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Day to Day Politics: DEMOCRACY has been weakened by Hodgman.

Thursday March 8 2018

Feeling a little unwell yesterday, I wasn’t up to expanding on the Tasmanian election. Nor was I up to doing any research. I did, however, come across a piece by Lawyer Greg Barns who was an adviser to NSW Liberal premier Nick Greiner and the Howard government. He was disendorsed as the Liberal candidate for Denison in 2002, he then joined the Democrats. In 2013 he was the WikiLeaks Party adviser. The piece was published in the normally pro right Hobart Mercury.

Ultimately it will be up to Tasmania’s citizens to examine their state’s election and decide if it served democracy well. Barns, in his usual upfront style, points out a number of issues that were unprecedented in Tasmanian political history.

“DEMOCRACY has been weakened in this 2018 state election campaign.
Unprecedented in this jurisdiction, one political party outspent its opponents by what most independent watchers say is a multiple of five. Not only that, corporate interests in one industry swung behind that political party with millions of dollars in-kind support and donations.”

“To make matters worse, we are kept in the dark about the quantum of the donations to that political party.”

Here he is referring to the 18 months required for political parties to reveal donations to their campaigns. The same regulation that is a requirement for Federal elections. Or the same one in which the Prime Minister was forced to reveal his personal donation to the Liberal Party. Of course, there is no reason too, in these times of instantaneous publication that we cannot know in real-time who is donating what on a dedicated website.

It seems to me that at times it’s the politicians themselves who are destroying the very democracy that feeds them, We have to demand better. Transparency should be a cornerstone of any decent democracy but this government, with its attitude to FOI, seems intent on turning us into a need to know society.

Barnes points out that the Liberal Party spent $5 million and Labor and the Greens a combined $1 million. This is tantamount to buying an election and any decent inclusive democracy simply shouldn’t allow it.

We are not, however, living in normal times, we are living in a period where the extreme right have decided to toss out the conventions and the rules of Westminster and bludgeon everyone else to death.

“The result was saturation coverage for the Liberals in all forms of media and hotels, bottleshops and casinos plastering advertisements over their premises and having their staff wear uniforms urging a vote for the Liberals.”

Despite being asked on numerous occasions to name the source of his party’s donations the Premier refused to answer, and instead falling back on the antiquated disclosure rule.

Surely the Australian people aren’t that gullible or have little regard for democracy, not to see that they are being conned and that if you give the right, the capitalistic power it craves, it will eat away at our democracy until it owns it.

“At this juncture, here is an invitation to persons of conscience to blow the whistle and reveal the list of Liberal donors.
The Liberal Party’s supporters in the campaign, such as former staffer and journalist Barry Prismall, justified the Liberals’ brazen conduct by noting that all parties take donations.”
There are many ways to rebut that position. Firstly, two wrongs do not make a right but more importantly in this election the future of poker machines was a major issue and the Liberals should have come clean on how much they were receiving from gaming interests threatened by Labor’s position, and whether their campaign team was coordinating with the gaming interests’ media campaign.”

A clear indication of an Australian Democracy in decline is the fact that people are either giving up the privilege of voting or just accepting what they know to be wrong.

“In a society wedded to the democratic tradition, elections should be free and fair. To be fair entails transparency. Political parties and it has to be said particularly the Liberal Party in Australia, resist full transparency and real-time disclosure of donations. This attitude is corrupting democracy.”

In accepting the donations from the pokie industry without declaring the source of them, Hodgkin has insulted our democracy and the people, treating them with utter contempt.

Moreover, an enlightened democracy should provide the people with a sense of purposeful participation. It should forever be open to regular improvement in its methodology and its implementation. Its constitutional framework should be exposed to periodical revision and renewal, compromise and bi-partisanship when the common good cries out for it.

But above all its function should be, that regardless of ideology, the common good should be served first and foremost. A common good healthy democracy serves the collective from the ground up rather than a top-down democracy that exists to serve secular interests.

One that is enforced by an elite of business leaders, politicians and media interests who have the power to enforce their version. That is fundamentally anti-democratic and the people were coerced, by compulsory voting to do so without all the facts.

“Fair elections should not depend on the amount parties have in their coffers from private donors. In a fair contest, you do not have a position where the Liberal Party spends five times the amount of its opponents, despite each having a relatively equal number of voters. This is so because there is a deal of evidence that shows a positive link between the amount spent by a party and its electoral success.”

“If Mr Hodgman wanted to strengthen Tasmanian democracy, he would have, during the campaign, acknowledged the existing law on disclosure is deficient and that he wanted to be honest with the electorate about his party’s finances. Sadly, he reinforced the all-too-common view among many that political parties are, in the main, dishonest or at least untrustworthy.”

“The Liberal Party in Tasmania and its gaming friends just hammered another nail into the coffin of democracy.”

You can read the full text to of the Greg Barn’s article here.

Our Parliament, its institutions, and conventions have been so trashed by Tony Abbott in particular that people have lost faith in the political process and their representatives.

Ministerial responsibility has become a thing of the past. Question time is just an excuse for mediocre minds that are unable to win an argument with factual intellect, charm or debating skills, to act deplorably toward each other.

The public might be forgiven for thinking that the chamber has descended into a chamber of hate where respect for the others view is seen as a weakness. Where light frivolity and wit has been replaced with smut and sarcasm. And in so doing, they debase the parliament and themselves, as moronic imbecilic individuals.

Had the Premier had a thought for the future of Australia’s democracy then he would have disclosed who these donors were. He decided not too. Therefore this election will always be known as the election that Hodgkin bought.

My thought for the day.

“To say that we are ambivalent about our politicians is an understatement. Now we are ashamed”


  1. wrtyyy

    When we see independent journalist ignoring solutions lobby groups just like the mainstream media are doing we have to adjust the mainsail at

  2. Ella miller

    When corporations can buy an election, we have every right to ask, who is governing us?

  3. TechinBris

    Answer: The Corporate States of Amerika and the United Korporates. The usual suspects. yawn :{P

  4. Keith

    Some wit has suggested that the Tasmanian Parliament should be moved to the Casino, so that Farrell (owner of the Casino) can keep a closer eye on his conservative employees.

    It has been quite apparent that the spending on advertising by the Liberal Party and its affiliates was far greater than any spending of all other Parties and Independents combined.

    The Liberals in an extremely underhand way tried to keep secret their move to change gun laws in Tasmania, the secret exploded a couple of days prior to the election. Leyonhjelm has been promoting the Adler pump action shot gun; a hypothesis could easily be formed along the lines of Lemonhjelm would support the Federal LNP provided they push for down grading of gun laws.

    A question for South Australia is do the Liberals have a similar secret policy to change gun laws?

  5. Terry2

    In Queensland the Palaszczuk Government introduced in March 2017 a real-time disclosure system for all donations or gifts to political entities over $1000 – reversing the previous LNP government’s disclosure threshold of $12,800.

    Donations must now be revealed within seven business days, with both the donor and recipient required to lodge matching returns so that maximum transparency is achieved. The new electronic disclosure system is managed by the Electoral Commission Queensland.

    Previously, donations would only be disclosed after an election, up to six months later.

    As you can see, the donation is classed as unreconciled until such time as both the donor and recipient have lodged a matching return :

    Had an equivalent system been in place in Tasmania there could have been a more considered result had the public known where the money was coming from and where it was going.

    This type of reporting must be adopted on both state and federal levels and it is up to us to demand that this happens, it is fundamental to our democracy. At this stage it seems that only Labor will bite the bullet – anybody know what the situation is in SA ?

  6. paul walter

    Good morning John, glad you are feeling better. I agree with your point re brainwashing media pressure but still wonder if Australians aren’t a little lazy thinking through things political.

    In my state, SA, an election is just round the corner and I wonder who will get in since they all don’t inspire. Labor is mediocre, but the thought of Marshall and Xylophone in tandem is unthinkable enough to induce a dose of the shudders.

    Ps, Terry2 makes me wonder, is this Burke and Hare electoral system a factor?

  7. Ricardo29

    I agree with all that has been written above, however the blame for this result falls squarely on the people of Tasmania. If those outside Tasmania could see the imbalance in spending, why couldn’t local citizens see that. Then there is the question of gullibility. According to polls 80% of people oppose pokies, yet this was the result. Lies about job losses, the obfuscations about the impacts on the economy, the gliding over the beneficiaries of pokies were clear, yet still people gave a majority of votes to Libs. Insanity, stupidity.

  8. wam

    Dear Lord John, (I got this before going to bed last night??)

    How many times does this ‘ashamed’ thought spring to mind?

    Are you ashamed of a politician taking advantage of an opponent’s weakness???

    Are you ashamed by the australian business norm of protecting their profits??? (super tax, overseas avoidance??)

    The battle for tassie was the power of incumbency and the portrayal of your unmentioned as a visible millstone as much as labor’s straw clutching pokies ploy.

    Were the anti-labor ads on pokies inaccurate? Did you see labor’s pokies parasite ad?? Shame could be addressed to the poorly thought out labor plan? But no shame on Rebecca who did herself proud.

  9. Freethinker

    Ricardo29 March 8, 2018 at 10:18 am
    ………however the blame for this result falls squarely on the people of Tasmania. If those outside Tasmania could see the imbalance in spending, why couldn’t local citizens see that.

    Ricardo, I live in Tasmania and going for what I have heard from people that have voted for the Liberals, their reason is that the economy in Tasmania never was so good and that is because the Liberals manage the financial affairs much better than the Labor.
    The consistent propaganda of the Coalition at federal level about how good they are with numbers looks like that it is embedded in the brains of many conservative people that do not like to see changes.
    Some things have improved in Tasmania like the building industry not because the Liberal state government but because the crazy situation with housing costs in NSW and Victoria.
    They all know that the health system and the state hospitals are in big problem because the hospital workers and the ones in emergency service have been saying that for the last 3 years and it is getting worse.
    The excuse? labor with the Greens will be worse.
    At the present time people are camping in tents and caravans in the Hobart Showgrounds and the crisis is getting worse and would not surprise me if some of those homeless people have voted for the liberals because “now that the have repair the budget money will be allocate for housing”

    Sad really……….

  10. Frank Smith

    Yes, John our democracy really is in a very sad state. Donation laws and disclosure requirements have to be urgently revised as you point out. It is scandalous that the Libs bought the Tasmanian election with funding from the clearly conflicted gaming industry. It is also scandalous that Turnbull bought the Prime Ministership with a $1.75 million donation to the Liberal Party. We must stop all these influence buying donations and adopt an immediate disclosure register.

    I am not a Tasmanian, but I am also bewildered by the post-election revelation that:
    “The Tasmanian premier, Will Hodgman, has declared he has a mandate for about 200 policies that were released to interest groups and not made available for public scrutiny during the state election campaign.”
    How are people supposed to make an informed decision when policies are not fully released to the public in plenty of time before an election? That is totally undemocratic, as is the other Liberal/NP practice of immediately reversing policies once in power as the rAbbott did in the infamous 2014 budget.

  11. paul walter

    Frank Smith. People, read Frank smith on the hidden 200 policies.

    When will people learn?

  12. Kronomex

    The complete and utter corruption of the LNP no longer surprises me anymore.

  13. Roswell

    Holy crap, Frank. That’s appalling. How effing corrupt are these bloody Libs? 😡

  14. Freethinker

    Living in Tasmania i have different view or analysis of why the Liberals won.
    Regarding poker machine

    1) people knew that the gambling magnates were pumping money to the Liberals to stop the ALP. People happy allowed put liberals posters in their homes, people that work for peanuts on the clubs happy dressed with Liberal T shirts.
    The advertising were saying that the ALP and the Greens are treating people like idiots and have to cote against it.
    Posters say that the ALP and the Greens like to treat Tasmania as a nanny state telling them what to do.

    2) For them, the corruption issue it is not taken into consideration because for them the ALP is run by the corrupted union bosses, so all the politicians are the same.

    The problem with housing is well known and every person in Tasmania know someone that cannot find a house to rent or cannot afford to buy one.
    The problem with the Royal hospital in Hobart it is well know and the stuff ups made by the minister were well exposed by the media, again the thought on these simple ignorant people is that the ALP is worse.

    IMO, we have to view the result in a different away, the reason why we have the Liberals in Tasmania it nis not because they have been conned it is because the standards of these politicians it is acceptable.
    The same applies to the behavior of the “best opposition leader” Tony Abbott and the approval of his behavior.
    The same applies to the re-election of Barbaby
    The same applies to the electing Pauline
    And I can keep going.

    That excuses that the media or corporations are the only guilty one does not convince me at all.
    People know and their priorities and moral values unfortunately are not the same as the posters here and me.

  15. Keith

    Just prior to the election the Christian lobby letter boxed quite a scurrilous attack on Labor, presenting views centred around sexual behaviour that Labor had not canvassed. The so called Christians were stating Labor would support Pimps and Brothels, promote Illegal Drugs, and attacked the Safe Schools Program; it was done in an emotive way.

    Freethinker is right about the parlous state of the Royal Hospital in Hobart; Professioals had constantly stated views which contradicted the Health Minister, undeterred the Minister constantly ignored the Professionals.

  16. Glenn Barry

    Nice to see Hodgman state plainly, after the election, that he is there to govern for 300 vested interest groups who were well informed of his intentions whilst the rest of the electorate was not.

    The problem has gone past corruption to the point now that the LNP do not even recognise their behaviour corrupt – we’re in dangerous territory people

  17. Zathras

    I remember way back to the days of the Whitlam era when a Tasmanian employer included a note in his workers’ pay packets – “If Whitlam is elected PM on Saturday, don’t bother coming to work on Monday”.

    Tasmania is an interesting place politically – that’s for sure.

  18. wam

    could not agree more freethinks

    di’s boys are 10% and a liability.

    Labor uses excuses for its failures after rather than attacking the lnp before or at least after such losses(I gave gillard and tanya a way to embarrass the crap out of the rabbott then with no response I told the chaser who asked the question and the suppository was stunned)

    Labor’s reliance on the hope that osmosis will enlighten the workers who put hodgman, trumball and the rabbott into power cannot work with a charismatic leader. Little billy and torpid tanya wont do(although if beaconsfield bill and plibersek against the rabbott can return they would be a formidable team)

    ps time to regain melb labor voters should have forgotten tanner’s gutless surrender by now?
    With brandt wallowing and reaching for his pension, it is time to go for him ready for the next election.

  19. Kronomex

    I wonder how long it will take the federal and state governments here to consider jumping on to this scary escalation of erosion of democracy bandwagon (all the name of “protecting your democratic fredom and rights” of course) –

  20. Mick

    We are no longer electing people with policies, we are electing bags of money. The biggest bag wins, and Democracy loses.

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