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‘The modern and wonderfully diverse 21st century Australian democracy®’

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).

 

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45 comments

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  1. Julian

    Very well put! Thank god for social revolution. It might be the last resort.

  2. Sen Nearly Ile

    it is shonky that the voting above the line allowing electors to abrogate their responsibilities for preferential voting, by giving the party the right to distribute preferences, is the reason given by the merry men of sherwood for voting with turnball to change the rules because lazy and/or ignorant people were voting above the line and the parties were distributing preferences? Wow if the boys rationalised their way around that no principle is safe.
    Still it appears that our $2.488 can be given to whomever we choose as number 1 below the line.
    ps
    The women have been pretty quiet? The quota will be less than 8% so who knows? Perhaps because it could be bye bye janet and/or sarah and hello a mate of the slimey moneymaker.

  3. Deidre Zanker

    No longer a democracy.

  4. Matters Not

    our parliament guts an eight million dollar a year anti-bullying campaign

    No. Eight million was the total allocation for the 4 year program. It’s peanuts. Only slightly more than a respectable gentleman’s bar tab. ?

  5. Wally

    “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.”

    This was back in the days when everyone was paid a decent wage for a hard days work, totally opposite nowadays, it seems that those who do the least hard work take the largest slice of the pie and barely leave much more than crumbs for everyone else to share.

  6. mark delmege

    It was almost funny listening to Waleed and his sepo mate the other day on ABC RN talking about conspiracies. Geez they would only have to listen to foreign news segments on the ABC and SBS to understand the level of conspiracy in our media. These two stations lie to us every night conspiring to hide the truth of the world from us – rarely ever deviating from the ’empire maintenance’ line. Just have a listen to the coverage they give to al Jazeera (english). Now they do do some good stuff but often not when they report on Muslim countries. They will provide a service that supports the(ir owners) Qatari state line. And thats understandable – just like when the ABC report on certain matters they will give a view that supports their state interest. But it is not NEWS. It is propaganda. It is a deliberate conspiracy by staff and management to give a particular line.
    Or (for example) did you hear the “Turd who Talks” (Tony Jones) interview the Syrian Dr Jaafari the lead Syrian negotiator to the peace talks in Europe. About his only question was when was al Assad going to step down. After all that has happened in that country that was it. Bugger me the ABC is littered with morons and fools.
    As for Jim Moylan (he’s got nothing) wasn’t he the bloke who stood on the border of Israel and justified the Israeli attack on Gaza.
    I will quote someone on RN from a week or so back – he said to effect ‘Australia has an equality of manners but not wealth’. Its a beauty.

  7. Douglas Pye

    Thank you for the ramble down ‘Nostalgia Lane’ ! Yes … as a child of the Great Depression much of what is written here is familiar territory which unfolded before my eyes and through my aware parents.

    Whilst the ‘good old days’ can never return ( thankfully), modern times portray to my ilk, the virtual demise of ethical conduct. The fish rots from the head in the instances where some of the highest offices in the land are hosts to blatant lies, corruption, greed, & utter contempt for common decency.

    Consequently, ordinary people are encouraged to follow suit and our Australian society ( and Nation) is the loser ….. racing to the bottom!!

    As a voter I have, along with most, allowed politicians to ‘professionalise’ and ‘enlist’ the aid of business to ‘efficiently’ conduct our affairs …. gently, over time …. slowly, slowly catchee monkey!!

    I well remember over years hearing politicians complain about Voter Apathy … a real challenge … and evident pain. Perhaps we should recognise the potential difference between a Personal Relationship and a Business Relationship …..

  8. JamesMMoylan

    Mark: “As for Jim Moylan (he’s got nothing) wasn’t he the bloke who stood on the border of Israel and justified the Israeli attack on Gaza.”
    I am not the Jim Moylan you are thinking about (I retail a completely different brand of nothing.)
    I am the J Moylan who went to every major city in Australia last election season teaching about civil rights (Police Wrangling workshops) and campaigning about cannabis law reform. Ex Student Union Prez, lawyer, writer, cat attendant, paleo-law enthusiast, communications theorist, and renewable energy campaigner.

  9. mark delmege

    Sorry James, my bad. (I nearly got caught out again a couple of days ago with your name and pulled back in time.)

  10. stephentardrew

    Democracy died along the way drifting towards global corporate hegemony while people slept in ignorance of their apathetic complicity. The bubble will surely burst and we will cry and scream at the unfairness we brought upon ourselves through lack of strong ethical principles based upon human rights, justice, equity and distributive utility.

    Politics owned by corporate media while you dear citizens drink the cool aid signing the contract of your impending demise.

    One thing they willingly give you is debt servitude so that when things go bad it will lead to your impoverishment. Is it too late? What do you think when nothing structurally has changed?

    The next global recession is inevitably on its way and you ain’t seen nothing yet.

    Sleep on poor fools for to harm your fellow humans is to bring disrepute upon yourselves.

  11. Here we go.

    What errant bulshit mr moylan. It is clear you didnt bother to actually educate yourself about the changes. Nice political hack attack.

  12. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Where did ‘Here we go’ evolve from? Another LNP hack has come to visit the site to get their fix of intelligent discussion spotlighting how our political landscape has been hijacked by cynical vested interests.

  13. Jaquix

    I notice “Here We Go” tries to make himself look like a real person (rather than a troll) by misspelling a word, and dropping a few capitals. I like TheAIM not only for its content but its lack of trolls. Perhaps Malcolm has stepped up the program?

  14. gee

    i’m surprised you don’t trot out the old greens vitriol too jennifer. Labor has been excelling itself in manipulating the SSM issue as a nice little wedge issue and the author of this article seems to have missed the bit about empowering the individual to control their own preferences rather than trusting in the party system to represent their interest.

  15. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    gee,

    the only vitriol I’m interested in is the anti-LNP variety or hasn’t that been obvious???

    Otherwise, I want the Greens and Labor to get their joint arses into gear and form an Alliance that serves the interests of diverse communities throughout Australia. I also want the progressive micro parties to join the festivities because their energy and vision for what needs to be fixed and advocated are necessary elements.

  16. Gee

    Shame then that there are so many ALP spruikers intent on demonising the greens then. doomglitter and clarke68 over at the guardian seem hell bent on alienating progressive voters.

  17. Backyard Bob

    There certainly does appear to be an organised Labor media campaign against the Greens. Pretty much every “card carrying” Labor person here, author and/or commentator has been at it. It’s pretty hard to fathom, really, other than in the context of Labor responding to vote leakage to the Greens on social justice issues.

    It’s only a theory, of course, and one tinged with a bit of a conspiratorial hue, but certain of Labor’s recent policy announcement, in combination with this social media “war” suggests to me that Labor is trying to stem the flow of progressive votes to the Greens. But, it’s just a theory, and I mean that in the non-scientific sense. 🙂

  18. Backyard Bob

    I’m amazed at how much this sentiment is being expressed on Twitter, despite its obvious folly:

    cornelis HARM ‏@casey1939 5m minutes ago

    Vote Labor…A vote for the Greens is a vote for Turnbull thanks to DiNatale

  19. Matters Not

    The Libs hate the Nats and the Nats hate the Libs. All behind closed doors of course. In public they run on the same unity ‘ticket’; always conscious that in politics ‘disunity is death’. Politics 101.

    Then there’s the ‘progressive’ side of politics. They provide their own wedges. Dumb as dog shit. ?

  20. nurses1968

    Just because you vote for the Greens does not mean you are progressive. That is an unsupportable claim

  21. Kaye Lee

    What an odd thing to say. Looking at the Greens policies I find them very progressive.

  22. Backyard Bob

    Just because you vote for the Greens does not mean you are progressive. That is an unsupportable claim

    Hmm, somewhat contentious, as opposed to when it’s said about Labor, wherein it is simple fact.

  23. Kaye Lee

    Labor are really losing the plot in my opinion. This war with the Greens is so counterproductive and utterly pointless.

  24. Backyard Bob

    It’s hard to know where its origins are. Given the sentiments are being expressed by Labor bloggers and not just the sort of pontifical patrons we have in this place, you have to think it’s a directive coming from somewhere up the chain of command. I can only go back to my previously expressed theory as to its meaning and purpose, but I agree it’s counterproductive. More than that it’s just flat out sophism. Or at least, it seems that way to me.

  25. randalstella

    If there were ever a time for a cooperative election approach it is now.
    Both the Greens and Labor will oppose this ABCC stuff. This is the time for a reestablishment of relations between the Parties.
    Turnbull is giving unprecedented publicity to those who oppose this legislation; and the opportunity needs to be grasped. His threatening of the cross benches shows no sign of working, and the standover tactics will be at the centre of debate.

    Di Natale and Wong in particular have some important work to do, to get some dialogue going;and not just over this legislation.

    It might be helpful if people contact Labor and Greens Senators to express polite and encouraging concern over the bitterness between the Parties. It has been all-too-human.
    Progressive politics simply cannot afford this little war to continue. It will be the people with the least power who will suffer in the long run.

    There is no hope for the ferociously irrational in their animosities – but then, who would want them shaping an election fight?

  26. Kaye Lee

    I think the spectre of the ABCC is very personal for unionists and with good reason. That may be adding some hurt to the discussion.

  27. nurses1968

    Backyard Bob,
    It isn’t just Labor supporters getting stuck into the Greens, A few journos as well including Guardian

    Van Badham
    ‏@vanbadham

    And @murpharoo nails RDN in the @guardianaus today.
    It wasn’t just that they were told.
    They already knew.
    #auspol

    Richard Di Natale

    @vanbadham @murpharoo @GuardianAus He looked a bit rattled in his presser today.
    1 retweet 3 likes
    View other replies
    Van Badham ‏@vanbadham 40m40 minutes ago

    @bradthegunn I no longer believe a word he says or thing he does.
    4 retweets 8 likes
    View other replies
    O_O ‏@bradthegunn 34m34 minutes ago

    @vanbadham I’m hoping it was naivety not stupidity..
    0 retweets 2 likes
    Van Badham ‏@vanbadham 33m33 minutes ago

    @bradthegunn They knew what they were doing. So it’s something far worse.
    1 retweet 3 likes

  28. Matters Not

    The recent Brisbane City Council elections demonstrate how counter productive this animosity is. The Green will win the Gabba. Labor suffered badly in many wards because the Green preferences simply didn’t flow. They will now have only 5 councillors.

    But some seem determined to continue the blame game.

  29. Matters Not

    In my ward, Cassidy (ALP) captured 44.3% of the primary vote. Millard (LNP) scored 42.04%. Walsh (GRN) scored 13.63%. Two party preferred sees Cassidy with 55.16% and Millard with 44.84%.

    http://results.ecq.qld.gov.au/elections/local/LG2016/BrisbaneCityCouncil/results/councillor/district6.html

    Lessons to be learned?

    Overall Labor with 5 seats, the LNP with 20 and the Greens with 1. An absolute pathetic result. Particularly when the LNP is well past it use by date.

  30. Backyard Bob

    Nurses,

    Vanessa Badham is a professional mouth and attention seeker, not a journalist. Her opinion doesn’t mean much to me, irrespective of her twitter heroine status.

    Kaye Lee,

    I think the spectre of the ABCC is very personal for unionists and with good reason. That may be adding some hurt to the discussion.

    Sure, but what does it have to do with the Greens? They have always opposed its reintroduction. They [or Labor] have no power at all over whether the Government uses it as a springboard to a DD, anymore than the other trigger they possess. This one simply has, in their [LNP] twisted thinking, greater political meaning and traction. Labor is also opposing it, also giving the Govt that trigger. We aren’t they dirty on themselves?

    People are spewing all sorts of nonsensical bollocks from “they were too stupid to see this coming” to “they knew all along this was coming” – neither view having an ounce of meaning. Senate Voting changes could have happened at any time over the last nearly two years. A DD trigger has been sitting there ready for deployment for ages. Were we supposed to never, ever have any such voting system changes whilst a DD trigger was in play? How absurd would that be, given that a DD trigger is the simplest thing in the world to contrive. All you have to do is propose a Bill that is specifically designed to achieve that result.

    Neither the LNP nor the Greens have taken away any person’s ability to vote the LNP out of office. Here we are, being given the chance to do so early. I’m ok with that, frankly.

  31. nurses1968

    Maybe the divorce should be formal and this would be the opportune time as a Coalition victory is almost assured.
    I will have no problem finding 11 Independents and Micros to put ahead of the ALP and leave the Greens for their LNP mates.

  32. Backyard Bob

    Millard (LNP) scored 42.04%

    I wonder how many Wards only fielded 3 candidates (I couldn’t be bothered looking beyond Deagon)? Of course, Millard had the benefit of being the State Member up till the last election and Cassidy had replaced a retiring Newton, so I think he did ok. But generally speaking I agree the result was shite for Labor.

    I’m sure the developers are well pleased, however.

  33. Backyard Bob

    Maybe the divorce should be formal and this would be the opportune time as a Coalition victory is almost assured.

    Is it? Based on what? Or are you referring only to the senate here? More and I more I get the feeling that Labor is going to simper its way to a loss, if a loss it suffers.

  34. nurses1968

    Based on the fact the LNP have again edged ahead in the polls again,Labor have to pick up 21 seats with something like 5% across the board and a LNP sympathetic Media with massive resources to push the LNP line.
    From what I’ve read online,there is even a possibility that with some Independent support the LNP could control the Senate.
    Do you have any differing information?

  35. nurses1968

    Sam Dastyari Verified account
    ‏@samdastyari

    Bring it on. I think on about 10 occasions I said in the Senate last week that if the Greens passed voting reforms – this would happen.
    Noel ‏@_SocialDemocrat 19m19 minutes ago

    @samdastyari But according to @RichardDiNatale it was a total surprise and unexpected, just a coincidence about the passing of #SenateReform

  36. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Haven’t you heard, nurses1968,

    never say never! The filthy LNP hasn’t won yet.

    But like our learned friends are saying above, it is important to get Labor and the Greens to grow up, cooperate and work together, so that they win and thus we ALL win.

    They would also be very wise to befriend the crossbenchers, especially the progressive variety but even the dubious ones like Day and Leyonhjelm, whose defiance at least, has impressed me.

  37. Backyard Bob

    Do you have any differing information?

    The small drift back to the LNP in the polls isn’t especially disconcerting. Turnbull’s own popularity is taking a hit right now.

    I don’t believe online opinions qualify as “information”. When you say: From what I’ve read online,there is even a possibility that with some Independent support the LNP could control the Senate. my eyes just glaze over and I go to that place you go to where you wonder what you’d do when you win Lotto. I find that place equally “informative”.

  38. nurses1968

    The poll as reported does not make good reading

    The Australian
    March 21, 2016 11:17AM
    Phillip Hudson
    Bureau Chief
    Canberra

    LNP lead by 51 per cent to Labor’s 49
    the poll also shows 55 per cent of voters think the ­Coalition will be returned at the election while only 25 per cent ­believe Labor can win.
    he is considered best to manage the economy by 54 per cent of voters compared with 20 per cent who favour Bill Shorten
    while 45 per cent say the Prime Minister is the more capable of handling tax reform compared with 25 per cent who say it is the Labor leader.
    Mr Turnbull remains by far the preferred prime minister, on 52 per cent
    Mr Shorten’s rating as better PM is unchanged at 21 per cent. Mr Shorten’s satisfaction rating fell two points to 28 per cent, although his dissatisfaction fell three points to 52 per cent to see his net satisfaction rating ­improve from minus 25 points to minus 24 points.
    Asked which political party they expect will win the election, 55 per cent of voters nominated the government to be returned while 25 per cent think Labor will win and 20 per cent were uncommitted.

  39. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    What else do you expect from The Australian?

    I reiterate, time for the Greens and Labor to work together to influence even the respondents in The Australian polls.

  40. nurses1968

    People cherry pick polls to suit their argument but on the last 2 federal elections they have been very accurate

  41. Kaye Lee

    Roy Morgan poll from yesterday…

    In mid-March ALP support is 50.5% (up 3.5%) cf. L-NP 49.5% (down 3.5%) on a two-party preferred basis. If a Federal Election were held now the election would be too close to call.
    Primary support for the L-NP is 40% (down 3%) with ALP at 33% (up 3.5%). Support for the Greens is up 1% to 14%, Nick Xenophon Team (NXT) 4% (down 1%), 18% in South Australia), Katter’s Australian Party is 1% (unchanged), Palmer United Party is 0% (down 0.5%) and Independents/ Others are at 8% (unchanged).

  42. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    So with what Kaye provides above,

    add ALP 33% + Greens 14% + Independents/Others 8% = 55% (Most Indies and Others are smart and would back a change of gov. Katter and PUP could be extras.)
    cf LNP 40% + NXT 4% = 44%

    What are you waiting for Labor and Greens? Get your acts together and show us you are forming The Alliance that will ensure the annihilation of the LNP Degenerates. You BOTH need each other.

  43. wam

    dear jennifer labor has abbott’s lies but cannot use the gillard successes or the unions and has run its race. They have battened down the hatches till 2022 when the FTAs, costs of planes and ships and the chinese 457s have done the americanisation of the poor (food rations), the green boys will have moved up to parity with the nats and the labor rules will be changed to allow an alliance.
    We can hope that empty can turnaround his compliance with christensen et al
    In the meantime, we can do our best with the murdoch press..

  44. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    wam,

    I don’t mean to be rude but your language is very disjointed. The way you recite the different leading parties’ lack of prospects tells me that you know no better than the rest of us.

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