There's a savage op ed by Glenn Milne in today's Australian, spelling out in no uncertain terms the federal government's contempt for the institution, the duties and the function of the Senate (to say nothing of the electorate) and its wilful stalling and stacking as it steamrolls through a whole parcel of legislation that will disadvantage the poor, the female, the sick, the old, the young, and every employee in the country.
Presumably the Truthful Rodent wants to finish rearranging Australia to his liking before he power-walks off into the sunset with Hyacinth, leaving the way clear for Captain Smirk to battle it out with Abbott, Nelson, Downer and Turnbull. Howard is a stubborn little sausage with a long memory and won't want to re-enact some of his own farcical public power struggles with Andrew Peacock, back in the mists of time; my bet is that he'll use control of the Senate quickly to score as many conservative goals as possible before withdrawing on his 67th birthday with what passes in politics for grace. In the ensuing bloodbath, my money will be on Turnbull.
In the meantime, however, the fact that a journalist like Glenn Milne is spitting chips in a paper like the Australian is some indication of just how far too far Howard has already gone. In 'PM drunk on political power', Milne describes the passing of the VSU legislation as 'the worst trashing of the Senate I've witnessed in 20 years of covering federal politics ...if the Howard Government continues down the road of ruthlessly emasculating the Senate, it will become an issue of both politics and principle that could ultimately threaten the Coalition's upper house majority at the next election. ... Drunk on power, the Government is now treating the Senate as its after-party pissoir.'
He finishes with a daunting quotation from de Tocqueville about the abuse of power, and his parting word is 'tyranny'. He doesn't quote 'Power corrupts ...', probably because he knows most of his readers will be thinking that already -- but you can practically hear him wanting to.