Reference: http://www.statusquo.org/aru_html/html/const_safe.html


Unread postby lazerzap » Thu Jan 02, 2014 8:35 pm

The following table shows the political disposition of the Australian Parliaments circa 1985-1986:[87]


Political Party

Political Leader

Commonwealth Labor Party Bob Hawke
New South Wales Labor Party Neville Wran
Victoria Labor Party John Cain
South Australia Labor Party John Bannon
Western Australia Labor Party Brian Burke
Queensland National Party Joh Bjelke-Petersen
Tasmania Liberal Party Robin Gray
From this table we can see that one political party, while not in control of all legislatures, did, in fact, have significant representation at the time of the enactment of the Australia Acts. Could this aspect have played a part in repatriating the remnants of Australian constitutional authority by the politicians rather than by the will of the people?

The repatriation process in this case was not consistent with the involvement of the people in establishing the Constitution in the late 1890s. While only 52% of the people supported the Australian Constitution then, and despite that most women and many aboriginals were excluded from voting, [88] the people were, nonetheless, involved. The true spirit of sovereignty allowed to be exercised by the framers of our Constitution in the 1890s was not mimicked by Australia's politicians of the 1980s with the repatriation of the final elements of constitutional authority.

If the make-up of the Australian parliaments circa 1985-86 was fundamental to the way in which the repatriation process took place then, could there be a misuse of the powers under s15 (1) of the Australia Acts sometime in the future? If, say, the Liberal Party was to have control of all the legislatures at some time in the future and given Robert Hughes' assertion that 'With the '80s came a true plutocratic overclass' and that 'No politician can hope to get elected to national office without the support of these highly placed Mates',[89] could we not see the 'ruling elite' impose their will over a political party? Dr Carmen Lawrence, the federal member for Fremantle and former premier of Western Australia, is right about the 'Byzantine power-focused behaviour' of the major parties and their 'disquieting alliance' with corporations and large organisations. There is a relationship, Dr Lawrence says, between the amount of money the privileged minorities provide the big parties and the influence they are able to wield with party leaders.[90] David Humphries[91] further sums up this dilemma:

'The problems of money in politics are not isolated to the US,' reported Damian O'Connor, Labor's left-wing assistant NSW State secretary. 'Private money is rarely strings-free.'

His report refers to his US hosts negatively and helplessly raising the pivotal role of fundraising. A congressman, pursuing a $3 million re-election purse for his safe seat, devoted two hours a day to fundraising and 'there was a strong impression that fundraising was the central task in obtaining public office'.

O'Connor argues the US trip highlighted the need here to halt what he says is the risk of our political system being 'captured by corporate interests to the exclusion of the needy or our positive goals'.

The influence of the corporate dollar in State politics is increasing at a disturbing rate and NSW Labor ought to take the lead in working on ways to curb its influence,' he said. He thinks expenditure and donation limits should be considered and electronic media advertising restricted.
Unfortunately, successive parliaments have failed to implement reforms that have been repeatedly proposed over recent years by the Australian Electoral Commission. Unless Federal and State governments act to fix deficiencies in the electoral laws, the perception that the system is open to shady fundraising practices, hidden gifts and the buying of influence and government favours will continue to erode already low confidence in the integrity of the political process.[92]

Following on from that we should note the words of Richard McGarvie:

Once Cabinet was the linchpin of the systems of government but now in the Commonwealth it is the Prime Minister and in a state the Premier. Through its control of Parliament, the political party in power makes the important decisions Parliament once made itself. There is an extensive system of political parties that enforce a tight discipline over party members. The Prime Minister or Premier can usually exert a considerable degree of control over his or her whole party. Through that control - the ability to have Parliament dissolved and the patronage the office gives - the Prime Minister or Premier has extensive control over members of cabinet and members of the government party in Parliament. The Prime Minister or Premier also has substantial control over the great administrative resources of the Public Service.[93]
This recent and undemocratic trend is no better demonstrated that when the Whitlam government was elected in 1972. Initially, there were only two Queen's Ministers of State for the Commonwealth to advise the Governor-General; they were Prime Minister and one other Minister!

Another, and perhaps disturbing, aspect is that 'the trend toward younger members of parliament means that pensions are paid for a longer period as retirees are younger' and that 'politics was once viewed as something people aspired to after they had made their mark as lawyers or teachers or community workers. Today, it is a first career. This means that federal and state parliaments are increasingly being filled with people with very little experience in the wider world.'[94] Therefore, their ability to make mature and sensible judgements will never be tempered with the benefit of that worldly experience. This could lead to their decision making processes being manipulated by more powerful and influential members of the public at large rather than their arriving at well reasoned and stand alone decisions that reflect the needs of the nation and not that of the powerful and wealthy.
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