Compulsory voting: undemocratic infringement of free will, says Anders Holmdahl

The current electoral laws are illogical, confusing and represent an undemocratic infringement of free will.

Following the intense debate that my legal challenge to compulsory voting has created, I wish to stress that I’m not challenging our right to vote and firmly believe all citizens should vote. In a democracy the government is “chosen by the people”. However, nothing indicates, or even suggests, compulsion.

The word ‘vote’ means the exercise of free will; that is, an unforced choice. The Australian Constitution gives the electors the right to make his or her choice fully, unforced and freely and the parliament clearly intended that each and every elector must have freedom of choice by ensuring that voting is secret. Therefore compulsory voting is a law which cannot be enforced. If you leave the ballot paper blank or deliberately incorrectly marked you cannot be convicted of any offence.

Section 245(15) in the 1918 Commonwealth Electoral Act states: “It is the duty of every elector to vote by filling in a ballot paper in a manner described in section 240”. To define voting as a duty involves a fundamental misconception of the word “vote”. In exercising free will you cannot be forced to mark the ballot paper in such a way as to indicate a preference for any particular candidate. A right is something you are privileged to be granted; a duty is something you are required to do. Therefore, the two are contradictory.

There is no specifically defined offence for failing to attend a polling booth. No offence can be committed unless it can be related to a specific legislation. So why are we being fined?

In the latest Federal election 6.78% of electors did not turn up at a polling station and 5.55% deposited an informal vote. The result is identical but those not turning up at a polling station will be pursued, fined or prosecuted.

The main argument raised against eradicating compulsory voting seems to be that the turnout will fall. Although this may be the case, shouldn’t governments in a democracy be elected by the people wishing to vote and not by the number of people turning up?

The current electoral laws are illogical, confusing and represent an undemocratic infringement of free will. The electoral provisions seem not to require a person to make a choice. All they require is an attendance at the polling station without any need to mark the ballot paper at all. By all definitions, this doesn’t constitute voting but you avoid getting fined. It’s time Australian voters, like in the vast majority of the world’s democracies, are treated as adults.

Anders Holmdahl

Posted by Free Our Right To Vote

MP Craig Thomson to resign from Labor Party

From the Herald Sun

EMBATTLED Labor MP Craig Thomson is set to quit the Australian Labor Party and sit in Parliament as an Independent.

The move comes as Mr Thomson will attempt to distance himself from the Government with the potentially-damning release of a Fairwork Australia investigation into his alleged misconduct during his time as the Health Services Union boss.

Mr Thomson will continue to vote with the Gillard Government and will back any movement to quash an no-confidence motions in the Government and the speakership of Peter Slipper, leaving Prime Minister Julia Gillard's narrow grip on power intact, reports The Daily Telegraph.

Mr Thomson will hold a press conference at midday where he will announce his position. His decision deals yet another crippling blow to the prospects of Ms Gillard retaining power.

No doubt after the next election he will be richly rewarded by the ALP for continuing to support them after they forced him to resign from the party…

Power without Principles

David-Russell The Australian Labor Party desperately needs to grow some convictions, and not seek power for its own sake, writes David Russell: 

There are few who would question that power has a commanding allure. Those with an interest in human behaviour will readily attest the transformative impacts power has on those who seek it and those who attain it. These observations are frequently fascinating but rarely edifying.

Perhaps it is the innate frailty of humanity that makes power such an apparently desirable attribute. Whatever, power is the defining element of our body politic and, as such, influences every aspect of our lives. It is worthy, then, to examine the influence power has had on one of the fundamental institutions of our way of life over the past century: the Australian Labor Party.

The Labor Party grew out of the much less-faceted Australian society of the late 19th century. It would be disingenuous to suggest issues in those days were essentially black and white but contrasted with the multi-megapixel reality of our contemporary way of life, there were far fewer choices to be factored into decision-making. In this environment, it was common for categorisation to be simple, basic and blunt. Long before we discovered upper and lower strands of even a middle class, we made do with rich and poor and bosses and workers.

It was from this milieu that Labor arose as a party for the workers. Make no mistake, it was bold and innovative for its time; quite revolutionary, in fact. Pertinently, the Australian Labor Party was a needed initiative. It served a real and vital purpose to help those who felt oppressed withstand the superior power of those cloaked with authority. An ethos of service to those less able to look after themselves was the heart and soul of Labor and the labour movement that it nurtured. It was the purity of this ethos that earned Labor pervasive community support across Australia and recognition in comparable societies around the globe.

Labor harvested this endorsement and wielded it with sometimes brutal pragmatism to look after its own. This was a reflection of the industrial relations framework of the time which can best be summed-up as might is right. The exponents of capitalism were not faint-hearted in exploiting their advantage and it may well be said that they reaped as they had sown.

In tandem with the prevailing military mindsets of the early 20th century, these opposing sides settled in for the political version of trench warfare. Each held established positions which they defended with almost religious fervour while making occasional forays into the other’s territory. It was when issues like conscription arose that the complexity which characterises contemporary politics wrought convulsive change.

Churches had for centuries wielded overt political power in closed political systems and they had no compunction in a new era of open, participative democracy to continue to exert their influence. The pulpit was used shamelessly to both exhort and denounce as parishioners’ political preferences were confronted by religious strictures. The churches professed to help save the souls of their brethren by telling them how to vote. And to think kings thought they had a divine right!

The seeds of factionalism within Labor germinated in this era and they took root in very fertile soil. As populations and complexity grew, there was now room for an emerging middle class in Australian society as well as a nascent centre, to demarcate right and left wings in the main political entities. This was also the baseline of an existential identity challenge for Labor which came to the fore during the emergence of the Whitlam administration in 1972.

While some died-in-the-wool conservatives feared ruination, much of the Australian electorate breathed deeply of the fresh new air that Whitlam gusted through the corridors of power. At least initially. They were heady times and while the pace of change was bewildering given the comparative torpor of the Menzies era there was an unmistakeable air of excitement that attracted the attention of many young potential Labor acolytes.

Sadly, like a party at which someone has spiked the punch with hallucinogens, Whitlam’s crew exhibited ever more bizarre behaviour at seemingly every turn. Older Australians were initially mystified then became fearful of the consequences. Dedicated Labor voters kept hoping for some form of salvation, unwilling to accept that their period in office might be such a fleeting moment in time compared to the seemingly interminable domination by the conservatives. Younger Australians, though, had not been steeped in the subtleties of economic management and were still more than willing to enjoy the rebelliousness that characterised Labor. Inflation for them was a novelty and did not yet entail the pain of sharply rising mortgage payments.

And then along came Fraser. The Easter Island statue was just the rock to reassure nervous nellies that experimentation was not a legitimate role for government. With a brutality unmatched since Hitler’s blitzkrieg he began unwinding the bulk of the Whitlam’s program.

A major consequence of the drama of these times was the blurring of perceptual lines defining Labor’s support base. The staunch blue collar bulwark was now awash with young, often non-unionised white collar workers. Interestingly, while the blue collar cohort wanted to overthrow authority on the basis of past repression, the white collar cohort wanted to overthrow authority because of the adrenaline rush. They didn’t much care about anything else other than hedonistic gratification. Entirely disparate but they coexisted under Labor’s umbrella because their objectives happened to coincide. It would be later that fissures would emerge.

Astute Liberals watched this and realised it was time to start adopting at least some of the implied characteristics of their brand name. Interestingly, they wanted to cultivate the same reconciled dichotomy as Labor by melding new young things to their traditional conservative base. Their target audience, though, was much more circumspect than Labor’s and generally dressed much more conservatively, albeit with a penchant for flashy collars and ties.

All of this was evolving amid the maelstrom that was the blossoming of the baby boomers. Global society was being rent asunder as never before by a tsunami of students (primarily) who were frankly full of piss and wind, fuelling unrealistic expectations. But they were determined not to be denied. Politics, suddenly, was confronted by full-scale selfishness. Forget ideology: political parties were having their rearward focus on defining causes and philosophies wrenched into a futuristic smorgasbord of idealistic expectations.

The equation changed from I will support you because of what you stand for to I will support you if you deliver me what I want. Consumerist society bludgeoned politics onto a new trajectory. Resting on the laurels of the past was no longer acceptable.

It is remarkable that the term conviction politics emerged later because the period of the 70s and 80s really sounded the death knell of true conviction politics: the end of an era in which political parties espoused comparatively few but very clearly defined stances on a narrow array of topics. It was the beginning of when Labor began to lose its way.

Not that all the changes about to be wrought on the ALP were unfortunate. In fact, the reform agenda implemented by Hawke and Keating was essential for national prosperity. It showed the electorate that Labor had a capacity for sound economic management that had been shredded in the Whitlam experiment. Most importantly, it restored Labor’s internal confidence that it could reasonably aspire to be the natural party of government.

This was an era in which unionism reached its pinnacle of influence on Australian society. A new breed of trade union leaders emerged from the Whitlam years, determined to secure their objectives in their own way if their political soul brother, the ALP, could not master the parliamentary environment. The man for the times was Bob Hawke whose larrikinism softened perceptions of the broad belligerence of the union movement. Hawke’s overweening confidence reassured waverers that he could win out when it mattered. The trust he engendered delivered him the prime ministership. It was a unique blend of professional and personal qualities that enabled him to help check some of the excesses he had unleashed while wearing his figurative Jackie Howe singlet.

Having Hawke at the helm of the ALP encouraged many other trade unionists into the party. With Labor now able to win elections again, the unionists recognised a new pathway to power, privilege and perks. Unfortunately, they brought with them their take-no-prisoners workplace attitudes and set about cementing their influence in party structures. Labor was to be consumed from within by the very object of its affections.

It was John Howard who reminded the Liberal Party that diversity was a positive attribute for the party, likening it to a broad church. Labor appealed to just as diverse a demographic but over time found itself arthritically crippled by a hardening of its arteries: conference and caucus. The unions straitjacketed conference while the factions did the same for caucus. Rank and file members continually had their noses rubbed in the dirt and eventually realised their influence was negligible. Careerism superseded the branch structure as the means to secure power and the result is that one of the most potent symbols of traditional Labor has been effectively discarded.

It is worthy of note that the proliferation of think tanks has created an alternative source of policy concepts for both Labor and the Liberals and Nationals. It is reflective of the burgeoning complexity of society that policy proposals have now largely superseded the proposal, debate and adoption of handwritten motions arising from the floor of a party branch meeting. A new class of policy wonks has emerged to help society govern itself well. It is a worthy and valuable trend. Yet it should be accompanied by an awareness that it comes at the cost of the loss of traditions, membership participation and core values.

The demise of the rank and file in Labor is singularly significant because it symbolises the demise of democracy within the Labor party. What Labor is left with is democracy by proxy whereby the select few – key union officials and faction leaders – get to impose their will by stifling the vox populi through rigid discipline that brooks no opposition. Debates on major issues are stage-managed in set-piece scenarios in which both actors and audience know the script by heart.

The execution of the rank and file has robbed Labor of its heart and soul. What remains is a pale shadow of a once-vibrant entity that valued its traditions above all. There is no longer a continuum of what Labor stands for and its once-proud standard flaps idly in any breeze that gusts along.

The subjugation of the articles of faith that gave birth to the ALP happened slowly but the cumulative impact is being felt powerfully in recent times. One of the first core planks of Labor beliefs to be jettisoned was the socialist redistribution of wealth. Oh, it still makes many a Labor heart beat true to think of taking from the rich to give to the poor. However, now that living standards have improved so substantially over the past few generations, most people have accumulated sufficient wealth that they feel threatened by the notion of redistribution.

One of the remarkable quirks of Labor’s partial demise is that it shares the same problem with many parties of the Centre-Left as evidenced in Britain, New Zealand and parts of Europe. All have enjoyed wide de facto branding as parties of reform.  Why, then, do they now fare so poorly in revitalising their own structures and credos? As with the fall of communism, these may be portents of surpassing significance.

In the Australian context, Labor has lost so much. Reality forced it to repudiate a foundational core belief: socialism. The decline of unionism has stifled its once pre-eminent cause of advocacy. The exile of the rank and file has robbed it of its conscience. Careerism has purged its true believers. But the most devastating blow has been spin doctoring which has stolen its values.

Spin doctoring, per se, is not a dreadful or diabolical activity. Of itself, it is largely as harmless as public relations which can be described as a formalised process of selling the positive. No, it is the associated activities and mindsets that have led to spin doctoring typecasting the ALP. What initially seemed like clever politics has now come to symbolise Labor’s loss of credibility.

As the party was forced to confront the aftermath of the damaging Latham experiment and, to its hardiest supporters, the seemingly slow death of the Howard era, apparatchiks searched for new voters and new issues to restore its relevance. They relished the apparent renaissance of the Blair years in Britain and copied some of Labour’s political tradecraft that so effectively sidelined the Conservatives.

Back here, Labor’s machine men assiduously cultivated the craft of focus groups. They tracked emerging issues to learn what pushed voters’ buttons. They danced a deadly duet with the Devil as he fed their addiction to this powerful means of winning votes. Overlooked in their lust for success was the reality that there is always a price to pay.

To be sure, this flirtation with popular psychology was not unique to Labor. Many are the parties and peripheral organisations who pursue power and are willing to pay the price to get their hands dirty in this way. What Labor appears to have failed to adequately recognise was the gradual loss of its traditional support base as it cultivated voting intentions in demographics never before regarded as productive territory for the party. Blindly, they ignored the impact of an incoming tide of single issue voters focused on their own selfish expectations and how they might be accommodated by a populist, idealistic mainstream political movement. In much the same way that a chorus of canines cemented Pavlov’s reputation, Labor’s strategists won plaudits for their ability to identify issues, demographics and hot buttons. So enamoured were they of these wondrous new saplings, though, they ignored the root rot that was devastating the forest behind them. Every trendy new issue sat uneasily with the stalwart traditionalists. Gay marriage might well be an issue whose time has come but it will not win plaudits from traditional blue collar workers whose innate conservatism has been inculcated by decades of religious conditioning.

As its relevance to traditional audiences waned, Labor’s spin doctors put ever more effort into attracting new voters to the fold. It worked a treat with Kevin07 as a manufactured new-style hero emerged as a totem for those whose identity derives substantially from social media. Yes, it won an election in fine style. But when the real Kevin dropped the great moral issue of our time like a hot cake after his Copenhagen towelling, many of Labor’s new acolytes felt cheated. When Labor kept spinning that Kevin Rudd was really a nice person, many new adherents were mystified, if not appalled, by the torrent of invective that eventually erupted during the course of his recent challenge to Julia Gillard.

If you endorse a sociopath to lead your party just because he can win an election, what does it say about your values? Cabinet Ministers, apparatchiks and staffers are still running from this question, unwilling to recognise that it is a crux issue that must be resolved if the Labor brand is to be revitalised. Just as pertinent is Julia Gillard’s apparent belief that because she has secured the leadership as a childless, godless woman, customary political orthodoxies do not apply to her. Good luck with that one at next year’s federal election, Prime Minister.

With a 120-year pedigree of quite substantial success, it seems fanciful to imagine the complete demise of the Labor brand. Yet the number of those within Labor who simply will not see the writing on the wall betrays a collective foolhardiness that is incomprehensible.

If brand Labor is to be salvaged it must project a coherent set of values. It cannot be all things to all people. It most assuredly cannot win respect without trust. And it cannot earn trust without voters admiring its values. The task is not to chase complexity. If Labor can succinctly state a set of core principles which guide its ambition to play a leadership role in this nation it will enjoy a renaissance. Otherwise, it will be smashed as comprehensively as the Berlin wall signified the demise of communism.

David M. Russell is a professional communicator with a passion for good governance. His personal blog can be found at davidmrussell.wordpress.com.

Scientist Matthew England Lies On ABC Q&A

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Jo Nova writes that oceanographer Matthew England owes Nick Minchin an apology – and asks, will Tony Jones correct the record on Monday?

The ABC Q&A program shows they have no interest in pursing the truth on climate change. The panel was, as always designed to push an agenda. Five believers, with a sixth in the audience, faced two skeptics. No skeptical scientists were invited to attend, let alone sit in the front row with a mike, like England who was called in so the warmists could get the last word on the science without fear that a skeptic might disputing their version of events. We can’t allow people to damage the faith of those duped ABC viewers.

Nick Minchin claimed there is a major problem with the warmists theory, that the predictions of the IPCC were wrong, because we have had rising CO2 in the last decade or more but “we haven’t had the commensurate rise in temperatures.”

Matthew England claims Minchin is wrong

“What Nick just said is actually not true. The IPCC projections from 1990 have borne out very accurately.”  Source Q & A  (36:30 mins)

Hmmm. Could “very accurately” be an exaggeration? Or is it possible England was getting his IPCC predictions mixed up? No. He really does mean the 1990 report, and he repeats the claim that the decadal trend fits.

“The projections are now 22 years old and the temperature record that we have does bounce around for year to year but that decade to decade progression that of warming that Megan just mentioned have occurred …”

The predictions from the IPCC First Assessment Report show England is wrong

Policy Makers Summary, Working Group I, page xxii.

Their prediction was that if we continue to emit CO2 at present rates the world will warm at about 0.3°C per decade, so by 2025 the world will have warmed by 1°C. That was looking 35 years ahead and we are now 22 years into that prediction. The world should be about 0.6°C warmer now than in 1990.

The lowest possible prediction is for a 0.2°C rise per decade.

See the whole scanned IPCC page in context  here

Were CO2 emissions “business as usual”? No they were worse

The CO2 emissions (black dashed line) are worse than projected by the IPCC. So the temperature should have risen faster than their lowest estimate.

Atmospheric CO₂ concentrations recorded at Mauna Loa (black dashed line) and as projected under six IPCC emission scenarios (coloured lines) (IPCC Data Distribution Centre)

Was warming since 1990 even close to the predicted 0.3°C per decade? No.

According to the satellite data (the best and only source of unbiased data) the temperature trends in the last two decades was not even close to those predicted by the IPCC. For most of the last 20 years the temperature was well below the lowest predicted warming of 0.2°C per decade predicted for the “business as usual” plan. Look for yourself: the climate models and Matthew England are wrong, and Nick Minchin is right.

Figure 4: Predictions of the IPCC’s First Assessment Report in 1990, compared to the subsequent temperatures as measured by NASA satellites (UAH Data). Graph by Dr David Evans

 

England was given a free kick at Minchin, who had no scientific support at the event at all

Minchin, undeservedly had to wear the false “correction” on national television. To put things right, to show the ABC is interested in the truth rather than just being an advertising agency for the government they need to correct the record.

Why will alarmists never admit they were wrong? Why are they surprised when the public loses faith in them, and stops trusting them?

Why does the ABC broadcast this nonsense so uncritically? Anyone with eyes can see the predictions then were wrong. As copies of this post spread throughout Australia, the trust the once great institution of the ABC used to have, erodes further.

When will the warmists learn that the Internet makes it easy to check? They assume that they can get away with propaganda for their favourite ideas and policies, because they have the media on their side, but there is a new-media now, and the skeptics, free thinkers and honest citizens are all over it.  The longer the ABC continues to deny that there is another side of the debate the worse the fall from grace will be. The longer honest scientists sit silently by, passively allowing the Matthew England’s of the world to use the brand-nameScience in such a deceitful or at best incompetent careless way, the less the public will trust all scientists.

PS: Don’t forget to vote again in that ABC survey about your opinion after the I can change your mind doco. They want to find out how many people changed their mind, what direction they moved in, and who they vote for.

Jo Nova is a blogger and author of The Skeptic's Handbook. This post originally appeared here, and is reposted with permission. 

Gillard’s last stand & Wonky Wayne and the Budget Factory.

Greg Atkinson discusses the economic devastation created by the Gillard Government:

Foolishly during Kevin Rudd’s Australia 2020 Summit a few years ago I thought that the political circus in Canberra couldn’t get any more ridiculous.  Sadly I was wrong. The Gillard led government is now doing its very best to destroy what little respect the public have left for politicians and Wayne Swan is sure to produce another work of economic & finance fiction – the 2012 Federal Budget.

Julia Gillard to me is like a red chameleon that can’t change colour but thinks it can and believes it is always well camouflaged.  At times she wants to appear greener than a bunch of Woodstock hippies, but alas she is still as red as Chairman Mao’s little book.

At other times she tries to change to business blue or farmer brown, but again she has only changed her appearance in her own mind.  Few people are fooled and most see Julia for what she is:  a desperate Prime Minister who will go down in history as one of the worst Australia has ever had the misfortune to be saddled with.

In days gone by Gillard would have already been toppled from power,  but the  Labor Party’s talent pool is so shallow that even the algae at the bottom is drying out.

So Gillard holds the highest elected office in the land simply because there is no real alternative apart from Kevin Rudd.  What a choice…a bumbling P.M. or an egomaniac ex-P.M.  How sad is that for the Australian public?

Julia Gillard will not make it to the end of 2012 as Prime Minister and I suspect she knows it.  If she truly wanted to do what is best for Australia she would call and election to give the public a chance to make a change if they so wish.  However she seems intent on making a last stand and every day she remains in office, the more damage is done to the Australian economy and our international image.

Generally I try to avoid talking about Australian politics when overseas, however if pushed I cunningly attempt to change the subject to either The Wiggles, Kylie Minogue or the Australian cricket team. This normally works well.

For example if someone asks me who the Prime Minister is I answer “Well it should be Steve Waugh” or “Isn’t it the Red Wiggle or “We don’t need a P.M, we have Kylie”.

Usually this works well, especially if people have had plenty of alcohol to drink. However a few months ago in Singapore my strategy came unstuck when a local business entrepreneur brushed aside my attempts to avoid talking about politics and proceeded to give a very good summary of the Rudd-Gillard saga.

As I sat and listened, I realised how pathetic our government must appear to overseas business & political leaders. The truth is we have a government that is simply focused on remaining in government and a Prime Minister who doesn’t seem to have the courage to resign.

We also have a government that has managed to take a surplus handed to them by the previous Howard government, spend it all, borrow billions and have very little to show for it.

Soon to make matters worse, Wonky Wayne and his Budget Factory will once again produce a federal budget that will demonstrate that the government’s vision extends only as far as saving as many seats at the next election as possible.

Last year I made this comment about Swan’s 2011 budget:

“Will productivity in Australia be improved because of this years budget? No. Will the Australian manufacturing sector be made more competitive because of this years budget? No. Will Wayne Swan’s 2011 budget help position the Australian economy to be able to better withstand the next economic downturn? No.”

Source: Swan’s lazy 2011 budget and Australian economic madness

After this years budget I guarantee you the same comments will be applicable. Swanny spends when he should save and saves when he should spend.

The slowdown in the Chinese economy is happening despite the best efforts of the China bulls to talk it away.  A few years ago we could have taken some measures which would be kicking in now and these could have provided a buffer for the period when commodities prices will be lower & mines start to close.  We are probably already in that period now.

It also amazes me that the Treasurer & Treasury appear surprised that tax revenues will come in less than they forecast.  Clearly they need to pay more attention to what is happening in the real world and less time tweaking their computer models.

There is only one thing more scary than an economist tweaking an economic computer model to suit an economic theory and that’s a politician who actually believes the model works.

Regarding Swan’s 2010 budget I wrote:

“Supporters of the budget will say I just don’t have a good grip on how strong demand is from China, but a quick look at the stock & commodities markets today suggests that I am not the only one not buying into Swan’s optimistic view of the economy.

Maybe the budget forecasts are correct, but I doubt it and the repercussions for the Australian economy if they are wrong will be severe.”

Source: The two speed economy, debt and the fantasyland federal budget

Well folks many of the forecasts have turned out to be wrong and on budget night we will find out what some of repercussions will be.  As per usual not much will be done to make the economy more competitive, most problems will not be addressed and the the new forecasts are unlikely to be any more accurate than the last ones.

That’s because the 2012 Federal Budget will be about getting as many Labor Party members of parliament and senators re-elected as possible.  The sad reality is that the government is not watching the economy but instead watching the Opposition and opinion poll numbers.

We can only hope that a few of the ‘Independents’ re-discover their backbones and that this madness ends soon…for Australia’s sake.

Greg Atkinson is the editor of Shareswatch Australia and the Managing Director of Ohori Capital. He is originally from Australia but currently resides in Japan. He can be followed on twitter via @GregAtkinson_jp. This was was originally published here

 

 

A Rotting Fish

Cory-BernardiSenator Cory Bernardi notes that not since the Whitlam years have we seen just how much damage a government can do in just four years:

There is an old saying that ‘a fish rots from the head down’. The adage is an appropriate one as Australians despair at the dysfunction and decay of their national government.

Any modicum of faith that mainstream voters had in their elected government has disappeared as the rotting stench of political deceit permeates from the Prime Minister down.

A wise man once told me that how you get into government is very important to your capacity to govern well. If short-term success is gained by trickery and deception, then that becomes the modus operandi through which you live your political life. If power is gained through political butchery then, like Lady Macbeth, the stain of blood on your hands can never truly be erased.

For Julia Gillard, the problem is multi-faceted. She deposed a popular first term Prime Minister but tried to deny she was actively complicit in seeking the job. Her denials didn’t wash with the public and the legitimacy of her leadership has repeatedly been brought into question.

These doubts were reinforced during the election campaign of 2010 when she (and others) steadfastly maintained that there would be no carbon tax under a Labor government. We now know the world’s biggest carbon tax is only eight weeks away from being inflicted on the Australian economy. Gillard has never recovered from this outright deception.

In her desperate deal with the independent Andrew Wilkie, she promised poker machine reform and then did a tawdry deal with Peter Slipper to enable her to renege on the Wilkie deal. The Coalition warnings that the Slipper deal would end in tears have proved prophetic and further sullied the reputation of this government and the Prime Minister’s judgment.

While he is entitled to the presumption of innocence, Peter Slipper at least had the decency to stand aside from his role as Speaker while the investigations into the allegations are continuing. Not a single member of the government was prepared to make that case, further highlighting how bereft of moral fortitude they are.

I could go on. The waste of taxpayers’ money, the patronage of fringe causes, the spin and the outright lies have all contributed to a virtual evaporation of public confidence in our government.

 


Click here to keep reading

Senator Cory Bernardi is the Shadow Parliamentary Secretary Assisting the Leader of the Opposition and a Senator for South Australia. This article is courtesy of his personal blog which can be found at http://www.corybernardi.com. 

Why QCs must be reinstated

206763_10150137802876616_585816615_6556554_3219432_n (1) (1) Joshua Gibbins argues for the reinstatement of the title of Queen's Council:

Australia is a constitutional monarchy, and with monarchy comes the symbols, titles and patronages that represent the soverign.

Whether it’s the monarch’s coat of arms, the lion and unicorn aloft government buildings, the monarch’s portrait hanging for all to see in government and public buildings, or knighthoods bestowed by the monarch. These things are all part of the monarchy that Australia is a part of and has been a part of since it was first colonised by Britain.

Sadly, over the last 20 years, republicans that have risen to power and have used the extent of their power either at all levels of government to remove and hide these symbols.

In effect, these people are removing parts of Australia’s traditions,  and some of Australia’s oldest national identity and heritage.

This is why I believe that, although it may have little significance to the monarchy directly, that the title of ‘Queen's Counsel’ should be reinstates.

The major Commonwealth realms, Great Britain, Canada and New Zealand, still retain the title of ‘Queen’s Counsel’, with New Zealand reinstating the title in 2010.

Australia still has these senior practitioners, but under a new title called ‘Senior Counsel’, which is really the exact same thing – and they even dress the same as the original Queen's Counsel.

The title of ‘Senior Counsel’, however, is only used in republics that were originally part of the British Empire and later Commonwealth realms but now a republic, like Africa, Hong Kong, Kenya, Singapore, etc.

Australia still being a constitutional monarchy should continue to use the titles that are consistent with our constitution and not those that represent a republic. Australia restoring the title of Queen Counsel will also put Australia back in line with the other Commonwealth realms that still use the title.

Looking at the most recent case where the title has just been reinstated in New Zealand, you can see that the arguments that brought in its restitution are no different to what applies to Australia. This was met with wide community support but the only objections to the reinstatement were that the title is too ‘colonial’, which from the start was a weak argument that was quickly defeated.

There was no other reason other than a few republican members of Parliament calling it colonial cringe and then going on to ask if they could also reinstate fingerless gloves. There was no solid argument presented as to why title should not be reinstated.

There is one good argument that the ‘silks’ selection process can be and at time is corrupt because attaining the rank of Queen's Counsel, known as 'taking silk’, is quite competitive.

This is true at times but like in New Zealand, Australia could think of a more secure way for barristers to be selected and appointed for the title – and has no bearing on whether the title is QC or SC.

That said, the reinstatement of the title ‘Queen’s Counsel’ in Australia will not only help with what people already perceive to be of high standard,  but also put Australia back in line with the other of Her Majesty’s realms and restore respect to one of Australia’s longest traditions.


Joshua Gibbins is a 22 year old constitutional monarchist, studying a Diploma in Library and Cultural Studies

The 2012 GOP Veepstakes Brackets: Round Two

Amir-Iljazi


Menzies House U.S. Politics Editor Amir Iljazi continues his Veepstakes Tournament for the 2012 GOP Presidential Ticket

Just a few weeks ago, I wrote how the GOP nomination process was essentially all but over and that we had moved into a new phase of the contest. Shortly thereafter, Presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney saw the road become much clearer as his chief rival, Rick Santorum, decided to end his campaign.

We moved into what many US Political observers have dubbed the "Veepstakes" which is very much a parlor game where pundits and insiders discuss who the Vice Presidential nominee will ultimately be for respective party nominees in a Presidential election. I began with 32 potential running-mates for former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and in with the first round post come and gone, we are now left with 16 potential candidates to ride shotgun with Romney in his quest to unseat President Obama.

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Romney (above) will conduct an extensive search before choosing a VP

Once again, a brief explanation: I divided the 32 potential Vice-Presidential picks into two brackets and put them in matchups against each other and there is only one left. Without any further delay, the second round of the 2012 GOP Veepstakes Brackets.

ROUND 2 MATCHUPS (REGION A)

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#1 Sen. Marco Rubio vs #8 Sen. John Thune- In a matchup with two very charismatic Senators who are extremely popular both with establishment GOPers as well as grassroots activists it seems like a tough choice. However, Rubio brings two unique qualities that Thune does not with his Cuban background and potential for influence in the swing state of Florida… winner, Rubio

#2 Gov. Bob McDonnell vs #10 Haley Barbour- Here are two contenders who appear good on paper and could very well give Romney some much needed pull with GOP voters in the South. Though Barbour (former Mississippi Governor) is revered widely throughout Republican circles for his political acumen, McDonnell is currently running a more crucial state in this election (Virginia) and he is also better on the campaign trail. Barbour is regarded as being far better in a “behind the scenes” role… winner, McDonnell

#3 Sen. Rand Paul vs #6 Gov. Bobby Jindal- Kentucky Freshman Senator Rand Paul could be a major asset to the Romney ticket, given his Tea Party popularity and the fact that his father is Ron Paul. However, Governor Jindal has been long seen as one of the nation’s most effective Governors as he has been at the helm in Louisiana to oversee the state’s comeback “post-Hurricane Katrina” and he also brings some diversity to the ticket…winner, Jindal

#4 Sen. Jon Kyl vs #12 Gov. Louis Fortuno- Senator Jon Kyl is leaving his seat in Arizona and with it he leaves behind a stellar career that has given him a high amount of credibility on some of the nation’s most important issues: Foreign Policy, the Judicial Branch of Government, Entitlements, and Tax Policy just to name a few. Fortuno is an interesting choice, as his selection on a Romney ticket would signal a dramatic out-of-the-box move ala Sarah Palin… winner, Kyl

ROUND 2 MATCHUPS  (REGION B)

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#1 Rep. Paul Ryan vs #8 Rep. Ron Paul- Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan is one of the most popular members of Congress within the GOP. He is praised by the establishment and adored by the grassroots activists. He has long-been-seen as someone with the intellectual capacity to make the case for Conservative principles to the nation at large. Congressman Ron Paul would be a huge gamble for Team Romney seeing as some of his issue positions are in serious conflict with that of the presumptive nominee… winner, Ryan 

#2 Gov. Chris Christie vs #7 Rep. Allen West- What a matchup! The always-bombastic Governor Christie of New Jersey pitted against the equally brazen Florida Congressmen West. The negatives are what really will determine who advances. They both bring with them great risk due to their unyielding candor to say exactly what is on their minds and that is also an asset in a strange way. With a choice like this one can only turn to the “experience” card… winner, Christie

#3 Sen. Rob Portman vs #11 Sen. Jim DeMint- Senator Portman is being increasingly seen as one of Romney’s top contenders for the VP slot given his experience on economic policy throughout his career in public service (Congressman, Trade Rep, Budget Director in the Bush White House) and being from Ohio doesn’t hurt either. South Carolina Senator DeMint would be a very surprising pick and it may garner Romney some much needed favor with Tea Party activists who are not yet sold. Portman’s one negative are his ties to the Bush ’43 administration, but that is not enough to disqualify him at this stage… winner, Portman

#5 Gov. Mitch Daniels vs #13 Sen. Pat Toomey- Governor Daniels of Indiana was practically begged to run in 2012 and he decided not to do so for family concerns and it isn’t exactly clear as to how good a candidate he would have been on the national stage. Toomey is Pennsylvania’s Freshman Senator and is very well versed on Tax policy and entitlements. Toomey may be able to help Romney reach out to blue collar voters who feel he can’t relate to them… winner, Toomey

That completes our second round of the GOP 2012 Veepstakes Brackets! Thanks again for reading and I hope you are all enjoying the series! Please feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions about these matchups and who you think should be the GOP VP nominee!

Here’s a preview for the matchups in the third round: 

REGION A

#1 Sen. Marco Rubio vs #4 Sen. Jon Kyl
#2 Gov. Bob McDonnell vs #6 Gov. Bobby Jindal

REGION B

#1 Rep. Paul Ryan vs #13 Sen. Pat Toomey
#2 Gov. Chris Christie vs #3 Sen. Rob Portman

Amir Iljazi is the U.S. Politics Editor of Menzies House. He earned his Master's Degree in Political Science at American University in Washington, D.C. and currently resides in Tampa, Florida. Before relocating back to Florida, he specialized in longitudinal campaign tracking and voter trends for Federal Races nationwide while working for a Washington DC based center-right political advocacy organisation. You may follow him on Twitter@Michi83

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