Disparate Senate poses significant challenges

senate_img.jpgParliament resumes next week after a near four-month break which included a stupendously boring eight-week election campaign.

As a result, the government has the barest of majorities in the House of Representatives and faces a significant crossbench holding the balance of power in the Senate.

I have no doubt that negotiating the passage of legislation through such a disparate Senate will prove difficult. It will require great negotiation skills from government representatives and a willingness to compromise by all parties involved. Whether this comes to pass remains to be seen.

One media pundit suggested that the government might persist with engaging the crossbench for six months or so before giving up in exasperation. Their attention would then turn to doing deals with Labor and the Greens to facilitate the passage of legislation.

As enticing as this might sound to a government, such an approach would be fraught with danger for the country and the long-term future of the Liberal Party. Any deal with Labor and the Greens would presumably involve the compromise of the conservative principles underpinning the Liberal Party philosophy.

Historically, the Liberal Party has embraced lower taxes, stronger families, free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom and personal responsibility as its foundational ethos. These principles are common to most centre-right parties across the Western world.

These principles are not shared by Labor or the Greens and any legislative deal with them would likely come at a heavy price.

That price will probably result in an increase in taxes being described as ‘savings’. It would see more money wasted on international programs, climate change initiatives, domestic social engineering agendas and the like.

We’ll see more attacks on capitalism, enterprise and production under the guise of ‘fairness’ - which is the new mantra of the statist agenda. The Left advocates will ignore the fact that capitalism is the economic model that best secures individual liberty, because they are more interested in growing the influence of the state over individual autonomy.

The siren call of socialism is seductive to sections of the community who are more concerned with getting a personal benefit today and give scant regard for tomorrow. Some politicians will also succumb to the spell, erroneously presuming that clinging to power will justify any means.

History demonstrates that the encroachment of the state in almost every area creates more ills than it cures. Many of those consequences are not felt immediately and this appeals to those who delight in the knowledge that a broken system will have to be fixed by someone else.

And so the Liberal government faces a pincer movement of sorts: on one side a crossbench with protectionist tendencies, and on the other a ‘mainstream’ Opposition with eerily similar views. Neither will be able to deliver what the country needs in terms of rebuilding our economy, shrinking the size of government, creating jobs and building a sustainable future for all Australians.

Whilst it may be tempting for the government to accede to the anti-market agenda in the hope of getting a few wins on the board, to do so would ultimately deliver worse outcomes for everyday Australians and our country.

It may also have significant implications for the future of the Liberal Party itself.

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