Now that the door to the Senate has been closed to anyone who is not a party apparatchik, it’s hard to be optimistic about where our politics is headed. After their recent ‘Meg Lees’ moment the Greens will soon fade away to being just a rump and we will be a two party state. Just two right wing parties backed by two right wing media conglomerates, two large commercial retailers, four big banks, four big mining houses, and any sectional interest with a big pocketbook. Welcome to the modern and wonderfully diverse 21st century Australian democracy® – brought to you by Chevron, Adani, and Coke!
Way back in the beginning Australia became a prosperous nation because we were egalitarian. The common bloke had a stake in the good life and so worked hard for a chance to own a small but adequate slice of the pie. The common bloke worked hard because it was easy to be optimistic. Society was conceived of as being relatively equitable. Nobody was too grossly rich nor were they too poor, and nobody was going to be left too far behind. Yet even while reality rarely lived up to this ideal; at least optimism was warranted and widespread. So what happened?
Up until the eighties our parliament was wildly diverse. In the 1930’s the same Federal Electorate that is now represented by George Christensen sent a card carrying communist off to the Federal House of Representatives. This was because once upon a time local constituencies sent known representatives to parliament to do their bidding (I know it is hard to believe but this was actually the case). And not only were local constituents allowed to have a say in who their representatives were, they also got to have a say in what was going to be talked about in the parliaments of our land. This is because in days gone by the order of business in our parliaments (in other words what was going to be talked about and in what order) was largely controlled by the clerks of the parliament. So any member could post a notice of motion, and so lot’s and lots of topics were talked about. Also, way back then, parliaments actually got together and talked about things more often then just every other fortieth Tuesday in a leap year.
But of course things were not as well organised in those days. Back then political parties did not have minds of their own but rather were made up of like minded representatives, and since there were quite a number of different parties, and movement from one party to another was not infrequent, it was considered more appropriate for a politician to move to a party that matched their views on a matter rather than betray the trust of the constituents. How quaint.
These days our politicians are far more expensive, far less significant, and utterly owned. Over the last forty years the two big political parties have slowly increased their grip on the groin of our political leaders until they absolutely rule those who rule us. These party bosses stand above the law, adhere to no cohesive moral or ideological code, feel free to deliberately mislead, and take no heed of the views of the majority.
Who will deny that we have now reached the point where it does not really matter what any individual representative in our parliament might think about anything? This is because unless ‘the party’ and ‘the mainstream media’ both think the same it simply will not happen. Likewise it doesn’t really matter what any particular area in Australia happens to think should happen, if one of the two major parties (i.e. their corporate backers) do not want it to happen, it will not even be discussed. No longer do local constituents get a free reign to choose their local member and once elected to parliament representatives cannot discuss what they want to discuss, or freely vote in a manner they think is best for their constituency. If there are one or two rogue (independent) members in the house it hardly matters. They are outnumbered 50 to 1.
The political parties and their right wing media backers own the agenda because they own the media. They are the ones who tell us who we can vote for, what votes will matter, what we can talk about, what points of view are acceptable, and how grateful we should be. It’s a neat two-card trick. The big political parties do the bidding of big media, big business, small business, the mining industry, the banks, the insurance industry, the unions, and every other ‘interest’ except for the public interest. We lose faith in them and start voting in droves for independents and small parties. So they simply change the rules to make it perfectly legal for them to throw away the votes of anyone who disagrees. Hmm?
But if you disagree you can say so in the ‘alternative or social media’. Even though we all know that the new-age free press available online is just a load of people complaining about a whole bunch of stuff that is completely irrelevant. We know this because we hear it every day, in the mainstream media.
Yet still social media booms because there is always such an awful lot of irrelevant stuff to bitch about. But even so there is no doubt that the optimism of earlier times has long since been painted over with a thick coat of despair and general despondency. Which is understandable considering the circumstances. After all we should have seen this coming. It’s not as if our politicians have even been pretending to ‘do the will of the people’ for a very long time. Governments in the modern age long ago turned from serving the people to instead telling them in exhausting detail exactly why it is simply not possible to do what the majority wants. Regarding virtually anything you might want to name.
Most Australians (and the High Court) agree that we should not be spending a quarter of a billion dollars a year on enabling proselytising evangelical Christians to have access to our schoolchildren on a regular basis. So our parliament guts an eight million dollar a year anti-bullying campaign because it might offend a few people who want to be able to continue bullying certain already demonised segments of our population. Most Aussies think cannabis should be decriminalised and medicinal cannabis should be widely available for those who need it because we all know it to be a relatively benign herb. So our politicians continue to spend billions of dollars in an attempt to eradicate the herb and incarcerate its users. All the while our newspapers and television stations continue to tell simple homespun lies about how illegal drugs will send your budgie and child mad even while carrying endless advertisements for alcohol, pharmaceuticals, and sugar bomb foodstuffs packed with all the wholesome goodness of transfat, sodium, and fourteen artificial colours and flavours. Most Aussies would like to see less bushland cleared and more national parks declared. So business interests are hurrying to open hostels in remote parks and massacring as many acres of Queensland scrub they possibly can before anyone notices or Labor gets back in. Most Aussies are worried about climate change. But about half of our politicians and half of our journalists, plus all of their employers, just know that the majority are wrong. So we have been encouraging our biggest polluters to continue to pollute by handing them huge wads of cash from the public purse. We have scrapped the carbon tax. Government has ensured that the renewable energy sector will be crippled for years by investor uncertainty, and having thoroughly investigated whether or not wind turbines kill people, we continue to encourage new coal mines to open up all across our land and subsidise the search for new deposits. Most Aussies find it easy to agree that large corporations and multinational concerns should pay a reasonable amount of tax. Most Aussies like Medicare. Most Aussies think that super is too generous to millionaires, that housing prices are far too high, that education should be affordable, and that fracking is a disaster.
However it has long been apparent that it does not matter a jot what most Australians think or want. But now at least the charade is over. Our political parties have at last written us out of the picture. From here on in, if we vote incorrectly, they will simply throw our vote in the bin. Welcome to the modern and wonderfully diverse 21st century Australian democracy® – brought to you by Chevron, Adani, and Coke!
Don’t fret. We still have the right to remain silent (at least for the time being).
Also by James Moylan:
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