ONE of the more bizarre sights on what was one of the more bizarre days in federal politics was Labor powerbroker Tony Burke lecturing the Liberal Party over its handling of the leadership crisis of the past three days.
The manager of opposition business in the Lower House derided the Coalition, calling a vote to suspend parliament for the day “extraordinary”.
“There will be no question time today because they don't know who their ministers are,” he thundered.
“There will be no question time today because they don't know who their prime minister is. There will be no question time today because those opposite have stopped governing. If there was ever a government that had questions to answer, it’s this mob.”
Well, he was mostly right. The sight of a government shutting down parliament to save its own blushes was extraordinary, but the circumstances behind the move were hardly unique.
And this Coalition Government is not the first to stop governing because its own members have been more focused on shoring up their own futures and deciding on a leader than serving their constituents.
Mr Burke’s own party made an art of it.
The drought crippling much of this country and the impact of high power prices have barely rated a mention in Canberra in recent days as every conversation has centred on who should be prime minister.
It has been an appalling spectacle made worse by the fact we have seen it all before.
The Coalition came to power on the back of voter dissatisfaction with the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd revolving door leadership and proceeded to prove it had learned nothing from that disaster.
We wonder, though, if Labor has.
The party changed its voting rules to make it harder for a leader to be dethroned but in politics – as in all walks of life – rules are made to be broken.
Consistent polling has shown that Bill Shorten, the man set to gain most from the Liberal turmoil, remains an unpopular choice as PM – so does anyone really believe there would not be a push to install Anthony Albanese within a few months of a change of government?
All the politicians will come out of this current crisis promising they’ve learned a lesson before going on to prove they’ve learned nothing at all.
Welcome to the sad and sobering reality Australian politics in 2018.