Australian Democracy at a Tipping Point

Today’s Guest Poster is Paul G. Dellit, from The Australian Independent Media Network. It is a good summary much of what many us have been thinking and saying for a long time.

(Image Credit: Otiose94)

Well, we may well have reached the tipping point between genuine democracy in Australia and the beginnings of creeping fascism. You may think this to be one of those ‘shock-horror’ attention-grabbing opening sentences. It is. And I also believe it to be an unalloyed statement of the danger we now face.

History is littered with hindsight surprise that those with power and those who might have opposed those with power didn’t take action to avoid an obviously looming disaster. Of course, the ‘loomingness’ of disasters is often not appreciated by its contemporaries. It would be naïve to expect otherwise. Couldn’t they see that the South Sea Bubble would burst? Couldn’t they see that a grossly overheated investment market populated with stocks that were either massively overvalued or worthless would result in ever-widening ripples of market failures and a worldwide Great Depression. Couldn’t they see you don’t fix Depressions by reducing the size of economies. Obviously they couldn’t see any of those things. And with the dawning optimism of a new century, they couldn’t even remember them, or if they could, they were playing that ‘main chance’ game of ‘I’ll make what I can make out of this and bugger all of the rest of them who lose the lot’.

Prime Minister Abbott and his acolytes, Ministers Dutton and Morrison, propose the passing of a law that would create a precedent for the end of the rule of law in this country. It would invest a Minister with the powers of policeman, judge and jury to act upon an untested suspicion of guilt to deprive an Australian of his/her citizenship. Following current LNP practice, the reasons for stripping someone of their citizenship would be deemed secret for security reasons. So this Ministerial power would be exercised covertly and absolutely beyond judicial or other form of independent review. The Minister would be required to form his suspicions on the basis of the intelligence provided to him. The name Dr. Haneef immediately springs to mind. But even if our security organisations and the foreign security organisations with whom they trade information were as infallible as our PM believes the Pope to be, and even if they had no self-interested agendas, the Minister invested with this power could exercise it to suit his own ends – say, just before an election – to manufacture a terrorist scare and then appear to be the ‘man of the hour’ who restores our peace of mind (coincidentally winning the votes of a few more undecided Alan Jones listeners to save his marginal seat).

The proponents of changing Australia from a common law country, based upon the separation of powers, to rule by ministerial fiat, as their proposal would enable through the precedent it would establish, argue that they are honourable men who would exercise their new powers dispassionately, wisely, and in the public interest. Of course, this is irrelevant. Laws are not made to fit the character of current holders of high office. They are intended to safeguard against, as far as possible, abuse by those who are partisan, stupid, and prone to act in their own self-interest.

The proposed new law deliberately excludes those safeguards.

Consequently, we need some way of ensuring that the current and all subsequent Ministers, thus empowered, will ensure the intelligence they receive is impeccable, and will interpret that intelligence dispassionately, wisely, and in the public interest.

So let’s run an eye over the proponents of the new law, just for starters.

Malcolm Fraser considered Tony Abbott to be perhaps the most dangerous politician in Australian history. You may have thought that a little hyperbolic. I did. There can be little doubt that our current Prime Minister is the least equipped for high office since Sir William McMahon. And the record also shows that Prime Minister Abbott was able to pass through one of Australia’s finest schools and one of England’s finest universities untouched by exposure to academic research methods, the principles of logic and dispassionate evaluation, the values-free acquisition of knowledge, and even by the evidence that compassion and empathy are fundamental to social cohesion. It is apparent that his academic success is based upon often uncomprehended rote learning, the way he learned and then recited his Catechism as a small child. These are flaws in the makeup of the man that speak to his lack of intelligence and general incompetence.

But as we began to see in the run up to the most recent election, and as more information about Tony Abbott’s past was revealed, we began to understand that Malcolm Fraser’s assessment of him was, if anything, an understatement. We began to see his pathological need to win, we read of his violence against a woman when he lost, we observed his relentless, dishonest, misogynistic attacks upon Julia Gillard as part of his strategy to win office, we heard the litany of lies he told to win office, and the lies he has told about lying and about anything else to suit his purpose, after he had won office.

How could we ever contemplate granting power without safeguards to a person with such a pathological need to win, to get his own way, and to retain power regardless of the consequences for anyone else? Can we imagine Peter Dutton having the stomach to independently exercise his discretion against the wishes of Tony Abbott? It wouldn’t matter if he did. Tony Abbott has the Captain’s right to sack him and bestow that office upon himself if he needed to to get his own way. And can we imagine Scott Morrison doing anything that would compromise his leadership ambitions? Smug self-satisfaction was his only reaction to the human tragedy unfolding daily as the result of the exercise of his Ministerial discretion?

It was some small relief to know that the more intelligent members of Cabinet objected to the extreme Abbott proposal that second generation Australians could be stripped of their citizenship based on nothing more than a Minister’s suspicion, as we have said, covertly exercised and beyond judicial or other independent review.

But now, two thirds of the LNP Back Bench have signed a letter in support of the proposed Abbott law. They may be distinguished as a group for being considered not good enough to serve on the most incompetent Front Bench since Federation, but they may just give Tony the support he needs to make another ‘Captain’s Call’.

If Prime Minister Abbott does cross this Rubicon, so will Australia and God help Australian democracy when Ministers of any stripe use the precedent set by this law to expand its operation into other aspects of our lives to suit their own personal ends.

600 thoughts on “Australian Democracy at a Tipping Point

  1. Aguirre,

    No worries – and I think you are correct anyway about the motivation(s).

    Must go to bed: another pre 7am trip to Keysborough tomorrow. I just hope it doesn’t rain: today’s journey hope was nightmarish. However, I returned unscathed. So did the car.

  2. I have been thinking that Abbott is the leaker of all that cabinet meeting information, a stunt cooked up by Peta and himself to give him an opportunity to appear ‘strong’ by having a bit of a yell at his cabinet and MPs. And that petition? Just MPs who stand to lose their seats come the election ‘persuaded’ to do as ordered in the vain hope it might keep them just enough votes to hang on.

    The only other possible leaker, and the most likely apart from Abbott, if the protestations of innocence from Bananas and Talcum are to be believed, is Morrison. No-one is making him deny anything. Funny, that.

  3. Why is it that the eyes in the photographs of most politicians seem to be dead. I am aware that clamping a smile to one’s teeth in public is not likely to light up the eye, but even in situations where you might expect them to be joyful, so many of them look like hyper-vigilant soldiers surveying for the next attack.
    I think it must be a terrible strain to be a politician – and some of them seem too afraid to even enjoy the good bits whole-heartedly.

  4. That photo of Bishop gives me the shudders. So cold and hard. Not an iota of warmth in that face.

  5. What if Pyne is trying to get rid of Abbott? THe way things are going, Pyne will have to fight for his seat and could lose it at the next election. Abbott has such a pathological hatred for south australia he is unlikely to stop shafting the place ever. Pyne has the best motive to shaft Abbott – self preservation. A strategic leak here and there…

  6. Bishop (both of them) use too much dark eye makeup. It is okay when you are a spring chicken but looks overdone on old boilers. I have softened my eye makeup now I am a crochety old crone. 🙂

  7. Good morning Dawn Patrollers.

    Mark Kenny says that this government by putting politics above policy is in trouble.
    Now THIS will be a court case to watch!
    Give it a day or so for this ripper from Laura Tingle to emerge from behind the pay wall. She calls out Abbott for his unhinged rhetoric.
    And Lenore Taylor says similar things and says Abbott is cheapening the debate. It’s a good article.
    Michelle Grattan – Pugilist Abbott spins for fights.
    More arguments against the Dutton Plan.,7791
    Jess Irvine reaches for Dr Strangelove to tell how Abbott now loves the debt bomb.
    Ben Eltham – Bursting the Coalition’s economic bubble.
    Wilson Security carried on like MI5 when Sarah Hanson-Young visited Nauru. and she’s got her dander up!
    It’s “Absolutely crystal clear. Crystal clear” that this citizenship is an Abbott wedge attempt.

  8. Section 2 . . .

    There’s a certain something about Margaret Cunneen isn’t there.
    Whistleblowers warn that new immigration laws will boost secrecy in detention centres.
    It’s easy for Bair to knock this issue on the head. Just unambiguously rule it out! But he had the chance and didn’t.
    Catherine King says the government could use the medical research fund as a piggy bank for pet projects and election promises.
    This begs SO many questions!
    What a great place the ATO must be to work in!
    The hidden victims of rising house prices.
    Stephen Koukoulas suggests some of the heat may be coming out of rising house prices.
    The 31 worst things the Liberals did yesterday.
    Of course Abbott defends Barnaby!

  9. Section 3 . . .

    Adele Ferguson on the fresh set of troubles for the banks as they come under more parliamentary scrutiny.
    Serial dumb-ass Rick Perry launches another Republican presidential candidature bid.
    FIFA’s Jack Warner will unload “an avalanche of secrets”. Popcorn anybody?
    Gaol is the place for these bastards!
    Another green light from Abbott as he pays the piper.
    The sales of tobacco continue to plummet.
    The SMH editorial calls for Frank Lowy to step aside while we find out about Australia’s World Cup bidding monies.
    “View from the Street” on the citizenship manoeuvres and asks about the secrecy of the TPP negotiations.
    Hockey at odds with superannuation with Abbott.

  10. As I posted before, I am inclined to think that abbott is the leaker and it was one of his tactics to wrong-foot Shorten. In abbott’s malicious mind, Labor is the enemy and he’s becoming increasingly and insanely possessed by his desire to destroy Labor and all it stands for. The thorn in abbott’s side used to be Julia Gillard whom he successfully dispatched. He thought Shorten would be an easy mark but now finds the thorn has grown into a huge plank simply because Shorten refuses to engage in a fight in abbott’s cesspit.

  11. foreverjanice

    I too think it was Abbott . However his target was the ‘bolshie’ element in his cabinet. A big play has been made about how many back benchers wrote to him in support. Sounds like a loud public display to any would be mutineers that the back bench “love him” .

  12. Funny isn’t it. In February, 39 Liberal MPs voted against Abbott as leader and one wrote ‘pass’ on the ballot paper, so that makes 40 who did not want Abbott. Now we are told 40 backbenchers have signed this mythical letter. Are we meant to believe that the 40 original nay-sayers have had a change of heart? It’s just too contrived.

  13. The LNP. can now be called by their true intent : “Invidihoms”…: haters of people.

  14. 5 June 1982:

    Briefing note for MT who is in Paris for the G8 –

    “Sea: Sir Galahad is unloading at Teal Inlet. Andromeda, Penelope, Blue Rover and Sir Geraint to San Carlos early 5 June. The carrier battle group remains to the east of the TEZ. Naval gunfire support operations to be carried out tonight by Cardiff and Active on the Port Stanley area. Glasgow and Argonaut have been released from Op. Corporate due to extensive damage from earlier actions. ..

    Land: 3 Para remain in area of NW Mount Longdon. 45 CDO are moving from Teal Inlet to the area of Smoko Mountain. 2 Para are at Bluff Cove with 1/7 Gurkha Rifles moving forward from Goose Green to join. 2 Scots Guards and 1 Welsh Guards are moving to Bluff Cove area by the night of 5/6 June. It is intended that two CDO attacks will be made on Two Sisters Mountain within next 48 hours.

    Air: Weather conditions continue to be poor. Fog has severely limited all air operations. There are no reports of Argentine air activity. The deployment ashore of GR3/Sea Harrier aircraft is not yet confirmed but the forward operating base is ready for them”.

  15. Mutton-head Dutton doing a presser slamming Gillian Triggs and then Shorten and now SH-Y….He uses the same nasty, irrational rhetoric as abbott. Bet he was a thug cop before he left the police force for politics.

  16. You can take the Attack Wombat out of the Qld. police force but you can’t take the PC Plod out of the Attack Wombat.

  17. The attack on bikies started under Newman, I think. I just wonder what kind of minority group was the vegetable attacking in his former duties.

  18. I once sang Danny Boy for Alan Bond at Clancy’s Tavern in Fremantle accompanied by John Henry on guitar.

  19. Pure speculation, but after reading Dutton’s offical blurb about his past I began to wonder if Dutton was ‘asked to leave’ the Queensland police force. He was running several small business interests while he was still a copper, then left, allegedly, to look after his businesses full time.

    I once had dealings with a former NSW detective who was ‘asked to leave’ after being caught doing very corrupt things. There was a court case which he won thanks to being able to afford (on a detective’s pay?) a very clever barrister, and the records have been sealed, but police officers who were around at the time and knew him remember all about it. He went into business with a friend and they were rotten to the core in their business ventures.

    Which brought me to wondering about Dutton.

    Prior to being elected to Parliament, Peter owned businesses and employed over 40 staff. He started his working life at 12 – delivering newspapers, mowing lawns and working after school as a butcher’s boy – a job he continued until starting university. He purchased his first property at 18.

    Peter went on to complete a Bachelors degree in Business and was a police officer for 9 years, working in the Sex Offenders Squad, Drug Squad, and the then National Crime Authority. He left the police in 1999 to manage his business interests full time

  20. Good work by Kaye Lee –

    Absolute crap

    Bonus from the comments –

    We have been let down fundamentally by the so called fourth estate, our mainstream media : yesterday The ABC’s Drum website had an article about the inevitability of journalism being produced by robots :

    I posted a comment suggesting that, as our national broadsheet was written by muppets, robots could be quite refreshing : the ABC moderated me out – you might well ask what has happened to freedom of speech in this country when light satire is considered too risky to be published.

    Today I heard that four Nauruan asylum seekers had been transported to Cambodia in recognition of a $40 million bribe to the Hun Sen the odious Cambodian dictator ; at this rate transporting the rest of the Nauruan asylum seekers could easily create a real budget emergency. Of course the mainstream media have jumped on this, questioning the hapless Dutton and Abbott relentlessly, NOT !

    Kaye, this nincompoop could never have got away with a fraction of what he has said and done if we had a more robust and incisive media pack

  21. CK,
    Can we You Tube it?

    Unfortunately or fortunately there is no record of said performance, this was in the days before smartphones and other ubiquitous recording devices.

  22. Actually, a reporter from ch 10 asked Dutton many questions about AS, Cambodia and medical services. Dutton got very annoyed and asked the reporter “who do you work for?” Threatening her?

  23. gigilene

    ” “who do you work for?” Threatening her?”
    For a moment he thought he was a Qld Plod again. It wasn’t a friendly enquiry.

  24. The transfer came as Amnesty released a report that reveals the Cambodian government’s violent repression of some of the largest demonstrations in the nation’s history during 2014.
    Amnesty’s research director for Southeast Asia, Rupert Abbott, says its report documents how victims of serious human rights violations by security forces have been left without justice and effective remedies, while those responsible continue to walk free.
    He says the findings bolstered concerns that refugees transferred to Cambodia may not be protected from human rights abuses.
    Amnesty has called on the Australian government to honour its responsibilities under international law and cease the transfer of asylum seekers and refugees to third countries where they were not adequately protected from human rights abuses.

  25. The response from the reporter should have been: Mr Dutton, all you need to know is that you work for, and are paid by, us – the men and women of Australia.

  26. As a nation, we’ve never been to this “place” before…uncharted waters now.

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