BRENDAN DUFFY: Like most of my right leaning friends I was bemused when Tasmania again managed to put more lefty loonies into our Australian Parliament at the 2010 Federal Election. My distaste was particularly directed at the fact that the Tasmanian seat of Denison had successfully elected a former-Green Andrew Wilkie into the House of Representatives.
Of course I was sceptical of Wilkie’s status as a former Green turned Independent, likening him to an alcoholic who only drinks on special occasions. I remarked to my wife that I thought that Tasmania should probably declare its independence and hopefully float its way down to Antarctica. Of course I conveniently dismissed the fact that the state I was living in at the time (Victoria) had put the first ever Green’s Member into the House of Representatives.
Four “independent” candidates also took their place in a House of Representatives that was locked in an intense stalemate over who would form government. My right-winged ignorance did not target the former good old country boy Independent Representatives who would surely align with Tony Abbott to form a government with the Australian Liberal Party. I was more put off by the fact that yet another extreme lefty was taking his place in the house. I was wrong on both counts.
Two of the hacks formed a power bloc, to get what was “theirs,” in turn eventually turning their back on the likely intentions of their conservative electorates by supporting Julia Gillard and her party as the government.
The, at that time, bane of my existence Andrew Wilkie did not sell out on his electorate. Voted in thanks to leftist Green Party preferences, he stayed true to that by committing to Gillard’s government provided that she would support his key issues. Gillard agreed and among other things secured a commitment from the government to reduce problem gambling.
Last year, Wilkie confirmed that he was withdrawing support for the Labor Government after Julia Gillard continued her unique ability to change her stance on basically every issue she has ever overseen. Her government would refuse to implement mandatory pre-commitment for all poker machines by 2014, as Wilkie alleges was agreed to at the election stalemate.
I doubt that Tony Abbot would have seen the legislation passed either, given how much money poker machines inject into the pubs and clubs of Australia. Unlike Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor, Wilkie has remained committed to the issues that have mattered most to him entering parliament.
Over time he has proven himself to not be a “lefty loony,” but rather one of the few elected politicians who is willing to go all out for the issues that matter to him and his electorate. Sadly it looks like we will be posed with the same frustrating proposition in the 2013 Federal Election of our leaders telling us what the other can’t do, and not what they can do. This time it looks like Tony Abbot may get his turn to prove himself as dissatisfying as Julia Gillard.
A wise man once said to me, “the measure of a person is their ability to do the right thing, when everyone around them is doing the wrong thing.” I think that mantra speaks volumes for Andrew Wilkie. Come the election, he may or may not be re-elected, but at the end of his term Wilkie can hold his head high as having upheld his sworn oath to represent the people of this nation and stay true to the issues that matter. Of course as for the performance of the others – most of us are just left swearing at ourselves.