There was always a question mark over the way in which the Governor General appointed Kevin Rudd Prime Minister, but little discussion. Now, in stating that they may not support Rudd if he defers the election until October, the Greens have bolded and italicised that question mark.
Rudd governs with their support, but that support cannot be tested until the parliament sits, which will occur on Tuesday August, 20.
But what can they do then? If Rudd refuses to agree with them, they could withdraw their support and give it to Tony Abbott, on condition that he move immediately to an election. From the Greens point of view, that would seem bizarre.
And it ignores what the independents might do. Bob Katter has said he supports Rudd, but we do not know exactly where Wilkie, Oakeshott, Thompson, Slipper and Windsor would sit.
But what if Rudd decides to pre-empt the parliamentary sitting and approach the GG directly for a date of his choosing?
This is just another shambolic episode in the shambles that has become the Parliament of Australia, and could easily have been avoided.
Perhaps the coalition didn’t want to raise the spectre of 1975, but in my view, given the statements of a number of players, and the state of the parliament as hung, they should have been publicly raising the issue as to whether, and on what conditions, he had the support of the house, and when the election should be held, with a view to influencing public debate and the Governer-General.
Even if they didn’t the Governor-General should have asked some hard questions, not just of Rudd, but of the Greens and Independents, as well as the Opposition.
And a prudent GG would have commissioned Rudd on the basis that he went to parliament and sought the confidence of the house immediately, after canvassing issues, like this one, that were likely to arise.
None of this happened, and indeed the Solicitor General pressured the Governor-General from the government’s side, issuing a statement that there was no reason why she shouldn’t commission Rudd.
This at the same time as she has a personal conflict of interest, with Bill Shorten, the key player outside of Rudd and Gillard in all of this mess, being her son-in-law.
Which opens up the republican debate again I’m afraid. There does have to be a better way of appointing the head of state than the one we have now. And while the Republic has been off the agenda as far as the public is concerned for over 10 years, perhaps the Greens have found a unique way to put it back on.
And to think I thought I’d only see one 1975 in my life!