Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Accountability - A New Dimension

It is often thought that MP accountability means voting in parliament for an established platform of promises, made to the electorate at the election - so each vote should be open. No, that's not accountability to the electorate. That is accountability to the perty and its backers.
There is something much better - real democracy.
The Secret ballots in Parliament concept opens a new window of opportunity for a representative to be a statesman (person, sorry ladies!) - i.e. to be free from party control, and to react to the changing situation throughout the parliamentary term, both in parliament and in regular consultation meetings with constituents.

In fact, the most important thing for a real democracy, is for MPs to create a dynamic and objective environment, both in parliament and the electorate, as a free-wheeling team member in both.
The goal is an increasing public understanding of the issues, enabling them parallel the debate in parliament, and facing the issues with a sense of freedom and competence to face the future - squarely facing the costs which must be borne if we are to survive in a fast-changing world.
There are challenges ahead which we now only dimly perceive. We must be equipped, both people and political procedures, to meet them in the best possible way, as an efficient team.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Democracy, Degraded and in Danger

Danger ahead.

We are living on borrowed time - involved in an unpopular, divisive war based on fear of a hidden enemy of unknown capacity to harm us. But what is known, is that 'the enemy' is fundamentally opposed to our tradition of democracy. Calls are appearing for the re-establishment of the Islamic Caliphate, from Indonesia to Spain.

Moderate Islam may not be opposed to democracy but there is confusion in the ranks, due to the growing radicalism in Islam, and its opposition to democracy is becoming clearer by the day.
This resurgence of fundamentalism in Islam shows a real possibility of prevailing over more moderate views.

The war in Iraq, aimed at forming democracy by force has been a trigger perhaps, but the die is cast, the fuse has been lit, battle has been joined, and retreat is not feasible. Iraq does not
present as a step toward democracy, but rather as an early stage in a long and bitter conflict, evidenced by the determined use of suicide bombs, in Iraq, and around the world.

So where do we stand?

We will need all the wisdom and moral/political strength we can muster to resolve the conflict, the responsibility for which we in 'the West' must accept some responsibility. The seeds of religious conflict have been dormant for years, decades, even centuries, but the fruit is at last appearing inexorably.

In the face of these pressures we must stand very firm for democracy. It cannot be negotiable.
The democratic will of the people must take precedence over any religion - be it Christian, Muslim or any other. 'Render unto Caesar those things that are Caesar's, and unto God those things that are God's.'

It follows that any religious concerns diverse from the views of the people at large must not succeed except by a process of public persuasion - never by fear or manipulation.

But here we have a problem. Islam does not respect 'democracy', for that matter, neither do we, as currently (mis-)practiced. Political manipulation and exclusion of the people from effective participation is rife in our corrupted democracy, so much so that it lacks the moral dimension
and strength to meet the challenges we now face. This has to change - democratic practices must regain respect nationally and, earn respect in international circles. Only by providing real justice can its authority be re-established.
Is our 'democracy' ready for the Future ? Of course not.

Party politics has had its time. It is hard work for those concerned, but most of their efforts are wasted in the conflict they foster. The object of democracy is to resolve conflict, create harmony, and unify the country to face the many serious problems looming ahead. The high and rising petrol prices are likely to be the least of our worries, unless we can develop a system of government which sees the people as the senior partner.

The secret ballot has been the making of democracy in our elections, but we need it in our
parliaments to complete the cycle of democratic government. The practical exclusion of the people from the decision-making process has produced party government - a sterile democracy, with neutered people.

We need to be serious about democratic reform not just complain about politicians. They need us to sort out the prison they have made for themselves - a prison where none of them can realise their best hopes of service.

With modern technology, serious and far-reaching change is possible as never before. The Secret Ballot Party's (sole) objective is to harness this new power by installing electronic secret voting in parliament - to decide all debates, and ministry appointments, and send the traitorous practice of party-line voting to perdition - where it belongs.

Many are crying for change but it appears to escape public consciousness how completely
decisive and fair the secret ballot is in elections. It will be equally so in parliament, and will achieve the radical changes we need, for a fair society in a very short time, opening up endless beneficial possibilities for the future - not to mention a new and confident relationship between people and government .

The secret ballot is the tool which gives life to democracy wherever it is employed.

The secret ballot for all decisions in our parliaments is the secret which alone can undo the damage wrought by the party system, and recreate our democracy with individual independence and responsibility.

The Way Forward

How can such a revolutionary change be pursued? This 'party' is a rallying point for all who want a much better democracy.

This party will:
  • initially, have a free membership.
  • endorse candidates committed to the secret ballot in parliament.
  • give complete freedom of candidates to act as agreed with their
    electorates on all issues.
  • be able to have more than one candidate in a seat.
The party's success will automatically ensure its demise.

This real democracy will result in:
  • Abolition of party power in parliaments.
  • Restoration of parliamentary authority.
  • Subjection of the executive to parliament.
  • Redirection of lobby power, away from parliament.
  • Restoration of public involvement.
  • Restoration of representative accountability.

Electoral Meetings

A major gap in our Australian democracy is the absence of 'the local town meeting', in which a representative can mature as well known and trusted, enabling effective community input, and a growing confidence of the people in their representative - an essential factor which has been too long missing from our 'representative self-government'.

Despite the rhetoric about our modern 'democracy' the Athenians would not have had a bar of
it. Democracy is their invention. Pericles said: 'We call it a democracy because, unlike our neighbours, decisions are made by the many rather than the few'.

'Elected dictatorship' is not for us.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Big Parties, Big Money

In a scathing article, (The Age Monday 25/7/05, p13, get it and read it) Dr. Graeme Orr of Griffith University and J00-Cheong Tham, of Liberty Victoria, claim that our democratic system has been sidetracked by big money infecting the party system. Lop-sided party wealth, from donations, advantages by incumbency etc mean that the major parties have a considerable advantage (like five times) over anyone else, when measured as an amount per primary vote We well know that the major parties have box seats in parliament, with the absence of a 'level playing field'. Orr and Tham are certainly right in their claim that: ... our political system 'is democratic in name only'. And that's the truth despite much rhetoric about 'our democracy'.
'The truth will set you free' said Jesus. Yes always, in any context, if we act on it, for truth highlights problems and also points to their solution
We need radical political reform through secret ballots within our parliaments, to recreate parliamentary government, real electorate representation, real parliamentary debate, and each executive unarguably responsible to its parliament