Kevin Rudd, reform and democratising the ALP

“We are fools if we do not understand that the public has had a gutful of what currently passes for much of our national political debate” – Kevin Rudd discussing the need for major reform within the ALP.

Kevin Rudd is correct in saying the general public is not happy with the way policy is produced by the federal Labor party. Policy should not come exclusively from the Prime Minister and Cabinet (nor the Leader of Opposition & Shadow Cabinet).

We are also unhappy with the ‘pledge’ binding OUR representatives, both MPs and senators, to vote in accordance with policy produced in this fashion. It goes against the democratic principals which once made the ALP a truly progressive party of the people, by the people, for the people.

Until recent decades Labor party policy was produced by the party’s mass membership. Members, who numbered in the hundreds of thousands, were directly responsible for suggesting, debating and approving the party’s policy platform. Once the policy was democratically approved, ALL party members were bound to it under the Labor Party Pledge. This produced a strong unified front around policy which was truly representative of the party’s membership and support base.

In this context, the Pledge ensured MPs and Senators actually acted as representatives of their support-base. Today, this is no longer the case.

Continue reading Kevin Rudd, reform and democratising the ALP

Legitimacy, mandates and the Australian Government

The argument that the current federal government has no legitimacy is a blatant misrepresentation of the facts. Similarly, any government claim to have received a ‘mandate’ of support for their particular policy position in an election is stretching reality. Seriously, the major parties can barely even claim to have legitimately won government when they have a majority of seats, since the system is so heavily distorted to support them.

Many of those who do chose to give their primary vote to a major party do so on the basis they believe the other option is far worse, the “better of two bad options” paradigm. Most of us however do not actually vote for the major party who wins, but end up supporting them on the basis they are our “least non-preferred candidate”. Our vote is actually for someone else but ends up counting for one of the major candidates.

It’s a sham. We ought to be able to leave people or parties off the list if we don’t want our vote to count toward them, without our votes being wasted or becoming ‘illegitimate’. Our votes shouldn’t end up counting toward someone we don’t actually support.  Continue reading Legitimacy, mandates and the Australian Government

FOREIGN MILITARY FORCES ON AUSTRALIAN SOIL

It is a sad state of affairs when the neither the Prime Minister nor the leader of the Opposition encourages giving the public a chance to debate on whether or not to allow thousands of foreign troops to be stationed on Australian soil. If ever we needed our opposition leader to challenge the governments decision making, it is right now.

Any deployment of foreign troops on Australian soil casts doubts over the nature of Australian sovereignty. It also makes us question if we truly are ‘democratic’ enough to allow the people legitimate alternatives to existing policy. Perhaps we are not as democratic as we should be, especially when the opposition continually claims the government MUST call snap elections at every minor policy decision; but says nothing the  ONE time we really need them.

I am sick to death of this two party system. Continue reading FOREIGN MILITARY FORCES ON AUSTRALIAN SOIL

Why, why #occupy?

You might have heard about Occupy Wall St or Occupy Perth.

If you have, you’ve probably also heard commentators asking “why, why, why?”. That has been pretty hard to miss. Here are some answers, which are of course my own subjective personal views. They are also subject to change as the movement grows and it’s membership takes shape. But anyway, lets get to it.

There are far too many reasons behind the popularity of the occupy movement to try name them all, but they all relate back to one key issue: Wealth Inequality.

Continue reading Why, why #occupy?

What is in the Australian Constitution? (Part 2)

This post is a continuation of the original post “What is in the Australian Constitution?

So what actually is in the Australian constitution??

The Constitution Act defines, in detail, the conditions under which the Commonwealth Government of Australia was established. It’s second Act extends recognition of the powers of the Queen on to her successors, chaining Australia to the British monarchy indefinitely. It then outlines the methods and machination involved in the election of the two houses of Federal Parliament and their various responsibilities. The largest part of the Act deals with the integration of the colonies various systems of law, taxation, finance, security and transport. It is quite boring actually, and very little is relevant to ongoing debates about the rights of Australian citizens.

Unlike the Constitution of the United States of America, the Australian Constitution does not have a Bill of Rights, or indeed any section outlining and guaranteeing the individual rights of citizens. Instead these rights are established through the Judiciary and through Acts passed by both houses of Parliament. The downside of this is that any government, with the support of a majority in both houses of Parliament, has the ability to repeal or modify our rights.

This is concerning to those of us who believe basic human rights ought to be guaranteed by law. Continue reading What is in the Australian Constitution? (Part 2)