Independent MP Andrew Wilkie has withdrawn support from the Labor minority government in Australia over failure of the government to advance poker-machine reform. However, as noted in the Sydney Morning Herald, this development is not fatal to the government.
When, after the 2010 election, Wilkie, Rob Oakeshott, Tony Windsor and the Greens agreed to support Labor, they gave just two guarantees: confidence and supply.
On the first, they would support a no-confidence motion against the government only in a case of serious misconduct or corruption. And, while they would guarantee supply, they reserved the right to vote against individual budget measures and other policies.
In announcing he was withdrawing support, Wilkie reaffirmed that this did not imply he would join the now-certain no-confidence motion to be brought by the opposition.
Wilkie’s threat to bring down the government if it did not meet his demands lost potency in November when Harry Jenkins was nudged from the speaker’s chair and replaced by the Liberal turncoat Peter Slipper. This gave Labor a two-vote buffer on the floor.
Wilkie would lose all influence if he voted to bring down the government, anyway. The tail can’t wag the dog if the dog is dead. And the Wilkie Wag [TM] now looks to be a weaker influence on the Labor party than that of the poker clubs’ lobby.