SHOULD BARNABY BUTTON UP?
Cabinet solidarity is a pillar of Westminster government and without it governments become ungovernable. Most of you, and certainly I, could never be Cabinet Ministers as we could never face a camera and espouse what we did not believe in. It’s tough and disingenuous but that’s the game that should be played.
Barnaby Joyce’s commitment is commendable but publicly slating a Cabinet decision regarding the Shenhua Watermark mine on the Liverpool Plains high country as “dopey” and suggesting that, “the world had gone mad", is not all that helpful.
But constituencies are important too. Despite Shenhua having already spent hundreds of millions on anticipated public infrastructure, there is still solid opposition to the mine.
Barnaby is not the type to back off and as a Nat. he has a role in representing bush interests, so in all fairness he should be able to reiterate a long-held objection to the mine at the expense of Cabinet solidarity.
Tony Abbot has allowed him that right, and rightly so in this case.
But imagine if every Cabinet decision had to be in line with every Member’s electoral wishes! Cabinet decisions would never happen.
So where does the individual integrity of the Cabinet Member and his/her loyalty to constituents begin and end? It’s a tough call and it should not be reliant on the safety of the seat... but it often is.
I reckon the balance is right with Barnaby and the Shenhua mine issue. But now he needs to button up... mines seem at their worst before a sod is turned.
The only seriously discordant voice is that of former Independent Tony Windsor who is threatening to stand against Barnaby over the Abbott and NSW Governments’ mine approval.
But Tony Windsor’s face evokes moaning flashbacks to the Gillard disaster and awful memories of how he and Oakeshott opted for “stable government”.
I guess there’s nothing much for Tony Windsor to do in New England these days except to sit in front of a warm fire and play with his donger while waiting for the climate to change.
[CORRECTION: The Shenhua mine decision was ministerial one and not a Cabinet one.]