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The government of a democracy is accountable to the people

The government of a democracy is accountable to the people. Its decision-making process must be transparent because there are real and potentially severe consequences that may arise from poor decisions.

But from the word go, the Coalition government have chosen to hide information from the public.

Federal public servants were prohibited from giving evidence to the SA Royal Commission into the Murray-Darling water management plan.

Two Ministers refused to be interviewed about their involvement in tipping off the media about a raid on AWU headquarters and several of their staff refused to provide statements when requested to by police.

Untold millions have been spent fighting freedom of information requests and appealing decisions directing them to release information.

Increasingly, government contracts are handed out on “limited tender” which means no competitive process. We can’t know if someone could have done a better job for less. And there seems to be no follow-up appraisal of whether outcomes are being achieved.

The Auditor-General’s reports into value for money for defence purchases have been quashed at the behest of arms manufacturers.

Other reports sit on Ministers’ desks for months. They are either released quietly on the eve of holidays or football grand finals, or we are told that it is a “report to government, not by government” which apparently means we have no right to read the information we paid for.

Consultants are now paid big money to provide tailored information to the government rather than listening to advice from public servants in their departments.

Jobs are handed out to mates with no interview or merit selection process – Tim Wilson’s brief but lucrative sinecure at the AHRC being one of the most egregious examples.

Decisions like leasing the port at Darwin to the Chinese for 99 years for a pittance are made seemingly with little if any consultation.

As the national broadcaster has its funding slashed, $30 million is handed over to Murdoch’s pay tv with absolutely no explanation of why or how this happened.

Who decided on the inland rail route and what informed their decision?

Why, after paying so much money for water buybacks to supplement environmental flows in the Murray-Darling, are fish dying in their millions?

Why was a small charity set up by corporate interests given almost half a billion dollars all at once to “save the reef” when money to the CSIRO and university research is cut?

Why, after spending billions on the Emissions Reduction Fund, are they still rising? Has land-clearing really decreased? Have people really planted more trees?

The benefit of public ownership of essential infrastructure like transport, communications, water and energy utilities, has been completely ignored in a headlong rush towards privatisation epitomised by Abbott’s asset-recycling strategy which saw state governments sell-off anything they could regardless of the impact on price and service delivery to citizens and the whittling down of the commonwealth we inherited but will not pass on to future generations.

Rather than defending us from the exploitation of unscrupulous merchants and employers, the government has decided it is best to leave us at the mercy of the free market – unless a donor needs a boost like underwriting their new coal-fired power station because no-one else will.

Whilst the Coalition asks who do you trust on national security, it seems clear that our greatest need for protection is from other institutions and from the abuses of government itself, particularly its collusion with these other institutions.

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  1. Perkin Wetkecks

    Kaye, that’s because we are, as the statistics show, the United States bestest buddies. No other nation has trotted after Uncle Sam into all of his nasty, rancid little expeditions; not Britain, not Israel, not South Korea. Just little old Arselickin’ Aussie. Sometimes we don’t wait to
    be asked. We jump up like a lap dog dusk get ‘Take me! Take me! I want to go!’
    And just as we ape Uncle Sam’s self-deceptions, , so we ape Uncle Ssm’s disdain for the idea of ‘democracy.’
    It’s just a word they use. Like ‘freedom’.

  2. Ken

    Yes many moons ago it was all the way will LBJ and now it’s all the way with the pussy grabber

  3. Yvonne Robertson

    For me it began with the election of the Tony government which had no policies and lied to the people about the services they wouldn’t cut. Along came our current PM as Immigration minister, who broke with tradition and developed the ‘On Waters Matter’ mantra, refusing to announce boat arrivals or to answer questions claiming national security and politicising our navy in the process.

    There have been so many new laws introduced to ‘protect’ us which really have amounted to little other than limiting our rights and freedoms and an attempt to gain as much personal information about the average Australian citizen as possible – everything from the compulsory My Health Record to the compulsory storage of Australian internet data usage and the encryption legislation just to name a couple which come to mind. All of it is intrusive and menacing – releasing personal information through the media about people who dare to take a stand like what was done with the Centrelink Robodebt woman while protecting the richest because as Barnaby put it, if people knew how much Gina and her ilk earned, they could be open to kidnapping. They’ve created headlines about potential terrorist attack arrests and then released said terrorists quietly back into the community without charge. All of this waved on by an ever complicit media.

    It looks to me as though they will end their ‘reign’ as they began it – telling lies, having no policies except to entrench the advantages of the well heeled and blaming Labor for it all. Barnaby Joyce nearly 6 years in – Labor, Labor, Labor!! His panicked interview almost attests to his being up to his neck in it or just the laziest minister to ever draw breath, take your pick.

    Reprehensible mob of sneaky lying blood suckers and stand-over merchants. May we be rid of them next month.

  4. Alcibiades

    Good summation Kaye.

    Fully concur with Yvonne.

    In addition, in our new National Security State we can now be essentially publicly strip-searched without reasonable cause or even suspicion. We can be held & interrogated in isolation for a minimum of a fortnight without access to Counsel, with our status a secret & a crime to reveal. Counsel that can only be appointed if having been National Security ‘vetted’ first. Federal/Commonwealth related whistleblowers at all levels are ruthlessly targeted, suppressed, prosecuted & their lives & livelihoods destroyed. Freedom of Information, transparency & public accountability at the Federal level is non existent. Blanket data collection of society & now even intrusive digital surveillance/collection & hacking/malware of targeted individuals devices without even a judge issued specific warrant. The AFP is now more partisan political & beholden than it was even before Abbott. Our Federal institutions & Departments are riddled with venal obsequious partisan hacks parachuted into high paying sinecures.

    Our Human & political rights have been reduced, we are bombarded with ‘Fear’ of the latest constructed bogeyman, our supposed Democracy further degraded, our Free Press neither the former nor the latter, yet after Billions upon Billions expended on venal opaque rorts are no more … secure.

  5. Andrew Chambers

    Kaye Lee, I love that you are fastidious in all but the use of this word. I wouldn’t be pedantic if there wasn’t a need to allow the use of the word to describe the real and looming possibility of Democracy – the actual government of the people by the people.

    We are governed by Parliamentary Democracy (at best) and it absolutely requires the qualifier of Parliamentary when using the word. If not you’re doing a huge disservice to all those who are working toward reinstating the personal franchise to contribute and decide.

    Our world is facing multiple existential crisis BECAUSE we do not have Democracy.

  6. pappinbarra fox

    The next Labor Gov should enact legislation to ensure all government expenditure is transparent and open to scrutiny including contracts. Specifically the “commercial in confidence” clause should be prohibited. If a company wants a govt contract it will know it before it puts in its bid that at a set time after the contract is awarded the detail of the contract will become public.

  7. David Bruce

    Our shambles of a democracy can be traced back to 1973, when “Uncle” Gough started preparing Australia to become a Republic.

    Australian electors didn’t agree, so we now have a “republic by stealth”.

    Interesting that Queensland has introduced a Bill or Rights covering 23 items. Now the Victorian Labor Government have legislation to support the third tier of government, local Councils.

    Neither of these two items were included in our original and still current Commonwealth of Australia constitution 1901.

    Is it possible that some time in the future, the States will agree to uniform legislation and transfer powers to the Australian Government?

    As more people get involved in the processes of politics in Australia, we may see a more transparent, people-oriented, lawful government?

  8. Kronomex

    Scummo is going to have a “Innocent of all dirty deals and corruption” audit because he’s brown trousers frightened of a royal commission that would be harder to control than an audit –

    It’s just another day of sheer desperation and stupidity on the part of the LNP during an election period that can only get worse for them as time goes on. Even The Rupert is going to have problems getting them out of their ever deepening grave at this rate.

  9. andy56

    i think labor have been saving up the scandals. There is another one in the pipeline. With three weeks to go, the last one might be a beauty.
    Meanwhile the liberals are trying the direct lie approach with death taxes. There is no pretence or insinuations, out and out lies.

    Popcorn never tasted this good but i am saving some for election night, the long knives are going to be out.

  10. Perkin Wetkecks

    Labor still has Adani hanging like a noose. And FNQ has a collective IQ smaller than the average shoe size. It’s a pretty pisspoor country that relies on sister-shaggers to decide its national government.

  11. Trevor

    IF and it seems to be a big if, the longer the campaign continues

    Can Labor find a way to win the election against the most duplicitous, lying, thieving Govt in Aust modern history.

    IF labor don’t win then the plans in place to sell all money making aspects of Govt, along with control of customer(client) database transferred to private concerns without recourse to appeal will become the new norm

    The Indue Cashless Card is the canary in the mine of selling Social Security payments administration and nobody appears able to stop it or adjust it as Centrelink customers suffer from this bastard Govt largesse to their financiers.

    Can Labor win against the rampant Morriscum, the Belgium Burglar Cormann and the rest of the LNP machine? The answer is more than likely.

    Can Labor beat Murdoch and his media empire?

    The answer is blowing in the wind.

  12. margcall

    I agree 100% with P.Fox – “commercial in confidence” contracts should be banned.

  13. John Lord

    Hi Kaye. Way off subject but have you any Idea how to contact Kathy?

  14. Peter F

    Perkin, David, Our shambles of a democracy existed when the Coalition arranged for the US to get Vietnam to ‘request’ our assistance. This deception was exposed when the Cabinet papers were released some thirty years later. To show how ‘fair’ they were, the Coalition pulled dates out of a hat to send young men to the death for the Coalition’s own political benefit.

    NOTHING has changed.

  15. Kaye Lee

    John, I don’t know Kathy? If she is the person looking after things while Michael is away then perhaps try the contact us addy? Sorry, can’t help.

  16. wam

    where is the opposition on this topic????
    hope so trev, just got a cartoon of an ass farting with the caption silent shorten;s talking.

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