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Australian Federal Election 2010: what I would like to see

Date: Sunday, morning after 2010 Federal elections.

Like many other Australians, I stayed up last night watching the election counting result on the ABC. Like numerous other Australians, I was relieved to see the loss of so many seats previously held by the Labor Party. I write ‘relieved’ for the very reasons I outlined in a post I wrote a couple of weeks ago as to why I would not be voting Labor this election (Cf ‘Why I shall NOT be voting Labor this month‘).

So now, we are faced with a hung parliament. Unlike some, this is something I am personally not worried about as long as each and every elected individual strives to act in the interest of the Australian public – which may very well be somewhat different to the ‘National interest’ as perceived by various international affiliations.

So what would I like to see result and develop out of the current situation?

First and foremost, that decisions are made that work towards ensuring freedom to each and every Australian. There has been a progressive trend over the past thirty years (since 1983) to diminish individual freedoms and autonomy. Though this has mainly occurred under Labor governments, the previous Liberal government not only entrenched some of the Labor policies, but also introduced new measures under the supposed claims of ‘security’. Case in point: airport abuse of passengers.

It was J.G. Bennett, in his four volume The Dramatic Universe, who wrote that ‘security can only ever be achieved at the cost of freedom’, with the implication that this is not, of course, a desirable direction: rather, freedom has to continue to be viewed and considered as amongst the highest of ideals that underpins other important considerations such as justice, opportunity, and equitability.

So what are the specific changes in direction from the previous government that I am personally hoping to see?

On education, a move forward to enabling a diverse educational landscape, and providing opportunities for those who may not be able to really afford a genuine choice to so have that possibility. Foremost is the need to do away with the proposal of a so-called ‘National Curriculum’: such (first mooted under the Howard Liberal government and taken to extremes under Labor) is totally antithetical to the various philosophical underpinnings that permits the ongoing development of a broad range of pedagogical unfoldments. Under a so-called National Curriculum, the many positive alternatives that Australia has already taken up are simply no longer genuinely possible – or become so watered down as to only become ‘alternatives’ in name only, not substance. For example, not only would the vast and positive contributions that have been made by different States moving in different directions be nullified, but so would the many impulses to education be diminished (and would never have been able to even take place had the current trend been in place): genuine Steiner, Montessori, and a host of other, perhaps far lesser known alternatives, would cease to exist in their own right. Something like the International Baccalaureate would not even have been able to arise – or at least not in its infancy, and thus the specifically Australian situation would not have able to inform its progressive emergence.

With regards to the internet, I’m amongst the first to bemoan the relative slowness of not only the speeds to which we have access, but importantly also the proportionally very high prices we pay relative many EU and North American countries. Still, to roll out fibre-optics to each home is living beyond one’s means. I do not have ADSL2+ at home not because it remains unavailable, but because of its prohibitive price. Having fibre optics to my home, at the current price I pay for a relatively poor ADSL 512 connection would of course be nice, but I also know it’s economically unsound – and that on two counts: the first is that it places the next two generations having to repay the outlay, without them necessarily reaping the benefits (there are various technologies in development for ultra-fast connections); the second is that unless a within-Australian-borders ultra-high speed is supplemented by (even more expensive) ultra-high band-width reaching the rest of the world, the only ultra-high connections will be for sites remaining within the Australian continent – and let’s face it, most (even Australian sites) are hosted overseas.

This does not mean that infrastructure work should not be undertaken: of course it should, and a solid ‘backbone’ of fibre-optics should be slowly and progressively rolled out. On this the Liberals had, I must admit, what appears to be a far more sensible option.

Another point with regards to the internet is the last government’s proposed secretive filter. I totally fail to understand what motivated Labor to seek to implement such retrogressive legislation. It is obvious that not only would this not actually stop organised crime or the dissemination of materials that remains undesirable (as well as illegal and against human decency), but would bring into place the same kind of filter that has seen, in other nations in which this is in place, blocking of sites that are deemed ‘against the national interest’. Would, for example, a site highly critical of a future government be ‘blocked’ if deemed against the ‘national interest’?!? Unfortunately, this can be far more likely than most of us would prefer to even consider – yet the events of 11th September 2001 should remind us that we collectively too readily accepted diminishment of personal autonomy and freedom, and that the backward steps taken at that time are still in place and have, it seems, only been further entrenched over the past three years.

A third point, and one rather more difficult to articulate, is the autonomy of States. Unless we keep in mind that we are a Federation of States, we shall progressively slide ever more to greater and greater centralised government. This is in large part what not only the Labor government has already done (and I certainly do NOT call this ‘moving forward’), but similar steps were also taken by the Howard Liberal government (admittedly first used by the Hawke-Keating Labor govnmnts) by finding loopholes in the constitution and using the false call of ‘transparency and accountability’ to introduce so-called ‘benchmarks’ into areas that have naught to do with the Federal government. Instead, the Federal Government’s task needs to continue to be to certainly collect taxes, but then to also re-distribute these so that services are provided at State and local levels.

On another point, given the election likely outcome – hung parliament with the balance of power in the hands of a few, and in the Senate a relatively large number of Green party members – we should remind ourselves that we do NOT elect a centralised government, but rather a local representative. I have already heard, in the last 24 hours, all too many times a call for ‘proportional representation’. This assumes an entirely different political landscape: it forces a government that is not formed from local representatives, but rather from political parties. Certainly changing the voting to proportional representation would add the number of Green (and Democrat, for that matter) representatives in both houses, but that would really take Australia backwards in terms of how our democracy works. In a small country such as Liechtenstein, proportional representation may indeed be the best form of democratic representation, but it certainly is not when considering the great vastness of Australia and its diversity!

Then there are also climate change issues (which, in any case, are all too closely connected to population growth, which only few people, such as Suzuki, are willing to admit). What I’d like to see here is definitely not added taxes (i.e., no ‘carbon trading scheme’ – with all the additional bureaucratic levels this would add) nor cappings (however useful these may be), but rather the far more effective positive encouragement (and financial rebates) for broader usage of solar panels – subsidies to which the Labor government prematurely stopped! – double glazing, water tanks, added insulation, and other energy efficiency measures. There’s no doubt that the rapid rate of change as well as technological and engineering developments in this area are occurring more quickly than many perhaps even imagine: let’s further encourage this by providing support to those amongst us who wish to transform our own homes and workplaces. Another step which may significantly assist this (though this is a State, not a Federal, decision) would be for taxes and ‘duties’ (stamp duty and other associated costs) to be proportionately lowered according to the amount spent on rendering a house more energy efficient prior to, or within a specified time, of sale.

Finally, it’s good to see that move is afoot to recognise the legitimacy of marriage following the intimacy that may develop between any two adults, irrespective of gender. Whilst acknowledging that churches may wish to restrict marriage ceremonies to their members, with or without conditions (such as gender), marriage itself is not something that a government should stipulate according to gender. To also be clear on this, and as may be rather obvious from various sections of my site, I am not only (Judeo-)Christian, but also heterosexual and happily married. To seek to present Judaism or Christianity as somehow being against homosexual marriages is to present the views of the egregore (or shadow) of various church bodies, rather than religion. My hope is that each elected representative will, when the time comes, vote according to his or her conscience on this matter (which, I suspect, will be up for parliamentary vote within two years).

…oh! and I haven’t talked about ‘border protection’ and immigration. There are many points therein that are rather difficult. First and foremost it should be apparent that the world is already over-populated. Apart from other factors, the main reason behind the over-fishing of our oceans, GMO developments in farming (to which I remain totally opposed), and water shortages in all too many parts of the world, should alert us to this. In the 1980s, Suzuki was already talking about this problem. Being politically charged, however, it seems to simply not make it in public discussion any longer. First and foremost, then, what I would like to see is a reduction in population. What this effectively means includes, indeed, a reduced immigration intake. This does not mean that people who are escaping impossible situations in other parts of the world should be further inhumanely treated. Nor does it mean, on the other hand, that the image projected across the world is that here – Australia – is where people may easily illegally get to. I’m frankly unsure as to how best balance these two apparently opposite impulses.

At the national level, one of the other major personal concerns I have (and I make no apology for that, on the contrary, it needs to be spoken more clearly), is the rise of islam in the western world (including our country) over the past decades. Islam, like other political streams (such as Nazism and Communism) that seek to work against the impulse to freedom, needs to be openly challenged, for it is a force that undermines all too many aspects of the freedoms our forebears have fought hard to either win or maintain!

…well, that’s it for now… though I’m sure I’ve missed much I’ll no doubt be discussing with various people at a local level!

2 comments to Australian Federal Election 2010: what I would like to see

  • Wayne Smith

    “We should remind ourselves that we do NOT elect a centralised government, but rather a local representative.”

    In theory. The reality is that almost all voters vote on the basis of which party or which leader they support. This is because we understand on a gut level that parties have all the power and individual MPs are largely irrelevant.

    Proportional voting gives voters the power to hold political parties accountable.

  • admin

    Proportional voting would send us down the path not of a federation of States and independent local representation, but rather towards ever greater centralised bureau-cracy.

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