Day to Day Politics: A most enlightened read.
Thursday, March 29, 2018
On March 21, I posted a piece under the heading “Can you help me please”. I was seeking comments on 21 ways in which Labor could create a better society in order to write an essay. I received a response from a person who goes by the name of Kyran that I thought so good, it deserved a stand-alone spot of its own. For me, it displayed a generosity of spirit, or a willingness to share one’s ideas that The AIMN family seems to generate.
“There are two books of interest in the context of “a Department of the Future”, due to their antiquity. Alvin Toffler’s ‘Future Shock’ and Edward De Bono’s ‘Future Positive’. Written in 1970 and 1979 respectively, the ideas they had back then are of increasing relevance now, and urgency due to the lack of ‘political reform’ on a global basis in the interim.
With regard to Constitutional reform, it seems to me that we have missed the boat. Dr Venturini’s recent articles are informative in underlining the intent of the constitution as, basically, enshrining the rights of the states as sovereign entities within a sovereign commonwealth. They were never about ‘we, the people’.
A quick look of the Australian Constitution reveals that it is technically an act of the British Parliament passed in 1900, the last vestiges of British legislative influence in Australia to be eliminated with the passage of the Australia Act in 1986.
The Constitution is interpreted and operates in two ways: literally – some sections of the Constitution are taken literally and followed to the letter; conventionally – other sections operate through a series of ‘constitutional conventions’ which vest real power in the hands of elected politicians.
Alongside the text of the Constitution, and Letters Patent issued by the Crown, such Conventions are an important aspect of the Constitution; they have evolved over the decades and define how various constitutional mechanisms operate in practice.
Conventions are unwritten rules, not laws. They express an accepted way of doing something. The ‘Westminster parliamentary system’ is built around these kinds of unwritten rules. They presume that people of good reputation and character behave in an honourable way. By and large Australian ‘conservatives’ do not respect ‘Labor people’ as persons of honour. This is one of the reasons why ‘conservatives’ have been preferred to ‘Labor people’ = rabble on a three/fourth basis since federation.
Even by the rather paltry standards of the Constitution, our governments have consistently ignored the relatively low bar that has been set. You may have noticed our current mob are seeking change in respect of Sect 44 to further enshrine their rights to be negligent or careless but consider there is no ‘appetite’ for reform in respect of our First People. What crap!
Of course, the system is favoured by both Her Majesty’s governments and oppositions. The liturgy of the ‘Westminster System’ provides for an Opposition opposing everything – in Australia even on the light of the day, and a government caught by the preoccupation of being re-elected, surviving the most destructive attacks of the Opposition, and when ordinary, or ordinarily led as the present, running for cover under the constantly unfavourable pollster opinions.”
Ministers are expected to take responsibility for the administration of their departments, the actions of their staff and themselves. This principle has become increasingly difficult to interpret and enforce, given the size and complexity of modern government. Often the political support of the Prime Minister is the most crucial factor determining whether ministers survive scrutiny and criticism of their conduct. With the support of the Prime Minister, there is no problem. Otherwise, personal responsibility is brought to work and the culprit must resign.
As for amending the Constitution, a referendum process is the only process available – although extraordinarily difficult. This is one of the reasons why constitutional referenda are relatively infrequent. There have been only 44 attempts on 19 separate occasions to change the Constitution. Only 8 of these have been successful, the most recent in 1977. Only 4 referenda have succeeded in the past 50 years.
How do you ‘reform’ something that, by its very nature and construct, is impervious to change? The other significant problem is that it becomes incumbent on ‘we, the people’ to convince the beneficiaries of this largesse to change their behavior. There is little, if any, prospect that those with entrenched ‘privilege’, ‘power’ and ‘status’ will surrender any part of it.
With respect, you are seeking change within the confines of a system that is resistant to change.
Previous articles on this site (many written by you) have advocated Direct Democracy as a voting model.
From what I’ve read, this would not require Constitutional change, merely replacement of the Commonwealth Electoral Act. It would take one heck of an effort, but it is doable given the increasing power of groups such as GetUp and Change.Org.
It would still require an upper and lower house, with the upper house to comprise no more than half the members of the lower house as the only constitutional requirement.
Ok, that’s #2, #3 and #7 in a procedural sense, but what about motivation? There is much written about the apathy, ignorance and plain laziness of the Australian voter.
My belief is that people are not apathetic, they are simply exhausted by seeing things done by our politicians that beggar belief and yet they are powerless to stop. Surveys have consistently shown that the majority of Australians believe in ‘climate change’ and want something done. They have also repeatedly shown that the majority of Australian’s are against privatization, particularly of essential services.
Having recently decided I’m becoming more radical in my impending dotage, I cannot fathom why we have States. A population of 25million requiring so much government designed to argue over ‘entitlements’ has become nothing more than a distraction from the fact that education, health, law, everything, are varied simply because of your geography. Most Australians I know are political in the sense they care about a lot of things. Most couldn’t give more than a minutes thought to the current politicians or their parties.
To have these conversations, we need to look at change from every angle. How to disassemble power structures and empower the broader base. My contention is that you cannot have those conversations within the constraints of the current power imbalance.
Oh, by the way, I would specifically exclude political parties, lobbyists and corporations from the initial movements. Real people only.
Thank you, Mr Lord and commenters. Take care.”
“PS, Vaughan. If you can get a copy of De Bono’s book, they were exactly the sorts of things he was talking about. Ironically due to the pending impact of computers (pre-internet, automation, AI).”
My thought for the day
“Logic comes from the head. Compassion from the heart
and sometimes both come from a deeper understanding
that only the experience of life brings”
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There is a way we can do this from the inside! The hardest part for us (Online Direct Democracy Party) has been getting the word out. We have no funding and mainstream media (and even independent media have not taken it up as yet). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nS0h3onxEA
I cannot see the need for State Governments either and thought this for about 30 years
The States should be broken up and along with federal electoral boundaries changed and local councils amalgamated (similar to tourism/geographic areas eg: Wet Tropics, Pilbara etc) to become more nuanced to local issues.
As it stands now Law and Regulation are a nightmare for lay people to navigate where there is overlap between State and Federal Legislation/Regulations and an expensive Lawyers picnic otherwise.
Most of the people working in the administrative and service delivery part of Government would retain their jobs
A lot of State politicians and upper management Public Servants would be ‘liberated’ to pursue the higher paid private sector jobs they promulgate when trying to justify their obscene pay packets
Thank you for a fine article. Reading the Annotated Constitution by Quick & Gorran (available in soft copy from http://www.knowyourrightsgroup.com.au/product/annotated-constitution-cd-twin-pack/) there appear to have been late “after thoughts” to protect the established interests. This applied especially to the creation of new states that would have spread economic development out of the established metropolitan areas into urban regional centres.
In my view, Australia needs to abolish one level of government, the states, and combine local government (presently unconstitutional, see http://www.knowyourrightsgroup.com.au/products/) with the Federal government, something similar to the Canadian model. Getting vested interests to change is a major impediment.
Then using the original high speed FTTP Internet ALP model, it is possible to decentralise government jobs much more efficiently than the Barnyard Joke APVMA debacle from Canberra to Armidale NSW. It has already been done before for some sections and departments of both state and Federal governments, and could be done properly again.
Urban regional economies are stagnating except in cities like Tamworth, Dubbo, Tweed Heads, Coffs Harbour & Port Macquarie where the amount of internal business created by over 50,000 towns persons makes the contribution from the 4% of the total population involved in agriculture almost irrelevant.
Each government job creates about 3.5 private sector jobs, so moving 100 government jobs to an urban regional centre moves Mum, Dad and say two kids, or 100 x 4 = 400 persons. Now add the new private sector component, 3.5 x 100 x 4 = 1400 persons and immediately there is a localised economic “boom” as people build new houses, sell more merchandise and provide more services. Then there are the personal benefit of fresh air, open spaces, new housing, lack of over-crowding, and less time spent in traffic chaos. Improve quality of life and you improve the health of the population.
what a wonderful set of thoughts ! why do we not have people like you in parliament ?
Agree – wholesale change is needed. I have also become much more political in my dotage (what a quaint but effective word) and have meaningful discussions every day with my other half. Our children could all care less at the moment, apart from the youngest, 25. I take that as a hopeful sign – he has many friends also interested and involved. Perhaps the solution lies in our young generation. I hope so, it’s their world in a minute.
What a beaut read, laud.
Change is natural and inevitable it is the reason for change that can be scary and result in opposition.
Labor and the LNP have often agreed. Indeed I remember reading how slimey X voted against the government more than labor.
So in your terms, Kyran’s concept of ‘opposing everything’ is a lie.
Change for change’s sake or ad hoc change by fiddling around the edge is just time wasting.
Essentially it is ridiculous to have a country of 25m people with 1 federal education department and 8 separate education departments. 9 revenue sucking ministers nuzzling the federal sow. Not to mention the religious lobbyists snouting their way in to the private school swineherds.
A new modern constitution could be written replacing the state parliament politicians with un-salaried members of local government councils and the senate with a representative swill or perhaps with a kerr clause should a rabbott ever get through the system again.
Whatever a new constitution deserves to be written and passed by a joint sitting.
In my 80s, I too find myself becoming increasingly more radical, as i see present systems failing large sectors of the nation and our embattled planet. Perhaps we , the real elders, can inspire the young who are the most impacted by the inequality and vandalism of the present ruling class.
I’ve had a gutful of the damned cricket cheating nonsense in news. It’s beyond a joke now. Give it a a frigging rest Main Sleaze Media! They cheated, got caught out and suddenly it’s, “Wah, wah, sob, we didn’t mean it.” I have absolutley no sympathy for Smith and the others.
@Krono, MSM = the home of unawareness. In the same week that a French police officer showed the world what selfless action means by offering up his life in exchange for a hostage, and the 8yr grand-daughter of Martin Luther King stuck it to the fear-riven NRA cowards, our MSM gets fixated on what? – some hare-brained scheme by millionaire sports stars to revenge their SA cricketers by roughing up a ball with sandpaper. MSM is a lost cause, they are worse than useless, they’re actually an obstacle to evolution.
Thank you for your kind words Mr Lord. I couldn’t agree more about the importance of sites that not only pose an idea, but allow it to be teased out and tested, with a view to improvement. The failing of the MSM is not just that they have allowed themselves to be little more than parrots, repeating nonsensical mantra’s, but that they will ridicule and dismiss any dissent, rather than promote a genuine discussion of the pro’s and con’s of any idea.
When you look at the smallminded meanness of our leaders and the incessant negative reporting, it is easy to become morose.
Yet when you look around smaller local communities, you see a generosity that is truly inspiring.
Local groups frequently rally for individuals and families in their community who have fallen on hard times. The glaring contrast with our leaders is evident to all.
We don’t trust politicians and many of those in the media and corporate sectors. I think the sadness should be that we don’t trust ourselves and each other enough, other than in a localised setting.
I’ll back the Australian public in any day over those who claim to be acting in our interests.
Thank you, again, Mr Lord and thank goodness for the AIMN. Take care