Muddle in Lala land

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has decided to increase the pay offer to defence personnel saying “it was the right thing to do” and of course had nothing to do with the pressure brought on him by Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie who had threatened to vote against all government legislation in the Senate unless the pay offer was improved.

Tony Abbott is feeling the squeeze from Jaqui Lambie
Tony Abbott is feeling the squeeze from Jaqui Lambie

Abbott said that this was an example of him listening to the Australian people. I think everybody would agree that it was pretty miserly of the Abbott government to offer the Armed Forces a pay increase below inflation given that their presence in the Middle East is an essential plank of government policy.

However, it’s hard to understand how Abbott has worked out that the Australian people  have expressed to support the deal. Most probably do, but it’s not been a hot political issue.

Senator Lambie said she would return to Tasmania to consult with Tasmanians about whether the offer was sufficient.

“I want to thank them for their stance behind me and what they have done with Defence Force personnel and they have allowed me to stand on this and I’m grateful to the people of Tasmania for the respect they show our Defence Force personnel.”

Jacqui Lambie: no pay increase, no Senate support
Jacqui Lambie: no pay increase, no Senate support

It is an interesting tactic on the part of the populist Lambie to conflate the issue of defence Force personnel with her political support from Tasmanians. They are obviously two different issues but Lambie is milking this one for all it is worth And is certainly playing to her local political base. And she certainly entitled to. She can rightly claim that she has single-handedly forced Abbott of change his stand on this particular policy

So the Prime Minister has made an increased pay offer to defence not because of Jaqui Lambie but because he realised that it was the right thing to do after listening to the Australian people.

And Lambie will be consulting with her political constituency to see whether she should accept the offer and  consequently support the government rather than finding out what defence personnel, think of the offer.

It’s no wonder we get confused.

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