Football Capitulates at Qatar

It did not take much. The initial promises of protest from a…

Thanks To Dan Andrews I Got My First…

Just to be clear here, I didn't get it at the polling…

Democracy Tested

The only defence that we, the people, have against an arrogant leader…

Promises, Promises, Promises

What's a promise or, more specifically, an election promise? Is it a…

Coming to Terms with Floods of Challenges

By Denis Bright Finton Magee’s Street Art on the railway underpass at Merivale…

Victorian Election: Liberals under siege from extremist religious…

The Victorian election is a mess. This is the product of the…

Silicon Valley Fake: Elizabeth Holmes and the Fraudster’s…

It has been one noisy time for the paladins of big tech.…

Opinion Polls OR If I Raced Usain Bolt…

Costello Media told us that the two major parties in the Victorian…

«
»
Facebook

Tag Archives: Scott Ludlam

What do our politicians do?

What, exactly, do our politicians do?

Today, Monday 18 April 2016, the Turnbull government took the almost unprecedented step of recalling all of Parliament for a three-week “emergency sitting” to debate and pass – or, hopefully, fail to pass – two specific pieces of legislation.

Much has been written about the government’s real motivations behind this recall and debate. With the repeated defeat of the ABCC “productivity” bill, Malcolm Turnbull has his double dissolution trigger. But before the vote, with its commonly expected outcome, the Senate spent a large portion of the day discussing the bill.

I had the pleasure of listening to Senator Scott Ludlam’s speech on the subject. Senator Ludlam’s speeches are almost always worth listening to – go on, listen to one or two right now, we’ll wait.

If you just took the opportunity to watch some of Ludlam’s speeches, or have previously done so, beside the clear speaking, reliance on facts and withering irony that he brings to his every contribution, the other notable feature of Scott Ludlam’s speeches is that the chamber is almost invariably almost empty.

It would seem fair to assume that on a matter of such national importance that Malcolm Turnbull would spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to bring “nearly 150 MPs and their staff… back to Parliament from around the country”, that said MPs would want to listen with avid attention to the speeches in response. Presumably the job of an MP is to attend sittings of Parliament, engage in the discussions and debate there, and form an opinion on the subject at hand prior to casting their vote.

One might make that assumption, but one would evidently be wrong. Any cursory viewing of either Parliament or the Senate will show the real situation – wide swathes of benches, primarily governmental and opposition, clear of occupants. That is, until the bells are rung for a vote.

Debates in the Parliament and the Senate, it seems, exist for the sake of posterity and inclusion in Hansard, not to inform the level of understanding of those about to decide on the future of the country. Is it any wonder Question Time so often descends into farce? The stakes are so low, with all – or at least most – MPs already set in their intended vote, that they need to pass the time somehow. The result is a system of government too easily interrupted by process – filibusters, suspensions of standing orders, points of order, and political games such as tying unpalatable bills to legislation of clear national and popular importance, forcing MPs to vote against the good to prevent the bad, or to vote for the bad to achieve the good.

So if they’re not spending their time in their seats in the Chamber, what do our politicians do?

They don’t write their own articles.

They don’t even fact-check, or apparently have very much knowledge about the subject matter of their portfolio. Scott Ryan’s recent snafu with plagiarism is only the most recent of a continual string of egregious failures. Sometimes it seems that if politics were a school class, most Australian politicians would get a failed grade on account of not bothering with even the most rudimentary editing of their copied work.

They don’t rely on expert witnesses.

Greg Hunt, apparently the closest thing the Coalition has to a climate expert, went no further in his research than to visit a wikipedia page. Relying on Wikipedia would bring a failing grade for a student’s essay; why should we accept it from our elected leaders?

They don’t appear to have much knowledge of party processes that fall into their direct remit.

Nor do they seem to take an active involvement in running the companies of which they are the directors. Sometimes it appears that politicians spend more time disavowing any knowledge of things happening in their own department than it would have taken to simply be aware in the first place. It helps that they seem to have such fallible memories. Even if they know something now, they almost certainly won’t know it by the time it becomes the subject of an inquiry. This is a peculiarly specific talent that seems unique to our politicians.

What our politicians do appear to spend plenty of time doing is sledging. Almost every federal politician in Australia, a refined product of the political system, is well-versed in holding the party line, spouting off talking points and heckling during whatever speeches they don’t manage to avoid being present for. Some might consider these to be lower-order priorities than the activities that might actually lead to better legislation.

It’s not as if we don’t pay our politicians enough. Even the most obscure of backbenchers [not] sitting in the pews at the back of the chamber is earning six figures – twice. If you’re reading this, almost certainly every federal politician earns more than you by a number of multiples. It has been said that “if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys”, as if that were a defense of exorbitant parliamentary salaries, but research has shown that the benefits of lifting politicians’ pay start to even out once the level of remuneration reaches a comparative middle class wage. Middle class wage is approximately the average full-time wage, or just under $81,000. Clearly we pay above the curve. Politicians and economists are wont to point out that if you pay less, you won’t attract the people you want into politics, or keep them there. Amanda Vanstone has argued that Australian politicians earn much less than company directors and others in big business. This brings us to the corollary. If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys; if you pay a corporate salary, you get businessmen. Oddly, people rarely seem to question whether businessmen make the best politicians.

So, whilst Parliament and the Senate spend the next three weeks in Canberra having already voted down the extremely critical piece of legislation the Government absolutely needed to have passed, just remember they’re earning a bare minimum of $11,483 for their efforts. And keep that number in mind when you see pictures of empty seats. You’re paying for them to not be sitting there.

 580 total views

The message was delivered: no confidence in the Abbott Government whatsoever

A Statement of No Confidence in the Abbott Government has been delivered to the Australian Parliament as a message from the 100,000 people who took part in the March in March. And, writes MiM organiser Loz Lawrey, “As the intensity of the public’s dissatisfaction with this toxic government continues to grow, the message will be delivered again and again, over and over”.

“Let it be known, and entered into the public record, that on this day, Monday 17 March 2014, the People of Australia delivered this document to the Parliament of Australia.”

On a sunny Monday in March, a delegation of Australians presented a handwritten parchment to Adam Bandt, the Federal Member for Melbourne, at Parliament house in Canberra.

Adam had graciously agreed to accept the Statement of No Confidence and present it to Parliament on behalf of the more than 100,000 people around the country who attended the March in March rallies protesting the governance of the Liberal/National Coalition.

A few days later Senator Scott Ludlum attempted to table the Statement in the Senate, but sadly the tabling was disallowed on a technicality. Such a document had never been presented before, and the Abbott government narrowly avoided the need to officially respond.

The March in March 2014 Statement of No Confidence in the Liberal/National Coalition Government From the People of Australia was written and rewritten, passing through one set of hands and then another, from laptop to smartphone to desktop screen, added to and tweaked, then jigged and rejigged until it truly was a document “of the people”.

Those of us who took part in this joyous assertion of public sentiment knew all along that successful tabling and debating of this document was unlikely, since it didn’t fit the strict layout and presentation requirements for a petition and had no supporting signatures attached.

We also knew that petitions, even if they are tabled, are easily dismissed and require hundreds of thousands of signatures if they are to achieve any sort of real acknowledgment or response.

The Statement of No Confidence did not protest any single issue and made no demand for any particular outcome. With or without signatures the Statement was, and remains, an overarching assertion of public disapproval of this government’s decisions and the direction in which Abbott and his cronies are taking our country.

Although not yet officially tabled, the document still entered the public record via media news cameras and print coverage.

Despite the Abbott government’s refusal to publicly acknowledge the March rallies, it is aware of the Statement’s existence, and of its contents – the marchers’ message of No Confidence was delivered.

For the government and its cheer-squad in the mainstream media, a head-in-the-sand avoidance of the rallies and the Statement was the only possible response. To respond otherwise was to risk a humiliation even deeper than the serial embarrassments brought on daily by the public utterances of Abbott and his ministers, blithely reported by so many journalists.

The rallies that took place around Australia were a clear demonstration that there is great opposition to the ideologically-driven agenda of the Abbott government and that there is ever-growing public consternation (note the current polls) at the obvious attempts at social engineering, the blatant suppression of information, the retreat from transparency and accountability, the rorting and trough-snouting, as well as the lies and broken promises.

Oh, and it seems that some people are worried about the attacks on democracy and human rights, the abuse and mistreatment of refugee asylum seekers, the dismantling of environmental regulation and general trashing of our natural environment, the assault on wages and entitlements, and the closing down or defunding of every institution and organisation established to support and inform the public interest.

The lugubrious, repetitive pronouncements from “Smokey Joe” Hockey, whose pants seem to occasionally ignite and smoulder (leading to on-camera sweating and obvious discomfort), are grooming us for an austerity regime the like of which Australia has never seen. Let’s not forget that Abbott considers Maggie Thatcher a mentor to emulate.

Our country is suffering a concerted attack, by a government owned by vested interests, upon our vision of ourselves as a nation respected by the rest of the world for upholding standards of fairness and decency at home and abroad.

Thanks to Abbott and his cronies we are now viewed with global contempt – a xenophobic, racist raft of white supremacists floating in the Pacific, abusing all who come near. How have we allowed this perception of our multicultural society to take root and grow? Is this the reality?

Australia has never managed to grasp the opportunity afforded by the coming-together of our immigrant society (which includes most of us) and the First Australians whose land it is, to create an exemplary modern society of equals and forge a new history, free from the constraints, mistakes and influences of the past. Instead we import the dumbed-down culture of the deeply dysfunctional United States, ignoring the wealth of world culture that permeates our society.

Once, we were known as the land of the Fair Go. That’s right, the Fair Go. Sadly, according to Smokey Joe, the Fair Go gave us all a sense of “entitlement” which was simply not sustainable. So the Fair Go, and along with it all sense of decency and righteousness, of empathy and inclusiveness, must be swept aside to balance the books and satisfy the “bottom line”.

Apparently this will elevate us to the transcendent, nirvana-like state of “surplus”, despite the fact that many Australians will endure lives of misery and hardship in the process.

Conservative governments notoriously and conveniently ignore human suffering, dismissing any concept of social justice and equity, and reducing the discussion of public affairs to a mathematical equation of dollars and cents.

Only the elements of profit and loss are factored in, while the values and considerations of human hearts and minds, of skills, knowledge, intelligence, understanding and caring ( the very stuff of life) are sent to the margins.

And nowhere on the page is there any reference to the common, or public good.

Somehow it comes about that government of humans by humans no longer regards the human condition itself as relevant in the decision-making process.

Somehow the dollar, the measure of greed, becomes not just one factor among others, but the only consideration. A perversion of governance becomes entrenched in our system which government messaging and media manipulation grooms us to accept as the norm.

The marchers who attended the March rallies told their stories through the number and diversity of messages on the placards expressing community concerns and through the words of those who spoke. The Statement of No Confidence is the symbolic summary of those concerns.

The marches and rallies will continue. This people’s movement will grow. Already Marches are planned for Sydney, Adelaide and Perth for Sunday 18 May, while regional marches around the nation will take place at the end of August.

As the intensity of the public’s dissatisfaction with this toxic government continues to grow, the message will be delivered again and again, over and over.

And one day soon, to use the religious imagery favoured by Abbott, Australians will be delivered from evil.

Statement Of No Confidence Large

A statement of no confidence in the Abbott Government (image courtesy of Loz Lawrey)

 283 total views,  1 views today

Scott Ludlam for President?

Imagine having a head of State who was calm, articulate, honest, dignified, compassionate, knowledgeable, respectful, practical, hard-working. The more I see of Scott Ludlam the more these words echo in my mind.

His maiden speech to the Senate in 2008 conjured up a future vision in which the right kinds of technology are used to deliver the right kinds of human outcomes, while the wrong kinds are left on the scrapheap of history as being inefficient and outmoded. The speech was peppered with words like “Pelton generators”, hot rocks technology, “large solar thermal plants”, “world-class broadband”, “fast, affordable mass transit”. He wondered what the human race might become if we harnessed our engineering potential, our skill with tools, in a much better way than we currently are — a way that would not be inherently harmful to our planet.

Renai LeMay wrote on Delimiter

“although the speech does build visions of a better future for humanity, its tone is not frivolous. Instead, the speech is delivered with a kind of cool implacability. A kind of quiet, relentless determination to see that vision realised, no matter how many obstacles stand in the way. The speaker is not a hothead. He contains an extremely slow burning fire within his modest frame. The speech doesn’t build castles in the air. It builds castles on the ground that will slowly but surely reach the air.”

The speech ends with a call to arms:

“We know that the media dines out on the spectacle of conflict and abuse which our Westminster system seems to imply. But in my very short time here it is already apparent that a vast amount of what the Senate does is based on collaboration, hard work and a certain grudging respect for different points of view. I really look forward to working with you as we bring our collective efforts, wisdom and good grace to bear on the challenges which confront us all.”

Those good intentions were more than just words as Ludlam has worked tirelessly in many areas. He is calm and methodical on the Senate floor and always seems to have a good understanding of the topic at hand.

The speech he gave on March 4 to a near empty Senate chamber, welcoming Prime Minister Tony Abbott to WA, went viral on social media and should be seen by all Western Australian voters.

As an example of his valuable work, in March it was announced that

“Greens Senator Scott Ludlam has taken out the Planning Champion Award at the 2014 National Awards for Planning Excellence for his work on urban infill development.

Senator Ludlam took out the award for his collaborative work with the WA Property Council on one of Perth’s most controversial planning issues: infill housing.

Senator Ludlam and the Property Council are calling for urban infill development in seven key transport corridors, including Charles Street, Fitzgerald Street, Scarborough Beach Road and Stirling Highway.

The judges of the awards said Senator Ludlam, who is the Greens spokesman on sustainable cities, infrastructure, housing and communications , was one of the most progressive, collaborative and prolific champions for better planning in Australia’s cities.

His other planning achievements included the WA 2.0 project, a light rail plan for Perth and Bike vision 2029.”

Scott Ludlam missed out by 14 votes in the September election, prompting the Greens to seek a recount, which changed the result in his favour before the debacle of the missing votes made the whole thing null and void.

The ABC’s election analyst Antony Green has calculated that “if you re-run last September’s Western Australian Senate election with the same votes, but using the new Senate preference tickets, then the result of the WA Senate re-election on April 5 would be 3 Liberal, 2 Labor and 1 Palmer United,” he said.

“For the re-election, several micro-parties have directed preferences in a way that now helps Labor to reach its second quota and makes it harder for the Green’s Scott Ludlam to win without a significant rise in his vote.

The Sports Party does not receive as many helpful preferences as last September. There is a subtle shift in the structure of the micro-party alliance, with a more obvious split between left-leaning and right-leaning micro-parties.

Unless the Liberals and Nationals fall dramatically short of three quotas, there are enough micro-party preferences floating around to ensure they win three seats between them. The biggest danger for the Liberals is probably losing a seat to the Nationals rather than to any other party.”

Voters can direct their own preferences by taking an extra 10 minutes to vote below the line and number every box thus making sure your vote goes where you intend it to and undermining the crazy deals done by all parties.

Which brings me to the title of this article.

Anyone watching Bronwyn Bishop’s performance as Speaker will realise that our current Parliament is a debacle under her stewardship. It makes a total mockery of the system and renders chamber sitting a pointless exercise where nothing is achieved, though it could be argued that this has been the case for a long time.

Senate elections have become a joke with ballot papers the size of tablecloths and organising preference deals an industry within itself. Few people understand the mechanism and it can result in candidates who receive a miniscule number of votes being elected, some of whom are patently not qualified to make decisions on the governing of this country.

The two party system is leaving many people feeling unsatisfied as they see little leadership from either of the major parties. Wouldn’t it be good to be able to trust the person in the top job to be making decisions in the best interests of the future of our country rather than always feeling like they are saying things just to get re-elected.

We need to change our political system. The archaic ritual of the Westminster system has seen its day. It is well past time that Australia truly became a nation in its own right with a head of state who actually lives in the country and has some idea of our political needs. Could Scott Ludlam be that person? He is young but shows great potential and to lose him from the political arena would be a great shame.

A Republic is still quite a way off, though Tony’s dames and knights ridiculosity may have given the debate another kick start. Today there are more pressing issues, namely the Senate election in WA tomorrow.

To the people of Western Australia, I would ask you to think about what sort of future you want for your children and consider wisely the importance of your contribution to keeping the Senate as a genuine House of Review rather than a rubber stamp.

Can we rely on the largesse and altruism of Gina Rinehart to show loyalty to her employees, to use some of her vast wealth to boost local employment rather than importing 457 visa workers, and to willingly pay taxation on the billions she makes developing our resources? Can we rely on the Coalition and the Palmer United Party to do what must be done to address climate change? Are health and education priorities for conservative governments?

As I have said before, our fate lies in your hands Western Australia. Think carefully before you vote.

 

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Your contribution to help with the running costs of this site will be gratefully accepted.

You can donate through PayPal or credit card via the button below, or donate via bank transfer: BSB: 062500; A/c no: 10495969

Donate Button

 142 total views,  2 views today