No, Morrison can’t avoid going to an election (and other stories)

The social media speech indicated that Prime Minister Morrison may attempt to postpone the 2022 election using the pandemic as an excuse. Andrew P Street sets the record straight.

IN THE LATEST TIME, there has been a tendency popularized by Donald Trump fans to assert that when a right-wing leader does something that looks like a casual observer as a formidable display of incompetence and stupidity, it is in fact a brilliant tactical maneuver of a hyper-genius thinking many steps ahead.

And so, it shouldn’t come as a shock that there is complaints the rapid, global spread of COVID-19 in Australia is not a poorly managed public health policy by ill-prepared governments putting populism before epidemiology, but a sinister plot to give Prime Minister Scott Morrison an excuse to postpone or cancel the 2022 elections.

An identical theory was in effect in 2020 regarding Trump and the US election, and proved to be unfounded, with the US experiencing record turnout despite the pandemic. But could Morrison plan to call for a state of emergency following Omicron’s spread and throw Election Day into the never-ever?

Short answer: no.

Longer answer: because he can’t.

Australia has already held elections under difficult circumstances, including wartime. In addition, thanks to the Whitlam government which introduced the first independent electoral agency, Australia benefits from the independent and non-partisan Australian Election Commission which manages our elections, removing it from the direct control of governments.

It sounds boring and bureaucratic, but the ACS is one of our nation’s secret superheroes. Everything in the United States about state legislatures changing their electoral rules to suit Republicans and giving them the power to ignore results they don’t like? There is no prayer here. Even the age-old process of gerrymandering has been curtailed by the AEC’s transparent process of redrawing the boundaries of the electorate. They do a good job, that’s what we say.

So what are the conspirators saying on Twitter?

“Scott Morrison is letting the virus run rampant because he wants to avoid having to go to an election!”

It’s probably a misconception that Morrison can choose when to go to an election. He can absolutely decide the date of the elections, but it depends on some very restrictive parameters, the most important this time being that the polling day must take place in time for the new Senate to sit on July 1.

It takes a minimum of six weeks for new Senators to be confirmed and sworn in, so the last date Morrison can hold an election is Saturday, May 21.

A change in the voting system could save us all

What if he doesn’t? Then the Governor General dissolves Parliament and calls an election so that Parliament does not sit illegally. What if the GG refuses for some reason? In theory, they would be fired by the Queen for not doing their job and would be replaced by a new GG. I say “in theory” because this situation has never happened and will not happen this time either.

“Bb-but if the virus spreads, then Scott Morrison will call a state of emergency and ban all votes!”

He cannot, mainly because there is no state of emergency power that suspends the application of the Australian Constitution.

There is absolutely no way for a government of the day to decide that it does not hold an election without holding an election. Rebellion and declaring himself a dictatorship, and it’s hard to imagine even a musical theater fan as tall as Morrison succeeding in making “Do you hear the people singing / Singing a chubby men song” exciting and inspiring enough to rally enough supporters to his cause.

“Bb-but he could just put the Aussie on lockdown so no one can vote!”

Again, he can’t. The federal government cannot call for closures because it is a state power. State governments can ban all public gatherings on the basis of health advice, which would then affect how the ballot works, but that would not help Morrison’s cause, as he would still be forced to hold the election before the expiration of the Senate despite everything.

Union strategies for the 2022 elections

In addition, it should be noted that the ACS has already held several national and local elections during the pandemic and has completed an investigation into what can be done to make voting accessible. If things were to go wrong before Election Day, there would likely be an expansion of postal voting, making it less likely that a winner would be announced on election night – but that’s about it.

“Bb-but he could split the election in two!” TWAIN! “

Okay, that’s technically possible, with a person speaking in unnecessarily obscure language. But it’s very, very unlikely.

See, the House of Representatives won’t expire until September 2022, so Morrison could call a Half-Senate election by Saturday, May 21 and postpone an election in the House of Representatives until Saturday, September 3.

But there’s a reason governments haven’t split their elections for 50 years: When they do, they’re brutally punished by voters. Historically, this is manifested by voting hard against the party in place in the Senate and then doing so again in House elections.

It would also ensure that the election would cost double what it already did, which would be a massive mockery of responsible government as well as a major inconvenience to voters and a strong message to the public that Morrison believed he was. sentenced.

It would also go very, very badly with his own Party. The Federal Liberal Party doesn’t exactly bring the donations these days, so it would hardly thank Morrison for forcing them to campaign for two elections with an already exhausted electoral warlord, even if their opponents were in a similar position. .

In short, Morrison’s handling of the current phase of the pandemic is not part of a clever plan to escape elections: it is more likely to be simply incompetent policy led by a government unable to form contingency plans.

Andrew P Street is an Adelaide-based Sydney-based journalist, author, editor and broadcaster, as well as an Independent Australia columnist. You can follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewPStreet and support him on Patreon here.

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