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Speak out

By Ad astra

Although recent public opinion polls have suggested that some people are losing faith in democracy, how many would prefer another style of governance? Very few! Yet our Australian democracy does have one telling defect: usually, we have a chance to vote for a federal government only once every three years. Once we’ve voted, we are then stuck with our choice until the next election.

How many times have you heard people lament this electoral helplessness? How many times have you read in the social media how much some voters would like to oust the federal Coalition government? How many times have you sensed the frustration people feel as they contemplate having to endure it until 2022? How many times have you heard both journalists and ordinary people express disappointment about the poor performance of Scott Morrison? Yet, we are stuck with him, and his cohort of incompetent, even corrupt ministers.

Incompetent? Think about the LNP’s longstanding lack of climate and energy policies. Think about its inability to take meaningful action in pursuit of the worldwide goal of zero net emissions by 2050. Think about its inadequate planning for drought, fire and flood emergencies. Think about how our PM rejected the offer of expert advice about these threats. Think about the LNP’s disjointed recovery plans after the recent fires and floods. Think about a stuttering economy now facing a fading surplus, rising unemployment and underemployment, a shamefully low Newstart allowance, chronic wage stagnation, poor productivity, and lagging R&D investment. Although on the face of it Morrison’s response to Covid19 might see reasonable, the way he is using it an excuse for a weak economy is not..

Corruption? Think about the continuing ‘sports rort’ saga, the ‘you are not allowed to see’ Gaetjens Report that says ‘there’s nothing to see here’ even though it contradicts the detailed Report of the Auditor General, the validity of which has been once more confirmed in Senate Estimates by those who prepared it. If you need more convincing, read this. Think about how 83% of the Coalition’s $3 billion, election-era Urban Congestion Fund went to government or marginal seats. Think about the Angus Taylor imbroglio, which seems to have no end. Think about the strife-ridden Nationals tearing themselves apart with self-interest. Think about the hard-core denial by the conservative rump of the LNP of the reality and consequences of climate change, and their ideologically driven advocacy for more coal-fired power stations at a time when the rest of the world is abandoning them. If these are not corrupt behaviours, what on earth are they?

So what can we do? This short piece is a clarion call to Speak out.

This is what this blogsite has been doing since 2008 via 868 posts to date – amounting to some two million words. How much influence The Political Sword has had is impossible to know. Yet we have had sufficient faith in it to continue it uninterruptedly for 12 years. In its earlier years each post might attract as many as 300 comments, but competition from the proliferation of alternative news and political websites has resulted in this falling away.

Aware of the limitations of our political website, this piece appeals to all of you to give us a hand, to let your voices be heard often and loudly. Do speak out!

One option is via online comments on this and other news and political blogsites, and through the social media. Some of you do this every day; we invite all of you to do likewise. You may even like to try your hand at writing a piece for The Political Sword. If this appeals to you, send an email to Ad Astra at 1tpsteam@gmail.com to obtain further information.

Another avenue is via your local newspaper. Many still exist. They carry local news, which is always of interest to locals. Hungry for content, they will welcome your contribution. You may have more difficulty having a ‘Letter to the Editor’ accepted by State or National newspapers, but it’s worth a try. As you know, some do actually get published!

Another option is via your local member of federal parliament. It matters not whether he or she is a member of your preferred party. Local members are there to represent your views in parliament and its committees, even if different from their own. Visit their electoral office and say to the member: “You may not agree with my views, but I insist you take them to your party room and your committees, and express them forcibly; I want your colleagues to know what I think”. The member is obliged to do so, to represent you as an individual voter.

Each of us has but a small voice, but thousands of small voices can make a lot of noise. We know that parliamentarians are very sensitive to letters sent to them by constituents, so long as they are courteous and respectful. While a couple of letters on the same subject might be ignored, more than a few ring alarm bells for them, and evoke a frightened response. We’ve known that for ages. Writing a letter has more potency than sending an email. Parliamentarians receive thousands of emails, which are too easy to delete.

Here is a website that gives advice about how to write to a parliamentarian. This example is particularly useful as it focuses on climate change, a subject you may wish to address with your MP. Here’s another resource.

Please join hands with us at The Political Sword to facilitate the changes to the governance of our country we all desire and deserve.

This article was originally published on The Political Sword.

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26 comments

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  1. Keitha Granville

    I try hard to speak out as often as possible, not sure if anyone reads or listens, but I agree that there is no point complaining unless you are trying.

  2. paul walter

    Sorry Ad astra, but I really wonder after the last three elections.

  3. Jack Cade

    Even with the appalling media bias in this country, NOBODY could possibly be unaware of the unabashed greed and dishonesty of ALL of the members of the Coalition government. And ipso facto, we have to concede that the nation just doesn’t give a shit.
    And now, I have finally decided that neither do I.
    Why should I?

  4. pierre wilkinson

    good work and thank you all at AIMN
    now back to grinding sulphur, charcoal and saltpetre

  5. Lambiechop Simplenell.

    Tell you what, you can have some good fun on the way though.

    An interview by Lee Sales of Angus Taylor tonight (after a unpleasant segment on Alinta Energy), f’rinstance.

    The idiot really tied himself up in knots and lost most of the points in what must have been an embarrassing duel for him.

  6. Kaye Lee

    We are asked to speak up when we see bullying or domestic violence or racial abuse. Our schools and workplaces are working hard to foster safer, more inclusive environments. We are all being asked to be more accountable.

    Except in government, which is going in the opposite direction.

    As I wrote on the AIMN, we have to tell them it’s not ok.

    “Like a drop in the vast ocean, each of us causes ripples as we move through our lives. The effects of whatever we do – insignificant as it may seem – spread out beyond us. We may never know what far-reaching impact even the simplest action might have on our fellow mortals. Thus we need to be conscious, all of the time, of our place in the ocean, of our place in the world, of our place among our fellow creatures.

    For if enough of us join forces, we can swell the tide of events – for good or for evil.”

    ― Margaret Weis, The Seventh Gate

  7. Jeff

    Speak out! When I do, people think I am a crazy person.

    I support the enactment of legislation that would establish a Federal Independent Commission Against Corruption, (FICAC). A Commission that has teeth to disqualify sitting Members of Parliament, when they are proven to be crooked.

    There are many ways to support a FICAC. Here is my strategy, not the usual petition method. It is a direct letter asking the State Premiers to step up and do their duty. The States, after all, are the principal stakeholders of Federation and the People need an ally in their corner, an ally with a bit more clout.

    1. letter to the Premiers.

    (Modified. 04.32. 2. March 2020)

    ============================

    Dear Premier,

    Re: FICAC.

    I write to you deeply concerned for the well-being of our democracy and to suggest that something ought to be done to protect it. That something is a Federal ICAC.

    It is deeply disturbing to witness the erosion of our democracy by corrupt Members of Parliament and feel powerless to act. I write to you because the States, I believe, do have some power to act. The States are the founding stakeholders of Federation, indeed the sine qua non that binds it, means the States, together, do have some kind of duty, some form of jurisdiction for the purposes of protecting and enforcing the Act.

    The Federal Executive entrusted to ensure good governance did act in bad faith, the Sports rorts fiasco makes evident an arrogant abuse of power at variance to the Constitution Act, and while that abuse is one example, it’s not practical or relevant at this point in time to list all the grievances, the gravamen is that one abuse of power undermines the core principles of Federation which, and I hope you will agree, is not acceptable.

    When one Political Party seeks to control our democracy, our representative Parliamentary system, by handing out cash as a clandestine way to manipulate the outcome of the electoral process in their favor is true, that act is repugnant to democracy.

    As a nation of law, a Federal Independent Commission Against Corruption must be established. The only way there can be an independent body is for the States to demand its legislative enactment as a matter of urgency. In simplest terms, it is the States going out to bat for the Sovereignty when that Sovereignty is denied justice and right.

    I await your earliest reply.

    Yours faithfully,

    ============================

    2. Send a copy of the letter or modify it and forward to each State Premier.

    STATE PREMIER OF VICTORIA.

    Daniel Andrews.
    Victoria.
    https://www.premier.vic.gov.au/contact-us/
    Mail
    Office of the Premier
    1 Treasury Place
    Melbourne, Victoria
    Australia, 3002

    Email
    daniel.andrews@parliament.vic.gov.au

    Telephone
    (03) 9651 5000

    STATE PREMIER OF QUEENSLAND.

    Annastacia Palaszczuk
    Premier of Queensland.
    Ministerial Office Postal Address
    PO Box 15185
    CITY EAST QLD 4002
    Ministerial Office
    1 William Street
    BRISBANE QLD 4000

    Phone: (07) 3719 7000
    Fax: n/a
    Email: thepremier@premiers.qld.gov.au

    https://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/members/current/list/MemberDetails?ID=2980517905

    STATE PREMIERS. NEW SOUTH WALES.
    Gladys Berejiklian
    Premier of New South Wales
    Willoughby Electorate Office

    AThe Hon. Gladys Berejiklian, MP
    280 Willoughby Road
    NAREMBURN NSW 2065P(02) 9439 4199F(02) 9439 9299.

    willoughby@parliament.nsw.gov.au http://www.gladys.com.au

    Ministerial Office
    AThe Hon. Gladys Berejiklian, MP
    52 Martin Place
    SYDNEY NSW 2000PostalThe Hon. Gladys Berejiklian MP
    GPO Box 5341
    SYDNEY NSW 2001P(02) 8574 5000F(02) 9339 5500

    https://www.nsw.gov.au/contact-us/contact-the-premier/

    STATE PREMIER. WESTERN AUSTRALIA.
    Mark McGowan
    Premier of Western Australia
    Contact details.

    Mail: Department of the Premier and Cabinet, 2 Havelock Street, WEST PERTH WA 6005
    Community Access Line: (08) 6552-6888
    e-Mail: wa-government@dpc.wa.gov.au
    Phone: (08) 6552-5000
    Fax: (08) 6552-5001

    https://www.premier.wa.gov.au/Ministers/Mark-McGowan/Pages/default.aspx

    STATE PREMIER. SOUTH AUSTRALIA.
    Steven Marshall
    Premier of South Australia

    Contact details.
    Email:
    premier@sa.gov.au

    Phone:
    08 8429 3232

    Address
    GPO Box 2343,
    ADELAIDE SA 5001

    Contact form.
    https://www.premier.sa.gov.au/contact

    STATE PREMIER. TASMANIA.
    Peter Gutwein
    Member of the Tasmanian House of Assembly

    Hobart Office
    Level 9, 15 Murray Street
    HOBART, TAS 7000
    Phone: (03) 6165 7650

    Electorate Office
    Ground Floor, Public Building
    53 St John Street
    LAUNCESTON, TAS 7250
    Phone: (03) 6777 1007

    http://www.premier.tas.gov.au/contact_your_premier

    ===========================

    3. Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act. 1901.

    COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA CONSTITUTION ACT – PREAMBLE

    WHEREAS the people of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, and Tasmania, humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God, have agreed to unite in one indissoluble Federal Commonwealth under the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and under the Constitution hereby established:

    And whereas it is expedient to provide for the admission into the Commonwealth of other Australasian Colonies and possessions of the Queen:

    Be it therefore enacted by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows

    COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA CONSTITUTION ACT – CLAUSE 3

    Proclamation of Commonwealth [see Note 2]

    It shall be lawful for the Queen, with the advice of the Privy Council, to declare by proclamation that, on and after a day therein appointed, not being later than one year after the passing of this Act, the people of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, and Tasmania, and also, if Her Majesty is satisfied that the people of Western Australia have agreed thereto, of Western Australia, shall be united in a Federal Commonwealth under the name of the Commonwealth of Australia. But the Queen may, at any time after the proclamation, appoint a Governor-General for the Commonwealth.

    COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA CONSTITUTION ACT – SECT 106

    Saving of Constitutions

    The Constitution of each State of the Commonwealth shall, subject to this Constitution, continue as at the establishment of the Commonwealth, or as at the admission or establishment of the State, as the case may be, until altered in accordance with the Constitution of the State.

    Saving of Power of State Parliaments 108. Saving of State laws 109. Inconsistency of laws 110. Provisions referring to Governor 111. States may surrender territory 112. States may levy charges for inspection laws 113. Intoxicating liquids 114. States may not raise forces. Taxation of property of Commonwealth or State 115. States not to coin money 116. Commonwealth not to legislate in respect of religion 117. Rights of residents in States 118. Recognition of laws etc. of States 119. Protection of States from invasion and violence 120. Custody of offenders against laws of the Commonwealth

  8. RosemaryJ36

    I honestly believe that sitting at home writing letters and petitions must be replaced by joining Extinction Rebellion, coordinating with all other existing activist groups and getting out on the streets to protest inaction on climate change and corruption!

  9. Pingback: Speak out #newsoz.org #auspol - News Oz

  10. New England Cocky

    @RosemaryJ36: Agreed.

  11. James O'Neill

    It is difficult to take complaints about the government seriously when Australians tolerate an electoral system that is manifestly unjust. As a simple illustration. Compare the percentage of votes obtained by the National Party and the number of their seats held with that of the Green Party. To call that democratic is a travesty.

  12. Terence Mills

    This morning (Tuesday) our Attorney General was interviewed by Fran Kelly on the subject of a federal ICAC – to be known as an Integrity Commission. She tried to ascertain what teeth the Commission would have to investigate things like the sports rorts affair (or the Angus Taylor falsified documents).

    Christian Porter patiently explained that the envisaged Commission would only investigate matters where there was evidence of a crime and in the matters referred to there was no evidence that a crime had been committed – so no enquiry !

    Doesn’t sound very promising, does it ?

  13. Kaye Lee

    Terence,

    The bar for investigation is too high, requiring a reasonable suspicion of corruption amounting to a criminal offence before an investigation can even begin. This is a difficult hurdle to clear.

    Lessons from the state anti-corruption commissions show evidence of corruption has been unveiled through investigations based on allegations, rather than before an investigation begins.

    Another major criticism is that the proposed CIC will not have the power to hold public hearings.

    Critics have also complained about the CIC’s inability to initiate investigations itself and to receive complaints directly from the public. It can only investigate after a referral from the public sector, or if the CIC is conducting an investigation and discovers additional corrupt conduct in a different department. This is a significant limitation.

    Other comparable investigative bodies have “own motion” powers to investigate issues based on public complaints.

    http://theconversation.com/governments-commonwealth-integrity-commission-will-not-stamp-out-public-sector-corruption-heres-why-127502

  14. New Bruce

    Every time I start to talk to anyone, be it friend, family, or stranger in the supermarket-line about the current state of play in Australia, and in Canberra, and how corrupt it all is, I can see their eyes glaze over with the “here he goes again, up on his bloody anti guv’ment soap-box, why wont he let me struggle with my life/kids/health on my own in peace” look.

    RJ36 hits the nail on the head.

    Its time to take it to the streets, and show SFA and the rest of the (lnp) rats who currently infest the corridors of political power that
    We the Voter,
    a) Have an opinion.
    b) Have a voice.
    c) Are NOT “quiet Australians”.
    d) Are OVER their lies and bulllshit.

    Get a “VOTE LNP LAST” sticker on your car, email and post relevant stuff on your social media and fb (I’m not good at that), and generally rattle cages. It’s annoying, but you start to get the “Someone else told me that too, and I thought it was BS, but now I’ll have to look at that for myself because…..”

    In the words of the great Henry Lawson, “We must Fight or be Slaves” (The Fight at the Eureka Stockade. H Lawson 1890 http://ausnatinfo.angelfire.com/lawson/fightateurekastockade.htm)

    See you at the barricades.

  15. whatever

    Well, we need to combat the continuing barrage of “Gaslighting” that the Govt. and MSM delivers.

    Fran Kelly was saying recently that the ALP failed at the last election because voters rejected their “Tax and Spend” policies. I have only ever heard this “Tax and Spend” criticism on The Simpsons, where a Republican uses it as a catch-all dismissal of any given Democrat policy.

    The ClimateChange policy of this Govt. is an exercise in Real-Time Gaslighting. They will ramble on about Recycling and Plastic Waste until they are blue in the face. If you can manage to get them to actually address the CO2 Emissions problem they will just revert to Denialist arguments.

  16. Kronomex

    Democracy? I know that word from somewhere, it had something to with ancient Greece. LNP Doubleplusgood Newspeak dictates that I must now report myself for having evil thinks.

  17. Aortic

    Seen them all since Menzies. but this mob truly is an execrable rabble. Every time I see that self satisfied smirk on that vacuous film flam PM’S face I feel like throwing up. And don’t get me started on the others because there would not be enough time to bastardise them for ineptness and sheer unfitness for the tasks they presume to undertake. Honestly are we all as dumb as fck to have been so self centred as to worry about some franking credit proposal as to forego the good of the country? I could say it appears we are, but for the Clive Palmer intervention and a few ODD votes on the Deep North it would not have happened. I am too old to wander around and protest, but if peaceful demonstrations were to eventuate, they would certainly have my support.

  18. RomeoCharlie29

    The 7.30 interview with Angus Taylor was a train wreck for him but despite her persistence Leigh Sales missed the obvious question: how can a process that doesn’t interview the two principal characters be a real investigation?

    I am sure there will be the usual LNP mindless who will only see the ABC failing to let a Minister (respect, obsequious respect) answer the question or, (as we would say) bullshit his way through the interview.

    Yet the polls consistently show an amazing level of support for the incompetents who continue to be boosted by the Murdoch mob, though there are signs of some cracks in that support. The state of the economy, the shameless boondoggling of the government, the weasel words from every Minister from the PM down and the view that the parlous state of the economy is very much down to their incompetence and ideological obsessions with demonising the poor, must surely be starting to become obvious to even rusted on Libs and Nats.

    The sheer unfitness of every member of the governing parties makes reform of parliament, the electoral system and the measures of accountability ( a CIC with teeth) a matter of urgency but of course we will get none of that from these rats, and probably not much more from Labor, if they ever get elected.

    As we know the default position of most politicians involves protecting their own arses, and when your hands are thus occupied it’s hard to do other things.

  19. Kaye Lee

    Everyone needs to remember that we don’t have to convince the entire world. It only takes the government to lose two seats and they no longer have a majority.

    The Wentworth constituents are not particularly impressed with Dave Sharma’s constant presence on Sky and his preoccupation with complaining about GetUp and the ABC. He’s a smart guy but he is very quick to support the government’s puerile mockery – he seems to embrace being a member of the jeering pack.

    Lucy Wicks is hanging on by the skin of her teeth but she really is a waste of space. I am hopeful the electors of Robertson will give her the boot next time. She’s done nothing to deserve their continued support.

    Labor need to remember that there are a lot of electorates that are not in coal-mining regions in Queensland. I wish they would stop talking about coal and let it die its inevitable death. And they should tell Joel Fitzgibbon to either shut up or run as an independent. He is not doing anyone except himself any favours,

  20. New England Cocky

    @Kaye Lee: I agree. Fitzgibbon is a self-serving egomaniac who would probably be better suited to the Smirkie Sacked from Marketing Liarbral Nazianal$ misgovernment than the Labor Party.

    If Fitzgibbon was serious he would be yelling for re-training for underground miners in the alternative energy sector where black lung is not a problem.

  21. DrakeN

    ‘Fitz’ means son of,

    ‘Gibbon’ is a small monkey.

    There you have it 😉

  22. Kaye Lee

    The ridiculous thing is that you don’t protect existing coal-mining jobs by allowing foreigners to open up new automated coal mines. Fitzgibbon should be telling his constituents that Adani would cost them jobs in the Hunter.

  23. Arnd

    @ Kaye Lee:

    “It only takes the government to lose two seats and they no longer have a majority.”

    True enough.

    But then what?

    Labor was just as supportive of Adani as the LNP. Their refugee policies suck the life out if the UNHRC Refugee convention just as gratuitously as that of the LNP. Their refusal to lift Newstart is just as vicious as the LNP’s.

    “ALP” = Another Liberal Party

  24. king1394

    Writing to politicians directly is only one way of trying to make a point. One of the most effective things you and I can do is to keep an eye out for opportunities to have your say about development proposals and legislation reviews. Currently the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act is having its 10 year review and matters such as whether offsetting one area of vegetation/habitat for another is really effective, the system for listing of threatened species, and the current self-regulatory system which allows the landowner to decide for him/herself whether or not there is sensitive vegetation that should be conserved on their land (or can they just bulldoze it) are among the matters being considered. Submissions are due in April 2020, or you can just make a comment – https://epbcactreview.environment.gov.au/

    Environmental Impact Statements such as required for new coal mines and many other enterprises are another area where a submission can be made. In the last few years, I have been among many individuals making an objection to new mines including Hume Coal at Berrima and the KEPCO mine at Bylong NSW, both of which were refused. Local Councils are frequently putting matters on exhibition and again, take the opportunity to support or object to these. Gather a group of like-minded people to each make their own submission. Many of these things are a numbers game, and decisions to go ahead with or modify and / or refuse quite large and impactful projects can be affected by having a number of submissions lodged.

    While your letter to a politician can be filed in the ‘too hard basket’ or lost down the back of the filing cabinet, your official submission must be considered.

  25. Lambchop Simnel

    And does the shutting down of AAP help anything either?

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