarious grip on power dates back to that poor election performance.
A do-or-die byelection looms in Bennelong despite its 9-plus percent margin.
A loss in that seat would probably take out Turnbull as well.