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.