As those of us in NSW are left to wonder about the future of this state, the Federal Opposition leader popped up on Sunday with a suggestion. Appearing on ABC’s Insiders Brendan Nelson suggested that given the calamitous state of NSW under Labor, we might need to look at the constitutional options. When asked what he meant, he refused to elaborate.
[Note to Nelson: if you want to look like a serious ideas man, when you raise a novel idea, run with it, explain it. If you drop it as fast as you raise it, it looks like the idea is so novel you’ve got no idea what you’re talking about.]
By constitutional options, presumably Nelson meant to point us to section 24B of the NSW Constitution Act 1903 which lays down the circumstances in which the NSW Legislative Assembly may be dissolved during its four year term. Subsection (5) of section 24B says “This section does not prevent the Governor from dissolving the Legislative Assembly in circumstances other than those specified in subsections (2)-(4), despite any advice of the Premier or Executive Council, if the Governor could do so in accordance with established constitutional conventions.” In other words, the Governor can dissolve Parliament in line with constitutional convention at any time during its four year term.
A nice idea if we can find a constitutional convention to warrant such action. NSW may be on the rails with its AAA credit rating in question, but this is no Whitlamesque scenario. Putting constitutional fine points to one side, sacking the NSW Labor Government is pointless. Let’s say this one more time in the hope that it will sink in at Liberal Party HQ: we have no effective Opposition in NSW to make an early election worthwhile. Which leaves us to an unfortunate fate of crossing our fingers, hoping for a most unlikely outcome where Rees, a man from Labor’s Left, takes economically responsible decisions by confronting the rot within his own party.
Well, we agree about the silliness of Brendan’s hare-brained and unworkable proposal to sack the new NSW Government. And we agree that there is still a lack of genuine opposition in the state – the Big O has certainly moved the Libs, in the right direction, but they are just as prone to factional self-destruction as the ALP. We differ entirely on what the best solution is – I am hopeful that Rees can turn things around, while Janet thinks Teh Left is the last thing the state needs.