The creeping betrayal of democracy in Australia.
For various reasons, I’ve travelled a lot and had the opportunity to meet and get to know, people from many different countries and cultures. It’s one of the pleasures of life and if you’re a gregarious person, which I am, you find out about each other. Like you and I, they all had their own cultural centric view on the world, and when you get past that and down to the basics of the person, you either like them or not, but that’s just you and that particular person.
That cultural veneer is important though. It reflects the society they were brought up in, and when push comes to shove, it’ll be the ethos of that society that will govern their instinctive reaction in many a situation. In my experience, it’s possible to make some broad but accurate generalisations about people who come from a distinct culture.
The WordPress statistics tell me about a quarter of the readership of this blog are from Australia, and probably a slightly higher percentage of active commenters. Because I’ve learnt a fair amount about Australian politics from reading their media, blogs and comments made here, and also that I consider Australia is in some ways, a special case when it comes to climate alarmism, I thought it about time to do an article on Australia, from that different perspective of someone outside the country.
To echo the words of the poet Housman, I, a stranger and afraid, in a world I never made. Rightly or wrongly, a stranger in a strange land, looks on it with a fresh eye. I’ve made too many good friends down there, not to give it an honest shot, and I hope I’ll have a few left, after what looks to be a lock, stock and two smoking barrels type of article.
I’m sure Australia, like every other country, has its own fair share of eminently disagreeable people, but in general there is a characteristic about them I like; it’s their open-mindedness. They’ve usually an easy outgoing manner, which is why they travel so well and in general, get on with people outside their cultural milieu. They quite often have a roughty toughty exterior but at the same time, after a few minutes into a conversation, you’ll soon find out they’ve read a book or two. It’s that Kipling touch of being equally at ease in the company of princes or paupers. Putting on airs and graces tends to be frowned on and is guaranteed to attract some serious flak. They’re nobody’s fool but at heart they’re a generous bunch, who tend to give people the benefit of the doubt.
It’s a young country, whose early history has many parallels to the opening up of the American West, not least in terms of the hardships of settling a sparsely populated continent. Again, like America but much more recently, it broke out of the mindset of being a colony of an empire, fortunately without having to fight a war of independence, and has its own very strong sense of national identity. By and large, they’re an optimistic and adventurous bunch, which is why they’re usually such good company. Over the years, I’ve had some great laughs with them, but what I’ve always liked about them is that when the going gets a bit sticky, it’s that same tough sense of humour that comes into play.
Looking at the political situation in Australia today, I cannot help but get the feeling that very same easygoing impulse to be fair and decent to other people, has been abused and taken advantage of, to the point where it’s now almost become their undoing.
It’s as if they were approached and asked for an endless series of small and apparently harmless concessions; what could be wrong with subsidising clean energy sources for a few years, how could it possibly hurt if we gave that minority a little bit of regulatory help, wouldn’t it be better if we tweaked the law to close off that injustice, wouldn’t it be the decent thing to protect this special little piece of our beautiful Australian environment, wouldn’t it be a good gesture to share our wonderful country with a few more people, wouldn’t it be better to pass a law to hush up those nasty people saying horrible things we don’t agree with and wouldn’t it be sensible to sacrifice a little bit of our freedom today, just to give our descendants a better life. There’s nothing particularly objectionable about any one of these requests, but the sum total of them all, is something else.
Each of those reasonable little requests was nodded through, or at least allowed to happen, but the net effect has been to slowly and almost imperceptibly, remove a brick at a time from that wall around the common liberties, that should be enjoyed without fear by the free citizenry of any democracy.
The whole flavour of the political establishment shows an arrogance and complete disregard of the wishes of the electorate, in favour of some sort of approval by a well-heeled political chatterati and an unhealthy, overwhelmingly liberal mainstream media. What’s worse, the latter seem to have cosied up to the establishment, and apart from the odd nip, are just its lap-dogs. Indeed, what rebel islands of journalistic dissent there are to an oppressive, politically correct line on almost everything, appear increasingly to be under siege.
A respected journalist at a major newspaper writes an article and ventures the opinion that there are white caucasian Australians, claiming some distant aboriginal antecedents, who’re trading on that for various venial reasons. I don’t know the man personally, you may or may not agree with that opinion, it may be accurate or not, but because a pressure group ganged up on that journalist, whose opinions in general they didn’t agree with, he ended up in a criminal court, facing charges under race discrimination legislation, for simply voicing that opinion.
You may find that unbelievable, but what’s even more unbelievable, is that he was found guilty too. The concept of free speech is now seemingly defined in minute detail by the state, its apparatchiks, the people who know how to exploit increasingly labyrinthine legislation for political ends and a judiciary, which seems to think it exists to work for the government, rather than its more traditional role of protecting the people from things exactly like the government. If Australia doesn’t have the equivalent of The Supreme Court, which exists to protect the constitution and therefore the common man against all-comers, most especially politicians, then it needs to invent one tout suite.
It gets worse though. The government-commissioned Finkelstein Report, came up with a set of proposals that would effectively emasculate any sort of comment on anything, whether on paper or online. Even a blog that got more than 40 hits a day, would fall under the control of what was a government appointed body, who not only didn’t have to give reasons for their decisions, but against whom there wasn’t even a right of appeal. Under that proposed legislation, an active Facebook page would be subject to censorship by a government appointed body.
The whole report was nothing more than a Stalinist wet dream, containing little more than the transcription of the direct input from lobby groups of green and left of centre persuasion, and apart from the Murdoch press amongst others which it was aimed at, there wasn’t a howl of outrage from the mainstream media, because every one of them knew precisely who that proposed legislation was aimed at, and it wasn’t them. Given the provenance of the name Finkelstein, you’d have thought he’d have known better. The first people they came for were the Jews, but I didn’t care, because I wasn’t jewish …
It’s time to start campaigning for the equivalent of America’s First Amendment, the bit of the constitution that prohibits laws curbing freedom of speech in any medium. The alternative is going to be reading samizdat blogs from Australian journalists, domiciled in exotic and extradition-free, offshore places like New Guinea or Taiwan, but no doubt that’ll only last until the Great Firewall of Australia is built, to choke even them off.
There’s been the usual explosive growth in the number, size and power of various regulatory bodies, but to my mind, and uniquely, they’re being used to actively intimidate opponents of the establishment’s policies. A tragic instance of this is the Thompson family, who started an agriculture business in Western Australia, which grew and thrived, until they made the mistake of voicing their opposition to some of the government’s environmental policies.
In short order, there were dozens of new conditions on their licence, some crafted for them specifically. They were served with a blizzard of enforcement orders, by the Department of the Environment and Conservation, which were so onerous, that they not only closed down the business but also precluded the previously supportive banking facilities the concern needed to survive. After a few years of valiant struggle, they were driven out of business and lost their life’s work.
This thuggery by regulation, is open and quite shameless. The government recently warned businesses publically not to blame the new carbon tax for price rises or they’d be forced to consider some new regulations. As threats go, subtle it ain’t. Sure, protect your profit margins and pass onto the consumer the added costs of the tax, but don’t you dare actually say that’s why you’re raising your prices, or we’ll regulate the hell out of you.
There are two main political power blocks; the Labour party and a coalition headed up by the Liberal party. Historically, they reflected the usual choice between the political left and right, but looking at their manifestos today, I can’t see any significant difference between them in policy terms. They’re essentially the same party and it’s nominally positioned leftish of centre. Sure, they spend a lot of time handbagging each other, but you couldn’t get a cigarette paper between their politics. When I say their politics, I mean the politics that suits them, and screw the electorate.
It’s a universal of all true democratic countries, that significant portions of the electorate will always lean towards the left or the right. In Australia, as far as I can see, the right is simply not represented in the political mainstream. Very arguably, there isn’t much of what I’d call the traditional left either. Such an absence of political choice is not a healthy thing for any democracy.
It’s a failure of mainstream politics to provide any real choice, and in so many policy areas, the single available choice, doesn’t appear to cater to the traditional left or right. Mainstream politics has become inward looking, self-serving and disconnected from the common voter.
You don’t have to look very far for graphic examples of this disconnection. Here we are, in the second dip of a double dip recession and for the working man, trying to support a family, these are already not good times. It’s about making pennies meet but at the same time, it’s a bosses’ world; that’s the job and that’s what it pays – take it or leave it, and you know there’s a lot of needy faces in the line behind you looking at that same job. It breaks my heart to think that those people, who most need it at the moment, have no realistic political representation from any of the mainstream parties. Instead, they’ve a bunch of smug professional politicians, most of whom have never held down a real job in their life and whose carbon tax is yet another straw on the back of that already overburdened camel; the family budget.
In the midst of climbing unemployment and what is the worst recession in living memory, we have an administration of a political stripe, which historically represented the people at the bottom of the economic pile, imposing a new pointless tax, which as usual, will hit exactly those people the hardest.
It’s that carbon tax, which makes Australia a special case, when it comes to climate alarmism. Julia Gillard, the current Prime Minister, who also embodies a convincing argument for the practise of mulesing from the corruption viewpoint, made the explicit promise of not introducing such a tax, and after winning the election, did so anyway, nominally to form a ruling coalition with the greens. Australia is now the only large industrial country with such a tax, and already, energy prices and prices in general, are heading skywards. Only an economic ignoramus could possibly think the imposition of a new blanket tax, would have any other effect. Now’s the time to make a couple of new holes in your belt, Australia.
In what was probably the ultimate gesture of contempt towards any electorate, the government smugly assured them that the legislation they’d sneaked in, was enacted in such a way, that it would be impossible to repeal. As with so many things connected to the current administration, time will reveal the truth behind that outright lie.
Over and above the fundamental dishonesty in the way it was introduced, high taxation always scares away inward investment, forces businesses to relocate to more tax efficient countries and ultimately, stifles economic growth. This unilateral act of national economic Seppuku, is proving to be a huge political misjudgment, for both her and the Labor party. I’m beginning to think the only reason why the party hasn’t dumped her and reversed the policy, is the failure to find a credible replacement, who’s prepared to take a large calibre bullet for the party in next year’s elections. Nobody wants that chalice. They’re all biding their time for the inevitable leadership contest after next year’s election disaster.
It’s all a worrying combination of various things and none of them are good; a distant and aloof political establishment that doesn’t listen to voters, the absence of any real political choice à la one of those wonderful People’s Democratic Republics, a compliant and toothless mainstream media, regulatory suppression of dissent, the threat in the wings of draconian censorship by a state appointed star chamber, the actual suppression of reasonable journalistic comment and the absolute scandal of introducing a new tax on everything, when it was an election winning promise to the people not to do that very thing. When you add it all up, it’s starting to come dangerously close to what amounts to an effective breakdown in representative democracy.
It’s massive and oppressive and yet, there’s that quintessential cultural thing about them. When all else have fled, they’ll stand their ground and fight, and they can be plumb dawg mean. There’s still some awkward hold out diggers behind that stockade, who’re blasting away. They give voice to the alternative narratives, that would never see the light of day in the mainstream media. Despite creatures like Finkelstein, they’re around for good and won’t be going away anytime soon, except in the unlikely event that the mainstream media there does some serious manning up.
When a governing party, and the whole of the political establishment, has got that far out of touch with its electorate, they need to be taught a lesson. Australian voters need to put a scar on the body politic, that’ll never be forgotten.
When confronted with a political situation, in which so many fundamental things are seriously wrong, it’s hard to know where to make a start. It’s like walking waist-deep through molasses in Winter. The only way out of such an impossible situation, is not to choose the least obnoxious option on offer, but to actually change that situation. One way or another, this Labor administration is doomed, there will be a different administration after the elections, and it doesn’t actually matter who forms it.
What is important, is to make a strong statement. It may not cure all the ills, but it puts out a marker telling the political establishment that you’ve had enough, and that although the opposition might be forming the new government, having done it once, you can easily do exactly the same to them at the next election. Make an example they’ll never forget, by scaring the living daylights out of them.
What has to be done, is to absolutely destroy the Labor party in next year’s elections. Irrespective of your politics, I repeat, irrespective of your politics, give your vote to the candidate, who looks the most likely to unseat your local Labor candidate. For people, whose political convictions lean towards the left, this piece of tactical voting is the only way I can see of finally getting some genuine left-wing policies on the table. That same counsel applies to those of a rightward conviction.
If the current administration were a Liberal led one, I’d be advocating their complete destruction instead. If that means Australia is going to be a one party state for a few years, so what? Newsflash, it already is in all but name. One of two things will happen to the Labor party as a result of doing that; it will totally reconstruct itself according to the wishes of the electorate or the traditional element will split off, leaving the husk to rot, and form a new party, closer to the ordinary voter and the founding ideals of the old party. Whichever it is, it’s the only way to correct the party and change the stagnant political situation.
After a blistering example like that, the rest of the mainstream parties would also be hurriedly trying to reconnect with the electorate. Suddenly, they’ll all be really listening to you again and voters will have a choice between true left-wing and right-wing policies. This is how Australia could force a return to real representative politics and some genuinely different political choices, and you’re going to need them too, because after a year of the carbon tax, the economy will be in dire need of some big fixing. Things have been allowed to creep along to a point, where you’ve nothing to lose and everything to gain.
In next year’s federal elections, make an example of the ruling Australian Labor Party and its cronies. Burn them right down to the bloody ground.
Don’t leave even a charred stalk.
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