I recently wrote that the current citizenship debacle engulfing the Federal Parliament was a chance to drain our own swamp – a chance to hit the hard reset button and begin the process of getting back to the business of governing Australia. With so many Members and Senators under an eligibility cloud, we had the potential for a fresh start. That went out yesterday with Labor’s cynical decision to endorse failed, former NSW Premier Kristina Keneally as its candidate for the Bennelong by-election.
It’s a cynical move in more ways than one. Firstly, Keneally is a woman and it allows Labor to cling to these patronising quotas upon which it insists to show some false devotion to equality. If equality was really at stake, Labor would run a quality candidate like Penny Wong rather than force her to languish in the Senate.
It’s cynical because it plays the Australian voter and the residents of Bennelong for fools. There’s no doubt that the Turnbull Government is a shambles, much like the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd regime was. But it’s nowhere near as shambolic as Keneally’s own Government was when she served as the unelected Premier of NSW before leading Labor to a landslide defeat to the equally inept Barry O’Farrell.
Mostly however, it’s cynical because Kristina Keneally was a puppet of then Labor powerbrokers who have since been found corrupt and in two cases imprisoned. We’re expected to forget all that and ignore that Keneally has allowed herself to be used as a puppet once again. This time it’s for the obstructive and destructive Bill Shorten.
The cynicism doesn’t stop there though. Let’s not forget that Kristina Keneally is American-born and is obviously supposed to remind us of this citizenship mess that the current Government has presided. She’s also somewhat of a “celebrity” candidate whose fame is supposed to dazzle us enough to ignore her historic and contemporary failings.
The sad irony is that Bennelong is the seat that was held by former Prime Minister John Howard, arguably the last fair dinkum leader we had in this country and certainly the last focused on the business of government. It’s also ironic that he lost the seat to Labor’s last cynical, celebrity appointment, Maxine McKew.