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Institutional respect

By 2353NM

In the past week or so, it was announced that last December a jury of his peers had found George Pell guilty of a number of heinous crimes against children. While Pell is (at the time of writing) planning to appeal the conviction, at this stage the facts are that after a trial where the jury could not agree, a subsequent trial jury unanimously found him guilty. For legal reasons, the announcement of the conviction was delayed for a period of time.

Like it or not, the only people to hear all the evidence were Pell, the prosecution and defence legal teams, the judge and the jury. Yet, Andrew Bolt and Miranda Devine have written opinion pieces for News Limited papers suggesting the conviction was wrong, comparing the decision to that of the Lindy Chamberlain trial decades ago and claiming the accusations were implausible. While Bolt, Devine and the rest of us have the right to our opinion on Pell’s actions and guilt, we weren’t in the court for the full presentation of evidence and at the end of the day, so we have no option other than to respect that our representatives (AKA the jury) that did hear all the evidence made the right decision after weighing up the alternatives.

And that’s the real issue here — respect.

It’s the same with sport. Whatever the punishment meted out to former Australian Cricket Captain Steve Smith and his Deputy Dave Warner for their role in the ball tampering incident early in 2018, there is a distinct lack of respect for the traditions and history of Australian Cricket on display when something that is clearly against the rules is contemplated by the very people that are supposed to protect the rules, history and traditions of the game. It’s also very unlikely that past football legends such as Ron Barassi or Artie Beetson would have had the lack of respect for themselves or their respective football code to consume illegal drugs during their playing careers, let alone protest that they had done nothing wrong when the evidence of the wrongdoing was leaked to the public as some current day ‘legends’ have done.

We have witnessed a similar failure of trust in politics as well over the past 20 or so years. Menzies was not liked by all, but he was respected by most. During the 70s and 80s, scandals were few and far between and yes, as reported in this The Daily Telegraphreport in 2012, the Gillard Government had some doozeys! However the lack of respect for the traditions of Parliament shown by Prime Minister Howard with his ‘core’ and non-core’ promises, use of people for political ends as demonstrated with the refugees picked up by the MV Tampa in 1991 (conveniently just prior to an election Howard was fighting with racist overtones) as well as his careful manipulation of those around him to ensure that he wasn’t challenged, started us on the slippery slope. By carefully rooting out all those with alternative viewpoints and promoting the sycophants, Howard is the person who ensured that the Liberal Party of today encourages people like Abbott and Morrison to continue in politics, while trashing the reputation of the Liberal Party as being economically conservative but socially liberal.

Not that the ALP is immune from criticism here. Current Opposition Leader Shorten was up to his neck in the political games last time the ALP held the keys to the Prime Minister’s suite on Capital Hill. Howard and all Prime Ministers since have destroyed the trust in the institutions of governance across Australia, by only respecting the traditions of the office when it suits them and playing political games. Those that have organised and mounted campaigns to overthrow sitting Prime Ministers such as Dutton and Roberts also share the blame. No wonder you frequently hear people disparaging both sides of politics as being out of touch, in it for themselves or just not understanding what is really required. Luckily we don’t have the ‘right to bear arms’.

All however is not lost. There is an election due in the first half of this year. Regardless of who is elected, one of the first orders of business must be the re-establishment of compliance with the history and conventions of not only 118 years of Australian Federal Government history, but the prior history of the UK Parliament. Rather than accepting the behaviours shown by Ministers such as Roberts, Cash, Dutton, Cormann, Wilson and former Minister and current Ambassador Hockey as Morrison and his immediate predecessors have done, Ministers should be sacked for offences as trivial as those by Mick Young, (sent to the backbench because his wife brought in an undeclared Paddington Bear in to the country) or Michael MacKellar (who claimed a colour TV was black and white to avoid customs scrutiny).

Shorten claims he has learned the lessons of the past — Morrison’s behaviour seems to suggest he hasn’t. Whoever wins the election will never please the entire population of Australia. Showing respect for the role of leading the country and involving the country in a discussion on why the government can’t please all 25 million of us immediately will go a long way towards restoring respect in the institution of government (and who knows may even ensure longevity of the person in the position).

What do you think?

This article was originally published on The Political Sword.

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  1. Jack Cade

    Once upon a time, the only sin a Coalition MP could commit was getting caught. Now, as Cash etc have shown, they are incorrigible because they deem themselves untouchable. They will not change, because ‘rhey’ are morally bankrupt.

  2. Phil.

    A nice picture. Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dumber.

  3. Phil.

    Over the years a lot has been said and read about the personification of DORK ! John Winston Howard. The attached link explains this individual more than a thousand page biography. Now for the folks, the males that is on here, who have been around the block a few times are probably not going to divulge what they were engaged in at sixteen for the sake of taste, lets just say after chasing girls and other pursuits of boys full of hormones and going blind, Nor I or any of my mates were ever like this. I give you Howard ‘ Brains Trust.

    Recording Of John Howard At 16 On Jack Davey Quiz Show

  4. Matters Not


    learned the lessons of the past

    Sounds encouraging. But what lessons from the past should an incoming government take particular note of. Should they attempt political payback as Abbott did with the Royal Commission into the Home Insulation Program when he also ordered the release of traditionally secret Cabinet Documents? Seems like a step too far – particular for a self professed conservative. At the Queensland State level, the incoming Premier Goss was somewhat ruthless (set up gulags and the like) while Premier Beattie was meek and mild – because he claimed he learned the lessons from Goss’ mistakes.

    Be interesting to see how much political payback is on the agenda adopted by Shorten – given that Rudd didn’t go down that track (after he judged that Goss’ night of the long knives was a big mistake.) Something to watch with interest because Labor supporters will bay for blood. Release Cabinet documents and all that – well before time

  5. whatever

    The LNP is in the ‘Jonestown’ zone, they are doomed. They are trashing the joint like rich kids on ritalin.
    We are witnessing an extinction event.

  6. Keitha Granville

    Their lack of respect for the parliament is directly total disrespect to us, the people who elect them. They are thumbing their noses at us on a daily basis. They need to be put on notice at the election, treat us with contempt and we WILL boot you out.

    Just a note about the cricketers – I think the ACB is also demonstrating total disrespect for those players currently representing their country, and their states, who are playing well and yet they will simply be pushed aside to allow the disgraced players to step right back in. Thanks for nothing. I fear the lesson to be learned will be a fairly quick exit from the World Cup with a team comprising out of form players when others in form could have been included. We shall see.

  7. Zathras

    Never mind Secret Cabinet documents – wasn’t it John Howard who (illegally) showed Andrew Bolt Top Secret Classified documents purporting to support his claim that Saddam Hussein had WMDs so that Bolt could act as his personal propaganda media agent?

    Then there was the DJ who claimed he was holding in his hand and had personally watched a tape of Mark Latham “cavorting with strippers at a buck’s show”? (Later admitted to be a blatant lie).

    More recently there was a newpaper front page of photographic proof of a political indiscretion which when revealed to be a photoshopped hoax was quickly removed from their web site.
    Also in the media, various other political stories remain suppressed and go unreported on the order of media proprieters unless they suit their own financial or political interests.

    And the list goes on and on and on.

    It’s no wonder the public is becoming increasingly cynical and vulnerable to conspiratorial nonsense.

    Respect is something that has to be earned, not automatically granted and there hasn’t been much of worth on display from any area of public representation for a long time.

  8. MöbiusEcko

    Zathras. That document came from Downer’s office, now from Howard’s.

    AFP release report into who leaked top secret report on Iraq War to Andrew Bolt
    Andrew Bolt: I did ‘go through’ leaked top secret report by Wilkie

    Remember, it was Downer’s office who was also implicated in the AWB wheat for Iraq scandal.

    AWB made secret payments worth US20m to Saddam’s Iraq, court hears
    Revealed: how Downer waged war with US to protect Iraq wheat trade

    In all the cases of malfeasance involving Downer in some way, there was not one prosecution. Indeed, in the case of AWB, the executive walked away with golden handshakes.

    As it was with Howard’s office where no punishment was meted out over the Children Overboard affair, with the Howard staffer identified at the centre being rewarded by promotion and a posting away from Canberra.

    This is why the Coalition openly obfuscate, lie and deceive, because they know they will not only get away with it, they will often be rewarded for doing it. They are protected firstly by a politicised public service and secondly by the right wing MSM, which sadly now includes the ABC. Until this imbalance is corrected, an emboldened L-NP will continue as normal and more than likely, get worse, as was so aptly demonstrated by the Abbott government and now by Morrison’s.

  9. Jack Cade

    Howard. John Howard. Elected and re-elected by a witting electorate (I say ‘witting’ because they knew what he was alright, and still endorsed him.)
    My late wife (she died of cancer at 45) and I only ever had cross words once, and that was because she was teaching at a school when Howard visited and she shook his hand. I told her she should have refused to do so, and she said ‘I was being polite. You would have!’
    To which I responded that ‘If I wanted to put my hand in shit I would have become a plumber.’
    No offence to plumbers – they get rid of it.

  10. Zathras


    Downer may have been holding the smoking gun but he would not have pulled the trigger independently.

    Howard was always careful not to get his own hands dirty.

    Various Ministers would be prompted to go out and start controversial public discussions to gauge responses and support but usually it was to divide the country up into internally warring tribes and detract from policy issues.

    It’s a typical conservative strategy. Some of us are old enough to remember the “public reconciliation” argument Hawke used to help topple the also-divisive Fraser and the Abbott/Morrison legacy is proving to be even worse.

    One of the reasons Tim Fisher quit Parliament was that Howard did no actual Ministerial work but spent all his time plotting, scheming and consulting with his many media research groups and advisers.

  11. Yvonne Robertson

    Downer was probably “Nation Building”

    Most things of a dark and dirty nature stem back to the influence and machinations of John Winston, taken to new levels by his acolyte Abbott. The Liberal Party has completely run amok with the nation’s structures and processes. It will take decades to fix if that’s even possible. Might be best to knock it down and start again. There are Liberals stashed in every nook and cranny of this country’s governance and accountability structures now.

    Covert Liberals like those lurking in the media, like to lump Labor in with the Liberals in terms of graft, corruption and out and out wrecking – it makes it seem like it’s not their fault entirely. It’s become common to talk about the country having had no climate change policy for a decade for example and that’s patently untrue. That decade line is being used more and more I note so as to give the appearance that all politicians are alike and none of them have any integrity. Although the Labor party is nowhere near as ‘red’ as would suit my preference, I do not believe that the nature of their individual ‘crimes against the state’ can even be compared to the war mongering, arms dealing, imprisoning, Lying Nasty Party.

    This author states:
    “Howard and all Prime Ministers since have destroyed the trust in the institutions of governance across Australia, by only respecting the traditions of the office when it suits them and playing political games.”
    ALL? Really? Gillard too? I call crap. As for asserting that Shorten’s been in it up to his neck, you cannot seriously compare this three headed Liberal government with anything done in the Rudd/Gillard years and I note you have refrained from giving reference or examples as there are none that would stack up in severity.

  12. 2353NM

    @Yvonne Robertson – You’ve missed the point. If you’re in public life you need to demonstrate squeaky clean credentials for people to respect you and the position you hold.

    Rudd and Gillard respectively plotted and schemed to overthrow each other. From an outsiders point of view, there is little if any difference between Abbott doing over Turnbull, Turnbull doing over Abbott, Dutton attempting to do over Turnbull and getting done over himself by Morrison or Gillard doing over Rudd and then Rudd returning the favour.

    Shorten has admitted his roles in the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd sagas. Just as you can’t be a little bit pregnant, if you are involved in political machinations, you are involved. The ‘s/he’s worse than me’ argument is irrelevant.

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