Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Advice worth taking

Every now and again as a political journalist you come across a column by a colleague that you wish you had had the wit to write. It happened to me this morning and the author whose words I covet is not one I always find myself in agreement with. Gerard Henderson, writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, makes the case for the Opposition abstaining on legislation it disagrees with rather than voting against it. He argues:

Voting against legislation makes the Opposition Leader, Malcolm Turnbull, look negative. It also brings the Greens and the independent senators into the mainstream of the political debate since any or all of them only have a balance-of-power position if the Coalition opposes Labor's legislation. Giving additional prominence to the Greens and independents is not in the long-term interests of the Coalition or Labor.

To show that they disagree with Labor, all Turnbull and his colleagues have to do is to abstain. This serves as a reminder to electors that they voted for the likes of Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard to govern the nation. There is no obvious reason why an opposition should attempt to protect voters from the consequences of their electoral decision.

It is advice the Opposition Leader would do well to keep in mind as he ponders his reaction to tonight's budget.
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