One thing you could say about Glenn Lazarus in his previous career was that you could always to see him coming.
But this week, Lazarus blindsided Clive Palmer and left the Palmer United Party. This reduced PUP to one senator, the loquacious Zhenya Wang here seen delivering his maiden speech, ably backed up by the equally loquacious Rickie Muir. Jaqui Lambie is there as well and appears to be trying to stick a microphone up her nose
Lazarus’s defection to the cross benches leaves PUP with only one senator and now scarcely a force to be reckoned with in the Senate.
To paraphrase Lady Bracknell from Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of being Ernest
To lose one Senator may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness.
You have to sympathise with Clive Palmer. He went to the last federal election with a very clear policy platform for PUP: “Whatever Clive happens to think today.” And the Senators, all three of them, were elected on the promise “We will do what Clive tells us to.”
So people knew what they were getting when they voted for PUP in the upper house.
But now two of the senators have reneged on the mandate given to them by the Australian electorate. And we no longer know what we are going to get from Jaqui Lambie or Glenn Lazarus. Now, it may well be that it something better than agreeing with Clive Palmer but that’s not what they are elected for.
Both Lambie and Lazarus were elected as PUP candidates. If they no longer wish to be members of the party, they should resign their seats in the Senate, give up their $185,000 pa salary and stand at the next general election as independents. Following the convention, PUP should be able to dominate two members of its party to fill the seats in the Senate.
The Senate seems to be moving closer and closer to fulfilling Paul Keating’s definition.