Saturday, September 23, 2006

Should All Votes Be Conscience Votes?

When I go to vote, my ballot paper lists the candidates' names in larger and bolder text than the party they represent. I am not a staunch party voter. When I choose my preferred candidate for my electorate I pick the person based on their beliefs - some of which are not aligned with party policy.

However, when the vote is won and a mainstream party candidate is elected it seems that their moral foundation and beliefs take second fiddle to that of the party. Ministers get more money for being in the front bench and face relegation to a lower paid backbench position if they fail to follow the wishes of their party leader. Is this democracy in action? Surely not!

In my opinion, ALL votes casted in both the House of Representatives and the Senate should be anonymous. That way, ministers will no longer have to be scared of in-party bullying tactics employed by their leader. This leads to a more democratic system.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Republic or Monachy - Time for a Proper Referendum

Democracy Denied!
I was born in England and emigrated to Australia at the age of thirteen. Being English you may think that I would like Australia to stay a constitutional monarchy. Nothing can be further from the truth.

It is true that the might of England was created through the monarchy. However, this was during the times when the King raised the war funds and physically led their armies to battle. In the past couple of centuries, the Kings and Queens rode on the glory of their predecessors and ruled with a colonial harshness modelled weakly on a Roman Garrison concept. Post WWII the Empire deceased - thankfully in my opinion. Interestingly this is a concept that the US is currently employing (with 600+ bases outside US territory) and the result has been dissent, uprising against them and a financial bill in the trillions of dollars.

I digress, the monarchy today is an impotent stage show filled with people with such dysfunction that they would appear more suited on the set of Oprah or Jerry Springer than in palacial luxury. If they lacked the state-sponsored tax-free benefits, they would be on the dole living in a housing estate in the east end of London.

Apart from anachronistic nostalgia there is no logical reason for us to maintain the Queen as Head of State!

Flawed 1999 Referendum
In 1999 the Howard Government (a stout monarchist) agreed to a referendum on the topic. Cleverly, however, Howard engineered a referendum that was doomed from the start and resulted in a "No" vote, even though over half of the population wanted to break Head of State ties with the United Kingdom.

How did he do this?
Quite simply, the wiley Howard allowed only a single referendum question in which the manner of selecting an Australian President was included. Most Australians found the manner of selection to be politically and ethically unsuitable as it made the President a puppet of the Government and not an apolitical entity that had the power to dissolve parliament in the event of severe political unrest (such as the 1975 dismissal of Whitlam's Government by the Queen's representative - the Governor General).

The question on the ballot paper was formulated in a 1998 constitutional Convention with the Republican side headed by Minister Malcolm Turnbull thus:
A PROPOSED LAW: To alter the Constitution to establish the Commonwealth of Australia as a republic with the Queen and Governor-General being replaced by a President appointed by a two-thirds majority of the members of the Commonwealth Parliament.

Malcolm Turnbull on the March

I am an Australian citizen of English descent and I wanted Australia to be a republic. However the structure of the question in the referendum forced me to say NO! How's that for diplomacy!

This kind of referendum question was biased beyond all belief and forced many to stick with the devil they know. For some reason there was no outrage about this fiasco. Surely the question should have been thus:

A PROPOSED LAW: To alter the Constitution to establish the Commonwealth of Australia as a republic with the Queen and Governor-General being replaced by a President. The manner of appointment will be determined by a future referendum should this alteration be accepted. DO YOU APPROVE THIS PROPOSED ALTERATION? YES or NO

I am sure that this question is more democratic and would have seen the YES vote as being much greater than for the question actually posed.

Just another way the Australian Government manipulates the law to its own aims under the guise of so-called democracy.