Chapter 1: “IF YOU CHANGE THE GOVERNMENT, YOU CHANGE

THE COUNTRY”? WOULD THAT PROPOSITION BE TRUE OR FALSE?

 

 

To the extent that the supposed truism prevails, the 2020 Summit is reasonably likely to demonstrate the nostrum to be somewhat true – but not absolutely true. That is, the Rudd Government is likely to cherry pick the useful ideas that appeal to the Labor Party. Conversely, any ideas at odds with the “Political Status Quo” are likely to be ignored, regardless of potential majority voter support.

If a majority of the general public want something different to what the major parties offer via their manifestoes, then that’s just bad luck, unless the ideas happen to dovetail into their respective ideologies. Beyond that, our two-party preferred system of government is pretty much a closed shop with indistinguishable major policies bereft of alternatives.

Clearly, democracy in Australia is limited to what the major parties are prepared to accept from the people rather than vice versa. Democracy does not prevail when a government of either complexion, pushes legislation lacking majority support through the Senate. Democracy does not prevail when a government refuses to accede to majority wishes on any given legislation and a pussycat Opposition allows them to get away with it. Every supposedly “democratic election” can be democratic, only to the extent that the Government so elected implements what the people actually want, rather than what the governing political party wants.

An election touted as being a “Referendum on leadership” for example does not provide a democratic imprimatur for a government exemplified by the Howard Government’s performance, to implement its ideological agenda where devoid of majority public support. Pollies elected to government love to claim that they were elected to implement myriad unheralded policies while doing the “Democracy, democracy, democracy” song and dance routine with religious fervour. In effect an election provides the people with not more than an invidious choice between two grab bags of policies and minimalist grotesque economically inefficient retrospective accountability. Worse is that some executive decisions, such as committing to a majority unwanted war can never be undone which puts the lie to Luddite Pollie claims that an election provides accountability for the electorate.

Despite that a majority of voters might want lots of policies that neither major party has been willing to countenance, OZ Media fails dismally to take up the cudgels on behalf of the people. Howard’s raising of the reporting requirement for political donations to $10K was a clear invitation to donors and lobbyists to offer bigger bribes. The Rudd Government’s intention to reduce the reporting requirement to $1K is an improvement, but will not eradicate undemocratic government. The NSW Iemma Government’s plan to ban political donations entirely is a much better plan. Political donations have always steered legislative outcomes and steered executive decisions to corrupt the supposedly democratic process. At least OZ Media goes for the jugular when politicians get caught out, but the exposes never result in demands for democratic change. Our Pollies may be masters of litanies of excuses for their failures and endless corruptions of democracy, but for OZ Media to describe any Australian government, State, Territory or Federal as actually being democratic is a pathetic abrogation of responsibility to the general public.

What happens between elections is not even close to being a fair representation of a democracy. Legislation without majority voter support that has been rammed through the Senate and into law, fails the democracy test. Clearly so, but pontificating Pollies such as Senator Minchin persist with their never ending blandishments to the effect that “Australia is a democracy” and in doing so tell fundamental lies, pure and simple. John Howard admitted freely, that he often oversaw minority supported legislation being passed into law during his tenure. The general public is well aware that lots of Howard Government legislation passed through the Senate successfully, without majority voter support because Howard had “the numbers” which gave him an unrepresentative Senate majority. Senators and other Pollies with verbal diarrhoea who spout out the, “Democracy, democracy, democracy” message incessantly would be guilty of ongoing brainwashing!

Consider the frequency with which TV interviewers preface their interviews of politicians along the lines of, “We live in democracy, therefore whatever you are doing must be acceptable …..” and so on ad nauseum. How often have you heard something similar insinuated into just about every political interview conducted on television, either by the interviewer or the politician, or both? If that ain’t concerted tri-partisan brainwashing, then what is it? Is it just a nice cup of tea? No. It is far more insidious than that. Orwell got the story correct. Orwell predicted totalitarianism and we’ve got it. When Pollies and OZ Media combine their message to the effect that the populace must believe that we thrive in democracy, then the opposite is more than likely true, typified by truisms such as “War is Peace”, that “The War on Terror” does not exacerbate the prospects of terrorism on both sides and that the Iraq War 2003 as Howard claimed was/is, “Right and Just” and should be continued.

The trend towards totalitarianism is getting worse. It would appear that the concentrations of media ownership during the past few decades have corresponded with an increased tempo in brainwash-like Pollie-speak intended to maintain the lie that, “We live in a democracy”. The obvious question on behalf of the people has to be, “Are our journalists and editors so inept that they haven’t noticed, or have their arms been permanently twisted? Which is it?” Repetition of the lie is as obvious and predictable as the rises in petrol prices prior to a long holiday weekend. The short answer is that OZ Media’s minders must be instructing interviewers and commentators to support maintenance of the lie.

Conspiracy theories will always be condemned by those responsible for perpetuating conspiracies. The now permanently sinecured Howard Government Minister, Senator Alston was fond of giving the ABC a serve for failing to spout the Government’s versions of truth on the Iraq War in particular. Today, the ABC’s funding seems to be linked to doing as it is instructed by Government minders, because even the ABC’s TV interviewers are prone to pushing the “democracy, democracy, democracy” line unsolicited and/or fail to challenge politicians to explain themselves when they spout the “democracy, democracy, democracy” line unchallenged. Across the board, OZ Media dudes fail to apply checks to that gargantuan lie when proffered by Pollies. If that has not been the case to date, then please explain how “One vote one value” actually accounts for bipartisan support for “The right of governments to govern” which allows governments, (a) to make executive decisions and (b) to pass legislation - without specific majority support?

Explain how the latter scenario constitutes democracy in terms of “government by the people”? It doesn’t. The non-sequitur being upheld by Pollies and OZ Media can be explained only in terms of degrees of totalitarianism. It’s all about preserving the best interests of the political status quo. It’s all about ensuring that the oligarchy of vested interests that controls the political agenda maintains either no democratic change or minimal change so that the major parties can re-adjust to maintain their stranglehold on power, either as the Opposition or as the Government.

Howard has professed to hold in high regard, the British politician and philosopher Edmund Burke for the view that political change should be slow and gradual. Why? For what reasons – maintaining political stability? Ostensibly yes, but in reality, go-slow change maximises the prospects of maintaining power by those with power to wield. The Founding Fathers wrote the Federal Constitution of 1901 with provisions for democratic change via the medium of referenda. Rarely used, but if used, always on terms dictated by the establishment, which has resulted in demonstrably undemocratic government ever since.

Abraham Lincoln’s famous view of Democracy is but a disappearing dream for citizens of the USA, Australia and Britain today. “Democracy is the government of the people, by the people, for the people”. In that context, Pollies such as the ex-Foreign Minister Alexander Downer MP who frequently harangued us to the effect that Australia is a Western Democracy” and by implication cannot be improved by democratic change, exercised today’s perpetual lie. The implication of course is and was that because “We are the Lucky Country” and could be much worse off than we are, we should be content with the rampant political corruption that maintains the two-party preferred political status quo under the guise of “One Vote, One Value” for an invidious choice at election time. Nothing could be better? No substantive democratic change needed? Of course not, if you believe our Pollies and OZ Media.

 

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