Revelations the Deputy Prime Minister kept legitimate foreign policy concerns from his Party Room shows divisions in the Coalition are now threatening to undermine Australia’s national interests.
Feeling vulnerable to a stalking Barnaby Joyce, Michael McCormack has put his own political interest ahead of the national interest.
The Deputy Prime Minister appears to have chosen not to share concerns about his proposed agriculture visa with his National Party colleagues.
This is despite concerns the visa had the potential to undermine existing programs with Australia’s Pacific neighbours.
Since 2012 the Seasonal Worker Program (SWP) has brought more than 25,000 workers from Pacific island countries and Timor-Leste to Australia for up to six months to pick fruit and vegetables.
Australia’s relations with our Pacific neighbours are too important to be held hostage to splits, chaos and division within the Government or to be used to prop up the ailing leadership of Mr McCormack.
Instead of discussing these concerns with his colleagues, Mr McCormack chose to continue on with the pretence the visa proposal was on track in order to save his own bacon.
The Government has been talking up an “agriculture visa” for two years but there has been no progress in addressing critical workforce shortage issues in the agriculture sector. Nor is there any strategy to put more young Australians into workforce gaps.
This dysfunctional and divided Government continues to fail the agriculture sector.