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. 2gravel – I wouldn’t worry about it. With the media’s backing, the LNP have still gone nowhere. They’re behind around 53-47. And that’s mostly through them making mistake after mistake and not being called out on them. The imagery we’ve had forced on us through this period is that the ALP are impotent, can’t cut through, won’t fight. Events like those of the past week or two have started to destroy that concept, and it doesn’t matter whether the media run with it or not.

    If the media continue to harp on about perceived ALP ‘failings’ in the face of the kinds of contradictions the ALP are highlighting, they’ll just look more and more out of touch. It’s just a matter of giving them less to work with. If the ALP are kicking goals in general and making the LNP look defensive, the worst the MSM can do is nitpick around the edges. They may find themselves simply providing lukewarm backing for the LNP rather than going for the ALP’s neck. Interviews with ALP MPs will be harder to conduct without clear attack lines.

    Early days yet though. We’ll see if the ALP can keep it up first.

  2. Your taxes at work –

    Asylum Seekers Given Supplies by Oz Navy, Sent Back to Indonesia

    A group of asylum seekers on their way to Australia from Myanmar, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka were given supplies by the Australian Navy and then sent back to Indonesian waters, one of them confirmed on Tuesday.

    The group of 65 people is currently staying at the Ina Boi Hotel in Kupang, after landing on nearby Rote island, in East Nusa Tenggara province, on Sunday night.

    Raguvarman, from Bangladesh, told reporters on Tuesday that their boat was intercepted by the Royal Australian Navy near the Ashmore and Cartier Islands, south of Rote.

    The asylum seeker said the boat crew was given two new boats, food, money and fuel by the Australians, and that they were then sent back north, confirming an earlier Reuters report.

    On the way back to Indonesia, the two new boats ran out of fuel and the group then stranded on Rote island, Raguvarman said

    The NE tells us he has stopped the boats. He has not. Now the navy is handing over new boats, fuel, supplies and cash and telling the poor sods to just go away.

  3. If those asylum seekers made it to Ashmore Reef and Cartier Island then they reached Australian territory, even though it has been excised from our migration zone.

    The question is how many other boats have reached the same place lately? The government has assorted navy and customs ships patrolling the reef, we know that because we used to be able to track them. Scrott ordered transponders turned off quite a while ago but the ships are still there, chugging round and round in circles and still sending boats and people back to Indonesia. What bad luck for Dutton that the latest bunch of forced returnees didn’t make it all the way to Indonesia and managed to tell their story to the media.

  4. CTar1

    Enough of your slagging off of , next stop Antarctica, Invercargill . Youse guys are in for a -4 –> 11 tomorrow . Enjoy 🙂

  5. A Moir toon from 2012 demonstrates that cartoonists have more insight than all the harlots and shills masquerading as political commentators in the msm.

  6. paywalled

  7. Joan Kirner being denied a pension –
    The vindictiveness of conservative male politicians in this country towards female leaders is astounding. What’s wrong with these – well, I can’t call them men – creatures? Are they afraid of women showing them up for the incompetent fools they really are? Are they jealous? Or do they just see politics as a boys club, no women allowed? Whatever the reason the whole lot of them disgust me.

  8. Agree, Leone…The conservative male is a species all on it’s own..If I ever meet one who has the guts to admit to their vile opinions, I could not offer them any respect…I simply despise any LNP. voter in this country…I despise them as being of a low breed, low intellect of human…perhaps they are the last of the lost gene-pool of Neandethal Man?

  9. Jaycee & Pol Animal,

    I thought recent thinking on the neanderthalers was that they were gentle agrarians, and not aggressive either to other neanderthalers or to other “primate” species.

  10. NBN will only guarantee 12Mbps speeds during FttN transition

    The Coalition claimed Labor’s NBN was a Rolls Royce and they’d give us something more economical and better. What we’ve actually got from them is a paddock bomb.

  11. Looks asa if the Department for Dumbing Down has had its riding instructions

    Universities approaching the Department of Education about the $4m in government funding available for hosting Bjørn Lomborg’s consensus centre have been told they should talk to Lomborg himself.

    Since the University of Western Australia pulled out of a $4m deal with the federal government to host the centre, the department had “had some informal approaches from universities who might be interested and suggested to them and Dr Lomborg they might want to talk”, the associate secretary of the department, Robert Griew, told senate estimates on Wednesday night.

    Labor senator Kim Carr asked “so if a university wants to take this up they should talk to Dr Lomborg?”

    “Yes, but of course they could talk to us as well,” Dr Griew replied.

  12. The Courier Mail seems to be relentlessly trying to bring down the Labor govt in Queensland and get its loved ones in the LNP back in power as usual.

    This time their target seems to be the Labor MP for Pumicestone, Rick Williams.

    Unlike the case for Billy Gordon, all of it appears to be just speculation and rumours.

    I’m starting to think that the CM is going to have a go at this every month until the next election, get an LNP sympathizer who knew a Labor MP to dish up some dirt on them and blow it up as a scandal. Pathetic really.

  13. Some take threats seriously: others just treat them as a political issue

    Man Haron Monis was reported to the national security hotline by relatives of his most recent girlfriend, who believed the Sydney siege gunman “was definitely hiding something”, an inquest has heard.

    But one cousin, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said she was advised by the hotline Monis “wasn’t a threat” because he had not sought to go overseas.

    I hope the DPP loses. They have questions to answer. These bods are paid by the public and should be are answerable to the public

    On Thursday the coroner will hear an application by the New South Wales director of public prosecutions (DPP) to remove from the inquest’s terms any examination of whether Monis should have been out on bail at the time of the siege. The DPP claims the bail question falls outside the inquest’s purview.

  14. The Courier Mail seems to be relentlessly trying to bring down the Labor govt in Queensland and get its loved ones in the LNP back in power as usual.

    The people defied the will of murdoch and that cannot be allowed. The natural order must be restored.

    Old Man Tis unnatural,
    Even like the deed that’s done. On Tuesday last,
    A falcon, towering in her pride of place,
    Was by a mousing owl hawk’d at and kill’d.

    ROSS And Duncan’s horses–a thing most strange and certain–
    Beauteous and swift, the minions of their race,
    Turn’d wild in nature, broke their stalls, flung out,
    Contending ‘gainst obedience, as they would make
    War with mankind.

    Old Man ‘Tis said they eat each other. (Macbeth 2.4. 12-21)

  15. Good morning Dawn Patrollers.

    The AFP are on the job looking for the $0.5m paid to the FIFA crook by Australia. And the Senate committee on foreign bribery might also call FFA in for a chat.
    With a name like “Luke Martin” it’s hardly likely this will be called terrorism.
    NOTHING about the TPP would surprise me given the extraordinary secrecy surrounding it. Wikileaks releases more detail.
    And the Orwellian clamps are applied even more. Is this really Australia?
    There is definitely something Machiavellian about these cabinet leaks.
    Only in America!
    Peter FitzSimons describes Australia’s part in the downfall of Sepp Blatter.
    Blatter is toast but his day of reckoning is yet to come.
    And right on cue the pack of cards starts to tumble.
    The fall of Sepp Blatter – how Qatar became a bridge too far.

  16. Section 2 . . .

    Something really stinks here if Adrian Piccoli won’t see the providers of the NSW schools ethics classes. I hope Piccoli stands up to the forces of religion that seem to have Baird by the balls.
    This SMH editorial slams Baird’s judgment on two issues. And bloody Fred Nile figures in both of them!
    So Monis WAS reported to the national security hotline!
    Choice magazine shows how Aldi has MUCH lower prices than Colesworth.
    Turnbull draws a line in the sand as Abbott pulls the terrorism lever for all it’s worth.
    Michelle Grattan has her say on the matter.
    Michael Gordon on Abbott’s lever pulling.
    Coalition senators give ASIO an armchair ride in Estimates. And Labor also squibbed it.
    Three ethical ways to increase the rate of organ donation. Very interesting.
    Australia – world leader in deforestation and species extinction.,7788

  17. Section 3 . . .

    Mark Kenny tells us the true reason why the government wants to take up time with “debate” on the small business legislation that Labor says it will support.
    More pressure on Abbott about superannuation.
    Paul Sheehan shows us what he is a bad loser.
    Greg Medcalf starts to talk tough-ish to the big banks says Adele Ferguson.
    Don’t be fooled by the rebound in growth says the Business Spectator.
    A lovely headline – Tobacco industry runs out of puff.
    And Stephen Koukoulas rubs The Australian’s nose in it!
    The calibre of the bosses in the Communications Department comes under question.
    “View from the Street” examines the NSW legislation that Eddy McGuire is a continual boofhead and how Abbott fell for Labor’s “bring it on” tactic. He justifiably give homeopathy a good sere too.
    Wong and Brandis went toe to toe at this Estimates hearing yesterday. It was good theatre.

  18. Section 4 . . .

    How the police brokered a ceasefire between two big bikie gangs.
    Ron Tandberg on the cabinet leaks and the Jesus reference from Abbott.

    And Ron has a look at the appearance of strange Chinese islands.

    Alan Moir and IS recruitment.

    John Spooner takes into Sepp Blatter’s inner sanctum.

    David Pope and the cabinet leaks movie.

    Mark Knight with Blatter’s red card.

    And David Rowe captures Sepp leaving the stadium.

  19. The $500,000 of taxpayer funds that went to that stadium is chicken feed compared to the $46 million that Krudd donated to Australia’s bid for the 2022 World Cup. None of that has been accounted for. Despite what you might read on the RWNJ sites, that funding was not arranged by Julia Gillard but by her predecessor, who, like most politicians, could not resist the thought of poncing around at an opening ceremony while the world watched.

    And the fools want to make another Australian bid for a World Cup. FFS! Why? Didn’t we learn anything from the Sydney Olympics? NSW will never finish paying for that political ego trip.

    I loathe sport, especially any sport that involves grown men (and women) chasing/throwing/hitting/kicking balls around paddocks, I have zero interest in FIFA, World Cups and what happens to the whole corrupt bunch in charge.

    What makes me angry is the waste of money – usually taxpayers funds from whatever country – on such trivial rubbish. Money spent on bids, on bribes for corrupt officials and junkets for the top administrators, money spent on ridiculously extravagant facilities, money that could have gone to much better things . Things like schools, hospitals, addressing climate change, providing safe drinking water or solar panels to remote communities and other non-essential, trivial stuff that comes way down the list, a long, long way below ‘sports carnivals’.

  20. should have watched this weeks “The Weekly” , where the “South African Correspondent” explained the “need for these sports”…very “educational” !

  21. Leone,

    It is in the interests of corrupt officials, and top administrators to spend taxpayer money on junkets and extravagant facilities. It is in the interests of politicians to encourage it all because it keeps voter attention off the important issues like schools, hospitals, addressing climate change, providing safe drinking water or solar panels to remote communities. It is in the interests of politicians to keep the masses ignorant and apathetic about the trivial business of a nation’s economy and being blind and deaf when it comes to government incompetence and blatant feathering of the nests of friends, family and mates.

  22. The Mike Baird/Fred Nile thing – non-NSW people might not understand the link between these two, and why Baird is so keen to do whatever Fred wants. They share similar beliefs.

    Baird is a ‘committed’ Christian, that means a bit of a nutter. He attended Bible college in Canada, and wanted to become an Anglican minister. Fred Nile must have been ecstatic when Baird became premier. Baird is against abortion, same sex marriage, embryonic stem cell research and kids being adopted by same sex parents. It is no wonder he is making moves to get those ethics classes low-key, it’s a step towards getting rid of them.

    Baird has staff who follow his beliefs, too. Don’t take much notice of the mention of Catholics and Opus Dei in this piece – ‘Christians’ like Baird and Nile see the Catholic church as the devil incarnate and would not see being Catholic as an advantage.

    More about Mike Baird –

  23. I am now online again, having purchased a Macbook Pro via Ebay and transferred all my hard disk to the replacement, which may be a year or so older than my my tea-soaked one and 13″ instead of 15″ but otherwise is identical in function. In fact, it is a little better because the keypad function is perfect and my old one was wobbly and needed a mouse.

    I have spent a lot of the last day in ‘catch-up’ mode, having only been briefly in touch on my library visits and never comfortable on Sim’s cluttered Toshiba Windows 7. BK’s links have been a great help in keeping abreast of things, as have been all the Pub posters.

    It has been curious that Cabinet has actually shown some backbone and resisted Abbott’s latest Police State attempts on citizenship, albeit alarming to learn that a majority of coalition backbenchers back him. Have we really come that far from democracy and representative government?

    I’ll be in touch a little more from here on, but it has not been a bad weaning exercise, with my trip to England/US coming up in July.

    regards to all.

  24. 4 June 1982:

    The Brazilians refuse to release the RAF Vulcan so it looks like it will have a ‘holiday’ in Rio for a while.

    The Para’s and Commando’s spend the day re-positioning themselves for the final drive.

    MT meets with ‘Ronnie’ at the US Embassy in Paris (the G8 is on in France tomorrow). She tells him “the only proposal now that Britain is willing to accept is a ceasefire, irrevocably linked to Argentine withdrawal within 14 days”.

  25. gorgeousdunny

    Great to see you back, even if only for a couple of weeks, but then we’ll get to hear all about your holiday.

    This is the best site if you have to miss out on news and stuff, the links, the discussions and the different perspectives are educating us all.

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