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And now for something completely different …

I have been critical lately of our system of government and have been inspired by the words of Ted Mack, Tony Fitzgerald and others (including commenters here) as well as looking at other democracies, to think about a system that might address some of the concerns I have.

In my opinion, many of the problems would be solved if the electorate voted directly for people to fill Ministerial positions rather than them being MPs appointed by the government. Those Ministers form a cabinet which is the federal executive government. Membership of a political party is irrelevant. Choose the best person for the job.

First step is to work out how many Ministers we actually need. For each Ministry then work out essential and desirable criteria for the particular job. Applications/nominations can then be put forward either from political parties or from public/private organisations. The Public Service Board could narrow down the nominations to a set number of applicants for each job and the Australian Electoral Commission could produce a booklet/website that lists the candidates, their qualifications for the job, and a statement from them.

Do away with a single head of state. The tourism minister can do the meet and greet and wine and dine. If someone wants to talk trade then talk to the trade minister. If they want to talk defence, talk to the defence minister. If another head of state wants to have a general conversation, they either do it with a committee from the executive or with a minister that has particular knowledge of their country. Ambassadors could act as liaison and tour organisers.

Each minister will head a department, not full of spin doctors and image consultants and parliamentary staff, but people with actual knowledge about the portfolio and managerial or administrative skills in the appropriate area.

State governments should be structured the same way.

Rather than electing a single representative for each electorate, both federal and state, elect the ministerial executive governments by individual voter majority and then have local councils be the ones to represent their areas in the vote. They are a representative body for their area, are aware of local issues, and are accessible to the public. After discussion they can come to a majority decision and cast their representative vote in proposed federal or state legislation. State legislation would have to be passed by a majority of councils, federal legislation by both a majority of councils and states.

There should be more referendums in which the people can take part in the decision making. A system should be developed where people can use the internet or SMS to vote on certain issues with postal votes as an alternative and perhaps onsite voting at post offices? Votes have to be in by a certain day rather than on a certain day. I wonder if making this non-mandatory would be the way to go.

As I have discussed in a previous article, Swiss citizens can propose amendments if they collect sufficient signatures in a set time frame that will then go to a referendum. They are a smaller country but it is an interesting idea.

This reduction in the size of government must lead to a clarification of the role and functions of each level. It must be clearly defined with duplication and overlap eliminated.

No need for Oppositions or Senates, no money spent on political advertising, an enormous amount of money saved by reducing the number of MPs and parliamentary staff, appropriate people for the job, more representative local vote, so much time saved because there is no them vs us arguing going on, eliminate the power of lobby groups, get rid of the need for spin, image and message control – I am struggling to find the down side.

There are no doubt things wrong with this idea and I will be interested to hear your views. Let’s at least start contemplating the idea that we could have a different way.


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  1. puffytmd

    After the way the learned people of Australia elected a nutjob like Abbott to be Prime Minister via putting the Coalition into power. after they were brainwashed by Murdoch’s media campaign (ABC complicit), I would not give them any more power to elect anyone to anything.

    We need a good course in Civics, the History of Democracy, and Critical Thinking, starting in Primary School, plus tough media laws, a public broadcaster not infested with rightwing lapdogs and press gallery that will do its job before we can let the public elect Ministers.

    Heck, we need that before we let them vote for a government.

  2. puffytmd

    I mean tough media diversification laws. Oh, and Truth in Advertising for political advertisements.

  3. Anomander

    I’m all for any model that stops the distortion of those with enormous wealth or big business dictating terms.

    I still have fundamental problems with our 3 tiers of government, which simply creates overhead and bureaucracies. Do away completely with the states and create regional super-councils that represent each area and all roll-up to a federal level.

    The only real issue immediately apparent is how to define boundaries. If each area is to be a proportion of the population, you’d have small zones in the city but vast areas in the country. Providing services to each has its own challenges – how to balance them equitably would be an enormous challenge alone.

  4. Ruth Lipscombe

    So much common sense in one blog.!
    Thank you Kaye Lee.
    If only!

  5. Kaye Lee

    No political advertisements. And it would be fairly pointless for the media to try to have an incompetent person elected to the Ministry because they would only be one voice on the executive council. We would not be governed by a party but by a group of qualified people. Remember the PSB decides from applications who to nominate so they should weed out any duds. If they don’t fill the criteria they don’t make the cut. The public voted badly last time because of misinformation from the media and the Coalition and because Labor shot itself in the foot. Get rid of the party system and you get rid of the powerbroking because no one party will govern.

  6. Kaye Lee


    I have had similar thoughts but have come to the conclusion that we need a state executive to oversee health, education and infrastructure – the big ticket items. They are a more appropriate delivery vehicle for those sort of things. However I feel we could massively reduce the size of federal and state parliaments and have local councils take a greater role in the delivery of frontline services.

  7. Sir ScotchMistery

    have local councils take a greater role in the delivery of front-line services

    At the point where we have a local council not run by a developer as Mayor, such as in Newcastle area, certainly.

    At the point where those who come into parliament have less to win via the pay packets they vote themselves utilising an “independent tribunal” which has always been a ROFLMAO for me.

    At the point where they are not required to be party members, since they are all lawyers or a portion of same, who in general have been found wanting in that role.

    At the point where if you want to represent those who work at a physical level (used to be called blue collar but you know what I mean), you need to have spent time getting filthy on the tools – not be another grandstanding lawyer.

    At the point where if you want to represent business, that you have been in business and served the needs of those who came to you for service, unless it was as a lawyer, in which case that doesn’t count and you aren’t allowed to run on any platform except the law.

    At the point where you are found to have lied you will be chucked out.

    At the point where if you love smashing women and groping them you can’t be PM, or even elected, and you have to go to school with that fat pr*ck Alan Jones, assistant nonce in London Public Toilets, and learn how to use your mouth sparingly.

    Then. Sure.

  8. Kaye Lee

    There are 225 members of federal parliament and 598 members of state parliament with over 3,000 personal staff. I haven’t thought about how many ministries we need but let’s use a working figure of 30. Even if we had a minister at federal and state level for every ministry in every state and territory that would total 270 MPs as opposed to 823. As they head their departments where the work will be done they don’t really need personal staff beyond say a personal assistant and a secretary. Lets be generous and give each executive body an extra 10 staff to be used as they need. That’s 630 staff instead of 3000.

    Being a local government councillor is a part time job so they have a better handle on what is going on in the community in which they live as well as the pressures of everyday life. There are currently 565 local councils in Australia, approximately the same number as state seats. I know there are some corrupt councils around – it would make it even more important to weed them out. I think we could attract quality people if they could do it part time and feel they actually had a say in government decisions. And any council would only be one vote out of 565.

    An independent integrity unit would be an important department.

  9. Ricardo29

    I started to reply and it all got too hard and too depressing. When you see the strength of the vested interests in maintaining, and even further corrupting, the status quo you realise how hard it would be to make change and of course change would have to come from those in power there being no way of having it “imposed”. And the chances of that are…?

  10. Kaye Lee

    lol that’s how I felt when I first started trying to think of change so I just threw out the idea of how to make it happen and concentrated on what I would like to happen – kinda like the Greens do on occasion.

  11. Möbius Ecko

    Kaye Lee • 11:31 am

    State level governments perform several I would say vital functions that we should not do away with.

    First States compete with each other on several fronts and though this garners criticism of duplicity, overlaps and cost of multiple regulatory requirements, it weeds out the bad regulations from the good. What I mean by this, and if you go back through history you will see this in play, is that if one State comes up with a better way of doing something inevitably the other States take it up and may even improve on it, which is in turn taken up by other States and so on.

    No lets project that to a situation where there’s only Federal regulation and oversight. If it is inefficient, costly and plain stupid, it remains in place for a very long time as the cogs the Federal level move very slowly indeed. An attitude of “if it ain’t broke then don’t change it” is cemented in place because to change it is expensive and requires some heavy lifting, which may upset the apple cart of others.

    But where it really comes into play is on the big ticket items. For this you need only look at Defence, which is one of the very few Federal only entities and by far the biggest sole Federal entity. Have been in Defence for over 20 years and still contracting to Defence I can tell you it would be hard to find a more inefficient and wasteful organisation, a lot directly due to government and not Defence itself.

    Project that problem with a sole Federal government fully in charge of health, education, infrastructure, public transport, provision of services such as water and electricity, and they stuff up any one or more. The cost the country is massive. Whereas a State entity being screwed only screws that State and though not usually the case, can be remedied relatively quickly to alleviate the loss and fallout.

    I’ve always believed to get rid of the States would be a grave error and was disquieted when Howard began moves to usurp State powers, mainly because they were Labor States. But to be fair this undermining of the States by the Federal government has been going on for a fair while. You only need look at how the Federal government screws them over taxes to see this in action and then how they use that control of the taxes to further control the States.

    So for mine it would be a big mistake to get rid of the States and I would go further and say more control needs to be returned to them.

  12. contriteshadow

    And, if we eliminate the infighting and back-stabbing for federal votes, our government could actually implement some long term plans for the country that wouldn’t inevitably become yet another tragic consequence of adversarial campaigning.

    I fear, though, that those still operating under the illusion that they have the power in this country will, unless compelled, dismiss any idea of change as being fanciful and/or infeasible.

  13. Yvonne Cunningham

    With our small population do we really need States or State Governments?
    An empowered Local Government based on geological boundaries and answering directly to the Federal Government should engage communities and provide open governance while saving billions of dollars on what is now duplication and triplicating of governance.
    Yvonne Cunningham

  14. Kaye Lee

    I think there is a place for a state executive. Having every school and hospital administered at a federal level would be too unwieldy. Infrastructure and utilities are also better state administered unless it is a nationwide project like the NBN. The federal government is the one that should be pared back. As mentioned, there are few things that are solely their preserve. They should mainly be weighing up priorities and doling out the money.

  15. Anomander

    Great idea Kaye and some very valid discussion points being raised in the comments.

    Yes, it is a highly complex area and unlikely to change, given the power inherent in the current structure and their reluctance to change, but that doesn’t make the discussion any less valid or worthy.

    It is only through an exchange of idea, we gain different perspectives challenge our beliefs and models and undertake the process of learning.

    It is easy to find problems – the hard part is solving them.

    Keep it going please guys, who knows what fantastic concepts may come from the exchange?

  16. Kaye Lee

    Becoming a republic will give us a chance to change the system. we need to develop ideas now because that will be our only chance for change.

    The only place where parties or lobby groups will play a role is at local government level. Councils are comprised of about 10 people? so it has to be a majority vote from 10 people to cast their vote on legislation.

  17. Matters Not

    Change, sounds good. But:

    It ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them


    Niccolò Machiavelli

    Having recognised the difficulties (after all we couldn’t even change the Head of State), it nevertheless is worth musing about.

    Decades ago, Gough Whitlam proposed abolishing the States, arguing they were too big for local tasks and too small for the big tasks. It had merit then and has merit now. The notion of a central government and much larger, than now, Regional governments is common in other parts of the world.

    Möbius Ecko argued that States compete with each other and they do. While he sees the upside, and clearly there are some. I see a significant downside. The competition often results in States competing against each other in areas such as ‘royalities’, taxes, assistance and the like. Sure the big companies love it, but we the citizens suffer.

    One could go on.

  18. Loz Lawrey

    Not sure if I’ve completely grasped the role of local councils being suggested. I certainly wouldn’t want mine speaking for me on any level – there’s enough room for corruption in the system already. I agree that our system needs an overhaul, just can’t help thinking it can only happen globally, and that’s too big an ask.

  19. Kaye Lee

    The idea is to have local council vote on legislation instead of having state and federal MPs. We directly elect the Ministers for state and federal executive and then the voting on legislation is done by your council. They discuss it, make a majority decision and cast their one vote for your area just as your MP would. We may have to attract better people to some councils but I think that would happen if they then had some say in the running of the country.

  20. curious2012

    Dear Kaye, I left the following comment on your earlier article, but feel some of the ideas may be relevant here, too:

    Dear Kaye, dear commentators,

    I am also deeply concerned about where we in Australia are heading.

    Whilst I like the Swiss model, I don’t see it working in Australia at the moment. It believe it developed organically over centuries, whilst the Australian political system was imported from the UK into a penal colony. When survival is the primary focus (as it would have been in the early days), I doubt even the finer points of the Westminster system would have made it across. Fast forward to today, and the two-party duopoly and very uninspiring main stream media (or should that be main stream entertainment?) make change much more unlikely.

    As odd as it may seem, this is actually where the Australian political system is much more flexible than the Swiss may be. Because the current Australian political system and society are relatively young (compared to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders or the Swiss), rapid changes in fundamental setting to the way the system operates are possible. This can be seen the the very fundamental shift that has occurred since the Abbott government was elected.

    Any significant change will require an approach beyond party boundaries. I don’t see Labor or Liberal embracing this, as they are – one more than the other – just able to hold their internal differences together. The way political discourse has been framed, it is competitive and adversarial to the core. I see little chance of that changing “voluntarily”.

    A key issue I see is the quality of discourse. There seems to be no widely accepted “authority”. Not too long ago, there would have been common fundamentals, be they the conventions of the Westminster system, international legal norms, or an acceptance of the advice provided by scientists. Now everything is “up for grabs”, and Brandis calling the “left’s” approach to scientific debate medieval is quite unbelievable.

    I find it exhausting. I read what the current government is doing and go through the stages of grief every day – disbelief/denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and, at times, acceptance. It is incredibly draining.

    Whilst it is important to keep track of what is going on, I find I am getting more and more to the point of choosing when to engage in debate. Ultimately a lot of politics is belief-based. Be it belief in God, the IPA, the labour cause, equality, social justice or science, to name a few. My own bent is to focus more on the social justice side and – as far as possible – solid data / science. The end doesn’t justify the means for me.

    So my current thinking is that I like to be up-front about the parameters for debate. There are certain things which I believe there is enough evidence for, and I would look to build policies based on these. I even thought of maybe founding a party which in my view would occupy the “middle ground”. Pragmatic, life-enhancing and largely science-based policies. When people are tired of “the old” and bouncing back and forth between the left and right, a calm, considered and measured voice may be what they are willing to listen to. Party membership would be open to all who accept the common, fundamental assumptions, but leadership positions only for those who have been members for a number of years.

    What are some of the fundamental assumptions for me?
    – AGW is a reality
    – Fossil fuels, that we have used to cause and what we use to mitigate impacts, will not be around in the quantities we are used to, meaning prices will go up and significant strain will be placed on our society (“peak oil”)
    – All decisions must be assessed asking the question: will this decision still enable a flourishing human society in 2080? Will it ensure a safe, clean water supply, healthy food and a healthy environment for people to live in. If not, then I would look for a different decision.

    The second point is the killer. A lot of the debate we are having will be academic in the not too-distant future. And we will rue the billions the current government is planning to invest in roads and airports.

    The sad thing in my view is – we are struggling to have decent political discourse in Australia now. What will it be like when significant numbers of people are more concerned about where their next meal is coming from?

    What gives me hope is that if the threat is clear, we are able to focus. War economy comes to mind. If we stop fighting with each other (left and right) and focus on the threat to our joint survival (and don’t externalise it through getting involved in another overseas war), a different world is possible. Imagine if all newspapers and media devoted a large part of their attention to a single topic: building a new society to mitigate the impacts of peak oil and climate change. That would change perceptions and be a debate worth having. It will be a debate that will be had, but the later we leave it, the fewer options will be open to us and the harder it will be

  21. seawork

    Before there is any change to the electoral system there needs to be a revolution in education.
    How can the average voter decide on policy matters ( even if the pollies stuck to them) when 50% of the voters are just about illiterate?

  22. Roswell

    The Fathers of our Constitution wanted the States to retain as much power as possible. On that issue alone, the Consitution needs an overhaul.

  23. mikestasse

    State governments should be structured the same way.

    I think they should be done away with entirely………

  24. Dagney J. Taggart

    Interesting idea Kaye, however isn’t there a danger in having the PSB select the candidates? How do they determine who is suitable? What is to prevent them stacking the candidates based on their own ideology?

    I think individual states have passed their use by date, and we should have uniform laws and regulations across the country. But that is not a change that can come quickly.

    Mobius, you are right – a lot of the inefficiency in Defence (and other government departments) comes from the government itself. Rules upon rules, mandatory policy for just about everything. Success is measured on compliance with policy, not real outcomes.There are no rewards for taking risks, going the extra mile or being innovative. When I worked in private industry, everyone received a bonus for meeting monthly sales goals. Admittedly, the bonus was big, but it was something extra to work for. What is there in the public service?

    Not sure about the Swiss referendum thing – will have to do some research on it, although The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer keeps bobbing around my thoughts on this. There is some guy on Piers Akerman’s blog that keeps bringing it up.

    Be back when I’ve done some reading.

  25. Stephen Tardrew

    Kaye posting this again out of pure frustration.

    Spelling, smelling, punctuation. What is this that those who may not be articulate or do not have excellent literacy skill should be demeaned or excluded. I thought I lived in a democracy. This is the sort of elitism that excludes ordinary people who have useful opinions but lack verbal or written acuity. It’s time the wingers gave it a bloody miss. Try being dyslexic and see how you get on. Tony Abbot represents everything detestable about capitalism and neoconservatism and you worry and demean others in the name of some superior intent. Leave off please.

  26. Stephen Tardrew

    My heavens the US is a republic. These bastards can screw up anything in the name of self-righteous oligarchic greed. It’s people who need to change not just the structure of government. As posted recently Cornell University released research that demonstrate that most US citizens think they live in an oligarchy not a democracy. Research demonstrates that it is neigh on impossible to fight the dominant elites even if 80% to 90% of voters think otherwise. For example a weapons registry and gun licensing system. The NRA is more powerful than the majority of voters opinions. The fox is already in the hen-house and we are being summarily disenfranchised.

  27. philasophigas

    The model sounds cool but where is the path to it? W need to enlist the moderates. We need to change mins in our community.

  28. philasophigas

    Embarrassing… I meant: The model sounds cool but where is the path to it? We need to enlist the moderates. We need to change minds in our community.

  29. Kaye Lee


    I think our one chance for radical change will be when we become a republic when we can adopt whatever model we choose. I just want people to start thinking and making suggestions about how we can change. My article is a flight of fancy for now.

  30. mikestasse

    I’m with curious2012……. Whilst it is important to keep track of what is going on, I find I too am getting more and more to the point of choosing when to engage in debate….

    Even on ‘enlightened’ forums such as this one, there is extreme reluctance to face up to the many predicaments civilisation is facing. Blaming Abbott and supporting the ALP or even the Greens is no solution….

    Yes we could use a new system of government… but more fundamentally we need an entirely new economic system too in the face of Peak Oil and Climate Change as curious2012 touched on.

    Has anyone else read this..? I fear Australia too is fast becoming an oligarchy. The age of entitlement IS coming to an end, like it or not, but we have to emasculate the oligarchs before they do it to us…….

    Unless we bring the bastards to their knees, we will never be allowed to redesign the future to a sustainable one, and they WILL destroy humanity. We are fiddling while Rome burns. We’re all debating the wrong issues…..

  31. mikestasse

    No Kaye Lee……. becoming a Republic (which I’m in favour of) is NO solution…… the US is a Republic, and they’re in an even worse mess than we are.

    What we need is a new economy. One that doesn’t rely on debt and growth.

  32. Stephen Tardrew

    Kaye I hope the ideas just keep on coming. I really don’t know the answer but many contributors here are providing the essential arguments that need to be resolved one way or another. Great work. Keep it up everybody. Someone needs to think their way through this stuff and this is a great forum. My mind is like a swinging pendulum that accepts some ideas then is soundly questioned by other reposts. Down sizing is a good start and there needs to be a distinction between national standards and local decision making based upon efficiencies and costs. The real problem seems to be that politicians should meet some level of intellectual and rational standard based upon scientific facts and long tern projected planning and goals. Short term electoral showmanship negates necessary long term planning which is an engineering not political problem.

    Maybe an open, apolitical scientific forum of advisers should be a compulsory check upon legislative irresponsibility. All legislation should be required to meet certain factual and evidentiary criteria before being submitted for final consideration. Furthermore important issue should be decided by referendum. Nothing should be decided unless there is long term evaluation of impacts. The idea is to maintain some form of long term stability while comprehensively evaluation alternatives based upon scientific, engineering and environmental objectives. If evidence demonstrates that wealth beyond a certain level does not increase happiness then that evidence should be used to constrain inequality.

    The problem as I see it is to create an apolitical body of expertise that can question legislation before it is enacted.

  33. mikestasse

    Alan Greenspan was testifying before Congress in 1997 on the marvels of the economy he was running, he said straight out that one of the bases for its economic success was imposing what he called “greater worker insecurity.” If workers are more insecure, that’s very “healthy” for the society, because if workers are insecure they won’t ask for wages, they won’t go on strike, they won’t call for benefits; they’ll serve the masters gladly and passively. And that’s optimal for corporations’ economic health.

    THAT, is what we are up against………….

  34. Möbius Ecko

    Here’s a conundrum for you in something I’ve observed at the State and Federal levels of government for a fair while now.

    As public instruments are privatised to supposedly make them less expensive for the public and more efficient to run, the size of that instrument’s government department increases, sometimes substantially, after privatisation.

    This raises a couple of points for me.

    Surely the size of a department that loses a core function in directly running an instrument to now having a secondary function of partially regulating it should significantly decrease in size?

    Second is a question on whether the substantially increased costs of that expanded department after privatisation are taken into account when espousing the benefits of selling it off?

  35. Chickenman

    I could definitely get behind this idea, Kaye. I personally favour the system of Demarchy as described by John Burnheim. But your system while still being representative is definitely a step in the right direction, I think.

  36. Kaye Lee

    Imagine how productive it could be. The executive don’t have to argue about anything. They work with their department, come up with the best advice, take it to the executive for discussion about any problems, then send it out for the vote, The argument will be at council level which gives citizens a lot more chance to let their councillors know how they feel. I have been pretending, thinking how many people would be necessary on the executive council – how many important departments need covering. It’s an interesting if pointless exercise.

  37. Chickenman

    It’s never pointless to philosophize. Your idea has real merit. Not only could it be more efficient and transparent but it would also involve the electorate more in decision making and I’m all for that.

  38. Sir ScotchMistery

    I have a thought.

    As a group, as opposed to an organisation which we are not, we are all coming up with ideas which really divest into an elemental point, and that is that the way things look at the moment we are not being governed, we are being ruled and we are not being ruled by an elected government we are being ruled by corporations.

    That is to say virtually every piece of legislation that goes before the Parliament when it gets boiled down to its fundamental roots is about little else but making corporations less accountable for what they do and making individuals more responsible for making money available for the corporations want to do.

    If you take the mainstream media for example particularly that run by Murdoch, and put it alongside the issues raised around the NBN which was labor’s major platform at the last “election”, it needs to be seen in the context of the impact of the NBN on “Fox” and what Murdoch stood to lose once the NBN is in place, because essentially every ISP would then become a provider of IP TV, which would have made the current model which is essentially a monopoly not work as well for him and his son.

    The decision we need to contemplate if we are really going to make this whole process of our discussions work, has a number of elements to it, to the point where in reality it is several decisions but if the national conversation were to start, involving everybody who feels disenfranchised by the “two-party system”, is as follows:

    ********Is it possible that every electorate in this country has one person within it who could be asked to stand up and speak, after listening to the community, on that community’s behalf?************

    If the answer to this question is yes or probably then the conversation needs to revolve around voters in general and the conversation needs to be framed in such a way that every voter be they normally liberal or normally ALP voter or Greens or anyone else can see themselves not losing their ability to be heard as voters.

    As it stands now the average ALP voter in an electorate run by a Liberal representative will feel that they are disenfranchised because the Liberal representative does nothing for anybody outside the corporations who are present and working in that electorate. Likewise a liberal voter in an ALP electorate will do nothing but whinge and whine about the amount of “welfare” going out which should be saved to contribute to a positive bottom line.

    In the recent by-election in Western Australia, about 26% of the vote went to the Greens, as I understand it. The mainstream media talked about the Conservative vote going down and the ALP vote going down but refused to give the Greens credit for what they are becoming and that is an actual player in the party system. Problematically, the Greens themselves don’t see that. Rather they see themselves as a group of those disenfranchised at an intellectual level and always sentenced to sit on the cross benches. For Western Australia to find itself in this position, especially considering it is one of the two referenced “mining states” in company with Queensland, makes one wonder just how annoyed the electorate is.

    There must come a time when Australians as a group realise, as opined by another writer in this area, that we as Australians do not live in a democracy, or an oligarchy or anything else. We are that, which we espouse. If we are an oligarchy we allow that to happen. If we live as a democracy, (if that is indeed what this is which I am beginning to doubt), then it’s up to us to not only manage the way we vote (and I’m talking here about those of us involved in this conversation), but it is also up to us to get those who we will occasionally have a go at for bad spelling or bad grammar, to reengage with the political process.

    I have been guilty on more than one occasion of holding the people of western Sydney up to ridicule because the process of “stop the boats” started there. But whilst Abbott et al were talking about sneaky politics, tricky taxes, and any other two or three word slogan he could/can wrap his tiny brain around to infect the national discourse, the 72 focus groups which occurred on behalf of both the ALP and the Liberals occurred in western Sydney. That is to say that this conversation, as it is framed, premised on “stop the boats”, started there.

    It seems a sad situation to be in that 72 groups of 12 people framed our entire political discourse for $70 a head.

    ********On the subject of “stop the boats”.*******

    Howard et al initially described the “Pacific solution”..

    There was no reason in terms of the impact of the Afghanistan/Iraq Diaspora given of the effects on the Australian population of this influx of refugees. Under the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd parliaments, still no reason to worry about the actual impact on Australia of that Diaspora, at a national, state nor personal level. In our names, those governments merely said no.

    In what is probably one of the best examples of wedge politics ever seen in Australia, Peta Credlin put Australia in a position where we were voting for nothing short of the lesser of two evils. Both of the lead party hacks, Abbott and Rudd, put a position together where it really didn’t matter who you voted for, you are going to end up with this same situation we have now, where a small group of people speak for us all in terms of our position in the world.

    For the first time in our history we have foreign media referring to the prime minister as an idiot. Seriously, where does that leave us as a country?

    The UNHCR has pointed out that we are in breach of our responsibilities under the refugee convention. Worse, because we imprison children and babies we are in breach of our responsibilities under the universal declaration on the rights of the child. I fail to understand how anybody in this country can think that that’s a good thing. I don’t care how stupid they are I don’t care how unengaged they are with the political process, I cannot understand how they would find that acceptable.

    We are not the people Abbott presents himself to the world, as an exemplar. I find myself comparing my capacity to his and am constantly amused by his inability to understand most things. I find myself wondering how somebody with his intellect became a Rhodes scholar. I fail to find any reason how somebody who disenfranchises women at the level he does, is voted for, by women. All the women I know are if not deeply intellectual at least fairly smart. Certainly none of them who I’ve spoken to voted for him. So why is he there?

    We need to frame this conversation via independent media if for no other reason than based on what the MSM saw of “march in March” it will never gain purchase in the national discussion. Based on what one reads in the MSM now it’s highly unlikely that any of the typists posing as journalists, paid by Fairfax or Murdoch would even understand the depth of our longing for something that resembles good government. If we were in North Korea it wold be quite acceptable, likewise, it appears if we were in Nauru this will all be quite fine.

    But we aren’t. And it isn’t. We need to do more than sit in quiet backrooms complaining. We need to become educators, we need to become activists, we need to become Australians and get over this idea of being Abbott-ists.

  39. trevor vivian

    great article, great commentary, Im somewhat a late arrival on this one but better late than never.

    Before we throw the baby out with the bathwater perhaps some definition of the nub of the issue is required.

    For me the nub is removing the present control of the Parlimentary process from the Political Parties and their conga lines of suckhole Politicians as a staring point.

    Read Ted Mack’s 2013 speech to gather some info on where we are Locally and Globally.

    Keep on you mob . this discussion is so important that without it we may as well consider emigrating somewhere else. I hear that somewhere else has some fairly important teachings for the rest of us to take notice of.

    Export Abbott Not Refugees

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