“In essence, the argument for the return of Rudd, which I support, goes like this. It is as certain as anything in politics can ever be that if Julia Gillard leads Labor to the next election, Labor will suffer perhaps the worst defeat in its history, worse even than 1931 or 1975.
If the defeat is sufficiently disastrous, the Coalition may gain control of the Senate. All the important legislation the Gillard government has passed or promised – the carbon tax, the mining tax, the early stages of a national disability scheme – will be repealed or fail to be followed through. At best, Labor will face the prospect of ten years or more of opposition. At worst, some Rudd supporters fear that the fortunes of the Labor Party may never revive. Rudd’s return is best seen, then, as a salvage operation. What he should do when returned to power is a question for another occasion.” – Robert Manne, The Monthly
|Thank you Robert for another of your intelligent explanations of a very unintelligent situation. The situation exposes some of the long term structural problems with our political set up.1 Starting with a dysfunctional, sabotaged, incomplete and obsolete constitutional framework (there is no constitutional basis for an office of Prime Minister – who therefore is arguably usurping some / all of the Constitutional roles of the Speaker and the Governor-General) – Vexed issues I know. 2 Then there is the dubious (and some would say unconstitutional and / or certainly undemocratic) roles played by Political Parties. I still can’t figure out whether we are a genuine two-party or an Amcor-Vizy collusive style one-party State. 98% of parliamentarians are pre-selected by (a) Liberals (who are falsely labelled conservatives) or (b) by the Labors (who are falsely labelled, not quite sure what, but no workers party) for rubber stamp elections. And they almost all happen to be lawyers – which is not very representative of the general demographics of the nation. 3 Then there is the upside down culture where the Parliamentarians are basically puppets of the bureaucrats (99% of Chief bureaucrats are lawyers) and at the mercy of the Judiciary (100% of Chief judicial officers are lawyers). Parliamentary, representative democracy has it, in principle that the parliamentarians are elected by their constituents to form a body, trustees to represent the people, and supposedly the supreme branch of government, to keep a watchful eye over and check and balance the prospects of abuses of excessive power by the unelected bureaucrats and judges and monarch – it being unclear whether we have a monarch in our system. Mrs Elizabeth Windsor (nee Coburg-Sax) says ‘nicht’ (as long ago as 17.11.75 – an ominous week) but our governmen and governwomen like to hide inside the Empire’s Old Clothes (and practices) just the same. “Julia Gillard’s attempt to end the threat of Rudd once and for all, through forcing a leadership ballot, failed for two main reasons. Gillard and her supporters seem to have convinced themselves that Rudd’s white-anting was a significant factor in her government’s unpopularity. The polls for Gillard however did not improve following Rudd’s vanquishing. Gillard also seems to have believed that the character attack on Rudd by several senior Cabinet Ministers would destroy his public reputation. The polls for Rudd were however entirely unaffected.” – Robert Manne, The Monthly||
Kind of embarrassing for a nation of 22M, crowded into occupying 6 cities of Singapore size (well the bigger 4 at least) on a continent more than twice the size of India, to have such a shabby political, constitutional, legal, etc etc set up.
Especially embarrassing when we could achieve so much improvement just by (a) smarter voting practices – for starters, what I call ‘smarter donkey voting’ viz always voting the sitting MP last (no 2nd terms, no empire building, no cronyism, and (within a few election cycles) no political parties); and (b) encouraging non-lawyer non-political party village elders (instead of party flunky village idiots), to stand for parliament – especially for Senate positions, for starters. Even with our dysfunctional, sabotaged, incomplete and obsolete constitutional framework, there is a lot that we can do to introduce democratising practices and cultures and to revive the existing system to a level of workable democracy – without having to make any radical changes to the structures and institutions.
Indeed without curing the toxic culture within the parliaments (and making headway into the even more toxic cultures within the bureaucracies and judiciaries), it would be foolish and dangerous to the public well-being to do any major reconstructions (treaties with original Australian nations, directly elected PM / President (ie separation of Executive and Parliamentary government), or leaving Burma and Chile behind and joining the rest of the 194 members of the United Nations by proclaiming an Australian Constitutional Bill of (Human) Rights and (Government) Responsibilties). We need clean, healthy hands at the helm before we have a prospect of getting any of those long over due structural reforms properly done (and not sabotaged against us).
But with the 21M of us post-1788 city dwellers struggling under excessive taxation, government regulation, mortgage debt, supermarket bills, job uncertainties, who among us has time to consider any of the bigger issues or possibilities of a better and brighter future. And the 1M pre-1788 folks living on this continent have of course 224 years of even bigger bundles of problems thanks to us post-1788’ers.
And I guess the foreign powers that call the real shots here, us being a resource rich ‘useful’ nation to them, a superficially happy-go-lucky country, are pretty happy with a local political situation that is tailor-made to maximise our usefulness to them, where we don’t bother with doing that much intelligent brainstorming for ourselves.
Thank you for being a calm voice of logic and humanity across this and so many other issues.
Link to original article by Robert Manne: http://www.themonthly.com.au/blog-return-rudd-robert-manne-5779
Like to read more? See http://jamesjohnsonchr.wordpress.com/2012/04/08/politics-beyond-right-and-left/
Independent Federal Candidate for Lalor
Constitutional and Human Rights Advocate
Solicitor and Barrister of the High Court of Australia
(Celebrating 20 Years of Legal Practice 1990 – 2010)