No doubt, the 2020 Ideas Summit will result in a plethora of propositions, some practical, some nonsensical and some radical. No doubt many ideas to be presented will have the flavour of capitalism, far right liberalism and socialism, any of which the Rudd Labor Government might adopt if they get past the Labor party’s back-room machinations. Similarly, many arch-conservative and far right ideas might be enunciated and adopted by the Coalition forces that will put a new coil spring under the seat of the Coalition-Opposition’s butt.

But above all else, no doubt there will be a series of propositions that both major parties would reject outright because they don’t suit their respective ideological stances or the oligarchy of vested interests that controls the political agenda. Many such ideas even if given the opportunity, were to be supported by an overwhelming majority of voters simply will not make it into mainstream politics. Such propositions are those that are likely to adversely affect the political status quo, regardless of their democratic virtues. The oligarchy of vested interests that controls the political agenda will see to that. What the people want and what the two-party preferred establishment wants are often diametrically opposed.

Remember John Howard’s favourite anti-dissident ploys? His favourite ploy was to declare that dissidents have a democratic right to express their views – and then to state categorically that their views were wrong! Wrong! Rather than test dissident views with a progression of polls, plebiscites and a specific vote of the people if a majority deem the latter to be warranted, Howard persisted with dismissing all well meaning dissident views and ultimately suffered the cumulative consequences at the 2007 last rites election. Howard preferred to lose than to offer the slightest shred of democratic power to the people of Australia to over-ride the government of the day, to change prospective legislative outcomes.  

According to our Pollies, their indolence and intransigence on applying democratic principles to government between elections, that inevitably leads to an election drubbing represents “democratic accountability”. Ho! Ho! Ho! Think on this. Is the limiting of public voting to an election once every 3 years or so, the most efficient form of government that has ever been devised?  Is retrospective accountability as good as it gets? How about upfront accountability? Online specific voting could easily circumvent undemocratic government to create immediate accountability and thus greater political and economic efficiency. Considering Howard and Costello’s penchant for economic rationalism, isn’t it a wonder that they couldn’t use their Superior Economic Management” to implement such a policy? Ho! Ho! Ho! That notion would have been diametrically opposed to their wielding of power.

Democracy did not get a look in until the phoenix of retrospective accountability reappeared in 2007. What does the voting punter gets from a government’s election loss? Much of the work of the previous government has to be undone, re-jigged, and replaced. Thus, OZ government is far from being an efficient process. Economic rationalism for Pollies and Government was a taboo arena for Howard & Costello. Pollies usurping power and clinging to it with the tenacity and desperation of gravy boat ladles has a much higher priority for our self-serving Pollies than does actual democratic outcomes.

The oligarchy of vested interests that controls the political agenda is not interested in actual democracy. Political corruption would be harder to perpetuate if actual democracy were to prevail. The status quo Pollie mindset has all of the hallmarks of monumental hypocrisy. Public sentiment has all of the hallmarks of the need for a war to establish peace. The obvious solution to political expediency and its obverse which is grotesque political inefficiency is for governments to become democratically accountable contemporaneously, by means of specific votes of the people to establish mandate certainty prior to legislating. 

On or about 22 March 2008, NSW Premier Morris Iemma announced that his State Government would be considering banning of political donations entirely. No doubt the political stench over the Wollongong Council’s systemic corruption debacle especially in relation to property developer donations to Labor Party hacks in exchange for planning favours, has had much to do with Premier Iemma’s epiphany. He declared that he proposes to replace political donations with a system of public funding. Bravo, but such a plan, if universally applied to all State, Territory and Federal spheres, would not suddenly make their respective governments democratically accountable. In the Premier’s view, the public needs to have renewed faith in the political system. Much more than that would be needed. If the NSW Premier believes that such a reform would be democratically revolutionary, then he is mistaken. Welcome, yes, but not enough.

A political donation ban, if implemented comprehensively, rather than having two bob each way, would represent a huge improvement on what currently exists, but would fall far short of the actual change needed to achieve majority supported government. Such an inspired minimalist democratic change plan for the banning of political donations if implemented, (a) would not prevent minority driven legislation being passed into law, (b) would not prevent any State or Territory Government making unpopular executive decisions to flog off public assets while effectively telling the voting majority to take a running jump if they don’t like it, (such as the proposed privatisation of electricity in NSW and the Howard Government’s sale of Telstra), (c) would not prevent other forms of favouritism derived from mate’s rates and biased legislation or unjustified government largesse (d) would not reform politicians’ remuneration and (e) would not prevent pork-barrelling exercises to curry favour in a marginal electoral seat, et al.

Contrarily, the now vanquished Howard and Co, as advocates and architects of the OZ version of “Economic Rationalism” as a means to creating a more efficient, more flexible and more internationally competitive economy, failed dismally to apply the same principles to government and the Constitution. Despite obvious seismic faults and grotesque inefficiencies in our supposedly “Robust Democracy”, the stubbornly unyielding Howard and Costello’s applied economic rationalism sought to avoid any rationalization of government or the political process. The Future Fund for the preservation of Old Super Pollies’ retirement largesse exemplifies Howard & Co’s intransigence in the face of seething public outrage, given broad spectrum enlightenment. No? Large scale exploration of the subject is taboo for pollsters apparently. The obvious question for OZ Media to pursue has been and will continue to be so, until actual democratic change occurs, is as follows: “Will the political taboo on seeking reform to Australia’s grotesque political inefficiency and hypocrisy on democracy, continue remorselessly under the Rudd Government as it did under the Howard Government?”


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