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Tag Archives: Senate

Have the Greens just divided the Nation?

Have the Greens divided the nation? Is this what a political party should do? Is this disrespecting the people? Is this against democracy? Is this challenging the right to free speech? People need to start really expressing their views on this now. It should be a topic of conversation around every dinner table.

In an act of defiance today, the Greens turned their backs and walked out on Pauline Hanson’s maiden speech in the Senate. In an email I received from Richard DiNatale tonight, he explained this was because he was called a ‘greasy wog’ at school and told to ‘go home’ and the Greens do not condone racism.

DiNatale has a personal story that so many can relate to. Whatever your individual circumstance, be it racism, or disability, or poverty; so many know the ridicule, the shame and the stigma runs deep and stays forever.  For some who can never change who they are, the hurt runs deeper. This is the shame and stigma that Hanson and her followers want to cut deep.

I listened to Pauline Hanson’s speech today and I was truly sickened listening to Hanson’s attack on almost every segment of vulnerable people in our society. The divisiveness, which underpinned her speech, shows that Hanson plans to pit group against group until we all hate each other. Her goal is to make Australians choose between ‘her’ or ‘them.’

Hanson’s speech resonated as someone who thinks they have so much reverent power amongst ‘the right’ and her ambition is to grow into a major political party. Her aim is to take every single conservative vote in Australia, to punish the Liberals who rejected her, ridiculed her and jailed her.

In her speech, she metaphorically strolled by and kicked the teeth in of homeless people, and single mothers and mothers who were single because of domestic violence. She metaphorically sat from above and spat on all those on unemployment; the young, the disadvantaged and the disabled.

Hanson’s speech was about creating fear of the disadvantaged. Her aim is to stigmatise and divide our people.

If you were ever made feel ashamed because of who you are, then Hanson is intent on making you relive that nightmare.

If you were made feel less than human because you were poor, or disabled, or recovering from an addiction then Hanson is here to make you feel less than human again.

If you were ever shunned because you were unemployed, homeless or broken, then Hanson wants you to hate those who are living this now.

This is not about Asians, or Muslims or racism, these groups are merely the start. Over the next six years we will see her use the full gamut of disadvantaged groups to create fear and divisiveness amongst us all.

Over time, Hanson will target individual groups and attack them one by one. People in disadvantaged and minority groups will be ridiculed, shamed, and labelled ‘unAustralian.’ Her mantra will be to hate all things ‘unAustralian.’  Her followers who think it is this ‘hate’ that will make Australia a great country, will actively create unrest.

If Hanson achieves her aim of a nation divided in two, what then?

Do we dare to imagine the civil unrest of the “Hanson’s Australians” attacking the bludging poor in the streets?

Do we dare to imagine “Hanson’s Australians” attacking young single mothers and calling scum and slutty whores and thieves who steal taxes?

Do we dare to imagine the intensity of racial hatred and racial violence we have never known before?

Do we dare to imagine Hanson’s Australia?  The Greens did and they turned their backs.

Did the Greens just divide the Nation? Yes, they did.

The Greens symbolically asked every Australian to divide and either stand with “Hanson’s Australians” or with all Australians.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

In six years time, don’t let there be no-one left to speak for you.

The Greens have divided the Nation.

Today is the day to decide on which side you stand.

Originally published on Polyfeministix

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.

This Reprehensible Rabble

If anything was patently obvious from the events in Canberra last week, it is that Clive Palmer thinks he is running the country and the media seem to think so too. They are all over him, relegating Tony Abbott to the role of a bit-player. It is also patently obvious that the government’s negotiating skills sit somewhere between pitiable and non-existent.

The repeal of the carbon tax is only the beginning. There are still budget bills to be passed as well as the mining tax and Clive Palmer appears intent on maintaining the chaos. It is conceivable that Tony Abbott will soon be cornered into either giving Palmer everything he asks or calling a double dissolution. At the moment he is vacillating and his weakness on this issue will expose him for what he really is. His pre-election bluff and bluster has dissolved.

Last week’s circus in the senate was inevitable and it will happen again. The closer you get to your enemy, the sharper you need to be. Clive Palmer has been around long enough not to trust anyone and knows since the day Joe Hockey delivered the Budget that the Prime Minister’s word has little or no value.

kerry

Image by The Sydney Morning Herald

Palmer probably remembered Abbott’s comments when interviewed by Kerry O Brien a few years back. “The statements that need to be taken absolutely as gospel truth are those carefully prepared scripted remarks,” Abbott said. In that interview Abbott revealed that he sometimes went further than he should when making a promise. I’m sure it was no surprise to Palmer when the wording to the amendment on the bill to repeal the carbon tax wasn’t quite what it was supposed to be.

If the Coalition think for one moment that they can put one over Clive Palmer, they are deluding themselves. But, given Abbott’s penchant for verbal dishonesty they will probably keep trying and in the process, expose themselves for the utterly reprehensible rabble that they are.

That is not to say that Palmer will not acquiesce when it suits him. He is unpredictable and, I suspect, delights in keeping the government, the opposition and the media guessing. But as time passes (and it can’t come too quickly for most of us), the interaction between him and the Prime Minister will further expose Abbott’s difficulty in negotiating to a point where even his most steadfast supporters will have had enough. The government couldn’t even get their amendments right. A double dissolution could see him lose office or at best see his lower house majority whittled down to one or two.

The senate result could be worse with a strong chance that both major parties would lose numbers to the PUP. If for some reason the people go against PUP and vote to restore some sanity the result will likely favour Labor and the Greens. Either way, Abbott is in trouble. Doubtless his party’s electoral engineers are doing their sums and would be weighing up the pros and cons. The advice given to them by outgoing senator Ron Boswell to stand up to Palmer is the right advice but they appear unwilling to take it.

promises

Image by BBC.com

For the electorate, the greater issue here is honesty, or lack of it. The budget exposed the Coalition to be utterly dishonest, something they brought on themselves; an own goal. They can no longer claim the moral high ground. Their claim to have a mandate is, and always was, spurious. There is just too much evidence out there to show that they have treated the electorate as fools. Clive Palmer has realised that as the self-appointed defender of the underdog, his political future has promise. He will not want to betray his image and backtrack on anything he has said to the pensioners and the battlers who have crossed over to his side.

By way of comparison the government is showing signs of cracking under the pressure. Tony Abbott’s speech to the LNP annual state conference in Brisbane on Saturday bordered on the bizarre.“You and we are rescuing our country . . . it is only us who can rescue our country right now,” he said. Rescue from what? His attack on Bill Shorten was equally weird and suggests he is beginning to lose the plot.

election

Image by news.com

His upbeat display of confidence was in direct contrast to the events in Canberra and the reality of the situation as it unfolded. He referred to the events in the senate as “a lot of colour and movement.” It was chaotic. Under Abbott’s leadership thus far, the Coalition has lost all the support they had at the election and then some. Their only way forward is to replace their leader and try starting again. That is unlikely for now and things are only going to get worse.

 

 

A plea to the Pups: Do not repeal the Clean Energy Act

Original image by The Telegraph.uk

Original image by The Telegraph.uk

After reading a few similar posts I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon and try something in the open-letter style, in the vain hope that it might make its way to its intended recipients via the magic of the interwebs. Since I don’t have time to provide statistical analysis what follows is very much a matter of opinion. You can either take my conclusions on trust, or do your own research.

Dear Senators Lambie, Lazarus, and Wang,

Congratulations to you all on your appointments.

I write to express my concern about the repeal of the Clean Energy Act which is currently before the Senate. I cannot emphasize enough the significance of this legislation, and the importance of the task before you. As an Australian who plans on living at least until 70, I feel I have a vested interest in this debate, and so I would like to be sure that you are fully apprised of the facts and consequences before you vote to repeal carbon pricing.

Abolishing the carbon tax will not save families $550 a year. In the last 10 years we have seen energy prices double, but only about 3-4% of this increase is due to the carbon tax. The rest is due to over-investment in poles and wires subsidised by taxpayers and paid for by consumers. Demand for electricity has actually fallen by about 13% over the last 5 years. This may be in part due to an increase in rooftop solar PV, in part due to rising prices. My point is that carbon pricing has not been the driving force behind high energy prices. Overall the impact of carbon pricing has contributed an estimated 0.7% increase to cost of living. Compared to a 2.5% hike for the GST, this is negligible.

No doubt you have become accustomed to our Prime Minister’s underhanded tactics, allowing interest groups to dictate policy and appointing climate sceptics to key advisory positions. As much as Abbott would deny it, the time for arguing the point is over. The science has been around since the 1970s. If CO2 levels rise to 450 particles per million then the planet can be expected to warm by two degrees, posing significant risk to life on earth. CO2 levels are already at 400 ppm and the frequency and severity of extreme weather events such as typhoons, floods, droughts and bush fires has increased more rapidly in the last five years than at any time in recorded history. Only those with their heads in the sand have not seen this coming.

It would be foolish to think that our shared desire for the survival of the species would somehow be enough to shake the global economy from its dependence on fossil fuels. On the other hand, a sudden rise in input cost might do just the trick. With crude oil now soaring above $100 a barrel and the Middle East in the grip of war, it looks like we may be seeing the end of an era. As long as demand for energy remains high and shale gas cheap the US may ride out the prospect of a double dip recession for a decade or so, but new sources of energy are desperately needed to drive a new economy. You need only look toward Beijing and Washington to see the reality of this. The fossil fuel industry’s days are numbered, and in what has already been dubbed the Third Industrial Revolution, most significant new investment is in renewables.

What does this mean for Australia? We can only continue to burn coal for as long as it is cost effective to produce it. Once global accords on climate change are reached, coal will face resistance in the market and we will start to see diminishing returns. The future is already looking bleak for the industry, and any amount of foresight would have us steer clear of stranded assets, not to mention the opportunity cost of not investing in renewables sooner.

In spite of Abbott’s best attempts to thwart it, Australia already has a mechanism in place to reduce emissions and provide significant investment capital for renewables. With attendant compensations to taxpayers such as raising the tax free threshold, family tax benefits and other measures, many poorer Australians, including pensioners, are actually better off under the current scheme. In spite of what Abbott would have us believe, the Clean Energy Act is not a toxic tax. Rather it is a well crafted package of reforms which has already lowered emissions by 7% and provides a means to steer our economy out of the cul-de-sac of the resource boom and onto the autobahn of technology and innovation. Who can tell how many new jobs will be created along the way?

With all respect to environmentalists, the legislation currently in place was not designed by a bunch of climate scientists who all got together and decided that preserving things like clean air and water for future generations was a really cool idea, but by shrewd economists who foresaw the need to future proof our economy against global trends. Dismantling this legislation without thinking through the consequences would amount to an act of economic vandalism, or deliberate sabotage, take your pick.

While preserving the planet for future generations is undoubtedly a noble cause, there is a far more cynical truth to consider. Our economic future very much depends on making the transition to clean energy as quickly and smoothly as possible. So while I admire the spirit of the amendments proposed by the Palmer United Party, I would suggest that in the best interest of all Australians the Clean Energy Act should be preserved in its current form. I urge you all to consider this carefully before casting your votes.

Kind Regards

Sean Stinson

Ricky Proves Tricky – Bush Bogan Backs Blocking Carbon Tax Repeal Bill

Ricky Muir (image from news.com.au)

Ricky Muir (image from news.com.au)

A month ago, Ricky Muir was an object of scorn and derision by the MSM.

Following his interview with Mike Willisee, much of social media also jumped on the band wagon posting the Willisee interview on Facebook with the warning; “Be afraid, be very afraid.”

Since his election to the Senate in September Muir has been painted as either an ignoramus who got lucky or simply a stooge for the Palmer United Party.

Since assuming his role as a  Senator on Monday, Muir has proved to be neither and very much his own man.

The MSM has had a fascination with Muir who as a candidate for a minor party, the Australian Motoring Enthusiasts, contested and won a seat in the Upper House.

Reclusive by nature, Muir refused to give interviews and declined to meet with Tony Abbott for a formal discussion and prime ministerial welcome.

With little to go on save for a couple of YouTube clips of Muir throwing kangaroo excrement at his mates, and a homespun philosophy in how to raise children, the MSM opted for regarding Muir as a curiosity at best, a fool at worst following the Willisee interview, or simply a puppet of Clive Palmer following Palmer’s announcement the Muir would form a voting bloc with PUP.

Muir’s first action after being sworn in however was to independently introduce amendments to block the government’s savage cuts to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency with a view of scrapping the agency altogether.

Muir’s actions caught both the MSM and the government off guard, and left the government stunned. The best however, was yet to come.

Back peddling furiously, the government agreed to continue funding ARENA in exchange for the withdrawal of Muir’s amendment, but hoping that the vote on the repeal of the Carbon tax would be finalized on Thursday with a favorable outcome for the LNP.

This was not to be. Muir joined with PUP, Labor and the Greens to write further amendments to the bill to ensure that full savings from the repeal would be passed on to consumers.

The final vote to reject the repeal was 37 to the government’s 35.

This leaves the Abbott government to introduce a new repeal bill which includes the Palmer amendment to the House, and the debate starts all over again.

In less than a week Muir has gone from zero to hero, with social media now prepared to sing his praises, albeit faintly due to Clive Palmer grabbing most of the media attention for today’s move.

On his Facebook page, Muir wrote of himself as “As an average Australian who wants to make balanced decisions which hopefully reflect on everyday Australians.”

A month ago, I wrote that; such honesty despite its apparent naivete, is welcome and  refreshing in a political arena dominated by time servers, party hacks, and Neo-Liberal dog-eat-dog ideology.

Whatever Muir’s communication faults may be, he is still representative of a democracy that prides itself in the fact that anyone with the determination to have their voice heard and who wants to change the system can be elected if they present a credible argument to voters in their electorate.

Moreover, Muir also embodies the fundamental Australian principle of ‘a fair go’.

Within four days of taking his seat in the Senate, Muir has not only shown himself to be his own man, but is as good as his word in making balanced decisions for all Australians.

Let’s hope that he continues to do so.

Assaults on democracy

Parliament House - the centre of our democracy (image by holam.com.au)

Parliament House – old and new – the centre of our democracy (image by holman.com.au)

There are at least two fundamental requirements for a functioning democracy. In various ways, in recent years, we have seen political parties in Australia attempting to subvert and limit these requirements. This is an assault on democracy itself. It may not be deliberate – political parties, like business entities, will work within the constraints of the law to achieve their ends, and loopholes and aggressive tactics are a part of the game. But dress it up how you may, attempting to coerce the workings of parliament and the electoral choices of a population is anti-democratic even if done within the limitations of the laws of that democracy.

In the business sphere, there is an overarching structure to act as a check and balance. The courts, and above them the legislature, ensure that eventually businesses that exploit loopholes to the detriment of the community can be brought back into line. Through the testing of legislation in the courts, through the drafting of new laws and regulations, there are means to help ensure that the system is fluid and no entities can subvert the intention of the regulations to which all businesses are subject.

Politics has no such overarching structure. The limits on politics are the various parties themselves – where one party oversteps the bounds, the only bodies that can pull them up on it are other political parties. Some of the time this works. And sometimes it does not.

Given untrammelled power – for instance, control of both houses of Parliament – a government can adjust the goalposts in such a way as to benefit their own interests and continued dominance. When the cycle turns, as eventually it must, an incoming government is then able to either take advantage of the changes the previous government has wrought, or to reverse the changes and implement their own.

The Australian constitution holds various aspects of our democracy sacrosanct and to change these requires a referendum. The basic mechanics of elections and parties and the existence of two houses are not in danger. There are plenty of other ways that a political party can act to extend its own hegemony, and any number of ways that the intent of a democracy can be subverted by the details.

Basic requirements for a healthy democracy include the following.

1. A free press

Or more accurately, even and impartial coverage and analysis of the issues. Fundamentally, Australian democracy is about vision. In a hundred policy areas each government has to balance the requirements of the community and the best interests of the country. In order to effectively judge the promised approach of a candidate government to each of these areas, in order to accurately evaluate the needs of Australia’s present and future, clear and informative reporting is needed.

In Australia, the media environment is skewed. Various reports have pointed to the obvious bias in the large majority of Australia’s news media. Against this bias, only the minority Fairfax and the public broadcaster ABC attempt a more balanced view. Readers of this blog will understand that “more balanced”, to the conservatives, reads as “rabid pinko”. A detailed analysis of the relative bias of the ABC vs News Ltd is outside of the scope of this article. What is not, is that the Coalition is currently openly discussing curtailing the ABC’s power to operate in the news arena.

“He said there was a compelling case to consider breaking the ABC into two entities with the traditional television and radio operations protected to ensure services in the bush and regional Australia, while the online news service could be disposed of.” http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/turnbull-defends-abc-but-colleagues-want-to-preach-it-a-lesson-20131203-2yotw.html#ixzz2mS3lekiz

Of course, the Abbott government has form in the area of suppressing balanced information from the populace. In just a short three months in office, they have disbanded information bodies, restricted the information flow out of government, suppressed information on the grounds of “operational matters” despite said information being available to those not unfortunate enough to live in Australia, and continued the active dissemination of misinformation, half-truths and blatant untruths.

2. Robust representation in the Parliament

In a representative democracy, not every member of Parliament is going to belong to or be sympathetic to the government. Those members and senators elected to represent the opposition and independent parties – even those who do not represent a party at all – are not there to warm chairs. They are not elected to become a part of the government machine and uncritically support any intentions of the government of the day. Instead, they are there to be a dissenting voice, and hopefully through negotiation in the interests of the people they represent, to improve proposed legislation through amendments. The operation of the Parliament and Senate in this regard is a deliberate structure to ensure that all new law is viewed through the lens of more than one stakeholder; to ensure that legislation that benefits one group does not act unfairly to the detriment of others.

Both Labor and the Coalition in recent years – and as recently as the current sitting of Parliament – have taken, and are taking, actions to subvert this function. Such actions include scheduling complicated legislation for debate and passage in unfeasibly short timeframes. For examples of this – on both sides – you need look no further than the carbon “tax”. Labor provided a package of legislation running to over 1000 pages to the Parliament with eight days to read, understand, debate and vote on it. In response, the Coalition has given the repeal of the carbon tax – eleven bills, to be discussed together – just three and a half days of debate. It would be bad enough if it were just the “tax” being debated, but tied up in the repeal are dozens of climate bodies, administrative bodies, funding arrangements, and associated clean energy infrastructure.

Arguably, however, the Coalition has been worse in their abuse of the processes of Parliament. During the previous term of government, they brought few amendments to the house, preferring instead to grandstand, disrupt proceedings with continual calls to suspend standing orders, and in most cases in Question Time to ask not one question relating to their own portfolios. This was not effective representation of their constituents. But the worst was yet to come.

In the current term, in addition to electing a clearly partisan speaker to the chair of the House – Bronwyn Bishop, who remains in the party room and is an integral part of the Coalition’s governing body – they have also taken actions that in one fell swoop ensure the failure of any amendments to legislation and disempower any independent voices. The attempt to vote on all proposed amendments as a block ensures that a flaw in one amendment, or contradictory amendments, or an extreme position on behalf of one proposal will knock out all the amendments at once. As Penny Wong stated in parliament, this is procedurally impossible. She might have added, deliberately so – it is a flagrant breach of the intention of amendments. (I am unable to find references online to this abuse of process. If you can provide a link, please leave it in the comments.)

Understandably, governments want to implement their policies. But subverting debate using procedural methods is as much an assault on democracy as is continual sabotage of proceedings using points of order and interjections.

Does anybody even listen to Parliament any more?

The majority of the Australian people remain minimally aware of the vagaries of Parliament and how it operates, far less the way that it is intended to represent the interests of non-governmental political parties. Tony Abbott and some sections of the news media deliberately play to this disaffection as they talk about a “mandate” for the government to implement its policies and report scant, if any, details of the proceedings of legislation through the parliament. Regardless, the details remain critically important. These are our representatives, this is our government, and any attempt to usurp the proper processes of democracy is an assault on everyone’s rights – whether you support the government of the day or not. Accordingly, those who are politically aware and interested need to draw attention to these abuses wherever they may be found. Only by showing that people are watching, and that we care about the concept of democracy as much as about its outcomes, can we avoid permanent and catastrophic debasement of government in Australia.

Murdoch hasn’t finished yet

Did you notice anything during the election campaign? I noticed that the ferociously rabid Murdoch media unleashed itself as the most persuasive and effective media in the country for promoting the discourse that Tony Abbott had evolved into something worth promoting. And of course, protecting. I have no doubt that their murderous attack on the Labor Government and its leader, coupled with the elevation of Abbott to the status of living god, was enough to swing the election. David Donovan of Independent Australia summed it up succinctly:

There is no doubt whatsoever that Murdoch gifted the Coalition several per cent of the vote on Saturday and, when you consider the weekend’s result was far away from being a landslide, there is little doubt Murdoch, in effect, gifted Abbott the prime ministership.

But now the aftermath. Tony Abbott might have been gifted the prime ministership but he will fall short of his ultimate goal; control of the Senate. The minor parties took a big chunk away from mostly Labor, but also the Coalition and it means Abbott will have to show his negotiating skills, which are already proving to be zilch as he’s promised to go to an early election at the beginning of next year if he doesn’t get his way. News Limited has jumped to his cause quickly with “Welcome to your nightmare” as minor parties claim Senate seats and Abbott will have to deal with them. It is the first attack by Murdoch – of many to come – to engineer an early election to attempt to get full power for his puppet. The Australian – Murdoch’s premier broadsheet – with their usual scare tactics yesterday chimed in with:

Business and state governments have warned that the economy faces a multi-billion-dollar drag if Labor and the Greens block Tony Abbott’s plans to repeal the carbon and mining taxes, amid fears an obstructionist Senate could keep the carbon price in place until 2015.

After the prime minister-elect instructed his department on Sunday to begin drafting the legislation to abandon the carbon-pricing scheme, business groups lined up to urge parliament to respect his government’s mandate.

So according to the Murdoch media, the Senate is obstructionist.

The Senate’s role is basically a check on government by scrutinising bills, delegated legislation, government administration, and government policy in general. A government that does not have a majority in the Senate, and therefore do not always have easy passage of legislation is subject to negotiation and consultation with minor parties and independents, as well as with the Opposition of course. In a democracy, the Opposition party may have sufficient support to have the Senate reject or, more democratically, amend government bills.

The last time a Government had control of both Houses was in 2004. Remember how this gave Howard’s draconian WorkChoices an easy ride as it was rammed through Parliament at the horror of a stunned electorate?

The behaviour of the Murdoch media in the few short days since the election suggests that it is not happy with purely elevating the Coalition into Government. They want it to go further. They want Tony Abbott to have unbridled control over this country, for whatever reason. Many have been speculated. Some are frightening.

The manner in which a large number of the electorate succumbed to Murdoch’s wishes on September 7 leaves me fearful that they may just as willingly do the same if a Double Dissolution election were to be called, as promised by Abbott if he does not get his way with the Senate. In the meantime expect Murdoch to attack the Senate as not only obstructionist but one that is detrimental to the economic security of this country.

It has already started. Expect it to go feral.

Thanks to Mobius Echo from Café Whispers for his input into this topic.

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