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Take heed Mr Abbott

According to political scientist Larry Diamond, democracy consists of four key elements: “1. A political system for choosing and replacing the government through free and fair elections. 2. The active participation of the people, as citizens, in politics and civic life. 3. Protection of the human rights of all citizens. 4. A rule of law, in which the laws and procedures apply equally to all citizens”.

On that definition, we no longer live in a democracy.

We certainly have a system by which we choose who represents us in parliament but with the misinformation handed out by the Murdoch press, the false advertising carried out by lobby groups, the influence of political donors, and the failure of politicians to keep their pre-election promises, the description “free and fair” could be questioned.

After that, it is all downhill.

The Abbott government’s obsession with secrecy and their draconian attempts to silence critics with threats of incarceration or withdrawal of funding is hindering the active participation of citizens in politics and civic life.

The examples are endless – the vitriolic attack on Gillian Triggs, the sacking of Save the Children staff, the gagging of public servants, doctors and teachers, the threat of removal of charitable status for environmental groups, removing funding from community legal centres if they engage in advocacy, the failure to include in the budget details on how different groups will be affected, a veil of secrecy in how foreign aid is being spent – to name but a few.

Tony Abbott’s response to allegations that our government paid people smugglers to sail boats back to Indonesia should send a shiver down our spines. Whatever it takes? By hook or by crook? Are we paying criminals? As Waleed Aly said, “When allegations are this serious, you don’t get to choose if you tell us or not.”

For the first time ever, Australia has been named on the Human Rights Watch list in 2014 and 2015.

The report criticises our treatment of asylum seekers, the high levels of Aboriginal incarceration and death from treatable and preventable conditions, the lack of support for the disabled with 45% of Australians with disabilities living near or below the poverty line, refusal to adopt marriage equality, and our new anti-terror and data retention laws.

When one of their first actions is to sack the Disability Commissioner and slash over $500 million from Indigenous funding, followed by their unrelenting attack on the Human Rights Commission and their dismissal of concerns raised by the UN, it is hard to believe this government has any concern at all about human rights. Instead, the report points to our tacit approval of, and active assistance to, corrupt regimes such as Sri Lanka and Cambodia.

And as for the rule of law applying equally to all citizens, we are seeing this government circumvent this most essential aspect of democracy by placing the power of judgement in the hands of the Minister with no necessity for him to justify his actions let alone prove any wrongdoing and with no right of appeal other than procedural.

We also see them prevaricating about marriage equality with people like George Christensen and Cory Bernardi believing they have the right to ignore what the vast majority see as a right that should be afforded to all Australians regardless of their sexuality.

Tony Abbott rightly says that it is a government’s job to protect its citizens but, to him, that only means upping the ante on all things military. He pays lip service to the damage being inflicted through domestic violence, he dismisses the danger posed by climate change, and he welcomes and facilitates the rapacious greed of global corporations.

As Diamond stated in his book, The Spirit of Democracy: The Struggle to Build Free Societies Throughout the World, “for democratic structures to endure – and be worthy of endurance – they must listen to their citizens’ voices, engage their participation, tolerate their protests, protect their freedoms, and respond to their needs.”

Take heed Mr Abbott or face the consequences of one of the few democratic rights we still possess, the ballot box.

53 comments

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  1. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    I posted this on Twitter. Keep up the ante Kaye. Well done.

  2. Diane

    Kudos to Waleed Aly for being brave enough to speak out against this on a TV Channel owned by many of Abbott’s puppeteers. Great article, thanks, Kaye.

  3. stephentardrew

    Great article Kaye.

    I have been saying for some time that things are really serious. This event only goes to demonstrate how true that is.

    We are at a fork in the road as we either get overwhelmed by brute ignorance or step up and challenge these fools.

    Just keep on bashing at the truth.

    Chomsky sets an example since he does not give a damn what people say nothing will shut him up.

    Keep up the good work AIMN right now you are desperately needed.

  4. JohnB

    Great work Kaye.
    Abbott’s dwells in a world of ‘business rules’ – a grey murky area lying somewhere between the lawful and the un-lawful.
    An amoral ‘world’ where there is no right or wrong, just what is immediately effective; selfish ‘profit’ outcomes today are the measure of success, not tomorrows cost to others, the society or the environment.

    By the time the real cost of their actions has to be met they are long gone – with the spoils of their vandalous deeds safely sequestered in ‘laundered’ respectable private wealth.
    Ominously, they are the revered ‘pillars’ of our society; the overseers of our ‘welfare’.

    Unfettered avariciously greedy capitalism is on course to destroy civilised humanity.

  5. stephentardrew

    I know I m a little obsessed about the TPP, TISA etc. however I hope it’s OK to keep posting relevant information.

    Handing Monopoly to private banks permanently.

    Don’t know if it will apply here however TISA is supposed to be the broad base framework for trade deals (corporate overreach) for TPP, TPIP and so on.

    http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/fast-track_hands_the_money_monopoly_to_private_bankspermanently_20150613#14342506471911&action=collapse_widget&id=0&data=

  6. my say

    Really frightening ,what Abbott and his government are doing to australia,
    We have lost what our fathers ,brothers, sons, daughters , fought and died for [our freedom]

  7. Anomander

    Abbott is digging his own grave and a deep one it will be. He has been running a vendetta with Royal Commissions galore into every aspect of the ALP and their time in government. He even opened the a can of worms in allowing cabinet minutes to be submitted to the commission. Don’t think there won’t be retribution when he is gone, and no amount of secrecy or lying is going to protect him.

    Although I say we need an inquiry now about whether our PM was aware of payments made to people smugglers. He clearly was fully aware, and knowing it was both morally wrong and illegal – he instead decided to avoid the question than to have his tactics scrutinised.

    This is dangerous thinking – to believe he is above the law and should not have to answer to the people. To think he is smart by evading the question rather than answering it and be caught-out lying yet again. Well… he does have an extensive history of saying things that aren’t truthful.

    We have a right to the truth. Our government should not be able to hide behind the smokescreen of security. We aren’t talking about issues of national security, highly sensitive investigations subjudice. No Australian is immediately threatened by the release of this information – therefore we have every right to demand an answer. And if one is not forthcoming – we demand an inquiry.

  8. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    ‘Amoral’ is a great word for Abbott and his thieving, thuggish friends.

  9. Loz

    What is alarming about Abbott’s response to the payment of smugglers is his answer “Whatever it takes”. What else is going on in our name?

  10. Pandrstevenson1@bigpond.com

    Abbott wants to tread very carefully ,the Indonesian Government only has to threaten to abolish the live cattle export this would cause a split between the Liberals and the National party.

  11. stephentardrew

    Now that would be interesting.

  12. mars08

    A young brown-skinned chap demanding that the Australian PM be accountable? Oh my… that’s outrageous!

  13. Kaye Lee

    Pandrstevenson1,

    President Widodo told a business conference in November last year that Indonesia will aim for self-sustainability in beef within one year, while targeting three years for rice, soybeans and corn, and four to five years for sugar.

    Renewed self-sufficiency push for Indonesia’s new president

    It increasingly appears that free trade agreements are all to our detriment. What’s the point in killing our manufacturing industry and losing $6 billion in tariffs if Indonesia and China no longer need our exports. China are buying farms here to eliminate the middleman, namely us. I really wish our politicians would stop keeping secrets so wiser heads than Peta Credlin’s could advise them of what is really going on. Peta is good at dirt files and spin…she should NOT be sitting at the table for trade negotiations.

  14. mars08

    Anomander:

    We have a right to the truth. Our government should not be able to hide behind the smokescreen of security…

    I suspect that there are many, many Australians who aren’t interested in the “truth” when it comes to asylum seekers. They just wish the problem would go away… permanently. These citizens just want a final solution. And our politicians are doing all they can to oblige!

  15. AndrewL

    A Governor General doing his job would have dismissed Tony Abbott well before now. To blatantly lie to the people who voted him and his party into power, to lie in parliament and to put corporate greed above the interests of the people of Australia is not what being a PM or good governance is about. It is time to remove these people from the decision-making process and put in a caretaker administration while the Liberal Party address these matters in front of a court.
    Thanks Kaye Lee for another great summary.

  16. darrel nay

    thanks Kaye and stephentardrew,

    I am filthy about the ‘free trade agreements’ too. In reality, they are managed trade dictates. I would support free trade agreements if they were genuine but these ‘FTA’s’ are crony capitalism at its worst. My intuition tells me they will pass and that Australians will not see how corrupt the agreements are until our pensions are taken – as has already happened in Greece.

    It’s interesting that Iceland now has the only thriving economy in Europe because it refused to bail-out the banks, instead choosing to jail the banksters (also Iceland refused to join the European Union which began with a free trade agreement for steel)

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/12/iceland-drops-european-union-membership-bid

    Sovereignty is Freedom

  17. Kaye Lee

    Mathias Cormann said today “This proposition that somehow the prime minister has refused to deny [the allegations], and that somehow this is translated into payments have been made is just wrong. No indications has been made whatsoever that payments have been made.”

    Well done on the doublespeak Mathias but what are you trying to say? Don’t any of you KNOW whether this happened or not, or are you just trying to say that we can’t take any assurances from what the PM has said?

  18. stephentardrew

    Yep exactly Darrel Nay Iceland is a shining example of what to do. Europe and the US are certainly not. Greece can never pay back the debt and all the IMF, with the help of Germany, is trying to do is screw everything they can out of it until the inevitable default or writing off of debt occurs. Legard is certainly some devious shaker and mover snuggling up to Obama. Without a sovereign fiat currency they are trapped. They have Spain and Italy to deal with yet and they are freaked. What happened about the toxic loans the banks made to Greece. I don’t see Jammie Diamond in jail. It is a world of lies deceptions, lies and hypocrisy and we need to get the hell out of this attempt to undermine national sovereignty by corporations.

  19. corvus boreus

    On FTAs like the TPP.
    Apart from economic repercussions, their are ecological consequences to signing away our sovereignty for currency exchange.
    FTAs enable unelected autocratic entities to over-ride scientific principles of precaution in matters of biological quarantine.
    FTAs means things like fire ants (Solenopsis invicta), which likely came in on unwashed free-trade 2nd hand excavators.
    FT-FTAs, and FT-TPP.

  20. eli nes

    A lovely read, Kaye!
    Shame labor cannot understand your concerns.
    Abbutt’s religious status confirms he cannot lie to 50% of his support and what we class as lies, is merely a necessary twist of the truth to the other 50%.
    The digging analogy is him tunneling out of labor’s debt hole. The debt crisis lie is still unchallenged and forms his major fear arousing and vote gathering slogan.
    When it comes to marking the ballot paper the choice will be stick with the AAA economy and protection against terrorists or back to the debt, carbon tax and boats with billy.
    Some will prefer di natale(Abbott is opus dei and a hero of the greens christian brothers educated leader) and the greens enough to cost labor seats.
    If the paper is ‘loud enough’ in vilifying independents, the coalition may get control of the senate or the greens may control the senate on their own.
    Either will be disastrous for labor and the greens will be closer to being the second party. (my bet is these lunatics will never win office, leaving us with a menzian experience till 2040..

  21. donwreford

    The corporations who put money into promoting and sponsoring the politicians who become the elected the ballet boxes are just to pacify the illusion of the voters and the idea of democracy, politicians by the time they get into running get the scam of what politicians are about, the system is so entrenched they know the only possibility is for them to succumb to the system, and grab what he or she can get out of a corrupted historical misnomer..

  22. Tony

    So this guy is a muslim. Muslims stated aim is to overthrow democracy and institute sharia law. He’s complaining we’re not behaving democratically enough. Seriously?

  23. Kaye Lee

    Sorry Tony, I don’t understand. Which guy is a Muslim? Who is trying to institute Sharia law?

  24. Kaye Lee

    Ohhhhh….you mean you think Waleed wants to introduce Sharia law in Australia? I find that VERY hard to believe Tony. Care to show me where he has ever intimated any such thing?

  25. spiraledi1

    Thank you for this astute summing up Kay Lee.The turbidness of this Con Gvt.condensed nicely in a single essay.

  26. spiraledi1

    What is it with some male Australians??? with the name of Tony?

  27. OzFenric

    Re paying off the boats, the sequence of events seems logical. The boat crew, still in international waters, refuses to turn around when “requested” by Australian Navy officials. Australia has no jurisdiction and their only option is to use force, which would be an act of war against an Indonesian flagged vessel. (I guess we should be relieved that “By hook or crook” doesn’t seem to include going to war.) So they pay the crew to turn around. Now they absolutely cannot admit publicly that they did so. But if they thought they could keep that secret they were being impossibly optimistic. Otherwise the whole operation crumbles – the moment the precedent is set, that’s the death blow for Australia’s ability to turn boats around. The next month should be interesting.

  28. jimhaz

    [President Widodo told a business conference in November last year that Indonesia will aim for self-sustainability in beef within one year]

    More forest areas gone. I’d have to think that Indo production of beef is at least 2 times more damaging than Australian production, even accounting for the resource usage used in transporting to Indo.

  29. jimhaz

    I’ve never minded how much Australia pollies are paid as they do tend to work long hours and have good marketable skills.
    Looks like my viewpoint is wrong.

    Perhaps the law of unintended consequences means that the pay levels does not actually attract better candidates, but more materialistic opportunists who gradually infect the “decent” pollies with heightened levels of self-interest.

    Maybe halving the pay and super would make being a pollie far less attractive and we’d get more “fair dinkum’ policies.
    As usual though – we people cannot even do anything about this. We have no democratic power whatsoever when bipartisian issues are involved.

  30. Matters Not

    Re efforts to pay people smugglers. Beware the Cobra Effect. Unintended consequences and all that.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cobra_effect

    Look what happens when you offer a bounty on rats.

    “What is rat farming, you ask. It turns out it’s essentially a slightly more disgusting version of bug hunting. Dubner said that he was in Johannesburg, South Africa, recently, and the city was having a serious problem with rats. Officials had tried a number of remedies with no real success, and so they eventually hit upon the idea of offering a small monetary reward for every dead rat turned in. The program was a huge hit, and dead rats started flowing in.

    But the idea actually created an entirely new industry: rat farming. Once people discovered that there was money to be made by turning in dead rats, they started breeding the vermin strictly for the purpose of killing them and collecting the cash. Effective, but gross.

    – See more at: https://threatpost.com/how-bug-bounties-are-rat-farming-092011/75671#sthash.4MGU9Slx.dpuf

  31. Tracie

    I have been keeping the International Criminal Court updated on all aspects of this situation.

  32. Klaus

    Hi, my first post. At the danger of being hanged here, I feel compelled to comment on a few things. I am a German citizen who has initially migrated to Australia in 1983 (legitimate, front of the queue), left with my Australian wife in 2009 and returned in 2014. Enough of introduction.
    I am saddened to say that I migrated to a once free and open country, where on Bondi Beach on Xmas, fantastic, happy, non-violent parties took place. With the years, freedom got curbed by both sides of government. Australia seems to be hell bent on punishing. You had 120 on Freeways, only to slow down to 90 when an accident happens. You can’t prevent accidents (they still happen), you can’t regulate fools.

    This country approaches all signs of a police state. About a month ago, I got scared out of my wits at night, when suddenly a police cop on a motor bike came close up to my driver window and peeked into my car. Shortly after, I saw him having pulled off another car.

    The Abbott government however, takes the cake. I can’t believe the MSM is asleep at the wheel and I agree with everyone who voices their opinion, that real journalism is banned from MSM.

    How can it be that an entire country is watching the alarming development in silence??

    Yes, it used to be a free and lovingly naive country. This country has disappeared to be firstly replaced by a police state (punishment is the remedy for everything) and now by a fascist, marching in the direction of totalitarian government.

    For god’s sake, WAKE UP AUSTRALIA.

  33. Steve Laing

    Well said Kaye. At present I am working to develop new mechanisms to get our democratic process back on track, primarily by getting rid of political parties as the predominant source of the cancer attacking our institutions, whilst suggesting a workable alternative. It is a work in progress that I am more than happy to get input and feedback on as it progresses. http://www.makeourvoiceheard.com and “anewdemocracy” on Facebook and Twitter. Please join in. The approach is intentionally bipartisan, and looks to develop more consensual based decision making to deliver longer-term stability and legislation more inkeeping with the views of a properly informed electorate.

  34. Kaye Lee

    Welcome Klaus. And relax, we don’t encourage punishment here 🙂

    I share your fear and often quote from Milton Mayer’s book, They thought they were free. It is chillingly similar to what we are seeing here where our government is refusing to tell us what they are doing.

    Principiis obsta and Finem respice—‘Resist the beginnings’ and ‘Consider the end.’

    http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/511928.html

  35. darrel nay

    Thanks Klaus,
    I agree with you 100% – welcome to aimn and a continuing welcome to Australia. Europeans are perhaps best placed to warn Australians of the perils of totalitarianism.

    Cheers

  36. darrel nay

    thanks Steve Laing,

    Like you I have been encouraging consensus politics for years.

    Cheers

  37. darrel nay

    reply for Kaye,

    I agree with you 100% –

    “The very word ‘secrecy’ is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths, and to secret proceedings.”

    I wonder what Kennedy would have said about the Bilderberg group.
    John F. Kennedy

    Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/johnfkenn136324.html#HEo58j4mFjz2rZaz.99

    Cheers

  38. Steve Laing

    Thanks Darrel – having taught win-win negotiation and problem solving, the current adversarial model of decision making is so outdated to be worthless. We spend too much time now on politics, and not enough on policy, with the result that good ideas are often killed simply because “the other side had it, so we can’t support it”.

  39. darrel nay

    reply for Steve Laing,

    Again I agree 100%. If Australia can be seen as a rag-doll then the current ‘functioning’ of the adversarial system seems designed to rip the doll in two. Our politicians, from both sides of the aisle seem happiest when they trump the ‘other side’ when all they have accomplished is wedge-politics. No wonder the banksters get bailed out while the homeless are ignored and the asylum seekers are tortured.

    Consensus is Strength

  40. Win jeavons

    Are secrecy and democracy ever compatible?

  41. Kaye Lee

    The best weapon of a dictatorship is secrecy, but the best weapon of a democracy should be the weapon of openness.

    Niels Bohr

    Secrecy, being an instrument of conspiracy, ought never to be the system of a regular government.

    Jeremy Bentham

    Whatever hysteria exists is inflamed by mystery, suspicion and secrecy. Hard and exact facts will cool it.

    Elia Kazan

  42. mars08

    “The best weapon of a dictatorship is secrecy…”

    Made so much easier when hardly anyone cares enough to ask important questions!!!!

  43. oldfart

    I thought that stopping the passage of a ship in international waters and boarding that ship without invitation, then impeding the continued passage of that ship in international waters, as well as taking that ship in tow without invitation or distress call against the will of the captain was piracy. I wonder when the country of registration (Indonesia) will start supplying armed escorts and request UN assistance to prevent this behavior in international waters. One slip away from a shooting war, or arrest warrants from the international criminal court for our PM and other ministers.

  44. philgorman2014

    The Tyrants’ Charter: An Authoritarian Handbook

    Contents

    Control the flow of information.
    Arrogate all communications and media.
    Disseminate propaganda to the masses.
    Make allies or puppets of popular media identities.
    Normalise misinformation.
    Normalise increasing secrecy.
    Emphasise security as an end to justify all means.
    Ensure the face and slogans of the nation’s leader are omni-present.
    Establish mass surveillance.
    Lie boldly.

    Discourage critical thought.
    Denounce discourse.
    Cancel compassion.
    Crush creativity.
    Eviscerate education.

    Divide and rule.
    Encourage tribalism.
    Encourage a culture of resentment.
    Blame the poor for their shortcomings.
    Praise the rich for their enterprise.
    Promote populist law and order issues.
    Create a climate of fear and mistrust.
    Reassure the masses that the leader will save them.

    Centralise power.
    Build alliances with the powerful.
    Defer to over-mighty barons when you have to.
    Redistribute wealth.
    Make nationalism a core value.
    Reward “in groups”.
    Vilify “out groups” and “the other”.
    Denigrate the marginalised.
    Make citizenship contingent.

    Over-ride the rule of law.
    Ignore due process.
    Pass ever more draconian laws incrementally.
    Establish greater powers of arrest, secret courts, and special tribunals.
    Reassure the masses that the leader will save them.

    Unify the Nation
    Create a climate of fear.
    Identify real and perceived threats.
    Identify external enemies as existential threats.
    Identify internal enemies as fifth columnists.
    Concentrate “undesirable elements” in special camps.
    Reassure the masses that the leader will save them.

    Promote the role of the military and security services.
    Divert resources to the military and security services.
    Militarise existing police forces “to assure the maintenance of public order”.
    Grant police forces and security services extra-ordinary powers.
    Make the ends justify the means.
    Reassure the masses that the leader will save them.

    Rule unopposed.
    Make war.
    Imprison dissenters.
    Crush all opposition.
    Reassure the masses that the leader will save them.

  45. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    If one dared, philgorman2014,

    wouldn’t it be good to send this list to Rabid’s office, and ask him (or his piddly little sidekick) to explain why all these descriptors ressemble him and his party machine!

  46. stephentardrew

    Philgorman2014:

    A disturbing but recognisable list of L-NP objectives.

  47. mark delmege

    “We certainly have a system by which we choose who represents us in parliament” … are you sure about that? I thought it was the political parties who choose our candidates (comply or die – can you imagine the Labor or Liberal Party preselecting anyone critical of empire or actually telling it like it is? Only bubble heads need apply) – a bit like those countries we call undemocratic … really not much different – not that I am complaining…its just a matter of fact.

  48. Liz

    Hi all – has anyone seen this?

    Dutch government ordered to cut carbon emissions in landmark ruling
    Dutch court orders state to reduce emissions by 25% within five years to protect its citizens from climate change in world’s first climate liability suit.

    An organisation called Urgenda have taken the Dutch government to court, accusing them of ignoring their duty of care in protecting Dutch citizens against the affects of climate change. The court ruled in favour of Urgenda in a landmark case.

    Is there anything in our constitution that outlines a government’s duty of care for Australian citizens?

    There must be something that can be done about this vile rabble?

  49. James

    An excellent article.

    Unfortunately, discussions – as we’re all now quite aware – achieve nothing, as more and more of the public’s right to protest and bring corruption to light, are quashed by the Murdoch-Abbott dictatorship.

    Civil war will erupt in Australia; it’s not a matter of if, but when. You can only abuse people for so long before they turn upon you and end your reign of deceit, corruption and financial terror.

  50. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Dear deceitful James,

    if you were so concerned about ancient, yestermen Rupey Boy & arselick Abbott not doing their proper jobs, then you should have said so 2 and a half whole months ago.

    Shame James! James’ Shame.

    I could go on but I might become a bit boring like you.

  51. southoz

    there are several large groups on facebook now that track and report hourly on this Government and what they are doing and planing to do . for over 2 years we have had a lot of insider info and very accurate predictions as to what this government is going to do next , it comes as no surprise that the LNP Government has now created a 6000 strong armed paramilitary force that takes direct orders from the PM and his minister , it is how ever frustrating to deal with so many trolls that say that Abbott and his band of marry thieves have done no wrong , there is no other Australian government within the last 100 year that has been more corrupt or deceitful as this one has been . the only single comparison any one can make is the rise of Adolf Hitler and his party ,

  52. Kaye Lee

    Abbott’s justification for leaving asylum seekers to rot on Manus and Nauru is that they dealt with people smugglers. Well what about our intelligence agencies that have apparently also paid tens of thousands to people smugglers? How many times has that happened? What about their plan to buy the smugglers boats from them? They could be paying the smugglers a monthly bonus for every month a boat doesn’t set out for all we know because this government thinks it’s a secret and have admitted they will do whatever it takes with an unlimited budget to maintain their slogan.

  53. mars08

    And… of course… our brave, loyal, stoic troops are juzt follofink ze orderz!

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