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11 February 1983. Thought for the Week: "Men are tired to disgust with money politics. They hope for salvation from somewhere or other, for some real thing of honour, of inward nobility, of unselfishness and duty"
"The Liberal Party sources which predicted Mr. Fraser would go for a March poll on the wages issue said the key to his almost desperate quest for an early election was the 1983-84 Budget" - Neil O'Reilly, in The Sun-Herald (Sydney), Feb. 6th.
It is really a fluke that Mr. Hawke shou1d now find himself engaged in a "High Noon" with Malcolm Fraser. We have said in the past, more than once, that Mr. Hawke had left his "run" too late; that he should have entered Parliament earlier. The leadership contest with Mr. Hayden last year seemed to have ended the matter. Had the Federal election taken place last September-October, as Mr. Fraser intended, and Mr. Hayden emerged triumphant, as seemed likely, then that would have been the end of the road for Mr. Hawke certainly for the foreseeable future. Now, astonishingly, the whole basket has fallen into his lap, and he will have to win this election.
Peter Robinson ("Candid Comment", The Sun-Herald, Sydney, Feb. 6th) has put his finger on it..."the easy days for Bob Hawke are over"..."If a Hawke led Labor Party cannot decisively win the election on March 5th then it is clear the A.L.P. itself has lost its relevance as an opposition force in Australian politics..."
We remind supporters that there will probably be two referendums to coincide with the election. One has been put before; viz.- simultaneous elections for the House of Representatives and the Senate. We have condemned it, and we condemn it again now. Such a power would enable the Leader of the Government of the day in Canberra to "blackmail" the Senate: i.e. if the Senate did not pass legislation from the House of Representatives it could be "threatened" with dismissal and forced to face the electors. Simultaneous elections provisions written into the Constitution would very seriously weaken the power of the Senate as a House of Review; its intended function, to stall "snap" and hasty, and sometimes bad legislation. The Senate must be free to do its proper job.
Re 4-year terms of parliament; all this does is to give the politicians a further year of perks. The U.S.A. has 4-year terms; Britain has 5-year terms. Are they governed any better than Australia? No. The politicians should be kept on their toes at all times, and the shorter their terms, the better, really. A wall of waffle is being put up by the long-term lovers (particularly the politicians), but behind all the plausible argument is the fervent desire for another year of goodies, at the taxpayers' expense. No fixed terms either.
How lovely it would be for the politicians to laze back on those leather benches and contemplate 4 comfortable years to come, with no chance of having to "face the enemy" (the electors). Nothing doing. Politicians must be kept "dancing"(preferably to the tune of the electors) with never a clue as to when the music will stop. No simultaneous elections. No 4-year terms. No fixed terms.
A few comments
Jeremy Lee once said to the writer of this particular item that "We'll probably have to have Hawke"... He meant that Hawke will have to run his course, and that Australia won't get Hawke out of its system until he has his run, and proves that he has no more capacity and ability to prevent economic and social run down than any of his predecessors.
Dr. Malcolm Mackerass has referred to Bob Hawke's catapult into the Labor leadership as a "wild card" (is it ever?) which could upend the recent political situation, and we, ourselves, cannot be sure what the new political situation will be until the electoral dust settles. Mr. Andrew Peacock is no doubt preening his feathers in anticipation of the end of Malcolm Fraser, and Paul Keating may find that he will be pitch forked in the Labor leadership if Mr. Hawke doesn't pull it off, for there will be no second chances. Now is the time to push forward some sound policies to the politicians.
THE POLITICS OF HYPOCRISY AND DOUBLE STANDARDS
Politics are concerned with power, and all power tends to corrupt. There has always been corruption in politics, but in days gone by corruption was kept to a minimum by a climate of opinion which demanded that basic values of decency and honesty be maintained in public life. There was a time when the unmasked traitor followed the example of Christ's treacherous disciple who hanged himself. But in today's world the standards of the party political hacks has sunk to the type of low prevalent during the break up of the Roman Civilisation. The cynical double standards of Prime Minister Fraser are a sickening example of the depths to which today's politicians will sink in their efforts to hold on to power.
As leader of the Opposition in 1975,
Mr. Fraser said, "The problems of a country such as South
Africa are never going to be solved by breaking off communications
or by driving it into isolation. Closer ties with South Africa
offer the best means to social change there."
Mr. Fraser insists that Qantas cannot
fly directly into South Africa, event though a number of African
countries permit their airlines to do so. Mr. Fraser is not
such a fool that he does not know that Qantas is flying into
Zimbabwe (Rhodesia) so that passengers can then link up with
South African airways flying to Johannesburg.
When charged with being hypocritical in imposing a life ban on the West Indian cricketers while Australian trade with South Africa was increasing, Mr. Fraser reacted with the claim that an economic boycott of South Africa would seriously affect the Africans. The same man put forward exactly the opposite viewpoint concerning the imposition of a total economic boycott of Rhodesia.
While paying lip service to the necessity
to curb the Soviet Union, Prime Minister Fraser has encouraged
a massive increase in Australian exports to the Soviet Union.
When Mr. Fraser last met President Reagan he warmly congratulated
him on his economic policies, which he claimed were in line
with his own policies. Now Mr. Fraser blames the recession
in Australia on the disastrous American economic situation.
Apart from the "blow out", which has
already substantially increased the deficit planned for in
Treasurer John Howard's last budget, Prime Minister Fraser
is now blatantly attempting to buy votes with lavish promises,
starting with $500 million for the Tasmanian Government if
it will stop the Franklin dam. Other promises take the total
to at least $1,000 million.
Mr. Fraser has exploited the gimmick of the "freeze" in his desperate search for an issue on which to stage his early election. Not even Mr. Fraser is stupid enough to believe that the "wage freeze" can solve Australia's economic problems. But if he can claim that the wicked unions never gave it a chance to succeed, he can run his election on the catch cry of "Who is running Australia?" In the meantime he is spending nearly $1 million of the taxpayers' money on an electioneering campaign under the guise of "explaining" to the people what the "wage freeze" means.
Even if Mr. Fraser can get himself re-elected on the "freeze" gimmick, basic realities will not change. As inflation continues at over 10 percent, the trade unions will intensify their campaign for higher wages to offset the inflation and reduction in purchasing power. The Marxists of all kinds will be delighted.
Prime Minister Fraser has had nearly
eight years to deal with union problems and is no closer to
finding an answer than when he started. When in Opposition
Mr. Fraser correctly said that Industrial peace was impossible
while higher taxation kept pushing prices up. In office his
Government has imposed record taxation upon the people.
Laurie Oakes, writing in the Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) February 6th states that Mr. Fraser did not know he would be facing Mr. Hawke in the coming election on March 5th. Mr. Fraser has said that he did know. Which do we believe? Mr. Oakes says that Malcolm Fraser rushed to Government House to have the election settled before the A.L.P. changed leaders, to attempt to force the A.L.P. to stick with Mr. Hayden. It didn't come off.
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