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What if our politicians had to tell the truth? (#ItsTime)

Imagine a world where our politicians suffered real consequences when they mislead the public with a lie. A world where politicians had to work together like civil adults – instead of tearing each other apart like badly behaved toddlers. In other words – imagine a world where politicians had to live by the same standards that we do.

For too long we’ve accepted politicians’ lies and childlike behaviour as normal. For too long we’ve accepted that our politicians are untouchable – protected by law and power from having to change.

“That’s what elections are for” our politicians argue.

The problem with that argument is that the issue is systemic. The way our pollies behave is built into the laws, conventions and traditions that govern them – many of which have been in place for hundreds of years. This is why changing ‘who’ is in parliament at election time seems to have very little impact on ‘what’ politicians the world over do – leaving us feeling frustrated, helpless and disillusioned about those we choose to govern us.

Well I’ve got some good news. It turns out – for those of us in functioning democracies at least – we’re not as powerless as we’ve been led to believe. The tide has turned a little this century and we – the average punter – have much more power to make change happen, right from the comfort of our living rooms.

Here’s why we need to. And more importantly – how…..

As a species, we’ve made huge leaps forward in the last 150 years…

If you think back over the last 150 years – mankind has progressed on so many fronts. We’ve harnessed electricity to power our homes. We’ve gone to the moon. We’ve cured diseases that once wiped out hundreds of thousands. We’ve run the four minute mile. We’ve learned how to share knowledge and connect with each other through devices we carry around on our person. Our human rights record has even improved – albeit slowly.

But there’s one front where mankind has made little progress…

Despite all this progress on a physical and intellectual level, there’s one aspect of mankind that has hung doggedly onto the traditions of the past – and that’s our political culture, the way those who lead us, our politicians, behave.

Stop and think about it for two seconds. If there’s one thing we can pretty much all agree on, regardless of your political orientation or whether you have any interest in politics whatsoever – it’s that our politicians’ behaviour leaves a lot to be desired. All over the world you can easily find examples of politicians behaving, well like toddlers. Ok – worse than toddlers:

If they’re not fighting physically – our politicians are calling each other names, heckling each other and generally looking at how they can make anyone not from their own political faction look bad. Here’s comedian Shaun Micallef with some examples from last year in the Australian parliament:

And it’s not just the fighting – it’s the lies. Politicians can literally lie with impunity. Unlike the rest of us, they are specifically excluded from having to be truthful in their advertising. Nor are they subject to the same defamation laws the rest of us are. They can legally get up in parliament and say pretty much whatever they like without fear of fine, civil lawsuit or imprisonment. And because we’re so used to it now, most of us don’t even blink an eye. In the words of one Australian Political Commentator:

“Pretty much everyone assumes that once they see a politicians lips move, that means you’re not necessarily going to hear the truth” (Niki Savva, Insiders, 2015)

It’s easy to shrug this off – many people do. Many people feel that they can do nothing about this, that their vote doesn’t count – that politicians are untouchable – so they just accept it.

But politicians are our leaders – the ones in charge. They are the people we elect to represent us, to determine the future of mankind on this planet. We should have people in charge of our countries who represent and are examples of the best of humanity – not the worst.

And yet…

Our politicians are still living by rules from the Middle ages

Our Prime Minister speaks of innovation – it’s the new buzz word in politics. But our politicians are still living out political traditions from the Middle Ages – literally. In fact, according to Maurice Bond, OBE, FSA – who wrote the book on British parliamentary procedure:

“In general…there have been few changes in the basic rules of [parliamentary] debate since the days of Elizabeth I”

Elizabeth I reigned over Britain in the late 16th century. And yet the rules of British parliamentary debate – which have formed the basis of the rules used by many current democracies around the world (including Australia) – have not changed. The same is true in other areas of parliamentary behaviour.

Imagine if we behaved the way our politicians do…

To grasp exactly how absurd politicians’ behaviour is – how out of touch it is with current standards – let’s imagine what life would be like if companies today operated the way parliament does:

Imagine you are a shareholder in a company of 100 employees who build widgets. Now imagine that rather than all 100 employees working together to build widgets, only 60 of them are actually involved in widget production. We’ll call them ‘the Controllers’.

The job of the remaining 40 employees – who we will call ‘the Opposers’ – is to sit around and heckle the Controllers and occasionally call press conferences to tell shareholders what a bad job the Controllers are doing running the company.

In our imaginary world, when the Controllers and Opposers get together at company meetings, they do very little company business. Instead they shout at each other, call each other names and accuse each other of various atrocities.

Keep going with this – and imagine that widget production is way down on expected targets and so are widget sales. (Hardly surprising – given that only 60% of staff are actually building widgets and that the remaining 40% of staff spend their time talking about how bad the company’s widgets are.)

However, rather than trying to fix the actual problem, the Controllers embark on an advertising campaign. They run an ad saying their widgets are half the price of any other widget on the market, and that there are serious health risks with their competitor’s widgets which will likely lead to the early death of anyone who purchases them. (Not true of course – in fact the company’s widgets are the most expensive on the market, and their competitors’ widgets are perfectly safe – but in our imaginary world, the company can behave like politicians, so truth in advertising is not a requirement.)

Now imagine that you and the other shareholders are becoming concerned about the way things are going. You’ve heard the press releases from the Opposers saying the company’s widgets are really bad. You’ve seen the ads which you know are not true. You go to the Shareholder meeting hoping to get some answers, but every time anyone asks a question, the Controllers either don’t answer the question, tell you something which is demonstrably untrue or say it’s not their fault anyway – that it was the Opposers who did it.

Finding it hard to imagine?

That’s not surprising. Because if the rest of us behaved like our politicians do – we’d be fired, fined a lot of money and/or locked up in jail. And the widget company would go out of business pretty quickly. After all, who would buy something from a company whose own employees hold press conferences spelling out what a bad job they are doing? And what company would think it a good idea to pay 40% of its employees to heckle the remaining 60%.

In the real world, real people learn to compromise – to work with people they don’t always agree with. The good ones even recognise that working with people who have different opinions to themselves can be a strength as they provide a different perspective.

In the real world, if a company or an individual misrepresents themselves to the public for financial gain, or lies to their boss or shareholders – it’s called fraud – and they can be heavily fined, sued for their lies and sometimes even jailed.

https://twitter.com/biiimurray/status/391336771692552192

We’re all pretty much agreed that the politicians that we – the people – employ to run our country are, on the whole, doing a pretty poor job of it. So what needs to change?

For a start – politicians need to start playing by the same rules that we do.

It’s time. It’s time that our politicians stepped out of their medieval ivory towers and moved into the 21st century, and lived by the same rules that we do.

While many politicians like to act as though they are our rulers, in a democracy their job is to represent and serve us. Ministers swear an oath when they take office in Australia, promising to ‘serve the people‘. They are our servants. We hire them. We pay their salary. And once every few years we decide which servants still have a job.

It’s time we demand our servants – our politicians – change. Let’s get them to start with two basic small steps:

Step One: Stop lying and stick to the facts

It’s time our politicians were required to work with facts rather than political spin. It’s time to eliminate the laws that allow politicians to lie to us or ‘misrepresent’ the truth. If a company lies in an advertisement, they can be prosecuted and fined by the ACCC. If you or I lie in an advertisement to sell a car, the person who bought the car could sue us. If a company director lies, they can go to jail.

ItsAfactMinister

Picture taken of random politicians by @FirstDogOnMoon from the Guardian

It’s time these same standards applied to politicians – not just in advertisements, but in any representations they make to us, particularly at election time. And if they don’t tell us the truth – then they should be prosecuted, fined and/or lose their jobs.

 

Along the same lines, we should remove laws that protect politicians from defamation – again, they should be bound by the same rules as the rest of us.

Step Two: Behave like adults (and not children)

Here’s three fairly simple steps that the rest of us all have to live by in our workplaces:

  • No heckling, fighting and name-calling:
    Politicians are hired to run the country, not to heckle each other and point-score. And every single person sitting in that parliament has been voted in by us, the people who pay those politicians’ salaries. When politicians disrespect each other they are disrespecting us – since we voted them in.
  • Learn to compromise and work together:
    It’s ridiculous that we pay people to heckle and that only the ‘majority’ get to ‘govern’. Ok – it’s not quite that simple – but that is a big part of their job. We pay all our politicians to govern us – they should work out how to come together and do the job we pay them to do. In the real world we all learn to work together. It’s time that ALL elected representatives in parliament get real input and a real say, and that parliament is a real place of debate and discussion – not just a place where laws that have already been decided upon behind the closed doors of cabinet meetings are rubber-stamped.
  • Live within our means Politicians keep telling us we have to do this. And yet their expense claims are beyond ridiculous. They’re our servants, not our masters – and yet they live better than we do. Enough’s enough.

The need has never been greater

Right now the world is facing problems which need global solutions – which need our leaders to work together. Problems like:

These are not problems that any one nation can solve on its own. These problems have to be solved at a global level – with global solutions. But how on earth are our leaders going to solve these problems, when they are still playing by rules that were created in the Middle Ages – back in a time when duels and wars were considered an honorable way to solve a dispute.

Today, the rest of us have mostly learned to solve our disputes with logic, with reason – it’s time our politicians did too. It’s time we demanded that our pollies live by the same rules we do.

It’s time. But how?

Democratic revolutions are fought and won with voices, not with guns

It’s actually not that hard to make change happen. Oh sure – politicians will whinge and complain and push back – after all, they’re experts at that. But at the end of the day, they work for us. And if the majority of us want change, it will happen – not with fighting and guns, but by us all simply using our voices.

That’s the way it’s always happened.

Real change at a political level has pretty much always come from the people – not from our leaders. It’s come about when someone has an idea and shares it with others, who in turn share it with others. In the past – before democracy – those who wanted change often needed guns to make their ideas reality. But in a democratic society, ideas are our weapons and we take up arms when we voice our opinion, not just when we vote, but every day.

Women didn’t get the vote early last century because politicians came up with the idea and sold it to the people. They got the vote because citizens started talking about it, because they stood up and made their voices heard, because they talked about the issue until the tide of public opinion changed. Only then did a majority of politicians have to get on board.

Changes to racial discrimination laws weren’t initiated by politicians. They came about because civil rights activists started talking about the issues, started questioning whether the status quo was right. They stood up and made their voices heard and eventually a majority of politicians had to get on board.

It’s always been that way. Revolutions have always started with ideas. With real everyday people like you and me using their voices to share those ideas – and with those ideas catching on and gaining support.

That’s what democracy is all about – at least in theory – us all deciding which ideas we want to adopt. That’s what makes a democracy different to any other form of government – it allows the free discussion and vote on ideas. It’s what makes us different to countries like China or North Korea – where access to ideas on the internet is tightly controlled. Why? Because their leaders recognise that ideas, that the voices of its people are the greatest threat to their continued rule of those countries. It’s the reason governments like Nauru shut down access to social media – to stop the spread of ideas, to stop people using their voices.

Those of us in functioning democracies have it easy today – we don’t even have to meet together physically to share our thoughts and ideas. With the internet and social media, each of us can share our ideas with hundreds, even thousands of others from the comfort of our living room. Today, thanks to technology, we the people have never been more powerful, because our voices have never been more able to be heard.

Sit down for what you believe in

And so, my fellow democratic citizens – if you think it’s time our politicians moved out of the middle ages and started living by the same standards as the rest of us, all you need to do is spread this idea. Talk about it at the dinner table. Share this article. Or write your own. Start your own hash tag – or use #ItsTime.

As I’ve written before – Kevin Bacon was right. We are all only separated by six degrees of separation. If you were to talk to everyone you know about this, and they in turn talked to everyone they knew – it would really only take six layers of conversations for everyone to be on the same page. In no time, we could technically all agree that change needed to happen. Of course it’s never entirely that simple – it’s rare for everyone to agree. But in a democracy, everyone doesn’t have to agree – just the majority.

And once a majority of us agree, and keep saying it’s important to us, in the end our politicians will have to come on board – or a new mob of politicians who are on board with the idea will take their place. That’s how democracy works.

Our Pollies have lived in the middle ages for too long. Whether they like it or not – change is coming. There is a ground swell globally of people who are sick of politicians. Sick of being lied to. Sick of politicians creating greater inequality instead of greater equality. The answer isn’t voting in people like Donald Trump – who pretend that they are different from those currently in power. It’s in demanding higher standards of our pollies.

You can be a part of creating a positive model for us to move forward with – by just using your voice, by standing up – actually better still, sitting down – for what you believe in. To make it really clear that:

It’s time our politicians lived like us (#ItsTime)

This isn’t a silver bullet. It won’t magically fix our governments. But requiring our politicians to move into this century – to work in the realm of facts and not spin, to learn to work together – it has to be an improvement on their medieval practices of today.

This article was first published on ProgressiveConversation.

 

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58 comments

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  1. Jack Russell

    When they have become as openly smug about their lies as they are now, and have suborned all our public institutions to also engage in supporting those lies (and telling their own too), it’s WELL past time.

  2. Backyard Bob

    It’s time our politicians were required to work with facts rather than political spin. It’s time to eliminate the laws that allow politicians to lie to us or ‘misrepresent’ the truth.

    What is a fact and what is truth in the context of politics? In that particular context both those things are enormously slippery concepts, and more particularly in the way they may be employed. This isn’t science, this is sociology. In science you might be able to demand that a certain fact leads to a certain conclusion; that is not true in a political (sociological) context. The exact same “fact” might be used to argue entirely contradictory points of view. It’s all about whether you can fit a given “fact” into an internally consistent worldview without that “fact” contradicting it. The vast majority of statements made in the realm of politics are contextual, worldview-based where “truth” has no place whatever as a principle.

    In politics, “facts” are heavily interpretive, much as they are in psychology. And whose “facts” are we talking about and in what context? Economics, where there are barely any facts that can’t be applied to any given model?

    “Abbott stopped the boats” – that statement is neither true nor untrue. It’s a contention for which competing arguments might carry equal weight, especially when one factors in the complexity of language and meaning.

    I certainly agree that politicians ought be held to account for misrepresenting facts when it can be shown they are knowingly doing so, but, really, good luck with that. Last time I was browsing AIMN archives I came across and bookmarked this [Abbott era] post which makes some interesting points about what is and isn’t “lying” in politics:

    https://theaimn.com/not-every-untruth-is-a-lie/

    As for the element of this article that speaks to behaviour, I’m in general agreement. It’s certainly pretty awful at times, but then, these are pretty normal people and we’re all pretty awful at times, particularly when we’re placed in an environment and dynamic that involves power and risk combined. I do wonder if we don’t sometimes falsely romantically invent an era in which politicians were better behaved than they are now. Luckily I’m much too young to really know about that sort of thing. Vastly too young. I mean, I can … ok

    Along the same lines, we should remove laws that protect politicians from defamation – again, they should be bound by the same rules as the rest of us.

    Um, we defame politicians every single day on social media with complete impunity. I actually think we should be a little quiet about defamation laws where politicians are concerned.

    No heckling, fighting and name-calling:

    No, that ought be left to the people they are supposed to represent, you know, on Facebook, Twitter, social media generally where such things are normative. God forbid that our representatives actually reflect us in some way. Unfortunately politics and parliament is a debate-based reality. I certainly agree it gets pathetic at times, but pollies are ordinary people when all’s said and done. And really, it’s not that they do it, it’s that they do it without any quality that really upsets us. Paul Keating was the biggest smartarse in the modern political area, yet we love him for it, for the most part.

    When politicians disrespect each other they are disrespecting us

    This just isn’t true, for me. What they are doing is presenting and reflecting us, rather precisely, as it happens. We seem to want to demand that they evince a version of us that doesn’t actually exist.

    I have to admit, but in doing so I’m happy to be contradicted, that I tend to think that articles like this are ultimately designed to make us feel like we’re better than we really are. The question of how much politicians represent and reflect who we are is a rather complex one.

    I appreciate that in the context of democracy we can reasonably demand that politicians be leaders and resolve to commit to a standard higher than might be expected of the general community, but we seem to be curiously equivocal as to whether we want politicians to be “leaders” or “representatives/servants”. It’s kinda hard to be both. Sure, we often expect them to actually be both, but to also have the wisdom of Solomon to know when exactly to be which thing, even though there is likely very few moments when a public consensus will exist with regard to that. I guess we can trot out a whole bunch of platitudinous aphorisms about “leaders who serve” etc, but that doesn’t deal with the practicalities of how and when to do either or both or one or the other or neither or whatever other combos there are ….

    For me the biggest problems with our political system revolve around internal largesse and the corruption that follows politicians’ relationship with external corporate and lobby-group forces, all of which tend to subsume and ruin the political process. In the end I care less about whether our politicians are being polite to each other and more about whether they are conspiring with someone to subvert democracy.

    #FIN – Federal ICAC Now.

    P.S. Nicely written piece, Kate.

  3. King1394

    I would simply like to see our Parliamentarians attending the full Parliamentary sittings. I hate it when I hear an amazing speech that is well argued and seems to have good research underpinning it, and then I find out that this was delivered to a nearly empty chamber. What do the members of parliament have to do that is more important than attending the sittings? To add insult, after not paying any attention whatsoever to the debate, the bells are rung and MPs stream in to cast their vote along Party lines, often leaving again as soon as possible.

  4. Arthur Plottier

    I agree with the comments about the behavior of the politicians specially during question time, but having said that IMO in many cases Paul Keating was spot on.

  5. Möbius Ecko

    How about making them accountable under Fiduciary Law?

  6. Miriam English

    Excellent, Kate. I couldn’t agree more.

    I recently organised a meeting for Kris Bullen of the Online Direct Democracy (ODD) Party to meet and chat with some local people in the nearby town. When putting up posters and chatting to people I couldn’t help noticing how people were not interested until I mentioned that politicians get into power and suddenly all their promises are forgotten and they do whatever they want, ignoring the wishes of the people, and that this was what ODD was intended to fix. Their eyes lit up and they became animated — progressive or conservative, it didn’t matter. They all have a pretty uniformly low opinion of politicians. (Well, there are some exceptions. Our local independent, Peter Wellington, is unlike other politicians in that he spends most of his time trying to actually help and actually tells the truth!! And he even replies to his emails! Both progressive and conservative voters have great respect for him.)

    The original reason why politicians aren’t held to the same laws about lies and defamation is that ages ago politicians used to get tangled up in frivolous law suits all the time, intended to waste all their time and bankrupt them. The laws that protect them from that however, have now been used by unscrupulous politicians to corrupt normal process and wreck the very thing it was meant to protect. We need to criminalise political misbehavior while at the same time criminalising frivolous law suits. But that’s tricky because we also need to be able to bring genuine law suits against our politicians without putting ourselves in danger.

    Ensuring they behave like adults instead of two-year-olds is much easier. We need guidelines for good behavior and bad behavior (because we can’t rely on those twerps to use good sense). If they disobey them then they should suffer genuine consequences. Initially monetary fines. If they persist, then loss of their expense accounts; further bad behavior, loss of their pension; if continued, loss of their job.

    They already have a set of rules they’re supposed to adhere to, but they don’t, and the umpire (the “Speaker”?) is really slack about enforcing it. Even when they do, it is just a matter of being sent out of the room. Boo hoo. It all seems to be just a big joke to them… especially when the Speaker is someone fiercely biased like Bronwyn Bishop who lowered her position into the sewer.

    Bringing such a change into effect would at first slow things down terribly, as each speech would have lights flashing all over the place calling them out, rightly and wrongly, for lies. After a few of the liars had been severely punished and the wrongful accusers similarly dealt with things would start to move more smoothly… but it might take a while. Those dicks are so used to lying their tiny little hearts out I think many of them wouldn’t know how to speak only the truth. It has become alien to them. I can imagine one of them complaining, “How are we supposed to win if we have to worry about the facts all the time?”

  7. vixstar

    To me watching what the Liberal party and the media did to Julia Gillard was soul destroying. It made me want to join her political party and fight these extremists that think its quite normal to lie and call our prime minister a bitch. Her father lay dying and they never gave up.

    The legacies that she left were incredible, with her team and Windsor, Oakeshot it was breathtaking the amount of changes brought school improvements, I remember going back to my old school for a function and there was an assembly hall, we had stood out in the elements for 6 years in rain, hail and 40 degree heat. My child and thousands of others had the same amazing experience of schools getting new infrastructure.

    I hear the lies but its only one desperate party that are doing it, Bill shorten has brought hope back into our conversation, long may he rule!

  8. Kaye Lee

    Excellent article as always Kate. So many things went through my mind while reading it.

    What other entry level job requires no experience, no qualifications, has no performance criteria or quality assessment, and has a starting salary of $200,000 with enormous perks attached?

    Did you realise that women in Switzerland only got the vote in 1971, almost a decade after Indigenous Australians.

    When giving the George Winterton lecture in 2012, Malcolm Turnbull spoke about “Republican virtues: Truth, leadership and responsibility”. He said “If you love your country, have an interest in politics or policy, and care deeply about our nation’s future, there is nothing more certain to arouse your fury and invite your contempt than listening to an entire House of Representatives Question Time.”

    I find parliamentary tradition more like going to mass than going to work. Starting off with a prayer???? People wandering around with ceremonial maces???? Dragging the Speaker to the chair???? The whole process is not designed to be productive or constructive. Very early in the piece, I learned to move a motion that “we move into committee” which means actually discussing things rather than adhering to debating rules – it was the only way to get things done with some organisations who were more filled with their own importance than focused on achieving anything.

    I agree on the need for a federal ICAC. To tell us that the current system is tickety poo is insulting.

    How come politicians don’t realise that the money in Treasury belongs to US and we may not agree with the way they are spending it to employ their mates and to fly around the country, and world, having their photo taken. I don’t want my taxes spent on war toys!

    Sadly I find our politicians paltry people…..time for a wine on the verandah looking at the stars and listening to the ocean.

    You’re the voice, try and understand it
    Make a noise and make it clear
    Oh-wo-wo-wo, oh-wo-wo-wo
    We’re not gonna sit in silence
    We’re not gonna live with fear
    Oh-wo-wo-wo, oh-wo-wo-wo

  9. Kaye Lee

    Miriam,

    I am not sure if ODD have any connection with “Senator Online (Internet Voting Bills/Issues)” who, in the last election, distributed their preferences to the Australian Fishing and Lifestyle Party which is a euphemism for the gun lobby.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/federal-election-2013/results/senate/qld/

  10. Backyard Bob

    I remember going back to my old school for a function and there was an assembly hall,

    Kevin Rudd is on the phone……something about…..fluck Julia….it’s kinda garbled …

  11. Backyard Bob

    Kaye Lee,

    ODD have any connection with “Senator Online”

    They are the same party. One of their candidates is a Katter Party man. ODD is exactly its acronym.

  12. Kaye Lee

    And Katter’s son-in-law is the one trying to import those rapid fire guns…Addlers or something like that. Just another front for a lobby group by the sounds of things 🙁

  13. Miriam English

    Kaye, I had no idea. I’ll have to make further enquiries about that. If they intend preferencing the gun lobby then I will have nothing further to do with them. It would be a pity though. The idea of the people being able to have a real voice in government has great attraction to me.

    Bob, how can Katter be one of their candidates when he has his own party? You must have that wrong.

  14. diannaart

    While the behaviour of politicians would see them unceremoniously sacked from the private sector…. private business having no more moral path than to please shareholders, ain’t exactly something to imitate either.

    I am remain in favour of 6 monthly reviews; I had to endure these when I was a public servant – why not our pollies? Hopefully, the KPO’s are more relevant than mine were 🙁

  15. Miriam English

    Thanks for the alert Kaye and Bob. I’ve just sent an email to find out.

  16. gee

    if for no other reason, we should all vote for greens or independents to put the fear of the power of the public up the collective jackses of the 2 majors.

  17. Kaye Lee

    Miriam,

    The Pirate Party asked them last election who they would be preferencing…this was their response…

    “We’re running in Qld, NSW, Vic and Tas with a focus on NSW. We’d like to discuss any potential for like for like or swap preferences (e.g. Qld high for NSW high) or at least agreeing to preference each other before the larger minor parties (Sex Party, CDP, DLP, Family First, Katter, Lib Dem, Nick Xenophon, One Nation, Palmer, Shooters, Wikileaks, Aus Christ), LDP and then the majors (Lib, Lab, Greens).”

    https://pirateparty.org.au/wiki/Preferences/Senator_Online

    In Queensland Senate count …

    “•1,053 (0.04%) votes originally from Senator Online (Internet Voting Bills/Issues) distributed to Australian Fishing and Lifestyle Party (Daniel McCARTHY) via preference 3.

    In NSW….

    •2,502 (0.06%) votes originally from Senator Online (Internet Voting Bills/Issues) distributed to Stable Population Party (William BOURKE) via preference 4.

    In Victoria…

    •5,966 (0.18%) votes originally from Senator Online (Internet Voting Bills/Issues) distributed to Bullet Train For Australia (Mark ERWOOD) via preference 3.

    In Tasmania…

    •104 (0.03%) votes originally from Senator Online (Internet Voting Bills/Issues) distributed to Australian Independents (Neville Ward SOLOMON) via preference 3.

  18. Kate M

    Thanks for all the interesting comments and thoughts all. It’s one of the great things about the AIMN site – the great discussion 🙂

  19. Matters Not

    King1394 said:

    I hate it when I hear an amazing speech that is well argued and seems to have good research underpinning it, and then I find out that this was delivered to a nearly empty chamber. …

    And for very good reasons. While you only ‘heard’ it, Members of Parliament also watched it on the very good technological communications available within the ‘House’ and from their own offices surrounded by their staff.

    As for:

    What do the members of parliament have to do that is more important than attending the sittings?

    Actually, the MPS and in particular the Ministers, are doing ‘work’ as well as listening and watching the ‘debates’. Things like meeting delegations, talking to advisors, making decisions re future legislation and the possible options and so on. Then there’s party business, including their own position, factional meetings, and the like.

    Fact is, the Ministers who are actually in the Chamber are either on ‘roster’ or, more often than not, running away from decision making.

    While ‘amazing speeches’ might influence the ‘punters’, the chances of them resonating with MPs are extremely small. The role of MPs is to vote on party lines. To do what the ‘whip’ demands. Of course it could be done remotely for significant less cost. (But that’s a separate issue.)

    MPs who don’t have an well developed ‘ideological’ position are very, very rare. And those who are influenced by speeches in the House will have a very short political career. ?

  20. Matters Not

    Just read Backyard Bob May 29, 2016 at 5

    And can only agree with the points he makes and the issues identified. But then again, given he’s supposedly one of my many alia .. Or vice versa … Can never be sure about accusations.

    And besides I think he’s from Queensland.

    Just jokin ?

  21. bobrafto

    Anyone out there with some legal knowledge?

    If so consider this:
    The LNP is a corporation and I would presume so is the Labor Party.

    They are a business who vie for our votes every 3 years to represent us for which we pay them handsomely.

    The LNP made it very clear that they wouldn’t be making cuts to health, education and the ABC prior to the last election and a vast majority of the population took Abbott on his word and voted in his party.

    The first Hockey budget broke every promise the LNP made to the voting public.

    This is a clear case of misrepresentation.

    ACCC: https://www.accc.gov.au/consumers/misleading-claims-advertising/false-or-misleading-claims

    Creating a false or misleading impression

    Businesses (corporations) are not allowed to make statements that are incorrect or likely to create a false impression.

    For example, businesses cannot make false claims about:

    the quality, style, model or history of a product or ‘service’.

    Therefore it can be argued that when the ‘no changes’ to Medicare (a service) promised by the LNP contained a hidden cost of a $7 tax hike dressed up as a co-payment for every visit to the GP plus the other costly changes.

    The voters also known as consumers were deliberately misled.

    Therefore I would assume a case can be made against the LNP and the person who made the misrepresentation on behalf of the LNP.

    Could a class action be lodged against Abbott and the LNP?

    If so that would certainly change political behavior.

  22. Backyard Bob

    MN,

    And besides I think he’s from Queensland.

    I don’t see how Lilley – Sandgate – Deagon – Eventide Booth – places me in Queensland at all. Could be anywhere in the UK for all you know…….

  23. Miriam English

    Kaye and Backyard Bob, I received a reply from Kris Bullen of ODD. This year ODD will not be doing any preferences. Bob Katter has no connection with ODD.

  24. Matters Not

    Yep BYB, the possibilities are endless. But using the concept(s) of ‘balance of probabilities’ or perhaps the ‘preponderance of evidence’, I would suggest a more local contributor.

    Perhaps, one day we could run into each other and have an ale or two. Your shout of course.

    I would only bring wit, intelligence, arrogance, wisdom and the like to the bar while you could bring … dollars. Perhaps.

    Time for bed.

  25. Backyard Bob

    Miriam,

    Kaye and Backyard Bob, I received a reply from Kris Bullen of ODD. This year ODD will not be doing any preferences. Bob Katter has no connection with ODD.

    I don’t care that “Bob Katter” doesn’t have a connection with ODD. I never made that assertion or implication. Did you look at my Wayback link? They have a Katter person as a candidate. I want to know why, since they advertise themselves as “progressive”, how Richard Hinkler is progressive? I’m not asserting he isn’t, I’m merely asking how he is.

  26. Backyard Bob

    I would only bring wit, intelligence, arrogance, wisdom and the like to the bar while you could bring … dollars. Perhaps.

    Let’s both pray for a third person, then… 🙂

  27. jim

    I’d like to bet my right nut that without the media telling outright lies for this Liberal government we would be living in a much better country anyway………..Just a few cold hard facts for your consideration. In 1983 Frazer, with Howard as treasurer, handed over an economy ranked 20th in the world. In 1996 Keating handed over an economy ranked 6th in the world. By 2007 Howard and Costello had let the economy slip to 10th in the world. In 2013 Rudd, Gillard handed over the best preforming economy in the world, 3 gold star Triple AAA credit ratings after steering Australia through the GFC.
    Joe Hockey inherited a deficit of under 18 billion dollars. (MYINFO) Scott Morrison has done nothing and he has just stood by and watched as the deficit has grown to 60 billion and still growing. So on what basis do the neo conservatives, or anyone else for that matter, maintain the ludicrous idea that the Liberals, self-righteous liars in LNP are better financial managers?

  28. Miriam English

    Backyard Bob, I did look at the wayback link.

    I should explain what ODD is, and why their lineup might change more than other parties, and why that doesn’t matter as much as it might for other parties. One of the unusual things about the ODD party is that it has no policies other than enabling citizens to have a direct say in all political votes. That means the ODD party member, when he or she votes on something would be directed by the votes of the citizens in their electorate. The ODD representative truly represents the citizens, not some party views and not their own views. Their job is to carry the wishes of the people directly.

    This would be a big disappointment to anybody who got into politics for a life of easy money by having their hand out to wealthy interests. There would be no potential for corrupt deals because the citizen vote is clear and seen by all. An ODD representative who didn’t abide by the vote of their own citizens would be quickly booted out of the party. This also means it is extremely difficult to raise money for the party — special interests, whether they are corporations or unions, don’t get to have any power over the way ODD party members vote.

    It would also be frustrating for someone who was a committed ideologue, whether left or right, because they would not be voting for their own beliefs, but for what the citizens want. In fact Kris said ODD Party meetings have quite spirited discussions because they have both conservative and progressive members, but they remain discussions because they are merely individuals’ opinions and don’t have any effect upon the party. They can still work together to enable the vote of citizens. That, in itself, is something of a marvel in an era of increasing political polarisation.

  29. Miriam English

    Jim, the really interesting thing about deficit vs surplus is that it is virtually meaningless. I can’t think of a better measure of economic well-being than standard of living. After all, the economy is supposed to serve us, right? We are not supposed to serve the economy. Surplus or deficit as a percentage of GDP is a more meaningful statistic, but it still doesn’t have anything useful to say about the health of the country. I find this utterly fascinating.

    Have a look at this list of countries by surplus or deficit as a percentage of GDP.

    https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2222rank.html
    (There is a download link above the first column which delivers a bare text version without the date data.)

    The most astonishing thing is how little it correlates with a healthy economy and a healthy population. It looks almost random. Australia sits in the middle — nothing particularly special. We don’t have an exceptional deficit in the larger scheme of things. There are healthy and sick economies scattered apparently randomly all over the data set — some sitting almost next to each other in the list.

    Greece, whose economy is in tatters is almost right next to Canada, which has a very healthy economy with extremely well-off citizens, and Australia is very close to both.

    Afghanistan, which has one of the most destroyed economies in the world is right next to Saudi Arabia, one of the most wealthy countries in the world, with both running almost the two highest deficits/GDP in the world.

    On the other end, Malta and Norway are right next to each other as having high surpluses per GDP, yet Malta has nearly a quarter of its population in or near poverty, while Norway is one of the most egalitarian countries in the world and has possibly the highest standard of living.

  30. Jack

    Jim, 10th in 2007. what were we in 2013? No 1?

  31. Steve Laing - makeourvoiceheard.com

    Another great article, and with many of the ideas and concepts I’ve discussed on my site. The reality is that it shouldn’t be too hard to evolve from the current disaster zone, to a more involved and capable democracy, it just needs people to stop voting for the big parties.

  32. Jack

    Steve, It would be great if that was the case, but the majority vote for themselves, not the counrty

    1887 Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh , had this to say about the fall of the Athenian Republic some 2,000 years prior:
    “A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government.
    A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury.
    From that moment on, the majority will always vote for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse over loose fiscal policy, (which is) always followed by a Dictatorship”.

  33. Backyard Bob

    Miriam,

    I should explain what ODD is.

    Well, if you want to be unknowingly patronising, yeah, go for it, but you might want to consider that ODD has had at least 3 self-promoting articles printed here in the last few months and I’ve been involved in the discussion thereof. That discussion was, frankly, bitterly disappointing. Here’s a refresher:

    https://theaimn.com/the-future-of-democracy-is-here/

    The response I got to my concerns was less than satisfactory. Far less. Maybe you could do a better job.

  34. Miriam English

    Jack, that’s the rationale the right-wing use for austerity. Don’t believe it. They say that the economy can’t afford to give people “gifts” and that people need to live without. The problem is, it just isn’t true. There is no obvious reason why an enlightened democracy can’t continue for as long as there are people. Only severely damaged people endlessly want increasingly more money. For healthy people, having enough works fine. Once a normal person has enough for a comfortable lifestyle they find many other things are far more important than money — family, learning, entertainment, sightseeing, exercise, games, hobbies…

    Of course, you can have large parts of society damaged by pathological media. The existing mainstream media in Australia, modelled largely after the mainstream media in USA, work as hard as they can to generate fear, insecurity, greed, and envy in its audience. In that case you could have the bulk of people forever frantically grasping for ever more even if they’re better off than most of the world. This is healthy state for people.

    We Australians are incredibly well off. Our problems are mostly of our own making, through our government. Destruction of Medicare and loss of employment opportunities come from a government convincing us that we are so very badly off that as a nation we need to be “fiscally responsible” and “live within our means” and by their removal of local trade protections in the interests of “free trade”. Of course it doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t need to. It just needs to make people worried. The fear created by ominous forecasts from the government and shifting jobs overseas, magnified by the hysteria of the mainstream media makes people believe it is inevitable and that we deserve the ensuing austerity. The only fly in the ointment is that we see millionaires and billionaires who, not only aren’t cutting back, but are being handed a bonanza from the very money we painfully saved. We are being conned.

    We can be a luxurious, wealthy, altruistic country, living without the dogs of fear yapping at our heels, and do it on less than what we currently have. And we can do it without austerity if we keep public the things the public sphere does most efficiently (health, mass transport, education, water, big electricity, communications, long-term and blue-sky research) and keep private the things the private sector does well (manufacturing, distribution, decentralised markets, personal transport, personal energy, decentralised food production, diverse mass media). But we need a government that ensures these things work smoothly instead of breaking them; a government that sees the value in multiple approaches to problems instead of thinking one answer fits all problems; a government that protects our country from the depredations of monopolies (especially media monopolies) and bullying giant corporations instead of rolling over for them. And we especially need a government that is honest and open, not one that fears freedom of information; not one that hides behind impenetrable walls of secrecy.

  35. Miriam English

    Backyard Bob, sorry. My intention wasn’t to speak patronisingly. Yeah. At times I feel a little impatient with the lack of progress on this. Maybe I should join the ODD. I certainly qualify as odd enough. 🙂

  36. Miriam English

    Crap! in my post above at 10:42 am I made a baaad typo.
    “This is healthy state for people.”
    was supposed to be:
    “This is not a healthy state for people.”

  37. Miriam English

    Bob, rereading my comment I can’t see how you would interpret it as patronising.

  38. Backyard Bob

    Miriam,

    It’s cool. For me the ODD concept is interesting, and appealing to certain feelings and sentiments, but I find its model dangerously flawed and naive. It looks like a Grade 7 Social Studies project more than a serious attempt to “revolutionise” the system. I mean, I like the PollyWeb site, but there are issues that need to be sorted.

    I’ve spent a lot of time in Maleny. I know what cooksville looks like. It’s really pretty on the outside but when you look deeper – a little bit spooky. 😉

  39. Backyard Bob

    Bob, rereading my comment I can’t see how you would interpret it as patronising.

    It was your opening remark. Like I needed to be told what ODD is, even after I’d just posted stuff about them. And you weren’t involved in the last thread discussion, so … Anyway, it doesn’t matter. I have a cream donut and a cup of tea so my care factor right now is pretty much zero.

  40. SGB

    A lot of people seem to be on board with the establishment of a Federal ICAC. I note that apart from the Greens there is no support for this with the big two, therefore I would say that the Federal ICAC, is the most likely reform that is do-able over the next few years.
    If we can garner sufficient noise we might even force the ALP to make it an election promise this election because whichever of the two bgg ears comes up with it as a policy would be certain to win!

  41. Backyard Bob

    SGB,

    The problem for Labor with regard to a Fed ICAC is that they’d look cynical and opportunistic if they turned around and supported the idea, given everything they’ve said and given the way they’ve voted in the Parliament. It would certainly be a welcome change of heart, but they’d have to spin it carefully to avoid a perception of cheap populist politics.

    The hole they’ve dug for themselves over this is rather deep, sadly.

  42. townsvilleblog

    We can spot the lies, what angers me is when the LNP politicians tell the truth, as in what they want to do to we ordinary Australians. For example they will make medication more expensive, which if you have several chronic illnesses is the last thing you want to hear. The tax cuts for billionaires and the wage cut for workers is another truth that the apathetic Aussie seems not to have picked up on. Our carbon pollution level is growing because the LNP didn’t want their billionaire mates paying for the pollution they cause, in fact in every area of government the LNP have proven to be absolutely hopeless, we must oust the on the 2nd of July.

  43. diannaart

    I fear the massive control the feds have over our health – they’re virtually dictating to doctors now, what they can and can’t provide, forced to pay more in taxes – how f*cked is that? governments can hit doctors for more tax but not big business!

    I manage my health, with the help of my GP, very well, have managed to stop the Panadeine Forte and now onto Lyrica – which is not supposed to work for fibromyalgia – except it does, but my GP is not supposed to prescribe Lyrica. WTF?

  44. Buff McMenis

    Personally, I’d prefer the “silver bullets” for a much more underhand and fatal reason!! Oh, and probably a pistol to shoot them too .. I’m no good with rifles these days!! Just joking, but there are times .. >;-[

  45. al loomis

    ” for those of us in functioning democracies at least –”
    that’s where you leave me. oz is not any kind of democracy. it is evolved aristocracy, with virtual civil wars called elections. but sovereignty remains in the monarch, not the people, which is why politicians can legally tell the people, “don’t you worry about that.” they are modern aristocrats, and the people are modern plebs. but they are not citizens, and they do not think like citizens. they are fore-lock tuggers by education, acculturated submissives.
    change will not happen without revolution. since ozzies are happy enough in their second-class life, and even ‘progressives can not imagine real democracy, there will be no revolution.

  46. Miriam English

    al loomis, if you think the Australian people are submissive serfs then you haven’t been listening to what people think.
    Tony Abbott good bloke or dickhead?

    And do a quick search on YouTube for “Malcolm Turnbull lies”.

    Australians don’t trust their government. Historically we vote governments out, not in.

    We are better off than most countries, but are nevertheless completely dissatisfied with the incompetent ninnies running the country, and with good reason. There will be change, but it is as difficult to dislodge the crooks with their snouts in the trough as it is to pull out a tick. We will get there though. We’ve had honest politicians in power before. All we need is one that changes the ground rules in a way that makes real penalties for lying and misleading the people, stops the corruption of political donations and makes elections funded only by Treasury, and makes secretive government illegal. It will happen. Impatience is increasing and I think even the politicians feel it, even insulated behind their wall of yes-men.

    Personally, I think the coming climate change disasters will be the trigger. We all know we’ve been lied to for decades now. When we get large-scale inundation of coastal areas, along with crippling droughts; after the Barrier Reef has died and the billions of earnings from it have evaporated; after coal exports have entirely dried up and Australia faces international sanctions for its emissions recalcitrance, there will have to be change from even the most corrupt politicians.

  47. Miriam English

    Watch what happens when some of the most expensive beachfront properties are lost. They don’t care that poor people are already losing their homes in Bangladesh, but when it starts happening to the most wealthy people? Wham! The rules will suddenly change.

  48. al loomis

    the distinguishing characteristic of the serf mentality is that the limit of their aspiration is to hope for a kind master. politicians are crooked and/or incompetent because the structure of their society allows it, and the people tolerate it. they tolerate it because they have no means of preventing it, nor means of discovering it until great harm is done.
    read the swiss constitution. compare and contrast.

  49. Miriam English

    al loomis, the politicians have rigged the game for their own benefit and made it close to impossible to change it through normal channels unless we get that rarity, an honest politician in power. Failing that either one of two possibilities will eventually happen: there will be a nasty uprising, though I doubt that as Australians dislike riots and bloodshed, or everybody will end up ignoring the politicians.

    The second is already happening with regard to renewable energy. The idiot politicians are dragging their feet while the people and businesses are installing so many solar panels and investing in windpower that it is making the big coal-fired power generators uneconomic and they’re whingeing to the politicians who then try to stuff the genie back in the bottle… which of course is impossible. We are proceeding without the politicians.

    Victoria, in some ways I think that cartoon explains nicely the insane power dynamic, but it makes a big mistake (because it comes from a silly USA libertarian) that taxes are theft. People like that don’t believe in society. They want to go it alone. They don’t realise that most of what we have results from us all working together as a society and that taxes are what maintain that society. If they truly tried living on their own as rugged, distrustful individuals they would quickly find out how ridiculous lone humans are. We gain our great strength from each other. His is a childishly over-simplistic view which sees only a tiny fraction of the ramifications of people peacefully living together in a powerful society. The only thing he is right about it the insanity of the power dynamic between the politicians and the rest of us. But even that isn’t as simple as he makes out. It is only a bad thing when the politicians badly misuse their power. Not all politicians do.

  50. al loomis

    let’s put it a different way: why don’t you want democracy?

  51. Miriam English

    al loomis, who are you addressing?

  52. zoltan balint

    Dear Kate truth is what you believe and one of the problems with information dissemination these days is that you will be challenged very quickly so you have to believe 110% your own truth. Politicians are a good example where anything less is the end so they protect theit version of truth. Elections are nothing else but a time when the majority can indicate what their truth is. BUT how do we determine or form out truth when facts are not given to us and this is the issue since politicians will only give us the facts that support their own truth.

  53. Miriam English

    zoltan, what people believe often has very little to do with truth. Truth and reality are independent of people. The universe doesn’t care what we believe. Truth and reality will remain long after we ridiculous humans have disappeared.

    We have a big problem in society because many people think that belief and truth are the same thing. Religious people especially, arrogantly think that they can pick and choose a reality that they think feels nice to them. Politicians seem to feel that there is no objective reality and that they can make the truth whatever they want through sufficiently repetitive lies.

    Your final question is really important. How do we find out what is the truth when so many are attempting to deceive us? There have always been liars and propagandists, but this has become more crucial than ever considering the dangers currently arrayed against us: global warming, and the resulting risks of resource wars, and massive waves of refugees escaping the conflicts.

    Right now, more than ever, we need truth from our idiot politicians, not emphatic lies piled on more lies. Of course, given the recent past we’re unlikely to get truth. We each must analyse the world to try to uncover the truth ourselves.

    Once upon a time the mainstream media helped us with this analysis, though they have often been used by the wealthy and/or politicians as channels for lies and propaganda. Now the mainstream media appear to be directly opposed to the truth and are waging a war upon us, the ordinary people. We can’t rely upon them. We have to rely on independent media, like AIMN. We have to do our own research and try to avoid the sticky webs that trap unwary travellers, lest we become caught up in ridiculous conspiracy theories and other nuttiness.

    When we can’t trust our politicians or our mainstream media there is no easy answer, unfortunately.

  54. zoltan balint

    Miriam, I believe that Corry Bernardy (is that how you spell it) is a dangerous idiot because of what I have seen and heard so to me the truth is Corry is an idiot. I do know some people that believe everything he says and to them he is telling the only truth. So who is correct and remember both the people I know and I believe we have the facts to support our view of the truth. Truth is thus a subjective viewpoint not a universal law.

  55. Miriam English

    zoltan, no. Reality doesn’t conform to what people want it to be. Many people interpret the truth of the real world to be whatever their preconceptions condition them to. For many it is a complete fantasy. However some at least try to approach the real truth.

    truth (n)
    .1. a fact that has been verified
    .2. conformity to reality or actuality
    .3. a true statement [syn: {true statement}] [ant: {falsehood}]
    .4. the quality of nearness to the truth or the true value [syn: {accuracy}] [ant: {inaccuracy}]

    Science is a set of tools we can use to home in what the independent, real truth is. Science helps to eliminate subjective bias using techniques such as double-blind trials to ensure the researcher’s own preconceptions don’t affect the data. Scientists use statistics to find out whether a result is genuine or whether it can be explained by random chance. There are many such systems science has developed to get at the actual truth of the universe. This is the power of science. This is why it has consistently succeeded where all religions have failed. It actually uncovers truth.

    For many (most?) people actual truth is unimportant. Self-deception rules their lives. For them, truth is interchangeable with fiction. They genuinely think they can bend truth to their own will. It is a sad measure of how divorced from the real world we have become. In some ways the human race has become pathetic. Maybe Harquebus is right. Maybe we are screwed. [sigh]

  56. zoltan balint

    Miriam – I’m a chemist with post grad in environmental science and partial degree in psychology. I know the theory of truth but my comments are about what I see in practice. ” … we are screwed.” Only until we fix it.

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