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The erosion of our democratic system

Unless you own a newspaper or a mining company, or are happy to turn a blind eye to the erosion of our democratic values then it would be difficult to get an argument from you that the Abbott Government continues to go from bad to worse.

But one of worse characteristics of this government, and one that receives little attention, is its determination to silence any dissent. It is this silencing of dissent and the erosion of our democratic values that prompted ‘Joe W’ to write this letter to The AIMN:

I’m sick of being called anti-democratic, or a ‘sore loser’ (among other insults) over the election result and told to swallow this government’s lies whole. My response to this incorrect assertion and attempt to silence me is as follows: My complaint is not over the election result, rather how the election was won and that the Abbott Coalition is using this result as justification for the erosion of our democratic system. Here are a few examples off the top of my head from the few short months under the Abbottocracy:

1. Disbanding of expert governmental panels that give government best scientific and economic advice from which to enact policy, which is a way of not being held to account for their decision in the public forum e.g. Climate Council.

2. The disbanding of committees representing the people and front line workers of industries and peak bodies giving voice to policy debate – across the board – silencing the voice of the people in their respective fields e.g. law reform committee, alcohol and other drugs council.

3. The aggressive and threatening rhetoric directed towards the workers of Australian public agencies and expert committees, backed up by severe cuts and summary disbandment and sackings. Clearly designed to silence any dissent, even where it may be in the best interest of the Australian people, adhere to scientific reason and well-founded economic rationale e.g. latest example being the marine park authority.

4. The stacking of governmental panels with members with clear bias or conflict of interest, thus ensuring predetermined outcomes of the governments design. This is not democracy, it is exercise in the sanitation of dictatorship e.g. a panel of review into renewables headed by a fervent opponent of wind generated energy, yet another review into education dismissing the findings of Gonski and headed by an avowed critic of our open and secular curriculum, the head of the audit of budget being a representative of big business with a myriad of vested interest in privatization and corporate expansion.

5. Attacks upon the press, not just the unfounded accusations and threats leveled against the ABC but also mainstream commercial media, who are often derided into silence.

6. The attacks upon unions, which like it or not, represent the interests of Australian workers and their families – many whom have lost their jobs since the Coalition came to power e.g. setting up a royal commission against unions, bringing back tough Howard era restrictions and sanctions against union activities and members.

7. Increase costs to FOIs, increasing barriers for the press and individual citizens to be able to gain information on governmental action.

8. The increasingly secretive process of negotiations towards the TPP – signing over our nation’s sovereign rights to the interests of multinational corporations with no proper Senate oversight or representation in these negotiations for representatives for the interests of the Australian people.

9. Massive cuts to legal aid services. Equality before the law being a basic principal of democracy and expert representation essential to the rule of impartiality.

10. The undermining of international law and institutions designed to protect our freedoms, support peaceful, cohesive and productive relations, and to give forum to international negotiation and efforts towards constructive and sustainable objectives e.g. snubbing international climate change forum, dissing international conventions and siding with the perpetrators of the most blatant breaches against liberty.

11. Refusing to make government papers available to opposition parties (representative of the people) an act of refusal not once seen by the previous government, despite the numerous requests and attacks of Australia’s most aggressive opposition.

12. The labeling of any dissent or questioning as unpatriotic and insinuation of alignment with an ‘enemy’. The usage of the rhetoric of war in a time of peace as means of shutting down inquiry. The vilification of peoples, groups and attacks upon the right to protest and public assembly. The framing of discussion in terms of us and them and manipulation towards siding citizens against a common enemy. Fear mongering and the fanning of the flames of hate. The examples here being too numerous to mention but clearly designed to create a climate of fear over threats to our way of life and orchestrating a divisiveness preventing a reasoned examination of issues facing our nation.

Democracy encompasses more than one vote per person every 3 years. The points listed above clearly demonstrate the aggressive silencing of the people and an erosion of the institutions of democracy designed to give a voice to represent the interests of all Australian citizens.



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  1. Rob

    It’s not a battle between left and right. Those ideologies were at least backed by evidence.

  2. NevK

    I am at the point now of feeling nauseated every time a politician opens their mouth because you just know they are telling you want you want to hear which of course is not the truth and behind the scenes they are busy carrying out the agenda of the vested interests including themselves. The biggest fear of most politicians (with some exceptions) is that the Australian people will one day awake from their ignorance and apathy and realise that their politicians are not acting in their interests. This is why stifling dissent is so high on the political agenda now as described by “Joe W”. Abbott and other political masters have learnt well from the Americans how to keep the people in the dark and quiet and to ultimately vote against their own interests with vast amounts of deception including dog whistle politics. Coming from Queensland we have seen the Newman governments Vicious Lawless Disestablishment Act (VLAD) and attacks on the rights of trade unions and nationally Abbott’s politically motivated Royal Commission into trade unions and attacking the ABC for not acting in the interests of the nation while at the same time happy to have the Murdoch media spin him into government. The TPP negotiations would appear to be a case in point where if the Australian people knew what (both) sides of politics are up to with this secretive deal they would be very angry indeed. This is where the media (with exceptions) is in a pathetic state of kowtowing to their employers and creating articles to suit, it is not investigative impartial journalism that informs the public, it is garbage! This is where the internet is important as we can get better access to the facts now and government is concerned about that because the truth is politics and government is not what it was intended to be which is an instrument by which the Australian people are well represented and the nation and their interests looked after. Instead we have politicians looking after themselves and their vested interests that are spineless and afraid to stand up for what is right. The Australian people need to take more interest in the national political debate and the march in March is a good start and let us make it bigger and better next time and speak up about what Abbott and the other political cronies are up to. Always remember that your greatest virtue is your disobedience!

  3. bjkelly1958

    Accurate and succinct. First rate. I am going to share this with all I can.

  4. bjkelly1958

    Reblogged this on A View from Bribie Island and commented:
    This is essential reading for those who fail to understand the dissent that lead in a large part to the March in March movement.

  5. Kaye Lee

    Deliberate obstruction of the judicial process and using police for political purposes eg raiding the offices of the lawyer representing the East Timorese, refusing to release documents regarding our role in East Timor, transferring detainees from Villawood the day before the court case regarding their personal details being made public, raiding the offices of Channel 7, not allowing Peter Slipper to repay the money he owed, the ridiculous amount of police and parliament time wasted on Julia Gillard’s alleged involvement in the AWU slush fund

  6. Kaye Lee

    And then of course we have Queensland’s VLAD – The Act applies to legal organisations and “any other group of 3 or more persons by whatever name called, whether associated formally or informally and whether the group is legal or illegal.”

    In a scathing address at a lawyers conference on the Gold Coast, Stephen Keim said the Newman government’s laws breached human rights.He argued the laws, which impose mandatory minimum sentencing of 15 to 25 years, breach article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil Rights and other human rights principles.

    Read more:

    And Victoria’s Summary Offences Act – “The amended Summary Offences Act will now give police broad powers to move against protesters who are blocking access to buildings, obstructing people or traffic, or who are expected to turn violent.

    The change will also allow the courts to issue an exclusion order preventing those repeatedly told to move on from entering a particular public space for up to 12 months. The maximum penalty for breaching an exclusion order is two years’ imprisonment.

    The Greens MLC Sue Pennicuik said: “This bill is an absolute assault on the democratic right of Victorians to protest – whether it be on the streets or on public land – about issues of concern to them.”

    Sorry for taking up so much space but the assaults on our democracy grow every day 🙁

  7. Hotspringer

    The longer I watch our political system, the more convinced I am that it may be the best money can buy but getting to choose between Tweedledee and Tweedledum every few years is not democracy. The only solution I can suggest is returning to sortition as the means of choosing our governments, and the oligarchs, plutocrats and kleptocrats will never permit that.

  8. Kaye Makovec

    As I just stated over there > Getting people to dob in anybody who speaks against him so they can be sacked is the lowest act ever and shows the abject fear of cowards.
    Never in my life have I ever seen such a total disregard for humanity in general and the Australian citizens by our government.

  9. gonemango

    In QLD they came first for the Environmentalists and all things green and eco, then they came for all the arts and creative industries. They’d already come for teachers, and then they came for the doctors and health. And then they came for Lawyers and Judiciary. One day we woke up and realised we had nothing left to give and no one to speak or defend us or tell our stories. What will we do? ://

  10. john921fraser


    Lets not forget the politicisation of the Australian Defence Forces.

    Lieutenant General Angus Campbell has been the spokesperson for the Abbott government and one of the architects of Operation Sovereign Borders and the one commanding the Australian defences tasked with carrying out customs work.

    "Bear in mind, also, that Lieutenant General Campbell worked in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet under former PM John Howard, as the First Assistant Secretary in the Office of National Security.".

    The secrecy behind Operation Sovereign Borders is unprecedented in Australian history.

    When a country's armed forces work in conjunction with its government to keep secrets from the populace then that country is a dictatorship.

  11. mars08

    Lets not forget the politicisation of the Australian Defence Forces…

    It’s a worry to see the American “support the troops” mentality taking hold in this country. It soon mutates into “I support the troops no matter what they do” and becomes a device for shutting down debate on all manner of government policies.

  12. Don Winther

    Joe Bullock is a Liberal

  13. contriteshadow

    As someone who has great faith in democracy, and formerly great faith in Australia’s version of it, I find it truly frightening just how far the government has already advanced (?) towards repealing democracy in this country.

    Even more so when I found the above link (after someone online suggested we’ve become a dictatorship) and was chilled to my bones by the similarities.

    “democracy: A system of government by the whole population”

  14. xiaoecho

    Not to mention the most gleefully partisan speaker since federation – Madam Kero; who treats any signs of life whatsoever from the opposition as impertinant, especially standing the wrong way and laughing

  15. helenmarg

    john921fraser.wonderful comments about the government and their secret dealings.Also their inhumane treatment of these refugees.They are an unbelievable government.

  16. Ana Milosevic

    So many Aussies are indifferent to political “climate”, and turning blind eye on erosion of our democratic values since the coalition got into business of “governing Australia Corporation”. Excuses are sickening: “parties are all the same”, “don’t want to be involved in politics”, “I am all right”, “politicians are all the same”, and the list goes on. Government is almost being applauded for taking their own people for a ride. This government does have a plan, but plan is not for the best interest of Australian people, just a few that are of “calibre”. When we decide to wake up and open our eyes, for the sake of “reality check”, we may just get a shock of our life.

  17. Jan Dobson

    I notice Joe W is fully, and rightly, supported by the comments to date. Like him, it is not the election result to which I object so much as the failure of the current government to “govern for all Australians”.

    Like many, my previous political actions have been restricted to a very occasional letter or conversation with a local member or official at a local event. And, as one of my major concerns is Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers, I also petitioned the previous government and attended a rally. It is simply that now, my list of concerns is long and growing.

    Accept constructive criticism and debate, but ignore/do not engage those with a blind adherence to a particular view. Nothing you can say or do will have any affect on them and will just wear you down.

  18. mars08

    Sadly, for the vast majority of Australians, democracy is only something which happens every 3 years.

  19. abbienoiraude

    “….but ignore/do not engage those with a blind adherence to a particular view. Nothing you can say or do will have any affect on them and will just wear you down.”

    Thank you Jan Dobson for this. It is harder when it is family members or your best friend and hubby who you have tried to ‘convince’ ( before the last election) why NOT to vote for the LNP!

    I am not a good debater as I become to emotional and cannot remember facts in such a state.

    I am so dispirited by this Govt and by its unravelling of my Country. I despair but articles like this and commentators on AIMN are very helpful in supporting me in understanding I am not alone ‘out here’.

    It was my son in South Korea who gave me the headsup about the TPP when Australia signed an agreement with Seoul. He wrote; “The old men have sold Australia off for peanuts”.

    Some may wake up one day and say; When did this happen? When did it all change?
    I will be one who will say; I tried to warn you.

  20. Keith

    Another good article.
    To be asked to dob in others is a despicable act; un-Australian. It is also the act of a bully. With all his carping before the election, Abbott has set up a reaction against himself when it became clear he was not going to produce what had been promised. He had promised to govern for all Australians; when he really looks after the big end of town.
    Abbott’s apparent vision for Australia is a dog eat dog society.

  21. facter

    … Im quite confused, at what point exactly do you believe that Australia was ever a democracy? The last I looked we are a Westminster government, which was designed to support a centuries old class system from a country that we originated from. We have no bill of rights and we have very little in the way of actual democratic freedoms – we get to vote for people who get to decide who leads us – we don’t get 5 actually get to vote for our leader directly, and then that person who got voted for by the representatives gets to choose whoever he wants for whatever positions of power he requires. Oh and if the representatives don’t like the leader well hey, they’ll put another one in – without our input thanks!

    I say that I’m confused, because that’s not actually a democracy. It’s not even, in this day and age, a very Governable system – it’s been amended and patched up over centuries, but it has little relevance to the way in 20th our country today operates. You worry about our loss of freedoms and democratic rights, when you’ve fallen for 4 he biggest misnomer, the swindle that all Australians actually believe – we are not a democracy, and that freedom you are suddenly actually worried about losing?

    You’ve never actually had it in the first place.

  22. facter

    … Please excuse my spelling mistakes and autocotrects, new phone 😉

  23. Lee

    Great article. Got any ideas on how we get the average Australian to forget about the reality tv tripe that is served up on a daily basis and invades the lives of many and start concentrating on the more important issue of who is running the country? The ALP also urgently needs to get back to its roots and start doing it’s real job – serving the people – instead of politicians serving their own interests. They look too much like the Liberals.

  24. fryaduck

    Talk, talk, talk, talk, talk without action your words are meaningless The Aimn

  25. Bacchus

    That’s a deep and meaningful addition to the discussion, oh great and roasted one 😀

    What would you suggest contributors do on a blog? 🙄

  26. Don Winther

    The erosion of our Country!

  27. Stephen Tardrew

    Speak for yourself fryaduck i am sure many of the people who post here are to some degree politically active. Give it a go mate.

  28. Don Winther

    Well fryaduck Im gunna get ACTIVE and have a nice cold Australian made Beer ( but not owned ) and a nice Australian made cigarette, help poor old Phillip Morris out.

  29. mars08

    …without action your words are meaningless… … thanks for sharing those words. But I don’t get your meaning!

  30. nevk21

    Probably the big issue not mentioned here and relevant to the Australian Government doing what their vested interests want despite the Australian people’s protests is the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Australian Government (Howard in 2001) and perpetuated by successive Governments has never been bought to account for the fact that Australia went to war on a lie that Iraq had WMD’s and that the real reason for war with Iraq was a rapacious war on another countries resources. Abbott can have a political Royal Commission into the home insulation scheme and the trade union movement but not an illegal war that has cost the lives of thousands of Western Coalition soldiers and about 900,000 Iraqi’s of whom 90% were civilians, many of them innocent women and children. I could not believe the dribble coming out of Abbott’s mouth when announcing the Royal Commission into the home insulation scheme when he said “name another Government programme that kills people” well I would argue the Iraq war was a Government program that killed 900,000 Iraqi’s and now of course we have the tragic death of asylum seeker Reza Berati on Manus Island. The big Government lie in all of this apart from Iraq having no WMD’s (just ask MP Andrew Wilkie why he left ASIO and about this matter) is the lie that you can win a war on terror. There is more terrorists now because of what the west has done to their countries namely plundering them and killing their people in order to advance their Empire and keep the big Corporation’s interests in tact. The only war is the war of terror by Western Governments on other Countries that they can push around. They are finding it a bit more difficult in Crimea where Russian President Putin has declared I am not playing their games! Complicit in all of this is the media (with exceptions) that repeat the official Government propaganda line.

    The whole system in Australia and most other western countries is sick. Allowing private central banks to create their own money and then the Government having to borrow it and pay interest (why do you think the United States of America is 16,000.000,000 or 16 trillion dollars in debt) and Australia repeating the mistake, why do we allow Corporations (largely foreign owned) to kick us around and steal our resources or charge us a fortune for them and pay little tax to benefit the Australian people (because they buy off the people that matter) and why do we allow the media to be massively controlled by one individual (Murdoch) who thinks he has the right to tell us how we should run our country and all the time telling only one side of the story and then of course then we have the spineless kowtowing politicians (with exceptions) who have decided it is better to join the vesty men rather than fight them. What a pathetic state of affairs we have all allowed to happen and it is time to get active. The Australian people need to make a stand on the new anti-dissent laws and the next time an election comes around we need to pressure candidates to scrap these laws if they win Government because Australian people want the right to protest peacefully. Apathy and ignorance are the enemy of change and action with wisdom is the antidote!

    The Abbott Government doesn’t give a shit about the people and only provides services to look legitimate so they can get on with their secret agenda for the few!

  31. brayden

    I’m just reading George Orwell’s 1984, oh the similarities!

  32. John from Ngunnawal country

    Do unto others as rednecks and bogans in marginal seats would have you do.

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  34. Zathras

    In order for a democracy to work, public dissent is an obligation and not a right.
    Silencing critics can work if it’s done in small incremental steps – like the frog in the pot.
    If we remain silent, one day we will wake up in a country we no longer recognise and wonder how the hell we got there.

  35. Bacchus

    Someone said that very thing in different words in another era Zathras…

    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.

  36. Rick 5591

    This is not just some common or garden corruption of the political and social processes in Australia. It is the clear and stated policy and long-term plan of the Global Elite who control the World. This small group of families who prefer for obvious reasons to remain in the shadows, pull the strings of the economic controllers of the World. You may have heard of the Bilderburg group;the Club of Rome;the trilateral Commission. These periodic gatherings determine economic and financial policies for the good of themselves and their masters – not for the good of people of the World. Who are the masters? They are known by a number of names, the Illuminati ; the Cabal, the Global Elite; the Free Masons.
    These handful of families are sitting on hundreds of trillions of dollars and long ago bought all the governments of the Western World. The mainstream media of the West is owned and controlled by them.
    So once one understands these crucial facts, it should no longer surprise one that the Abbott government or the Obama government are governing for those same masters. Hence the fast pace of globalization of the world economy (code for increased centralization of world economy and finance making for more complete control). The Corporatization of national governments which means in practice rule by Transnational corporations.One could go on. But if you have read this far , you will be seeing the picture.
    For your own research , try putting the following topis and names into Google; The new World Order; the Illuminati; Rothchild; Rockefeller ; Bush family; Agenda 21,

  37. rick5591

    One should look behind the political front men such as Abbott or Shorten to see who is really pulling the strings to understand why the lying is mandatory. The following is how the political systems of the West operate. There is only one political agenda in the West and that is the agenda of the financial global Elite. What is their policy? One; the bankruptcy of nation states. Hardship, disorder to be suffered by their populations. Two; the solution provided by the mouthpieces of the Elite: namely One World Government;no nation states; one World currency; one World army and Police force.Complete control and censorship of the media. (But for the Internet we would already have that). Micro-chipping of the entire population for complete control.
    In the meantime, to perpetuate the illusion of democracy, we have the Government Party and the Opposition Party. Both parties support the same agenda but to make the illusion of choice seem credible, the Party in Opposition attacks the Government policies. When the Opposition becomes the Government they then adopt the same policies as the previous Government while the new Opposition adopts the contrary role. Most people in the West don’t understand this strategy, They put the succession of unsatisfactory governments down to corruption, incompetence etc. ; but don’t see the big picture. But some nations have already woken to the fact that their governments act for the Global Elite and not for the people who elected them.
    Those Nations are Iceland, Ireland, Hungry , Russia ; to name a few. Those countries have kicked the international banking cartel (Rothchild) out , and replaced them with National banks which prints its own currency and therefore doesn’t have to pay interest for the loan of their currency to the banking cartel. Iceland for example went from poverty to prosperity almost overnight when it ceased paying interest on the interest on loans from the cartel. Most people in the world think money is something tangible. It’s not. The banks create it out of thin air. The world
    banking fraud started with the Rothchilds back in the 18th century. The centre of that fraud is the Bank of England. What has this got to do with Australia? Well, all our banks, including the reserve bank, are effectively owned by the international banking cartel which has only 3 aims.
    One, to enrich itself by sucking the financial and industrial wealth out of its host nation.
    Two: to bankrupt the host state, leading to poverty, suffering and social disorder.
    Three; Propose the solution to the problems they have created , by bringing in the New World Order.(The NWO is code for totalitarianism and mass enslavement.)
    Getting back to the original point of lying politicians. Once a party becomes the Government, it must renege on its previous policies, and adopt the agenda of the real rulers who are always the same elite who pull the financial strings.
    Anyone reading this who think this is some unreal conspiracy theory, just need to do the research as I and now millions of others have done (including Vladimir Putin), to know that that
    is the truth, unpleasant to admit as it may be.

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