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

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)

What is in the Australian Constitution? (Part 1)

What is in the Australian Constitution?

A question very few Australian’s could give an accurate answer to. I have read it many times now and still im not quite sure exactly what it all says. Much of it is ambiguous and some of it makes me VERY uncomfortable. Especially the powers granted to the Governor General. I also find the language very out-dated, as is to be expected from a document over 100 years old.

Australia is a very progressive nation, and I think it’s about time for our constitution to progress with us. Before I continue, let me give you all a chance to read the constitution for yourself. I am hosting a full copy of the Australian Constitution here.

So, what is actually in the Australian Constitution Act?

Continue reading —>

What are Australian values?

This is the first post in a series I intend to write about the Australian constitution and the possibility of it being modified in an earmarked referendum. The issue at the fore of said referendum is the recognition of Indigenous and Torres Strait islanders as the original inhabitants of these lands. But also raised are a series of wider questions which have prompted debate about contemporary Australian values.

The youmeunity.org.au project, which I was made aware of via some Indigenous activist friends on twitter, inspired this post. I want to get involved with this project, but I feel unqualified and unprepared. I am unsure what is needful from an Indigenous perspective, though I do have questions and ideas of my own regarding the constitution. Sometimes I feel like the constitution is a foreign document, written by people whose ideals are far away from the world in which I currently live, people who couldn’t have prepared for issues like the censorship of online content.

Where to start then, in this series of posts about Australian values? I guess for me the obvious place to start is with what I think Australian values are.

Continue reading What are Australian values?