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31 March 1995. Thought for the Week: "Democracy was healthier in Australia 40 or 60 years ago than it is today. Yet the decline in democracy has aroused virtually no comment. It is not a terminal illness, but one that should be diagnosed....Democracy calls for a debate and a common language if that debate is to be effective."
Professor Geoffrey Blainey
WHAT DID LAST WEEKEND'S ELECTIONS SHOW?
by Eric D. Butler
One of the most disturbing features
of the State elections was the blatant attempt by former N.S.W.
Liberal Premier, Mr. Nick Greiner, to stampede electors to
vote against the Independents, whom he blames for his loss
of the Premiership. As one of those who received Greiner's
letter, an elector commented that all that the Greiner letter
had demonstrated was that he was "a rotten loser". It also
demonstrated how party politicians dislike Independents, particularly
when they hold the balance of power, as they have in N. S.W.
The best protection for the individual, his rights and liberties, is when power is divided. It is probably true that the N.S.W. Labor Party would have done even better than they have, if it had not been for the policies of the Keating Government. The massive elector backlash against Federal Labor in Canberra, traditionally a safe Labor electorate, can be attributed not only to the Keating Government's economic policies, particularly rising interest rates, but to the sheer arrogance and complacency of Prime Minister Paul Keating. His lectures on the virtues of the German constitutional system, delivered from Germany, were not well received by the growing number of young married homeowners struggling with the Keating imposed high interest charges.
Anyone who has visited Canberra in recent times is struck by the forest of new houses, which have gone up in recent years. Labor campaigners in Canberra had warned that higher interest rates with the threat of still further increases, was a major issue in the electorate. Well might Paul Keating say that he accepts full responsibility for the massive anti-Labor backlash in Canberra, and that he will be heeding the message received. But locked in to orthodox finance economic politics, it is difficult to see what Keating can do to avoid similar backlashes at the next Federal elections.
Not surprisingly, Opposition leader John Howard, who has as yet not spelled out what he would do about interest rates and other finance economic issues, has attempted to extract the maximum political benefit from the Canberra by-election, claiming that it demonstrated that the Australian electors now accepted the Coalition Opposition as a credible alternative government. Clearly John Howard is as much out of touch with the Australian electorate as is Paul Keating. There is no great enthusiasm either for John Howard or for the Coalition. There is a growing erosion of any enthusiasm for any of the major political parties.
A Howard Federal Government which continues on basically with the same internationalist policies as those of the Keating Government, with no change in a disastrous immigration policy, linked with multiculturalism could set the stage for the emergence of a new genuinely conservative grassroots movement.
Nothing so graphically demonstrates the reality of the on going revolution sweeping Australia, than what has happened in Victoria under the Kennett Government. With ruthless determination, the Kennett Government has gone far beyond the "reconstruction" of Municipal Government, first proposed by the Cain Labor Government. The first elections for the new Greater Geelong were held last Saturday. It appears that the new Regional Government will be dominated by Labor or Labor oriented Councillors. Long-term Labor strategists can only be delighted, and look forward to extending the Fabian philosophy in other Regional Governments. They can only be delighted with what the Kennett Government has done for them.
The Victorian situation demonstrates the truth of what C.H. Douglas said about genuine democracy, which enables electors to vote on one issue at a time. All the evidence indicates that the overwhelming majority of the Victorian electors are strongly opposed to selling off the State's power and water supplies. But the polls also indicate that electors have little confidence in another Labor Government doing any better.
The only answer to the steady spread of the totalitarian virus is for the introduction of a suitable mechanism, such as the initiative Referendum and Recall, which would enable electors to curb the will-to-power of all governments. Such protections, which the electors still have, such as the Senate and Upper Houses, should be defended at all costs. Defence of the Constitutional Monarchy becomes increasingly imperative. As one letter writer has put it so graphically: While not a strong Monarchist, when he has a say on the issue at a referendum, he will vote for the retention of the Constitutional Monarchy in an attempt "to keep the bastards honest". It is difficult to recall any Monarch who has been more unpopular than today's party politics!
WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM CANADA?
Like Australia, Canada is a Common Law country with its roots in the British stream of history. But Canadians have discovered that their Common Law heritage has not prevented them from being pushed down the totalitarian road. Canberra Labor M.P. Graeme Campbell has drawn attention to what has happened in Canada under "anti-hate" legislation similar to that proposed for Australia.
Genuine freedom of speech has been seriously curtailed. A number of books are banned because they allegedly are "racist". Complaints can be laid against anyone who is not being "politically correct". Fortunately there are those rare individuals who refuse to be intimidated by what is a form of psycho-political warfare. At the moment British born journalist Doug Collins of British Columbia has been threatened because in his hard hitting and well-read column in a local paper, he has dared to criticise the propaganda film, Schindlers List.
The Collins style of writing may be judged by the following recent comment: "The curse of multicult must now be apparent even to the dimmest wits. British Columbia, which should have its name changed, is well on its way to becoming an Asian province. The process is applauded by the media, high minded academics, and politicians who grovel for votes and give grants to ethnic pressure groups so that they can continue their nation splitting work."
As yet Doug Collins has not been before the local "thought police", but we understand he is relishing the prospect of appearing. In the meantime the local British Columbia Reform Party has nominated Collins as one of its candidates for the next Provincial Elections. We can imagine the national uproar if he should manage to get himself elected. We will continue to report on the Doug Collins case, as it provides yet another lesson for those Australians who still cling to the belief that "It couldn't happen here."
TICKNER SHOULD RESIGN
Aboriginal Affairs Minister Robert Tickner should follow the example of Liberal M.P. Ian McLachlan and resign. The oldest and most authoritative female member of the Aboriginal tribe at the heart of the South Australian land dispute has rejected claims that a "secret" women's sacred site exists on Hindmarsh Island. Mrs. "Nanna" Laura Kartinyeri, a direct descendant of the traditional owners of the Island, and for many years the acknowledged leader of Aboriginal women in the district, claims that no such "secret" site exists.
Mrs. Kartinyeri states "I don't know anything about this women business on Hindmarsh Island. My grandmother was Queen Louisa Karpany and she didn't pass any information to my mother or me." Perhaps the all-wise Paul Keating will now retract his allegations about those whom he claims have no feelings about sacred Aboriginal traditions. It is high time that a little realism was injected into discussions on alleged Aboriginal sacred sites.
Back in 1951 Prime Minister Robert Menzies made a mistake common to many federal politicians: He staged a referendum designed to increase the power of the Commonwealth. The issue was the proposal that the Communist Party should be banned. The Cold War was developing. The Communist Party certainly was exercising a disruptive influence in Australian affairs.
One of the myths of Australian political history is that it was only through the valiant efforts of that great libertarian Dr. H.V. Evatt that the proposal was defeated. The truth is that the best informed anti-Communist movement in Australia joined with others, including many members of the Liberal Party and prominent businessmen to point out that banning the Communist Party would not of itself deal with the real Communist threat but would make it easy for any Federal Government to centralise power over a wide area. Free speech was being put at risk. But 44 years later, the Labor Party, headed by Paul Keating, is attempting with its Race Hatred legislation to do what its predecessors denounced.
The threat to freedom is always at risk from governments, as witnessed by the fact that the proposed alternative legislation proposed by the Coalition only varies in degree from what the Keating Government is attempting. All proposals to erode free speech, irrespective of the excuses advanced, should be firmly rejected by those who wish to preserve their liberties.
* * * * * * * *
The Federal Labor Government is clearly attempting to advance its Republican programme by stealth. Existing Australian passports correctly outline Australia's constitutional situation with a preamble, which refers to the Governor General of the Commonwealth of Australia as being "the representative of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II". Immigration Minister Bolkus now proposes to remove all reference to the Queen on Australian passports. As the Republicans proceed with their campaign, they increasingly make it clear that they want some type of a constitutional eunuch with no power whatever to check the power abuses of politicians like Paul Keating.
CONCERNS AT FREEZE ON LOCAL GOVERNMENTfrom The Age (Melbourne), March 27th
"The deferral of most country council elections for a further 12 months ought to be a matter of great concern. "The State Government argues it has a mandate for many things to justify its mode of operation but it did not have a mandate for this.
"If, as our local commissioners indicate, they were not consulted formally or informally about the decision, then on what basis was it made? The minister's patronising and dismissive justifications so far are an insult. It seems there must be a hidden agenda to lock into place government policies which elected councillors and communities might have opposed or actively challenged.
"It ought to be a matter of concern that the minister can, at whim, defer election of local government to a time of his choosing.
"It ought to be a matter of concern that metropolitan and provincial cities are having elections as scheduled but country shires are not.
"It ought to be a matter of concern that there has been no locally elected government, or will there be for the greater part of this parliamentary term, thus significantly reducing the capacity of local communities to challenge or lobby the Government on local issues.
"It ought to be a matter of concern that kindergartens, schools, ambulances and health services have had funding severely cut, but millions of dollars (at about $250,000 per council) can be found to extend the tenure of commissioners in dozens of country shires without any local accountability.
"It ought to be a matter of concern that decisions about policies, services and employment in our new shire will be set in place using our rates without any local representation at the point of decision.
"Our parliamentary representatives appear unconcerned. Obviously it is more comfortable for them not to have elected councils in place.
"If public forums prior to the next election are still permitted, these same sitting members must be made publicly accountable for their actions affecting country Victoria."
(Vic Rowlands, Leongatha, Victoria)
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