After the political year that was, the people can take back the people's house again.
Federal Parliament has risen for the year and with politicians and staff heading back to various homes across the nation and thanks to high vaccination rates, COVID restrictions are easing and Parliament House will be open from Saturday to the public.
It will be great to let decorum float through the building again.
The democratic values Australia prides itself on: transparency, accountability, integrity and even basic civility, have taken a battering in 2021. Just when we need our leaders to guide us safely out of a deadly pandemic.
There's been outrage after scandal after indignity this year and barely any acceptance of responsibility.
Alleged abuse, bullying, unparliamentary behaviour, acceptance of multi-million dollar pork-barrelling, leaking of phone numbers on social media and flagrant disinformation about life-saving vaccines.
Disturbingly, that list describes the last sitting fortnight alone.
The most statesperson-like participants of federal democracy, Tony Smith and Scott Ryan, have stepped down from their speaker and Senate president roles. The rest, according to one federal politician on the government side, are all "f---ing animals".
Test the waters outside Parliament House and it is too damn easy to find disgust. Particularly over the treatment of women.
Some sort of internal restraint on airing gender-based injustice has broken. With the knowledge the aggrieved are well and truly not alone, the stories of a sick parliamentary culture are starting to pour in.
This bursting of the proverbial dams has been lifetimes in the making, but there have been watershed moments; the downfall of Harvey Weinstein, Don Burke's undoing, staffer Chelsey Potter's alleged assault, Alan Tudge's acknowledged affair, Grace Tame becoming Australian of the Year, Brittany Higgins detailing her alleged sexual assault and the contested accusations against former attorney-general Christian Porter.
Now, there are the anonymous voices in the report of the Jenkins review crying out for a change in the way politics is conducted. It is not outrageous to ask for a safe and respectful workplace.
To quote Rachelle Miller, the former lover and staffer of Mr Tudge.
"This is entirely a man's issue, and specifically the men in this building," she told reporters on Thursday.
"The Liberal Party doesn't have a women problem. It has a men problem. Labor have stayed quiet because they have just as many skeletons; the two major parties will work together when they're protecting each other."
The time to do something is now, not as part of an election platform. Gender-based injustice should be addressed because it needs to be done, not because a party wants to win office.
But re-election is on the minds of all politicians and staffers. Labor has an unofficial campaign launch on Sunday and the decks are being cleared in the major parties. Joining the rush out the door and choosing not to contest the next election are: Mr Porter, Health Minister Greg Hunt, Nationals whip Damian Drum and Labor's Sharon Bird. Many others have been announced and more are expected.
Renewal happens at every election. Most notably there was rush of senior government farewells after Malcolm Turnbull lost the Liberal leadership in 2018.
But this is a parliament oozing chaos.
A one-seat majority has been tested as government MPs and senators flex muscles and crossed the floor this fortnight over vaccine mandates, a federal ICAC and territory rights. Nationals members and even ministers have virtually denied they are part of the Morrison government. There have been misrepresentations and missteps.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese is attempting to seize the moment.
"I think that one of the big distinctions at the next election will be a tired government that is out of puff," he said on Friday while announcing the opposition's climate policy - a medium-term emissions reduction target of 43 per cent of 2005 levels.
"We saw yesterday a government that lost the education minister and health minister on one day, during a pandemic.
"We see a government that doesn't have a plan for today, let alone any concept of a vision for tomorrow."
Labor - with a significant quest to win at lest seven seats to claim government - has to encourage voters it is not a scary option, that it is government-lite with extra trust and more green but not Greens.
Forty-three per cent will be disappointing to voters thinking about a Labor vote who want stronger climate action. But importantly, the business community is on side.
The Prime Minister is cooking up a good climate scare campaign and is testing the line of attack that a vote for Labor is a vote for a Labor-Greens government.
"There's nothing safe about a Labor-Greens government," he said on Friday while adorned with hi-vis and a hard hat.
The Greens want a much higher carbon emissions reduction target of 75 per cent. The new Labor target is two percentage points lowerthan it took to the last election, but higher than the government's Abbott-era target of a 26-28 per cent cut to 2005 levels.
"This is the starting bid from Labor. It's not the final outcome," Mr Morrison told reporters.
"And if they have to get into that auction with the Greens to form government, then it won't be 43. It's going to end a lot higher than that."
And, of course, there is COVID-19. The greatest health, economic and social challenge for the nation in 100 years is political dynamite. Uncertainty over the pandemic path ahead (hello Omicron) is fuelling extra election uncertainty.
The election is widely expected be a test of the government's COVID handling, so timing is key. By 2022's second quarter, the booster program should be well advanced. But really, who knows what could be next.
And the plotting and grubbiness is set to continue into the campaign, if the last fortnight is anything to go by.
It is just going to move out in the wild as campaigning heats up.
So much is at stake. Election 2022 is likely to be win or nothing for the current leaders. They are just getting started.
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