Friday, December 31, 2010

Democracy deficit

In a crisis of confidence in the American depression the ‘History Matters’ website reminds us that the “Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself”, the words of
FDR in his First Inaugural Address in the 1932 presidential election. The sun had not failed, the land was still productive but the ‘mechanics’ of the economy had collapsed in a crisis of financial and business confidence.

The (Melbourne) Age editorial in its last day of 2010, ‘Democracy deficit puts the world’s leaders on edge’, highlights the major governments around the world at loggerheads with their people, unable, in the context of many serious problems, to effectively govern – expressing a crisis of confidence in our ‘democratic’ institutions.

Fear is destructive and cruel, debasing instead of uplifting mankind to higher aspirations of cooperative achievement. We need the cooperation of courage and vision to lift us out of the fear and uncertainty caused by the evident flaws in the present modes of government.

Christmas - birth of the Saviour, and a New Era of Love and life

Do you understand Christmas and all its significance today for life with an L. It all goes back 2000 years but the message and its meaning are eternal. So here goes ...

Christmas has for 2000 years been the celebration of the birth of Jesus, the Jewish promised Messiah who was to set them free, but the freedom He offered was spiritual, but they could not believe in Him so they killed Him on a cross.

But to those who received Him He gave (and gives) the power to belong to God and live a life of selfless love with joy, free from the clinging tendrils of false religion, based on rules, laws and doing of dead works.

He gives, to those who receive Him, the freedom from sin and self, that can give life real meaning, even to the slaves and those in physical prison - the freedom of the love of God and His creation including all of us, together with the real joy of finding the real meaning of life - LOVE!

'He drew me with the chords of love and thus He bound me to Him ...' Bound to Him is the perfection of liberty.

The Lord, Jesus, now rules forever, in blessing, to those who believe and receive His Spirit, to live in love and joy. But to those who refuse the blessings of belonging remain only the curse of a life unblest, with pain and regret - for ever.

Friday, November 19, 2010

A Conscience Vote in Parliament

Can there be such a thing? Really?

Not if it is a public vote. Because there will inevitably be some Members who will be persuaded by various pressures and political considerations steering their vote away from a pure conscience response. A genuine conscience vote demands the secret ballot in parliament.

Think about it. We have a secret (conscience vote) ballot at each election. As a result politicians must be careful to avoid hubris and other offensiveness in their stance for election. But, what happens in parliament? Push comes to shove and the votes are regimented on party lines, and the House is notorious for its worse than schoolboy behaviour and, let’s face it, less than complete honesty. With a secret ballot in parliament, the behaviour in the House would equal MPs civility during elections.

The resulting equality of voting with the secret ballot would not hinder passionate advocacy on each issue as necessary, but give each decision to the whole parliament. Thus each issue, no matter how serious, would be fully and honestly canvassed without any undue delay, with all the final voting clear, as all the arguments would have already been heard. In any event, in such a freely arguing and voting parliament, any issue could be revived if some change indicates that should be considered some time later.

Our democracy gained international respect because of the secret (Australian) ballot.
Its only shortfall is the need for ballots in parliament to govern all our decisions and enable our parliaments to decide—not parties leaders.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Activism is democracy's failure. Ballot NOW!

So many problems there are that governments (and we) face and so long do they take to decide, and how often the decisions are so unsatisfactory, for the simple reason that the people are far from involved in preliminary discussions.

On Monday Age/Voice 8/11, reports 2010 John Barry Memorial Lecture on 11th Nov. 'The role of activism in criminal justice reform' by the Vice Chancellor's Fellow Peter Norton AO.

My problem is this. It is calmly assumed that 'activism' is the important necessity to get such a problem duly attended to (along with dozens of other government problems).

Under the existing circumstances one could not be surprised but, isn't that a terrible indictment on the state of democratic government and the disconnect between a caring people and their government. So we have to rely on loud noise in the streets for harassed government to be pushed to act.

It is the isolation of the people from government by the party system - and their dis-empowerment, that produces a defeatist despair in the face of so many problems which cannot be truly solved without the widespread concurrence of the community. Retired Judge Gebhardt once said that democracy is a moralising force in the community. But it is plain that aspect of democracy is working feebly and incompetently at best, when we consider the crime among youth, the irresponsible, and often fatal, manner in which cars are seen (or just heard in the wee small hours) hurtling through our streets.

Moreover, law abiding citizens are now less inclined to be involved in incidents for safety sake. Gebhardt's viewpoint is underlined by the comment of Al Smith, Governor of New York in 1923: 'The solution to problems of democracy is (simply) more democracy!'

The point is plain. Our democracy's intimate connection between people and government has never materialised to bring the community unity that can extend the moralising process community wide. Gangs and murderers should be terrified, not law abiding citizens.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Stress, stress and more stress.

Higher interest rates add to the consumers’ burden.

Yes, they will, and may dampen Christmas sales, which is why this comment heads the business Age commentary by Lucy Battersby on the Cup Day interest rate rise.

Heavy advertising and consumer/borrower debt, urge the economy to ever higher dependence on credit living, with all its wants. Heavy advertising of things new and expensive drives the excessive consumer demand that endangers the calm and confidence of the modern community, with a heavy mix of need and greed. We need the feverish economic activity to make the jobs to fuel the demand—and the faster the better, because slowing down is dangerous.

The constant competitive demand for lower prices drives high powered production with cost cutting and across-the-board tension in our ‘affluent’ society, whose affluence is a basic myth. We are a ‘wantitnow’ society which cannot save nor wait because without spiritual fulfilment immediate material satisfaction is the urgent need.
It gets me when I hear so often, a child asked: ‘What do you want? Instead of “what would you like”’. Do we really want to see our children caught in this wellbeing-destructive mindset? Twiggy Forrest made an interesting comment on QANDA last night: ‘I know many rich people who are no happier than you who are here’. He thus gave his vote for the satisfaction of doing—contributing, rather than ‘wanting’ and ‘having’.

Compare also the words of David in Ps 23: ‘The Lord is my shepherd, I will not want. Some may think that means ‘I’ll never be in want’. It doesn’t. He meant that knowing and serving God satisfied his deepest needs. He therefore refused to want. His refusal to grab the kingdom after being anointed king was entirely in that character. It’s a good read—1 Sam. On.

In the early days of America, Europeans complained of the ‘damned wantlessness’ of the Indians. And once upon a time it was said that if you invented a better mousetrap the world would beat a path to your door.
How things have changed! There must be a better way than stress, stress and more stress.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Nil desperandum!

Despite all, never despair!
Some pertinent remarks in the Age today (2/11/10), point to the basic problem the world faces in the future of governance, at every level, and the world.
Above all, the world looks and hopes for peace but, there can be no peace without order and there can be no order anywhere in the world without good government.
While we ardently subscribe, in theory, to the principles of democracy, we are still like children at play. Refusing to accept our participatory role, we prefer the ease of trusting in strong leaders. We are fools and blind!
Andrew Norton (p17) makes the simple point with regard to university allocation of places: ‘we should trust the wisdom of the crowd’, noting that enrollments in various disciplines tend to follow the needs that ‘the crowd’ sees in the economic trends of the time. Fair enough!
Tim Colebatch (p15) headlines his report on the Gillard visit to Indonesia with: ‘Indonesian reforms hit a roadblock’, commenting that Julia Gillard and President Susilo Bangbang Yudhoyono: ‘both began as reformers but gradually have shelved the big changes to keep interest groups happy. Both are no longer rocking the boat. Both are drifting.’
Similarly, Tom Switzer, research associate at the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney and editor of The Spectator Australia, determines that ‘the roots of US despair stem from expectations about America’s right to economic prosperity and world leadership that no administration or congress may be able to meet. …They (Americans) are in a foul mood, suffering from a lack of confidence and overwhelmingly believe the nation is heading in the wrong direction … (giving) rise to rapid mood swings within the electorate.’
Although the world’s people all long for the sanity of good government, and peace, the democratic dream of ‘government by the people’ is denied by the dominance of interest groups.
The parliamentary rule which will ensure that all MPs are independent and connect with the people, can never come other than by the adoption of the electronic ballot for all parliamentary decisions.
There is light at the end of the tunnel!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Murray – Darling Basin

This Authority overlaps at least four states which is odd from a political point of view. Too many governments are involved while the environmentalists have their oar in too. The farmers are deeply worried. It is said there has been far too much water allocated to irrigation. Particularly excruciating to food growers must be the extensive allocation to cotton farmers on the Darling, with big properties, but above all they are irrigating with huge arrays of water sprays. Surely evaporation must result in huge water waste in that warmer climate— and as they say on the Murray—cotton ain’t food.
The basin authority reminds one of the Tennessee Valley Authority in America which also extends over several states through the catchment area of the Tennessee River.
It was ‘created by congressional charter in May 1933 to provide navigation, flood control, electricity generation, fertilizer manufacturing, and economic development in the Tennessee Valley, a region particularly affected by the Great Depression.’. A comprehensive development tool, ‘TVA was envisioned not only as a provider, but also as a regional economic development agency that would use federal experts and electricity to rapidly modernize the region's economy and society.’ ( Valley Authority) .
But for the Murray - Darling Basin the driving force is environmental—the water-starved condition of the river system itself. The question is: does the authority have the same comprehensive development agenda as the TVA. It seems not—hence the substantial worry for farmers’ and their business infrastructure communities.
Authoritarian control is likely to lead to serious financial loss and community discouragement throughout the basin.
All residents in the catchment area have a real stake in the decisions to be made and need to have a voice, to allay their fears of unjust outcomes. The answer, to give coherent policies and stakeholder confidence would be for the basin to have its own democratic regional government possibly one hundred electorates, overlapping the several states involved, with independent representation throughout.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Afghanistan confusion

Here in Australia the parliamentary debate on Afghanistan is very welcome, not least because it opens the door to a future pattern of government openness in matters of 'defence'. The fact that differences of opinion have appeared there is equally welcome for the same reason, for which we have the Independents to thank, especially Rob Oakshott and Tony Windsor. A conscience vote would seem to have been eminently appropriate as well- short of a secret ballot.

The ‘view of the PM that we will need to be involved militarily for a further two to four years, beyond the nine already spent, illustrates the very vagueness of an expected outcome, as outlined by the two years, or possibly four, and maybe up to ten years of unspecified involvement! That would indeed be a record of incompetent interference in the affairs of other nations!

Talks with the Taliban, already under way, underline NATO’s uncertainty, with echoes of the Russian failure there, American failure in both Vietnam, and Iraq now closer to Iran then ever. We haven’t won any of the changing objectives after nine years, so our exit strategy is dead, and the only remaining option is to negotiate with the Taliban.

But that won’t answer our fears for the mistreatment of women under that regime.
We are slow to realise that the day for interference in sovereign nations to impose other values by force is gone.

We must turn our attention to international moral influence through the UN to see human rights improved everywhere. The UN has the role, and its power and authority, savaged by the US over Iraq, must be enhanced by the loyal endorsement and support of all nations. The UN needs every one of them. That must be our hope - politically.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Respect for retiring politicians ?

Mary Delahunty (Age 12/10/10) asks why the public is so ungenerous that we can’t say thanks to retiring politicians (of either party—as she adds John Howard and Peter Costello to the present retirement of Peter Batchelor and Bob Cameron).

In her excellent article she ponders why we are ‘weary’ of the contest, when it is the politicians who do the hard work (trying to please everyone), and so ‘grumpy’ and ‘surly about politics’ ‘or in a sort of civic amnesia‘.

Why do we hate politicians? With Multiple portfolios to watch (and inspire?) are they really deserving of the near contempt that we accord them, relishing every public attack, by a ferocious media—‘a feral beast, just tearing people and reputations to bits’ (quoting a remark of Tony Blair).

Why the near contempt, particularly for the member of the unsupported party?
There are good reasons. Some give politicians a bad name because they are ambitious with their self interest sticking out, and obnoxious to their opponents, though often just for public consumption. But the odour is bad.

Elections choose governments (rarely representatives). We need objective, cooperative, parliamentary government, alert and fiercely attacking the problems, not each other. But parliaments do not rule, they can’t, being more about providing a Colosseum for the entertainment of a jaded electorate. And with this we come to the bad reasons for having a ‘down’ on politicians.

Do we realise the depth and breadth of the responsibilities they have to undertake? Ministers often wear several hats, looking after several portfolios. There is an immense amount involved in government (apart even from the nonsense and waste of time of party politics), including in state governments. But we often see a light-hearted comment about abandoning state governments! Do we then simply add all those responsibilities to our central government—and then, predictably, whinge about centralism.

We are supposed, as a democracy, to be a self governing people, whatever that might mean, but in fact we would not really want to spend any of our precious private time being involved (although a few could and would). We’d be scared stiff to have all that responsibility. So it always devolves to the few who will.

But there is light ahead. Recent events in our Federal parliament give some hope, with independents coming out of the dark, but the real solution is in a working relationship in every electorate between people and their representative conditioned by ‘ballots in parliament’ to be an independent. Not all could or would be involved, but the door to a monthly meeting for their participation would always be open.

And as previously noted, parliament itself would then govern with a direct line of communication and responsibility from the grass roots to parliament—actual democracy. Many changes—all good— would follow, including a well-deserved respect for politicians, even, if only, because their re-election would be entirely in our hands.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

The enemy of life - Self Absorption!

Jim white, a Telegraph columnist, in his article 'Misery of impending doom strikes early for midlife males'(Age 5/10), with his key phrase ‘what’s-the-point- self absorption’, aptly identifies the vulnerability of the midlife crisis, now coming earlier according to relational analyst ‘Relate’, because of ‘job insecurity, emotional uncertainty and the grim assumption that things aren’t going to get any better’. A downward spiraling of the hopes of many human lives is the depressing outcome of the 'self-absorption’ syndrome.
Contrast that scenario with the words of the Lord, Jesus Christ: “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” . And that is the experience of all who can believe, and receive, the promised Spirit – the Holy Spirit. Why, you might impatiently exclaim? Because it is only natural to want a serious answer to the all-important question, which lies at the very heart of our life on earth—not to mention the hereafter (the eternal mystery).
The answer lies, very clearly, in the life and death of Jesus our Lord—a life marked by a sacrifice and humility beyond any human experience, as He lived and died for us all, that we might all know the secret life of God, who created us in His own image. Yes, it’s our created nature to love our fellow human beings, with the humility of self-forgetfulness—the exact opposite of the self-absorption, which is so destructive of life. Various religions have shown a search for this answer right down through history, with the Greek discovery of the principle of democracy also reflecting this search for the real meaning of life.
As a professing democracy we should not fall for the lure of power and the self interest that lies behind it, but we do. Our politics is so confused by selfish loyalties we cannot attain to the unity, and the harmony of government based on the morality of a real democracy—e.g. the equality expressed in the Golden Rule, ‘Do unto others, as you would have them to do unto you’. Self-absorption is the endemic factor at the root of all human conflict.
Religious people, call it sIn the centrality of the 'ego', the self absorption which ruins the good life we, and others around us might have. That’s why Jesus came, why He died—to show us how. He simply said: “Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."Matt. 11:28. To understand calls us to believe, to choose, and to follow—to participate in the blessings of a new kind of life, which God intended and which never ends.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

World Movements of Tectonic Proportions

There are movements of tectonic proportions slowly maturing in the world today. Are we aware of how the world is changing? We know that China is advancing economically, by sheer hard work, export and financial prosperity. With its very large population labour shortage does not appear to be a problem. Nor is it attractive as a place for refugees to seek asylum with its low wages and unattractive welfare profile.

By contrast, Western countries have needed labour and considerately (having welfare policies), have welcomed refugees without really knowing whether they are from persecution or the desire for economic benefit and generous welfare, which is more readily available in Western countries, which are far less economically buoyant than China.
Coincidentally, eager refugees from Islamic countries have families to follow, some with the multiple wives and many children permitted by Islam.

European and other countries, which have majored in sympathetic refugee programmes and generous welfare conceived in a more prosperous era, are starting to realise that economic problems and the influx of predominantly Muslim welfare claimants, are a bad mix.

Thus while Western nations, involved in economic and Islamic immigration problems, slip behind, China is naturally and quietly growing in wealth and power.

A New Kind of Parliament

We need a new kind of parliament (based on ballots to decide all debates) which can provide stable government where parliament itself rules, not parties.
Parliament itself has the power to make changes in its procedures.
Functions of Parliament, House of Representatives, The official statements. J131. Item 11. The development and use of procedures that will enable the House to discharge its functions in the most effective form.
The New Parliament
Prime Minister and ministers ( and the Speaker)! all elected by the members and responsible to them, each being chosen as the best for each office.
1. Democratic strength to be, flexible, decisive, and strong yet fully accountable. to the voters.
2. Objective and purposeful debate in parliament, using sound argument aimed at swaying members' votes in the ballot.
3. Elimination of self-promotion with lengthy formal speeches and. other like humbug.
4. Real, non-partisan decisions instead of the predetermined outcomes predetermined in party rooms).
5. The ability to freely and quickly form a majority on an issue or an appointment to an office on the basis of objective merit.
6. An end to the nonsense of party politics---the party tactics of attack, defence and cover-up.
7. Government by parliament itself and no party government to be “toppled”.
8. Greater power and flexibility in parliament.
9. Prime-time telecasts, which become more and more vital viewing for an increasingly informed broadcast audience.
10. Fixed terms of parliament as a viable option.
11. New levels of openness and honesty in government and the bureaucracy.
12. Strength of parliament to lead us well in all eventualities.
And elections without:
1. The expensive presidential-type advertising campaigns of party leaders.
2. The excessive powers of single-issue groups.
3. The dire influence of big money.
4. The misuse of the media in the dissemination of misinformation.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Euthanasia – A Conscience Vote

Should a matter of this kind be decided by the people or leaders?

The government's proposal to give our politicians a conscience vote indicates its preference towards the people being involved. However, should Opposition refuse to free its members to vote by conscience the motion must fail, being passed only by an insufficient majority, on the ground that a convincing majority is essential in a matter of such serious import—which suggests also that a period be allowed before the vote to enable community consultation by representatives, each in their own electorates.

This seems to be advisable as it really is a decision for the people to make. Undoubtedly the beneficial interest of the individual concerned is of paramount importance as the main consideration but it is also a vital matter for us all that fairness and reliable process applies without question.

Those in favour probably consider the freedom of personal choice to be the most important consideration.

Those against may be influenced by a possibility of improper, or undue influence on feeble or senile aged patients. To guard against improper influence, it may be feasible to have the relevant person privately interviewed by an independent public advocate or mediator, or verification by two independent members of the medical profession.

Interference of religious leaders in this debate would seem to be totally inappropriate. In passing, one might wonder if those pleading ‘the sanctity of life’ are also committed pacifists.

We, the people, must rally to the cause of a more ready involvement in discussion of some of the more serious matters of our national life.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

‘Beauty in Ugliness’ is the answer? Not likely!

The curse of ‘democracy’ is the institutionalisation of opposition to government. Partisanship is its lifeblood. In parliament it feeds every antagonism in the community—to no worthwhile purpose despite myths to the contrary. Seesaw government is not good government.

While competition is a constant challenge to better performance in sport, and other areas of human effort, it is often disastrously unconstructive in government—quite ‘ugly’ in fact. Where is this vaunted ‘beauty’?

Democracy’s aim and purpose is to achieve government which responds to the people, not the anger of a losing political party, the lust for power of which swells with opportunity created by a government which is weak or so overloaded with problems that a only a government of unity and cooperation can solve; e.g. Britain in WW in WII.

At present we are in similar case with hefty problems; the challenge of opportunity to march with the advance of communication technology, the problems of a worldwide flush in asylum seekers, climate change, and water—too much and too little. And that is just for a beginning—the ‘minor’ problems of tax, education and health which concern us are certainly not diminishing.

Changes in parliamentary procedure are newly empowering the members, but at what cost to the ‘stability of government’, which the independents were keen to protect? The handful of independents are causing havoc, rather than stability and may well bring on a new election, with change dictated more by whim than careful thought, a component absent from party election campaigns.

Let’s not think for a moment that the conflict of party politics produces sensible, accountable government; nor can the handful of uncertain independents. But the secret electronic ballot ruling parliament certainly will. Do you, can you, will you, just believe that?

Real democracy is waiting to move in and cleanse the ‘Aegean mess’ of party politics.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Tyranny - a better way?

Michelle Grattan (The Age 10/9) writes of a new ‘Tyranny of tiny numbers’ in our new parliament, whereas we have been used to the tyranny of the majority, giving rise to the idea that politics has nothing to do with morality. In fact all tyranny is immoral—taking advantage of others unable to resist, for many reasons, in different areas of life, not only in politics.

In fact democracy is a moral concept paralleling the ‘Liberty, Equality, Fraternity’ of the French Revolution, no doubt inspired by the commandment to ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’, and the Golden Rule, ‘Do unto others as you would have others do unto you’.

If majorities do not rule, minorities do. But ‘Government FOR the people demands that majority power must recognise and acquiesce in the needs of minorities.

We are used to the idea of majority party rule, usually for the term of parliament. The party has the authority over everything during its term, although the new party government is far more accountable than is usual.

But is this the only way? The many differences of opinion on many a problem, or policy for its solution, would suggest that a majority on each problem should be better, if possible, on the basis that such a majority can be objectively informed over a period long enough, by popular participation, for all relevant facts to appear, and all relevant factors given their due weight.

Such a process could dispel bitterness by its manifest fairness—a factor to be much valued in a world in which unfairness and resulting enmity so often result in resort to weapons in the pursuit of ‘justice’.

Fairness is surely the basis of peace in any society and we who believe in it seek it objectively through the democratic process. It therefore well behoves us to see to it that such a process reflects a fairness which is based on moral motives.

Change is never easy, but with conviction and faith attending, all is possible.

A New 'paradigm' -- 'ugly but beautiful'

In a day of high drama, Julia Gillard was granted the right to form a government—of sorts—with the tenuous promise of the backing of independents—with support more conditional than anyone has ever had in attempting to maintain government before.
Rob Oakeshott, the key architect of this traumatic arrangement, described its future operation as ‘ugly but beautiful’. It is a scenario to delight independents but give the new government many a headache, with guarantees limited to support for supply and opposition to frivolous no-confidence motions. He has cobbled together this combination of open, independent voting by some five independents without any limits to the dysfunctioning of the adversarial two-party system, since it transpires thatany member can initiate legislation and gain a powerful following.

There little legislation which can escape controversy. Oakshott’s idea, as he suggested, is that the word ‘mandate’ would have no place in this parliament, meaning the power of the government to legislate will be based, virtually, on the PM’s persuasive ability, and the validity of the various members’ desire for stable government.

If the Prime Minister can manage to carry important legislation through the Lower House successfully she will be a tactical magician, not to mention a political diplomat of outstanding calibre. What may well be a problem is if a non-government coalition should pass legislation with costs beyond government control.

Oakshott’s attempt to achieve a non-partisan parliament with a handful of independents, is a bold attempt and is to be commended, for changes making parliament more sensible and accountable -- we hope it can work.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

A fragile government is formed

In a day of high drama, Julia Gillard was granted the right to form a government—of sorts—with the tenuous promise of the backing of independents—with support more conditional than anyone has ever had before, in attempting to form and maintain government .
Rob Oakeshott, the key architect of this traumatic arrangement, described its future operation as ‘ugly but beautiful’. It is a scenario to delight independents but give the new government many a headache, with guarantees limited to support for supply and opposition to frivolous no-confidence motions. He has cobbled together this combination of open, independent voting by some five independents without any limits to the dysfunctional operation of the adversarial two-party system.
There will be little legislation which can escape controversy. Oakshott’s idea, as he suggested, is that the word ‘mandate’ would have no place in this parliament, meaning the power of the government to legislate will be based, virtually, on the PM’s persuasive ability, throughout the life of the parliament.
If the Prime Minister can manage to carry important legislation through the Lower House successfully she will be a tactical magician, not to mention a political diplomat of outstanding calibre.
Oakshott’s attempt to achieve a non-partisan parliament with a handful of independents, is a bold attempt and is to be commended, and has achieved much improvement in executive accountability.
However a ballot parliament would be far better able to achieve his desire for a non-partisan parliament with far less trauma and waste of time. When will we see sanity prevail?

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Update on our Mess

We are coming to the end of a tortuous (or, perhaps tortured) national election process, with two parties struggling for the right to exercise the power of government, which, incidentally, really does belong to the people.
The three ‘indies’ and the Greens minor party have made demands which could well be passed without any thing like the genuine majorities that the free voting of a parliamentary ballot would produce—or a referendum.
Wheels and deals are, and will be the order of the day.
No matter who wins the privilege of government, there will be great difficulty in maintaining stable government, let alone with justice a firm priority. We need radical reform of our stumbling political system, in which morality has been said to not apply. It is high time it did – only possible by the active involvement of the people.

We have endeavoured to show that transfer of power back to the people can be achieved very simply in a manner that is far more beneficial to the people and all political practitioners with benefits such as:
1. Opportunity for all the people to have a practical involvement in government at will.
2. Involvement of all MPs in leadership, on behalf of their constituents, creating a unity of the people with the process of government, which will have beneficial ramifications throughout the whole of society.
3, A drastic improvement in the life of parliament – becoming calm and rational in debate, knowing that any unworthy arguments will fall flat, but useful policy has a better than even chance of success, by reason of need and by sound debate.
4. A new confidence in the executive, with each appointed as the best for the job, by ballot of the members.
5. Accountability of the bureaucracy beyond doubt, being supervised by elected ministers whose one task is to secure the effective, efficient service of the parliaments requirements - unhinderred by vested interests.
6. Restriction of elections to those electorates whose representatives have not achieved the desired rapport with their constituents – national elections with their marginal seats dictating outcomes being irrelevant and abolished.

The ballot in parliament is drastically needed to bring order out of the tangled mess in which politics is now.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Change and Decay

In a must–read article,, Richard Eckersley claims that: ‘Neither politicians nor citizens fully grasp the size of the gulf between political priorities and social realities’, and that: ‘politicians and the electorates they serve must have the courage to enact sweeping policy changes that (will) shift the course of the deep current, not just stir up the surface eddies.’
‘We cannot meet these challenges with “politics as usual” approaches which seek to offend no one, yield to vested interests and require no “sacrifices” in our way of life’ he says, and ‘we need also to acknowledge the systemic failure of our politics to deal with our problems.’
He further connects the rising ‘cultural emphasis on materialism and individualism’ with the crisis in mental health, which should surely wake us out of our political lethargy.
In his day, British PM Harold Wilson is reported to have said that: ‘Those who reject change are the architects of decay’.
What better description of the current mess in which our much vaunted democracy now is, could there be?
It is vital that we pass from the present impasse with a new determination to mend our ways. Rob Oakeshott has given us a lead, but without dealing with the ruinous incubus of party politics, the role of independents is just as bad as any other aspect of party politics. Without the radical change of the ballot in parliament, his reforms will not be possible and no lasting improvement will be achieved.
We have a lot of very serious work to do to chart a sound and sensible course for the future. May God help us.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Advent of the Three Independents

The ABC 24 interview with the three independents this morning underlined the acute dilemma of a form of democracy long past its use-by date. And the extremely fragile nature of negotiations was further heightened by a remark of Tony Windsor that the two leaders must show goodwill or he will support neither, and that of Rob Oakeshott that he had suggested to both leaders that we have consensus politics but one rejected the idea.
This wish directly echoes the principle contained in the ballots in parliament reform, as does his other comment that while they are struggling with the responsibility of securing stable government, one hundred and forty five other members are on holiday! That is absolutely true. In a balloting parliament equal opportunity and responsibility to influence outcomes by principled debate, and the freedom to vote according to conviction would apply to all members.
The further comment by Jim Katter that two suicide phone calls from farmers this morning emphasised the seriousness of the position our democracy is in. The imputation appeared to be that if government cannot get its act together, discouragement and depression abound, and desperate cases become hopeless. The people NEED good government

Rob Oakeshott has commented that 'party politics is so yeaterday'.
It was further declared, quite truly: 'Conscience votes yield true debates'.

Sent to the heroic independents:
Compromise politics has also been mentioned, but clearly a comprise on
each issue by you three or four and our two cheerless leaders is not
really a feasible solution. As independents there is no doubt that you
and your constituents will not stomach that. As a long term advocate of
no-party politics and genuine consensus I am deeply interested in your
tough fight.

'A NEW DEMOCRACY'- has urged the introduction of ballots in parliament
(electronics obviously) for some years,
If the going gets impossible, may I urge that you consider the following:
With the ballot operating:
1. ALL MPs will be independent and freely voting
2. Genuine debate with genuine outcomes will occur without undue delay
3. Ministers will ALL be appointed (elected) by parliament
4. All MPs will be integrating policy directions in their having local forums,
5. Voters will be confident in, and proud of government, ridding constituents of despair.
6. Genuine consensus will be built on secure PARLIAMENTARY GOVERNMENT.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The ‘Morning After’

This morning the business community are trying to come to terms with the prolonged government caretaker period caused by the election failure to produce a majority party to form a government. The tenor of thought that business is attempting to gulp down is that we have a great democracy and they just have to be patient until perhaps the middle of next week when all seats have been resolved and a government crocheted together.

Meanwhile a flurry of discussions is commencing in Canberra with separate meetings of Greens and Independents to decide their several positions in eventual agreements with either Julia Gillard or Tony Abbott to form a government.

From the time of Kevin Rudd’s expulsion from the Prime Ministership until a government is finally formed constitutes a time of disruption in government, which is loaded with uncertainty for business.

When we consider the fact that, as we have pointed out in an earlier article (17th Aug), national elections to choose a party government are so stupidly unnecessary and harmful to the life, business and social, of the nation.

Another worrying aspect of this party-politics-driven mess is that, with the formation of government involving the strong influences of the Greens and Independents in the balance of power, there will be an ongoing uncertainty about the direction of government policy for some time to come. Then we will have an idea whose issues will predominate—those of the people with Labor, those of business and investment with the Coalition, or those of the Greens.

But what we do know is that minority forces are entering the ‘castle’, pulling up the ‘drawbridge’ and quickly filling the ‘moat’. The ‘peasants’ will be excluded until the charade of the next election. Parliament will be under the authority of a leader, with parliamentary government OF the people, BY the people, FOR the people in shreds.

A travesty of democracy!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Election Campaigns -- turning into High Farce

That the election is descending into high farce is not something I am that sorry about.

It points up the stupidity of our obsession with party politics and its pathetic squabbles. How can sensible discussion and firm decision occur in this ugly climate of the pursuit of power?

We have already noted that a ballot control of parliament would eliminate the parties, their leaders, and these national elections which defeat democracy, by making individual representatives into part hacks whose motive of service to the nation, if any, is wrecked on the shores of party power and purposes, instead of the wellbeing of the nation.

We have destroyed the soul of the nation, leaving the people confused and without the will to face up to and defeat some of the most challenging problems of our time. The sad part is that with, party politics eliminated, the involvement of the people, their wisdom and good will restored by an orderly breed of democracy which is our right, these problems could easily have been already overcome – water under the bridge – and we could be looking confidently for fresh fields of social need to conquer.

We should all be ashamed.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Population and Immigration

Economic growth is favoured by some to enhance material standards of living, but it is said that for the whole world to increase their standards of living to emulate the West would require a couple more planets!

It follows that, in future, the desire for improved living standards will be forced to consider social, political and spiritual aspects of life. But under the party system this is hardly on the edge of the radar.

Industry needs skilled migrants to escalate growth, which makes investment safer than a static population, and helps with the aging of the population However this only shifts the problem ahead as the workforce so advantaged will itself age and the problem re-emerge.

Importing skills robs other countries too, a point that should worry us—as a world we must advance together to reduce (eliminate?) conflict—quite a challenge!

It seems clear that a better answer, which would take longer, would be the assiduous re-skilling of our young who have fallen behind – a truly challenging task Some might well question whether the need for a greater discipline in our young might not be more important than more and better school facilities, though the latter is politically easier, which is, of course, the trouble with our dilapidated democracy.

We are obviously not too good at facing down the really hard problems, without the ready help of the people at large, the need for which seems to be disregarded by our politicians.

An allied concern is the involvement of far too many with drugs and the relationship of mental problems. There again the rate of road accidents among the young especially makes one wonder. It does look like the hopelessness of the political scene is a contributory cause of the wide spread spectrum of problems in our society.

It is said that a cause of the world population explosion is the backward situation of women. They might well be less prolific with a surge in education of women in backward countries—a monumental task! An advance in education of women could enhance their status and reduce fertility.

Furthermore, we need to promote a better democracy worldwide than we have achieved so far. It’s up to Australia as a world leader in democratic reform. The decisions that are needed to solve these difficult world problems are essentially political. In other words, popular democratic government must have the clarity of purpose and the power to decide relevant policies without a roadblock from culture or religion.

These problems are far too little heeded, but will loom increasingly large in the very near future. Nothing must delay our efforts to find the just, fair solutions for all the world’s citizens (man, woman or child). That we do indeed need a New Democracy is abundantly demonstrated by the chaos of the current election and confusion of failing policies. Do these problems have to linger on or will there be a new vision and vigour to solve them? There’s really no option though, is there?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The End of National Elections

In a ballots-in-parliament regime, only independents will be involved in elections— no parties, no leader contest, none of the national elections that we, and the business community, presently endure. They will be scrapped; a thing of the past. Elections will be confined to the local nomination of well-known candidates and the local members will each be ‘directly elected by the people’ (as the constitution says!).
A greater contrast can hardly be imagined than the difference between the present national (or state) elections, to decide who will be Prime Minister (or Premier), and the new, simple, local elections which will apply under the new ballot regime in each parliament.
Some of the major differences:
• The cost of elections will be a mere fraction of present cost.
1. Under the present party government regime all the attention and the money is centred on the leaders of the contesting political parties.
2. Much of the present cost of elections—of national advertising, by mail, letterbox, radio and television will become pointless.
3. Well-performing members of parliament will be uncontested—cost free elections! (These may have been, in some cases, ‘marginal’ seats.)
• The present undue influence of powerful minorities will be demolished.
• The involvement of the national media will be considerably altered, turning its attention from its influence on elections to a continuous analysis of national problems and their solution. Local media will be intimately involved in the local elections.
• Parties, and their ambition for power will be banished from parliament by the election and confirmation of ministers and officials in each ministry by ballot of all the independent members, bringing in genuine parliamentary government. Ministers will then have considerable security of tenure, while retaining the confidence of parliament.
• Ministers will be free from undue interference by vested interests and minorities generally. With that freedom, the needs of minorities will receive calm consideration from parliament, uncomplicated by the fear of their erstwhile power.
• Parliamentary government will be continuous, helping all sectors to get down to business constantly. There will never be a caretaker period due to an election, and never be a change of government—parliament itself being the government.
• A cooperative, objective approach will apply to all problems before parliament, without partisan complications, and no wheeling and dealing, as parties do, if to their advantage. All influence will be confined to objective fact and persuasion.
• The new regime will usher in a period of stability and confidence in government, unknown to the present day. There is no reason why terms of parliament should not be fixed to four or five years, due to the continuing accountability of members of parliament through the continued scrutiny of their performance by their constituents on a continuous basis throughout the parliamentary term, in the public meetings that each member will be keen to maintain in each electorate.
• There might well be more!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Real Representation – Some Way to Go

Education funding like other policies, is decided at the ethereal level of the Prime Minister and cabinet, rather than by real representation and real standards of justice. The capacity of influential interests to govern swags of votes is very influential as an election looms.

Education minister Simon Crean (the Age 5/8), after meeting the chairman of the Bishops Commission for Catholic Education the day before the election was called, said that Labor was not favouring private schools at the expense of public education: “I reject that totally”, he said.

However the Education Union president said: “the current (Howard) model delivers one-third of federal funding to government schools which teach two-thirds of the nation’s students.” Is that justice?

But, the question here is not primarily what is just, but what makes justice difficult to achieve, and what difference would there be in the quality of representation and government decisions if parliamentary government (by secret ballot rule) were to replace party governments, which accept (seek?) election assistance by favouring influential groups. In fact, do we have valid democratic representation under the party system? Clearly the answer is NO.

In a balloting parliament, being compulsorily independent, and perforce, holding regular local meetings, members could be, and would be, regularly challenged about such issues as the one quoted above. It is pretty obvious that the Crean assertion would be heartily rejected at that level, with parents of non-government schools too shamed before constituents generally to press for the suspect view supported by the minister.

We are here seeing a stark comparison between a just basis of representation under a ballot parliament, and the effective interference of lobby groups on poll-driven party government. Lobby groups are myriad, dividing and conquering a disunited, troubled, confused public. The hoo ha over the mining tax is just another example.

What a democracy we have! To misquote Abraham Lincoln: “when will public opinion in this country (be) everything”, with a continual grass-roots connection to parliamentary ballot government via genuine, independent representatives.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Collapse of Big Australia

Ross Gittins (The Age 4/3 – ‘Collapse of Big Australia’) debunks the notion that an increasing population is all good, pointing out that federal government, often influenced by big business etc, favours increasing population, as investment is much safer in an expanding market. But state governments bear the burden of added housing, transport and other infrastructure requirements.

This disconnect between federal and state jurisdictions, unresolved at federation, has created a perennial source of inefficient administration, sometimes duplication, and tension. Since WWII taxation is mainly in the power of federal governments, with the states standing in line for the funds to carry on the burden of infrastructure. State parliaments long preceded the federal parliament and some sensitivity aggravates an unsatisfactory relationship, especially among the resource-rich states of the north and west. Additional tension results from the efforts of federal governments to pull rank, wanting to dictate the terms upon which the funds are distributed to the states. There has to be a better way, but it won’t be by returning taxation powers to the states.

In a way which might prove useful for us too, Germany’s state parliaments supply delegates (in proportion to state populations), to the Bunderat, a Federal Council, which is involved in legislation with the Bunderstag, the German parliament—seemingly a very useful connection. See:

Gittins concludes his analysis of ‘sustainable population’ with: ‘‘the message to the elite from the unwashed of the outer suburbs is: “if you want more migrants, first get you act together”’. No doubt very sound advice!

But, added to the federal/states tension is the innate inability of party government to provide the unifying leadership which could incorporate the wisdom and best efforts of the people in a growing vision—a flourishing democracy which can meet the future with confidence, and verve—yes, ‘get our act together’!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

A Muslim Rant against Democracy

Whether Moreland Council should or should not have given extremist Muslim group Hizb ut-Tahrir access to the Brunswick town Hall for their ‘rant against democracy is not the most critical point in the Herald Sun’s report today (3/8).

We should take note of this group’s adverse opinion of our democracy—that it is: ‘“bankrupt and irrational”, and all indicators are pointing to the decline and inevitable collapse of Western ideology”.

The point is that we don’t respect it ourselves, what with grandstanding politicians, consistently degraded by the media, its corruption, its secrecy, its inability to decide issues, its chasing the lowest common denominator of compromise to achieve parliamentary solutions, the precious little confidence of the people, without which the hardest problems stay virtually insoluble.

Bitter competition supplants the cooperative effort that democratic government requires to do the good work that we could do if our democracy were real. That simply does not exist, despite the rhetoric of pride of the Western World. ”Pride goes (so often) before a fall”.

We need a reformation of our concept of democratic government to involve the people in a new role to clean out the many-sided mess created by party politics. We need ‘a chariot of fire’ to purify and restore the real, democratic functionality of parliamentary government to oust the parties from their position of control. The ballot in parliament is the key to its restoration. It alone will rescue our democracy from its futility and failure.

Large movements in world society have happened since WWII. Communism caught Roman Catholicism unawares, America’s cold war with Russia brought down Communism, with China eventually following, the Global Financial Crisis has borne down heavily on America and Europe, with questions about their recovery.

And now Islam is a wake-up call for Western democracy. In its present parlous state it deserves criticism. It’s our own fault that we have let it slide downhill so long.

Wake up Australia! You led the world with the ballot for elections. There’s ‘one more river to cross’—to genuine parliamentary ballot government to replace the destruction that party politics wreaks on all the processes of government and society.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Electoral Despair

The Age today (2nd August)prints three letters highlighting the public despair felt by many at the state of our ‘democracy’ (for which read party politics). The odd thing is that the Age, in highlighting such angst, pretends concern but takes no action to call for real answers to the very real dilemma of our political system’s failure. We can put a man on the moon but cannot resolve the simple problems of how to live together in a prosperous land. Why is this so?

People supinely, weakly, cry: ‘It’s human nature’! Of course it is, and we can find the answer if we really want to. It already exists.

Ballots in parliament.
This is clearly the simplest, most effective way to restore the fortunes of our democracy and to even make it attractive as an export product, instead of sending troops overseas to ‘win the hearts and minds’ with tanks and guns – which is really pretty stupid as well as just plain WRONG.
Previous posts have spelt out how it will work, and work perfectly through the involvement of the people, and the resulting independent all the MPs—a really novel idea! All this is set out in earlier posts in—A Common Sense Democracy Parts I, June 9th, II, July 8thand III, July 12th, plus many other explanatory articles, such as Recovering Democracy, Sep 14th 2007, and our website—‘’

The petty nature, and comprehensive failure of party politics to resolve the growing problems that face our country, not to mention our world, condemn it as an antique, outmoded way for the operation of any government, let alone governments which pretend to democracy.

Why then does the Age not call for change? Is it apparent concern mere window dressing, pretending to be objective? They do not, will not, allow any copy to appear on their pages, these many years since the ‘Ballot in Parliament’ was first mooted some thirty years ago.

Meanwhile we, and the world at large wander in the misery of a monumental failure of our ‘democracy’ to fulfil any of the progress in popular well being which Abraham Lincoln set forth so succinctly in his definition of the democratic ideal—government OF the people, BY the people, FOR the people.

The Ballot in parliament will quickly fulfil that promise in its entirety—the involvement of the people quickly securing our politics from the evil shenanigans of the power hungry, who have held us to ransom for so long. It’s time for action—intelligent action— to recover democracy, in our time—e.g NOW.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Religion and Democracy

1. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, author of ‘Nomad’, was interviewed on ABC TV Lateline last night. She is in constant need of security, due to criticism of attitudes, associated within some Muslins in her book. She spoke of weak attitudes in government circles with regard to Muslim cultural practices, such as ‘honour killing’ and female genital mutilation.

2. Ali reports that it has been said: ‘But we must respect their culture!’ In such a context such timidity in government is very concerning. The idea that people of any religious persuasion can be considered above the law is quite untenable, calling into question the authority of democratic government.

3. Democracy, was defined by President Lincoln: a style of government making us all equal before the law: in submission to the law, in power and responsibility for making law, and in individual rights.

4. But, in fact, as Tony Fitzgerald, well known ex-judge, and leader of the Fitzgerald Inquiry in Queensland, acerbically points out in a politics damning speech to the Accountability Round Table in March, our democracy fails miserably on each count.

5. Fitzgerald, quotes a comment by Chief Justice Earl Warren of the US Supreme Court years ago: ‘law “presupposes a broad area of human conduct controlled by ethical norms and not subject to law at all”’. While religion may have a role to play in enhancing the spiritual life of individuals, as citizens, it cannot seek independence from the authority of the law.

6. Ballots in parliament, to decide all debates, will clear corruption and strengthen government, by making MPs accountable to the people.

7. Can anyone deny the urgent need for democratic reform of the voting system in parliament

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Citizens Assembly – Yes or No?

Tony Abbott, on the run yesterday, rejected Julia Gillard’s policy of having a Citizen Assembly to help clarify the problem of Climate Change. He claimed we already have a citizen’s assembly—parliament. But party politics has amply demonstrated that it cannot be relied on to define the objectives and sieve the arguments, to reach solid conclusions in any satisfactory time frame.

In fact, our democracy, with its manacled attachment to political parties and loyalties, ensures parliament is a place of unseemly behaviour, deliberately aggravated obstruction, ludicrous confusion, and wasted time and talent. And the election process suffers the same problems. After the election the new parliament will be the same.
The actors’ roles may change but not the plot.

Serious matters, which parliament cannot resolve, will linger on undecided, subjecting concerned people to prolonged angst, for no other reason than the incompetence of parliament. The ballot for elections must be replicated in parliament to control all voting. Then, a change of government will never be needed—and in fact will never happen. The members, all independents, will see to it that the will of the people will influence parliament continuously—true parliamentary government.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A Citizen Assembly!

Many loud voices are demanding instant action on climate change, but neither the Coalition nor Labor under Julia Gillard, are in a hurry. She intends to create a Climate Change Commission to study the science, and randomly select one hundred and fifty citizens in a ‘Citizen Assembly’ to decide on the Commissions findings. More
In fact there is a considerable reluctance to face this issue throughout business, and in the community. To imagine there is a wonderful cost-free solution is to believe in fairies. Pay we must, and to find the most acceptable answer a ballot process in parliament – or inclusion in a referendum may be needed to give the required certainty.
‘Australia needs “deep consensus” before taking action, (Penny) Wong said, since “This will transform our economy for decades to come.”’

Something new! On-line Senate representation

A new political party is fielding Senate candidates, operating on line, offering direct contact with voters,and so enabling them to vote on line on matters before parliament --

'Senator on Line' is a newly registered, unaligned party, which will field candidates who will take the results of on-line votes and represent these voters in the Senate. A vote on anything before the Senate will be available on its website, so that the people can express opinion on matters before parliament by having a vote directly via the internet at any time. The party undertakes that their unbiassed senator will thus represent the results of on-line voting directly in parliament.

Now that's something new and constructive to keep an eye on!

Democracy still a Muddle

Michelle Grattan (Age 23/7) highlights the endemic problems of rolling issues and leadership together, with Abbott confusing IR direction and Gillard looking shaky on Asylum Seekers. Elections cannot resolve issues, nor can this debate.

Our system demands strong leadership, with the power to decide many issues, and we are stuck with that (for the time being, anyway). The debate this Sunday night will be an opportunity to judge the contestant's ability to lead - plus their intentions on a few issues (which can easily change).

But there will be many more controversial issues, requiring an intelligent, calm appraisal, individually. But without a system of secret ballots in parliament, to control the debate, the useless conflict of party loyalties will continue to defeat sound, prompt decisions by parliament, on issue after issue, to the frustration of both the members and the public.

The public must be involved!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A new (female) Prime Minister ! (Revision)

So, we have a new Prime Minister! May God bless her efforts, on behalf of us all.
Tony Abbott marked the event in Parliament, quoting: “A ‘Knock on the Door at Midnight’, saying this should not happen to any Australian Prime Minister”, a remark fraught with all the historical significance of the Holocaust. Was that empathy, or perhaps a judgement?
However, the true character of Kevin Rudd is evidenced by his humility and immediate willingness, with some understandable tears, to serve his party’s government, in any capacity that should be decided.

Psycho analysis of the new and the former PM will undoubtedly continue for some time, being not dissimilar to the reasons for the rise and fall of nations, empires and civilisations—and religion. In the big issues, the questions relate, of course, primarily to the characters of leaders, in which two mysterious factors work in parallel—the mind and its brilliance, and the heart and its compassion.

Oh, the heart, whatever is it? Decisions are made in the wisdom of both heart and mind. Our armies invade to ‘win the hearts and minds’ of intransigent peoples! How successful can that be—where is the compassion?

Although we don’t fully understand these things, we can still confidently say: ‘The heart has reasons that reason knows nothing about’. Surely this is the difference between a false religion and the true, which comes from the heart, with minds subservient. ‘Musick has charms to sooth a savage breast’, but real love ‘never fails’.

But back to prime ministers!
In a secret ballot parliament the prime minister, or premier, will always be the dear, respected mentor of all the colleagues, once able to be elected to that high office by all the members from their own ranks!

And with no authority, or power, beyond that of all the other members, by virtue of the honour conferred.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Concentrating our Minds

It has been said that hanging concentrates the mind wonderfully.
An election also concentrates the mind of the nation—as if there were such a thing!
But decisions have to be made, and thanks to (comparative) fairness of the secret ballot we are more able to accept the result, even though uncertainly, and for many in the population, with considerable reluctance That’s not a recipe for a happily united nation, is it?
We are all individuals, confused people, led by confused people with views emanating from past experiences and loyalties, and now, with the added complications of the enmities of past leaders thrown into the mix. May God help us!
The problem appears to be that we are all individuals, employing the ballot at elections, to appoint individuals to rule over our affairs, when we more and more want to have a say in our affairs, as a self-governing people, which, after all, is what a democracy is supposed to be. But to do that we need to catch up in understanding many things—i.e. we must be participating.
The Swiss employ the ballot to have the people decide things—a decided advance in popular participation, by Citizen Initiated Referenda—where topics arise from ‘the initiative’ of concerned people. Quite a few states in the US do likewise.

But this leaves the people’s choice to an unacceptable degree to the ‘mercy’ of the media. We need local meetings to enable the people to advance to an active self-governing role. This cannot happen without independent representatives creating such venues, which again cannot happen until we have parliament under their (and our) control.
This requires the ‘mechanics’ of the electronic secret ballot in our parliaments, to be established by referendum.
Then we can all concentrate our minds wonderfully, on issue after issue, as they are important to us, and see a new, constructive relationship, embracing everyone, which will lead to national unity and strength, to deal with all our problems, climactic and economic, national and international, ethics and health, rights and duties, public order and crime, and anything else which rears its head—efficiently and free of rancour.

Some say: ‘When a real crisis occurs the people will find an answer.’ Sorry, revolution and war cost far more than they resolve. We need intelligent reform now!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Bjelke-Petersen -

A (really) ODD SPOT

Bjelke-Petersen governed as Premier of a State in which his party received, in one election (1972), only 20% of the votes.

In 1984 Bjelke-Petersen was created a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (postnominal "KCMG") for "services to parliamentary democracy".

Thanks Peter

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Common Sense Democracy

Having established in Part I that a ballot provision for all decisions debated in parliament would make all members genuine independents, it remains for us to think of the impact on the executive. Clearly, all ministers forming the executive will be under the authority of parliament, emphasised by censure motions if not already obvious.

Each minister, having been established or confirmed in that role by parliamentary ballot, will soon acquire a very durable tenancy, and a greater accountability of the relative public service department to both minister and parliament. The strong relationship between parliament, ministers and public service departments will effectually dispense with the role of personal ‘ministerial advisers’.

Again, both parliament and ministers will be set free from the ‘political pressure’ that minority interests constantly exert on party governments and their politically vulnerable ministers. Minority interests will then have to take their place in the queue to receive appropriate consideration of parliament to their claims.

With parliament working cooperatively (in contrast to the inane conflict of the party dominated parliaments with which our society has been so long afflicted), and truly representative, statesmen-like independent members, in constant dialogue with their constituents in public meeting, we will have achieved a genuinely exportable democracy—without sending troops abroad!

This is a durable, effective, fair and just sample of what a democracy could, and should be; a prelude to a distant, democratic world government, without which injustice and wars will continue to dominate and ruin our planet.

A question you have may find its answer on our website at

Monday, June 28, 2010

Another Change of Government.

Another Change of Government!
Julia Gillard has replaced Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister, in an upset typical of party politics—good for one and public pain for the other.
Now—let’s compare parliament when the ballot will rule all decisions.
Firstly, questions of loyalty, which triggered the current upset, will never occur as all power will belong to the ballot of all the parliament’s members, with parliament operating as a cooperative government team.
Next, there will never be a change of government as that role will be filled by the parliament itself, all ministers and other important positions being filled by a ballot of all the members. Thus each appointment, from PM down, will have been endorsed by a substantial majority of the members, choosing the best for each office, to act under the authority of the whole parliament.
Few and rare will be the occasions for any change – because all ministers will be under parliamentary authority with the ability to make decisions only within their area of responsibility, set by parliamentary decisions and policies, all of which can be reviewed whenever necessary.
Questions beyond a minister’s recognized responsibility and authority will naturally be referred to parliament, as in any well-run business—strength, stability and continuity of government as never seen before!
Can anyone disagree? No? Well, let’s just get to work on this change of government!

Friday, June 25, 2010

How will 'Ballots in Parliament' be better?

Frequently asked questions - from Secret Ballot Website FAQ

Q. We won't know how they vote, will we?
A. Yes, no doubt you wouldn't know which way your MP voted. But under the present system it isn't worth knowing anyway. Arguing with a party MP about the the merits or otherwise of a measure is a pointless exercise. The backbencher has no influence on policy.

Q. You refer to ex-party MPs but I don't think you have explained why an MP is, suddenly, no longer aligned to a party.
A. They can be. But when the party is no longer able to control it's MPs' votes the game will change. From that point the party's interest in endorsing that member will vanish, as no member can then be relied upon to vote according to the policy decided upon by the party.
The basis of the power and financial support for the party to win the next election and pass desired legislation rests on the foundation of the compliant voting team in parliament.
AS the financial support dries up, the power of the party hierarchy will vanish.
Existing and prospective party members will therefore have little option but to relate realistically with their electorate, literally.acting as independents.
Existing members, in safe seats, will find a subtle change in their security as many voters sniff a fresh wind of opportunity for change.

Q. You are proposing that votes be secret, but when they debate they indicate which way they are going to vote, so then their vote is publicly known. So, their vote is only secret if they don't participate in the debate?
A. Certainly they will disclose their attitude on the issue by debating, and their vote could be reasonably assumed. But any member will have the opportunity to succeed on behalf of the electorate point of view by persuading others who all have the free vote (whether in debate or in the lobbies!). That will be far more important than any single vote. Thus the electorate will judge by the debate and the ballot result. If favourable, the issue will be concluded favourably. If not, the matter is controversial and will be deferred, and become a hot topic in the electorate and subsequent meetings with the MP.
Participants in debate may well be few, if issues are clear. If not, many will feel the need to debate, and more time and progressive votes will be needed to clarify the position and obtain a sufficient majority.
NB, the days of fifty per cent plus one constituting a sufficient majority will be history. Large parliamentary majorities will become constitutionally required for serious, far- reaching issues, like war etc etc.
Thus, with all members free to respond, a majority of the whole parliament will be free to be won on any issue - by persuasive debate. Progressive ballots will clearly show the maturing view of parliament, substantially simplifying the task of forming and concluding decisions in parliament, based on responsible debate and genuine electorate representation, -- with an economy of parliamentary time and removal of useless frustration.
Members will act independently in achieving results desired by their electorate -- an attractive scenario for all worthwhile members.

Q. Why would a political party not still be relevant?
A. A party is a group specifically designed to seek political power - to win elections, establish an executive and rule without reference to other competing groups. The ballot in parliament will severely inhibit, even prevent, that kind of objective, with parliament-appointed ministers to be responsible for public service department business. Some of those executives may have been party executives, but will then be subject to parliamentary rule, or be deposed.

Q. People of similar mind (ideology?) will still meet to discuss how to win their objectives.
A. There is nothing to prevent that. But it will become evident that local meetings will present free, and preferable opportunities for protagonists to pursue any particular issue of merit more effectively.
All issues will then be better attended to with effective impact in local meetings. Ideology will give way to objective community assessment of the various issues which will each need to win the needed support on merit, and be launched in parliament by the local member. People acceptably active in local meetings will be possible rivals to a sitting member who proves inadequate.
But, as Abraham Lincoln said:'In this country public opinion is everything.' That is the democracy to which we aspire.

Q. Local members, or aspirants, may be amongst the smartest, most confident, most articulate, most charismatic etc . Would these not attract substantial following in respect of certain issues and overwhelm all opposition.
A. Possibly. But the local member, local media and other constituents are not likely to lie down under such an eventuality. The danger appears less than at first might be thought. With the ballot we are facing a new democratic system, growing in strength to combat undue influence.

Q. Perhaps a ghost-writer could write a novel that might throw light on the way it would work out in practice, outlining in detail the transition to ballots in parliament in a way people could relate to.
A. Sounds like a great idea! We'll just have to see if a writer might catch the vision and volunteer!

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Common Sense - Decentrallisation of Power

I chanced to hear Professor Carson on ABC interview on Friday morning. I was very glad she is doing what she is, to foster community access to government. I have been long time interested in people access to government. It seems to be an active subject but substantial, effective change seems a long way off. At 87, will I see it?

We have a problem with two sides. People generally entertain no hope and are passive, although you can 'scratch' anyone any time and uncover a hostile view on the subject of politics and government, be they young or old - especially quiet ones. On the other side the parties are contemptuous of the people, effectively isolating us from involvement.

For example the government could have the Electoral Commission convene regular monthly Electoral Forums, round the country. Why not? Its cost would be much less than its value in steadying and improving the progress of government. But will it happen? I recently announced a local forum -- but for three meetings not one turned up. 'Little people' can't do it on their own.

I spoke to a Man. Dir. of a company involved in Aged Care, a man of quiet, submerged hostility on the subject of government. He said that we need decentralisation of power. He suggests a 'common sense party'. I couldn't agree more, having been pursuing the elimination of party power by secret ballots in parliament for 30 years,
I recently announced a local forum -- but for three meetings not one turned up.

Meanwhile party politics is proving more and more chaotic and hopeless. I honestly feel sorry for all of the politicians who are really trying, but especially the ones whose sincerity is uppermost. The system defeats and soon dispenses with the best. What costly nonsense! With half-baked, short-term decisions to 'fix' long term problems!

Until the system is changed to stop the centralisation of power in its party pyramids all the good efforts by the many concerned people are building steam but no motion.

A long time ago, on ABC, the presenter said we need an effective circuit-breaker to stop the merry-go-round of party politics. We do. But I know none other than the secret ballot in parliament, to reduce all MPs to independent status, truly dependent on, and intimately accountable to their constituents, (making statesmen/women of them) and able, in parliament, to choose the best as ministers, by ballot -- a parliamentary democracy. Is there a better answer anywhere? I would like to hear it.

A surge in active and effective community involvement, starting with the presently most concerned, would soon follow -- making a lightning rod for oppressed people around the world, and a democratic world government soon to follow, to deal with the crisis of factional and government oppression abounding in the world.

All we need is a flood of people to catch the vision and join the (no-fee) Secret-Ballot Party (or Common-Sense Party ) --- whose aim is its own early demise!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Fraser quits the Party

This is sad, not because he is leaving the party, but because it is revealed that, although a life member, he has been troubled for years about the party’s direction on various issues. What angst is caused by party loyalty to men of sincere character!
In leaving, he has fulfilled the words of Shakespeare from ‘Hamlet’:
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
What a price is paid by men of conscience for ‘core’ and ‘non-core’ promises, and such-like spin! Many an honest man, and woman has had to leave politics, in frustration, leaving behind those more willing to compromise, selling their souls for political power—a ‘mess of pottage’.
In Winston Churchill's biography of his father, ‘Lord Randolph Churchill’, he wrote:
‘…in a clear reference to his own thinking, to an England 'of wise men' who gaze without self deception at the failings and follies of both political parties; of brave and earnest men who find in neither faction, fair scope for the effort that is in them; of 'poor men' who increasingly doubt the sincerity of party philosophy.’

It has been said that there can be no democracy without political parties. What a travesty of the truth! Why believe that, when the success of the secret ballot for elections, calmly, decisively settling who shall represent us in parliament, clearly indicates that ballots in parliament will replace party rivalry with calm, objective debate, leading straight to logical conclusions and action, making election platforms and promises totally irrelevant. May it soon be!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

On the Way to Democracy

A funny thing happened on the way to democracy. We, in the South Seas, ran with the baton, but after 1900 we dropped it, when party politics loomed its head in 1911, with the formation of the Labor party, to combat the dominance of business and squatter interests.
As Ross Gittins observes (AGE comment 26/5), Australia and New Zealand have been serious innovators—Australia with the 1856 introduction of the ‘Australian’ secret ballot, and the Kiwis, first with the vote for women, 1893, each now widely adopted throughout the world. Then we believed in ourselves. Seeing clearly, we took bold steps and succeeded with worthwhile change.
As Gittins says: “Compulsory voting hasn’t caught on elsewhere, but why should we care? We don’t”. Now even the Brits are considering changing to the ‘Australian system’—preferential voting. Good luck Britain!
With growing problems, we are now confused and uncertain. Criticism of bold moves, such as, action to deal with climate change, and to return a fair return to the nation for the sale of mineral assets, is unnerving party government. It is said there should be much more consultation to get things right in the first place but, is that possible when the national interest is subservient to the vested conflicting interests of the political parties struggling over power. The parliament is supposed to be the authority for making the decisions needed to bring order out of chaos, but it can't.
As a nation we are therefore confused and weakened by the divisive nature of our party dominated political system.
We, the people, are baffled onlookers of the conflict, which has no legitimate part in a self-governing democracy. We are excluded from any informative process of participation in the making of decisions. We are, instead, landed with the impossible task, come the elections, of assessing which of the contenders will do us the least harm, let alone ‘advance Australia fair’.
Where are the forums which should take place in every electorate, to discuss and understand these issues, with the sitting member, and alternative candidates; participating with other constituents, in an educative process of freely sharing in the combined knowledge and wisdom of the people? Isn’t that what we need?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Mining Super tax.

They don't want the tax of course but, the miners are against the super tax on ‘pre-tax (net) profits’ I believe. These might come first (as a virtual cost) with income tax on the balance. First or last the money outcome remains the same. E.g 1000 less 40% = 600 less 30%= 420. Again 1000 less 30%= 700 less 40% = 420 – the same. Super tax on ‘pre-tax profits’ coming early on, suggests a cash flow reason. They want to have maximum funds available for immediate expansion while prices are high. That’s my guess.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Democratic World Government

Tension mounts in many lands as political systems fail to bring order, with oppression and protests, guns and bombs, cruelty and terror, crime and murder. Is it at all likely that real political solutions will mature in Iraq and Afghanistan?
Currently reported troubles in Thailand and South Africa and the failure to resolve the Israel/Palestinian crisis are other prominent cases of political failure. What is the answer to a world full of problems, with the failure of democracy to take its rightful control of the world?
While there is no doubt that much good work is being done by the UN, it is also clear that the world situation demands some drastic change to enable and the UN as a world government to bring order out of chaos wherever it exists in the world.
The Israel/Palestinian situation has defied the efforts of various American presidents, who have been thwarted by strong internal opposition. Likewise the efforts of various European powers have been stymied by America’s veto Power in the Security Council.
The Security Council is a relic of the Cold War, along with its power of veto for the founding members. But it is high time that the nations of the world joined together to create a suitable form of democratic world government, which properly constructed, could dispense with the old Security Council. That would mean giving each nation voting rights in the Assembly to match the size of its population, (not too daunting a problem), giving all nations a voice but a varied voting power. (Further on, the large nation’s votes might be divided amongst multiple representatives.)
The Assembly’s executive functions would soon be determined by vote, and the present power of sovereign nations to ignore world opinion on abuses of individual rights etc. could not hold out against the authority of the UN Assembly and its police force. Fair, strong government would remove excuses for war, and any reason for the possession of destructive armaments. The future is just ahead of us. Reach for the stars!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Election Hysteria

As the elections inexorably approach, we can see all the warts of the party system, even more clearly. On the 730 report, Kerry O'Brien gets aggressive and rude to the PM. Then Rudd's ‘warm’ response becomes a big talking point, judged by some to mean he is out of control! But Leunig’s cartoon is a jeering response. Do we want our politicians, elected by the people, to just be doormats for any Tom, Dick or Harry?

Again, a change in policy by a party government is criticised as a ‘back flip’, without substantive consideration as to whether it is justified or not. Brumby rethinks ‘suspended sentencing’ – a policy of the opposition, and the opposition becomes upset. Which is the first priority, the interest of a political party or the public interest that is constantly hindered by the shenanigans of the political parties, as they grasp for power?

Again, the mining resource tax will add to the federal pre-election bun-fight, controlled by emotions rather than facts. To the claim of some that the resources tax on mining will drive mining offshore, it has been pointed out that that will not happen unless the mineral resources themselves go offshore!
Thank goodness there are still some sensible people around!

Will ballots in parliament eliminate some, or even all, of this rubbish? You bet! The people will be in charge. How, you say?

With parliament controlled by electronic ballot, all MPs will be independent and have the power to together elect, and sometimes sack, each and every minister, including the Prime Minister although the PM, being already elected as the most respected member of parliament, will not be likely to ever be a target.

And all MPs themselves will be under the regular, direct scrutiny of their constituents in public meetings, as they caucus to examine together the best way to tackle each issue.The net result of this is that controversial issues will be thrashed out at the local level and the representation of the electorate in parliament will substantially reflect considered public opinion.

In parliament the electronic ballot will enable precise polling of every variation of opinion during debate and thus enable the real public (educated) view to reach conclusions with substantial (unarguable) majorities, which might well vary constitutionally where a decision once made cannot be amended - e.g.war. In that kind of decision the constitution might demand a 90% majority!

Stable, intelligent decision-making in our democracy can be confidently anticipated from converting the operation of all our parliaments to electronic secret voting.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Share markets chaos

Today we have bad news on the share market front. Two adverse situations
could be working together here to create chaos. In Greece, the
government and people have fallen down on the job. And despite the large
Euro loan on offer, Greek government deficits are set to worsen, while
there are wild public protests against government attempts to bring
order and chaos. The public is not ready and willing for additional
taxes and cuts to public services, which might gradually resolve the
At home, we are looking at a new era of share trading at lightning
speeds, by high-speed Internet, using algorithms, mathematical formulae
which simulate a human being making financial share trading decisions,
the difference being that with the high-speed computers and Internet,
the decisions can be multiplied in fractions of a second. Share market
regulators are obviously at a loss to be able to comprehend the problems
occurring and take satisfactory action. It makes one think again of the
old Greek quote: “Whom the gods would destroy they first make mad.”
These complex situations obviously present horrendous problems for
government to maintain order in society, while human intellectual
ability and financial activity escalate at an enormous rate. Can our
government system, which was settled in the horse and buggy age of 1901,
cope satisfactorily with these problems, in a manner conducive to peace
and harmony in the world today?
When our manner of government and constitution were set in 1901, three
months was allowed for certain actions of the Senate, because senators
coming from Perth and Brisbane were coming by sailing ship! What a
contrast to present day flights by plane! We have a big problem ahead of
us to bring our government style and operation up to operational speed,
in line with the complexity of modern technology and social practices..
In the face of such problems, it has been said that when a crisis
occurs, change will be made. However, history demonstrates that when
crisis occurs changes can be made, but they are rarely for the better,
and often much worse. Crises are not capable of producing intelligent
change to complex situations.
In Britain, we have an interesting but tricky situation with the Liberal
Democrats in a minority situation, but with the power to do deals with
the other parties. The electoral system is antique with
first-past-the-post voting, which has produced the present situation.
Will one of the parties accede to the Liberal Democrat wish for
electoral reform.
What might happen? Would Britain be likely to adopt preferential voting,
as we have in the House of Representatives, or perhaps a ‘proportional
representational’ system, as we have in the Senate, with large multiple
electorates? Either of these changes would profoundly change the face of
British politics.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Henry tax review

The critical reception of the government’s response to the Henry tax review highlights once more the inherent popular dissatisfaction with, and distrust of, government by rival political management teams—left and right, see-saw government.
Especially in an election year the rivalry between our major political parties produces unhelpful public and business angst, not entirely free of bitterness.
Problems are endemic and decisions to resolve them have to be made at each level of government in the context of a struggle for power.
Publically, opinions are myriad, but there is no way for them to bear on the ultimate decisions, to give assurance to various interests in the community that at least the process is fair—which of course it isn’t to the people at large.
Can party governments, with the pressures of vested interests, ever provide fairness of legislation, to give the whole community confidence in government, in today’s climate of problems? The incumbent having the major power to decide the whole range of issues of foreign ownership, business and workplace interests, tax and public services, poverty and distribution of wealth, hospitals and health, law and order, high housing costs and excessive private debt causing family problems and bankruptcies, etc.etc— not to mention the rising problems of aging population, climate change, future resource exhaustion, population explosion and Islamic Shariah law, isn’t it patently obvious that only a non-partisan parliament of independent MPs, drawing on the effective involvement and wisdom of a participating people, will be able to rally the people to face the future with confidence. Only parliamentary voting by ballot can do this.
Citizens must have the opportunity to be involved on the fringe of government, as economic, social and political problems crowd our future.

Switzerland, that so-stable country, has answered the problem by giving access to the community to achieve legislation for neglected issues by their process of public petition for Citizen Initiated Referenda (CIR), while New Zealand has adopted a similar CIR provision, effectively providing a plebiscite, which can powerfully influence government , but falls short of mandating law.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Islam and Dress Sense

Last night on ABC1 Emma Alberici interviewed a Muslim woman clad in a
burka, only gradually allowing her eyes to be seen. Her primary reason
for wearing the burka was that as a child, and in her teens, she was
sexually harassed. Her husband said that it was her choice.

France proposes a new law banning the face covering burka as intimidatory to others. Perhaps they
also need a law to ban sexual harassment!

In a democratic society, minority groups’ concerns are entitled to be
heard—'the love of democracy is the love of others'. Thus the arrival of
substantial numbers of Muslims, with a wide spectrum of beliefs
challenges the strength and wisdom of our society—of us as a people—of
our democracy.

When freedom (of dress) becomes license, as it has, we have a serious problem. Laws
can be made, but they are only successful if society's values and
principles do in fact support them. As a door-to-door salesman once, I was advised that one's mode of dress
should be good but not such as to draw undue attention. I am sure that
was a good rule - for both male and female - in any age.

Government can only make really good laws for a better society if there
is a much greater opportunity for popular participation in public
affairs. I believe that, in community face to face discussion, our best
values and principles will prevail, leading to better representation and
good (parliamentary) government, away from conflict, to a consensus
which strongly represents us at our best—a real democracy—where ‘the
love of others’ prevails.

Islam and Freedom of Speech


Pictures from London -- this is beyond scary...
Pictures of Muslims marching through the STREETS OF LONDON during their recent 'Religion of Peace Demonstration.'
Makes you wonder doesn't it...can you imagine having a Christian demonstration against Islam in downtown Baghdad !

These were the placards:
‘Slay those that don't believe in Islam.
Europe, you will pay. Demolition is on its way will stop
Butcher those who mock Islam
Islam will dominate the world
Behead those who insult Islam
Freedom go to hell
Europe take some lessons from 9/11
Europe, you will pay 9/11 is on its way]
Be prepared for the real Holocaust
Massacre those who insult Islam’

I don’t think we want to insult Islam any more than they should insult Christianity. We think of the gentleness of Jesus, in whom we believe, who said on the Cross, “Father forgive them they don’t know what they do”.

Muslims have stated that England will be the first country they take over!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Immigration and the Boat People

‘Getup’ describes Australia’s suspension of processing of the boat people as a return to the ‘Howard years’ with refugees’ frustration and rejection, (

But many here resent the problem. And the exclusion of the public from active participation in politics means that party governments live in fear of the public reaction at the next election. Moral leadership in government is thus made difficult and fear dictates decisions which can be cruel, instead of compassionate.

Engraved upon the pedestal of the American Statue of Liberty is a poem by Emma Lazarus, ‘The New Colossus’, ( from which comes the quote: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”. In those days refugees were offered freedom, not wealth, and they built America—and Australia—as we are today. New countries were then able to offer large potential for economic growth through massive natural wealth, (although the respective Indigenes suffered enormously).

But today, as well as the fear of persecution, world television offers the dream of a much better standard of living in Western societies. So there are two forces driving the poor of the world to emigrate. But, there are also two strands of public thinking with regard to refugees. And only one of them is compassion.

There again, increasing world population demands an urgent answer. But what is it?

Monday, April 05, 2010

Democracy shortchanged

The Age today (5/4) editorialises pathetically:
‘In our democracy, majority doesn’t always rule’, drawing attention to the fact that votes cast for parties in ‘safe’ and ‘marginal’ seats can so vary the result that often the party achieving the less overall votes gains the greater number of seats, while the role of ‘opposition’ falls to the major winner of actual votes. Is there really no way out of this crazy and socially destructive mockery of democracy?
It is patently clear Abraham Lincoln’s three specific requirements of a satisfactory democracy—‘government OF the people, BY the people, FOR the people’—are far from being realised.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Stability and Minority Power

Following the American War of Independence, President Washington sent John Adams (who followed Washington’s presidentcy) as America’s first Ambassador to the English throne—a conciliatory gesture after a bitter war. As he was retiring from the audience with King George III, the King commented: ‘I pray Mr Adams that the United States will not suffer from the want of a monarchy.’ This is a knotty point for both Monarchists and Republicans to ponder. Stability primarily depends on strength with fairness, even benevolence in government, whatever its form. What success has America enjoyed?

The US White House is currently being pressured by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which wants the US administration to settle their differences ‘behind closed doors …quietly, in trust and confidence’—of course, when clever manipulation of congressmen has so far stymied the best efforts of each US administration, and the UN, to achieve a free and separate state for the Palestinians. We certainly hope Obama can be strong and pull off a settlement of this ancient tussle.

Tasmania now has a hung parliament, following an inconclusive election, due to the public’s problem with the government’s ‘unhealthy relationship’ with the all-powerful Gunn’s forestry company. In a recent public meeting, Getup reports, a timber consultant asked a pertinent question which was answered with the threatening comment, accompanied by a fist in her face: ‘don’t you ever ask a question like that in a public meeting.’ Questioned as to a complaint to the police, her reply was that next morning there was a box of matches in her letter box, with the implication that her house could easily be set on fire. What madness is this? ‘Whom God wishes to destroy He first makes mad.’ Seneca. A society ignoring God will certainly unravel.