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2023: A year of change, of progress

The fact that the people of Australia almost lost faith in our system of Government is unsurprising. To say that we were ambivalent about our politicians was an understatement and that we were ashamed of them was undeniable. We still are with some.

However, 2023 presents the Government with a unique opportunity to continue with the policy agenda introduced in the last half of 2022 and right the wrongs of Howard, Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison. Never has a government inherited a more incredible mess but never has a leader come along who is more capable of fixing it.

To say that our democracy has taken a beating since Howard came to power is no exaggeration.

Its decline has had many consequences. The rise of extremism, corruption and far-right conservatism are, but some. Liberalism no longer exists, and the National Party lives because of a voting system favouring them disproportionally.

Neo-conservative fascism or right-wing politics replaced the Liberal Party, and old-style liberalism no longer has a voice. The so-called Liberal Party needs to change its name to suit whatever ideology it decides to be. The National Party needs to determine if it represents farmers or miners and accepts science generally, particularly climate change.

The Labor Party, in part, needs to invest in a social philosophical common good, unafraid to say that it is known as socialism. It should embrace eliminating growing inequality, unaffordable housing and general poverty and see both as worthy pursuits.

Labor has lost a significant portion of its supporters to the Greens, who may, now that Labor is back in power, decide to return in the knowledge that they can achieve much on their own. Rescinding the tax cuts to the rich and well-off might move green supporters back.

It is unlikely that many independents will lose seats in the next election.

Leading the two major parties on the right, we have two lying, unscrupulous politicians of dubious character, and on the left, a long-serving lily white, of which nothing corrupt can be hung.

Within LNP ranks, we have a collection of MPs who have studied at some of the world’s most prestigious learning institutions. Yet sprinkled among them is a fair splattering of individuals who could only be described as borderline nut cases. Women are both underrated, underrepresented and underestimated.

The LNP have pre-selection processes rooted in factional power struggles that often see the best candidates, particularly women, miss out. Both parties need to select people with broader life experience.

Our democracy has lacked objectivity because former Prime Minister Morrison and his followers debased our democracy to the point that there is no compelling reason to take on public service. Well, at least for people with decency, integrity and compassion.

Pursuing power for power’s sake and its retention has engulfed political thinking. The common good dwelled somewhere in the recesses of small minds lacking the capacity for sound public policy that achieved social equity. The people became secondary under successive LNP governments.

There was no stand-out leadership. In recent times leadership was lost in power struggles, undignified self-interest and narcissistic personality. Prior to the election, the administration of Scott Morrison had been exposed for what it was; simply deplorable.

Question Time is arguably the showcase of the Parliament and is still badly in need of an overhaul: It is nothing but an excuse for mediocre minds who cannot win an argument with factual intellect, charm or debating skills to act deplorably toward each other.

Frivolity and wit have been replaced with smut and sarcasm. Members debase the Parliament and themselves as moronic imbecilic individuals. Labor needs to do more to improve it.

Our voting system is in need of an overhaul. When one party, the Greens, attract nearly the same primary votes as the Nationals but can only win a scattering of seats in the House of Representatives, there is something wrong with the system.

Added to that is the ludicrous Senate situation where people are elected with few primary votes, just preferences.

One cannot begin to discuss the decline of Australian Democracy without at the same time aligning it to the collapse in journalistic standards and its conversion from reporting to opinion.

With blatant support for right-wing politics, Murdoch and his majority-owned newspapers had done nothing to advance Australia as a modern enlightened democratic society.

Now with almost complete control of Australian politics, the left has shown that Murdoch doesn’t have the influence he once did.

The advent of social media sent mainstream media, like newspapers, into free fall. Murdoch’s declining newspaper sales have resulted in lost revenue and profits. It has lost the influence it once had, real or imagined, and bloggers reflect grassroots society’s feelings more truthfully.

Shock jocks who once shouted the most outrageous lies to vilify people’s character with impunity have been exposed for their villainy. They did nothing to promote proper democratic illumination. They even glorified free speech as if they were the sole custodians of it.

Three final things have contributed to the decline in our Democracy.

Firstly, the Abbott and Morrison factor and the death of truth as a principle of democratic necessity. I am convinced that Morrison and Abbott believed that the effect of lying diminishes over time and therefore is a legitimate political tool. Morrison also thought that lying to protect a lie was fair.

Secondly, some of the alleged ‘criminality’ of Morrison has been revealed, and when the Federal Integrity Commission is fully commissioned, much more will be examined.

And thirdly, truth, transparency and the people’s right to know how they are governed were murdered during the Luddite period of the LNP governments. Let’s hope they are resurrected. The signs so far are promising.

My thought for the day

We have lived with it for the last decade, this destruction of our Democracy. It’s damaged both sides of politics and damaged our country and our reputation.

 

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14 comments

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  1. New England Cocky

    It is time for the IPA and such-like organisations to be excluded from charity status and all taxation benefits and any donations to be published on a public website within 24 hours identifying the individual donee and the corporation where they work or represent. Anonymity only encourages more rip-offs of Australian voters.

    Australian democracy has degraded since the first election of Little Johnnie Howard in 1996 that was strongly supported by the Merdock media-ocrity to the detriment of Australian voters. His successors in the destruction of Australian democracy were again strongly supported by the Merdock media-ocrity, the Three Ars#-holes Rabbott, Turdball & Scummo.

    Democracy is fine but it requires fair comment about policy, well structured debate and good will towards the people rather than the present self-interest in pecuniary interests practiced by too many Nazional$ pollies (think Beetrooter).

  2. Stephengb

    You are right JL, but a word of caution to all ALP supporters.

    The ALP have made a really good start, but apart from the minimum wage increase all of their achievements have favoured the well healed, businesses and, multinationals, more than the 3.4 million still living below the poverty line.

    We must still understand that the Treasurer is embarking on a crash course of self promotion, whilst spruiking the Neoliberal economic narrative. His face is on the tele and on social media, to the extent that it is starting to look like a bid for PM.

    We must remember that the ALP social housing promise is a merely the normal anual housing construction per year, whilst 150,000 remain homeless.

    We must recall tht on the 30 June 2023, the top end of town get a tax cut to the tune of ~$9000, whilst on the same day the low and middle income earners, lose the LMITO (low to moddle income earners tax offset) which will set them back ~$1500 per year. (I suppose someone has to pay for the 9000).

    Yes I know it has only been 6 months, and progress has been made, but let’s not get carried away with crumbs whilst the top end of town have been the main beneficiary from the main ALP achievements.

    Trickle down seems to be still the order of policy.

  3. Terence Mills

    The original rationale for granting charities tax free status was that the charities devoted their energies and the majority of their income for charitable purposes (e.g. education, housing and accommodation for the poor etc).

    How the IPA can claim charitable status us a mystery to me.

    In a decision from the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) I have noted a case where an applicant was denied charitable status. Angel Loop Ltd (the applicant) applied to the ACNC to be registered as a charity. The application was refused on the basis that the applicant had an independent, non-charitable purpose of facilitating private business relationships for the primary benefit of entrepreneurs and Angel Loop investors.

    Whilst this case has nothing to do with the IPA it does demonstrate that the criteria for tax free status should not just be a tax dodge : there must be a community benefit attaching to their activities which in the case of the IPA, a political lobby group, begs the question of what community benefit they perform.

    The system needs scrutiny, Cocky !

  4. Keitha Granville

    As long as governments create and adopt policies to simply carry them through to the next election, nothing substantial will be achieved.
    Julia Gillard showed how much can be done in a short time, but her own party managed to destroy her all by themselves.
    We need 10 yrs, 20 yrs of policy objectives outlined so that people can see an actual future. Governments need to embark on major programs to ACTUALLY tackle homelessness and poverty. Tasmania plans to build less than 1000 new homes by 2025 – and yet there are already 4500 people waiting right now, and the wait is more than a year. Pointless. We need whole suburbs built NOW. We need to stop selling off social housing stock into the inflated market and make a priority for those with NO home.

    I suspect the Federal Labor government may wait until the next election to make sure this time wasn’t just an accident before they embark on anything groundbreaking.

  5. wam

    You picked the big xstian pair, who cannot lie because they work for god and their purpose is his truth.
    https://blogs.getty.edu/iris/overpromise-lie-and-other-questionable-political-advice-from-64bc/

    Still serviceable advice? Today, there is instant recall of a politicians words. There is ease of media production using these true words out of context with ‘tweaking’ edits. All politicians must be aware of ‘media treatment’ of what they say.
    ps
    The lying rodent is different to my eyes, he is deceitful, a calculated liar???
    How about this from the Australian feb 2022?
    “Bob Hawke lied about the decision to commit forces to the Gulf War in 1990. There had been no formal US request to help enforce sanctions …)”

  6. Phil Pryor

    Very few politicians aim to tell the truth with risk or failure in play. The story is it, and politicians contrive one, try to believe in it, face up and out, and we get a line to support, not truth or decency, but political survival and prosperity. Some politicians are dreadful, spiteful, dishonest, untrustworthy, unbelievable. Take Jack Howard (please, and bury him) who inflated his self image from laughable mediocrity to his self romanced level of wonder, awe, class and ability (ha, ha). Here is a typical one, a mould for the bastard class of political operator. A nobody who has done nothing can get the rails run, nag and bluster, utter rubbish, but, with the right backing and connections, can be a cartoon figure beyond Disney or the Simpsons. We the people have always suffered from orthodox politicking…

  7. Harry Lime

    While Labor has accomplished some good and important stuff,the really difficult things ,like social housing,a universal basic income and cutting the parasitic miners off the public teat can be dealt with firstly ,by a comprehensive restructuring of our fucking ridiculous taxation system,whereby (hello Albo),everybody pays their fair share of tax,especially those multinational tax cheats.Then, and only then, will we be able to establish a fair and equitable society.So far this seems to be in the too hard basket,or business as usual,albeit with a less offensive face.So much left undone,so little time,and bullshit and prevarication won’t do.And why did the government poke the Panda again,just when it looked like we were making progress?We need some guts and determination,not timidity.First seven months?…..5 out of 10.

  8. Stephengb

    Harry Iime Correct my point exactly.

    However I disagree with the premise of the UBI.

    It is a fact that the multinationals and big business are in support of a UBI because they can see it as a way to pay less in wages and allow the government to subsidise their wages bill.

    Better we have a Job Garrentee (JG) for all who want to work. This would force all businesses to compete with the governments provded JG wages package.

    The JG would become an automatic economic stabilisor, where as the UBI is merely an inflationary tool that would quickly be exploited by business.

  9. Harry Lime

    OK, Stephengb,at least they have to lift jobseeker to above the poverty line.As well as other pensions,but it always comes back to an equitable tax system based on the welfare of everybody in the country,not just the loud mouthed,self interested free loaders.Who runs the country anyway?

  10. Clakka

    Yep.

    A shirking of the responsibilities of love, respect and enrichment for all, leaves in its place hatred’s pointless combat and desertification. It has been as if we learn nothing, and have run out of wit and wisdom.

    Do we have to tinker at the threshold of imminent destruction before affecting the massive structural change that is warranted? First by the alleged leaders and their affiliates, eg: politicians, economists, clerics and mainstream media. Big questions – By when and at what pace, and do they have the guts and skill to articulate and implement those changes?

    (Apologies in advance for repetition) I refer to the closing part of my comment to Keith Davis’s (AIMN) article today:

    …. I heard it said the other day; ‘from the quest and successes to improve our lot through capitalism, it seems ironic that it draws us to focus on material gain and in doing so seems to create a complacency toward investigation and clear thinking’. And so it seems, politics, the magnifier of content and discontent, has been drawn in to that focus at the huge cost of neglect of the larger nature of existence.

    Can it be spoken? Does embarrassment reign? Shall we see and so do?

  11. Andrew Smith

    In all fairness to the IPA, Taxpayers’ Alliance and CIS in the Koch global Atlas Network (founded by the UK IEA’s Fisher), by feeding the LNP and media ‘research’, pseudo experts, specialist reports, policy talking points and imported draft legislation e.g. Voter ID, they pretty much guarantee that the LNP and legacy media will become even more out of touch with the electorate and power.

  12. margcal

    “Power is given so that the powerless can be protected and cared for, and yet that is so seldom the use that is made of it.”

    Jane Williams, The Art of Advent (ISBN: 9780281071692) … discussing the painting ‘Maecenas Presenting the Liberal Arts to the Emperor Augustus’ by Tiepolo.

    That has just about always been the case, even today with Albanese. In what good he has done he has pulled his punches.
    He has no prospect of defeat at the next election, and possibly the one after that the way things are shaping up with the Liberals.
    Even if Labor became a minority government, both the Greens and most of the independents would support any legislation promoting social justice.
    So pulling his punches is Liberal Lite – still serving the rich, aiding their unquenchable desire for ‘more!’. Not good enough.

    As for donations, there is zero reason that these cannot be displayed in real time. Anyone who has donated to a friend’s charity fundraiser has experienced this first hand.

  13. Clakka

    Indeed, increasingly the raving despotic leaders of the anglosphere, and their dull craven and unimaginative acolytes, persisting with engorgement pumped by manic mainstream media, have adopted mindless deconstruction and destruction as their sine qua non. In their quest for celebrity by displays of reckless power for power’s sake, they have decimated their communities and raped the land, throwing all under the runaway bus of suicide capitalism.

    They have inspired the ascension of the ‘pink emperors’, the autocrats and their oligarchs who, by cultural manipulation, reign by holding the rest of the world to ransom in their divide and conquer quest for power.

    It seems by dent of our short colonial history, Oz and its constituency of escapees and rebooters is not so easily gulled by importation of old treacheries wrapped in obeisance and bling. They’ve seen it all before, so ultimately the increasing fiddlings and breakout of squabbling by the wannabe unimaginative despots of the LNP saw them ditched – hoist by their own petard. Their collateral damage will likely see them in the wilderness for decades.

    The current gov’t has certainly hit the ground running, and attended to its undertakings, but it has only just skimmed the surface with a shadow play to the decades of structural reform needed. Can it articulate purpose and will, and carry implementation? Does it have the skill and guts? The coming years will be increasingly tough, we shall see.

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