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Red’s Under the Bed in Tasmania or Uncle Eric’s Got Your Back !

One of the odd provisions of our now dilapidated and ramshackle Constitution is the manner in which the composition of our Senate is mandated : each original state gets twelve senators and the mainland Territories, two each – a total of seventy six. Paul Keating once designated this esteemed group of odd balls as ‘unrepresentative swill’.

What Keating was pointing to is the way that some states perhaps have a disproportionate influence on our upper House and the wisdom emanating from the Red Chamber. For instance, Tasmania with a population of around half a million has the same Senate representation as New South Wales, with a bit over eight million, Victoria at six and a half million and Queensland around five million and so on.

So, with this clear imbalance you would be forgiven if you thought that our Senate is supporting a gerrymander : defined as ‘a practice intended to establish an unfair political advantage for a particular party or group by manipulating boundaries (and populations) in such a way as to favour one group over another’.

In effect, the make up of our Senate does clearly favour the likes of Tasmania and to a lesser extent the Territories by giving their respective senators disproportionate influence. Hence the need periodically for the government of the day to ‘bribe’ certain senators to get their vote on a piece of scurrilous legislation to, for instance ban humane medical evacuation of sick and ailing refugees from remote Pacific islands – looking at you Senator Lambie !

So why do I raise this now, you may ask ? Well it was during the week when Senate Estimates were underway – a bit like a Star Chamber where senators get to ask difficult questions of public servants and others : questions like “who didn’t get a Cartier watch at Australia Post ?” or trick questions like “how much did you pay for a block of land at Badgery’s Creek valued at $3million ?”

Or as happened when Tasmania’s crazy uncle, Eric Abetz fronted up and asked three Australian citizens of Chinese heritage :

“Can I ask each of the three witnesses … to tell me whether they are willing to unconditionally condemn the Chinese Communist Party …”

What an odd question even from uncle Eric. Can you imagine being asked in another setting whether you were prepared to unconditionally denounce and condemn the Liberal Party of Australia : the National Party not so much of an issue as nobody admits to being a supporter of the Nationals do they ?

For some reason it reminds me of the question posed of the philosopher Voltaire by a priest providing Last Rites to the dying Voltaire : “do you renounce Satan and all his works” asked the Priest. Voltaire never one to be easily tricked is said to have replied, “Father, would you not agree that this is no time to be making enemies ?”

Wisely, the three Australian Chinese undergoing questioning probably thought of Voltaire and declined to answer this nasty line of questioning.

Uncle Eric says there is nothing racist about his question and he just doesn’t want people of an Asian persuasion coming to this country and harbouring feelings of affection for the land of their birth and its political arrangements. A far as Eric is concerned, if you respect a regime that has in twenty years brought a billion people out of poverty into middle-class prosperity you are a ratbag and you should be sent ‘home’ preferably after spending ten years on one of Spud Dutton’s remote islands.

Senate Estimates is the best show in town, perhaps they could learn something from SAS and do us all a favour by pushing Uncle Eric out of a helicopter backwards : now that’s reality TV !


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26 comments

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  1. Alc

    It’s the sonorous voice too that instead of implying gravitas sends me to sleep after I piss myself laughing. Still as Tassie has just devolved into the 50’s what is one to expect. If it drifted further South, we could have Eric as Governor of Antarctica and reinstall Sarah Palin as Governor of Alaska. Now wouldn’t that sort out.the problems of the world.

  2. Gangey1959

    Our dear “aunty” erica betts.
    Isn’t he just a luvverly bloke. All he needs to complete his outfit is a pair of baggy at the hips pants, an pair of jack-boots and an armband.

    BTW. He’s not bald. He’s a solar powered arsehole who spends too much time indoors.

  3. Sully of Tuross Head

    Ahh, Dear Eric, all the wit, warmth, compassion and gentle but hearty voice of a Dr. Who Dalek.
    Tasmania should not be a State, best to divide it into 3 or 4 Local Government Shires and make it part of Victoria.

  4. Josephus

    Everyone to his Left is a communist, apparently. What rock has the poor fool been living under these past decades?

  5. Jack Cade

    Abetz channeling the repellent B.A Santamaria’s testosterone-free voice is enough to put me off him and his politics. Not to mention his bloodlines…

  6. Bob Parker

    What else would you expect from a guy who gets off on the thought of shagging the Sydney Harbour Bridge?

  7. Kronomex

    I keep waiting to hear, “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?” to spew from Erica McCarthy Cohn Betz festering cakehole.

  8. Jack Cade

    ‘Great uncle Otto did some good things’ said Erich’s brother about their Nazi ancestor, who organised trainloads of French Jews to be sent to concentration camps. Did not specify what ‘good things’ meant, and the Nuremberg trials didn’t mention any.
    And Erich’s daddy said ‘The only good unionist is a dead unionist’.
    Great bloodlines the lisping lad enjoys.

  9. Sully of Tuross Head

    I have no doubt at all that given Abetz’s background and upbringing that he is a Nazi, as is his equally hideous brother Peter.
    Imagine the family discussions at the dinner table, behind closed doors and away from those “Aussies” next door.

  10. Andrew Smith

    Interesting how some Labor and Liberal MPs robotically criticised Abetz and was reported in e.g. the ABC, SBS, Fairfax and Guardian, but not right wing or conservative FTA tv and NewsCorp which scoop up lots of older generation eye balls?

    Does not say much for conservative and morally principled leadership of the LNP, and its supporters, with much confected Sinophobia being dog whistled to (ageing) electorates, supporting White House policy and confirming their negative Asian/Chinese stereotypes?

  11. wam

    To my memory it is only recently the senate decided to do something they were just a subservient house to parliament with the christian 12 to stop the big states at that stage nsw, vic and SA from domination over wa qld and tassie.
    Now one could be forgiven for thinking a senator is an important requirement for governance but keating was right they are unrepresentative swill and, with the exception of jacqui and rex, tied to parties not their state.
    It is hard not to laugh when harradine:
    “A product of deep Catholicism, Labor roots and his adopted state, when he had a pivotal balance-of-power position in the Senate he did not flinch from using it to promote his causes and his constituency and he ensured the Howard government gave gold-plated treatment to Tasmania”.Now lambe will do the same and perhaps patrick will boost SA??

  12. Awashwithcolour

    Crikey, Eric Abetz really is a nasty and a bloviating expert of nothingness full of his own self importance.
    I can’t believe he’s still in parliament and l shudder to imagine what kind of Tasmanian would vote for this racist cretin.

  13. Arthur Baker

    I went to Abetz’s parliamentary website to send him a message. In that message, I asked him if he would mind “unconditionally condemning” Adolf Hiter’s Nazi government which once ruled the land of his birth. There was nothing of an abusive nature in the message, just a straightforward question. Then I clicked the SEND button. His webpage informed me that “ReCaptcha thinks you’re a robot”. It wouldn’t accept the message, no matter what I tried. OK, whatev’s. I wrote the message on paper and sent it snail-mail. No reply yet. Then again, with Aussie Post spending more on flashy Cartier watches than it does on delivery services, who knows where the hell the letter is now?

  14. New England Cocky

    Uhm ….. Terence Mills ….. FYI the two seats for each of the Northern Territory and ACT are actually unconstitutional because those locations are ”territories” NOT states. However, such a ”minor” constitutional impediment was not going to stop Garfield Barwick from declaring ”the people wanted it so it could happen” without the necessary constitutional referendum.

  15. Terence Mills

    NEC

    Do you remember a referendum was held in the Northern Territory on Saturday, 3 October 1998, to decide whether the Territory should become a State of the Commonwealth of Australia. The Country Liberal Party government, and its federal counterpart, supported the Yes case. … The referendum was defeated, 51.9% to 48.1%.

    John Howard said that had the referendum been successful he was prepared to grant the NT one additional senator to give them three.

    How does that work ?

  16. New England Cocky

    @Terence Mills: Unconstitutionally, even for a former Sydney North Shore solicitor like Howard. The Australian Constitution has specific requirements for the formation of new states and the NT referendum you referred to would have been only the first step in that process. Check out s128.

    I presume Howard was looking for a rusted on additional Liarbral vote in the Reps,

    The Commonwealth Constitution;
    1) s24 establishes the composition of the Reps;
    2) s27 allows Parliament to control the number of Members in the Reps;
    3) Chapter VI – New States ss121-124 outlines to procedure to form a new state.

  17. !

    The Australian Constitution like many other historical documents is badly in need of a fundamental rewrite but until that happens (there’s no sign of movement on the horizon), it’s the High Court that effectively makes the LAW. Hence it’s perfectly legal and constitutional that the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory have the representation they currently enjoy. Indeed their representation has survived a couple of challenges. It’s no longer the issue it once was.

    Here’s an informed discussion.

    https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Senate/Powers_practice_n_procedures/pops/pop64/c07

  18. paul walter

    High Court just further rigged by the government a la Coney Barrett, with two more conservative judges.

  19. !

    paul walter – without a Bill of Rights. the High Court in Australia is less influential/active than the Supreme Court in the US. Besides they must retire at 70 unlike in the US where there is no age limit. While they can be impeached over there – there’s only been one to date.

  20. paul walter

    Misses the point, !

  21. paul walter

    Second thoughts, I usually miss the point also. An obnoxious thing, the politicisation of judiciaries and erosion of concepts of habeas corpus.
    I was in a worse mood earlier. Change seems worse than usual and I fear for what I see some of the time. Forgive my abruptness.

  22. leefe

    Who is Red, and what of theirs is under someone’s bed?

  23. Terence Mills

    leefe

    “The Red Scare (1947-57) was a decade-long period of intense anti-communist paranoia in the United States. During this period, millions of ordinary Americans were paralysed by an irrational fear of ‘Reds under the bed’ – the belief that thousands of communist agents and sympathisers were secretly living amongst them, plotting or waiting to overthrow the government.”

  24. DrakeN

    Terence, that question might be in reference to a misapplied apostrophe.

  25. Dianne

    leefe – these days if it ends in an ‘”s” then an apostrophe is used before or even after. If in doubt – then bung one in – apparently. Soon we will have hi’s, her’s and we already have it’s when its is perfectly acceptable to indicate a possessive.

    The youth of today have no idea, LOL.

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