October 2

After this, who’d want a politician’s republic?

The direct consequence of becoming a politicians’ republic is that the power of the political class will be significantly increased. The politicians’ republic the people rejected in 1999 would have been the only republic in the world where the prime minister could dismiss the president without notice, without reason and without ant right of appeal.

As ACM argued, it would have been the only republic in which it would have been easier for the prime minister to sack the president than his cook.

So we  must be constantly on our guard against attempts to remove or weaken the checks and balances on the political class, and situations where the existing checks are clearly  inadequate.


…Queensland: lack of ethics, accountability  slammed….

Recently the chief adviser to Queensland's Parliament attacked the lack of ethics and accountability of the Bligh and Beattie governments and demanded sweeping reforms to stop rising corruption.  On seeing this, ACM’s International Convener, George Bougias, asked: “Who would want a politician’s republic after reading things like this.”

“In a damning submission to Premier Anna Bligh's integrity review, Clerk of Parliament Neil Laurie has called for more politicians, electorates with multiple MPs and an overhaul of public service and judicial appointments to stamp out cronyism claims,” reported Patrick Lyon in The Courier Mail  (29/9). ( The Courier Mail has sensibly posted the full submission to their site, and it is well worth reading)

Mr Laurie accused governments since the mid-1990s of "running out of steam" and going backwards after positive reforms under Wayne Goss following the Fitzgerald inquiry.

…public service politicised, upper house abolished ….

Mr. Laurie is critical of two failings mentioned in this column: the increased politicisation of the higher echelons of the public service, and the abolition of the upper house. (Mr. Laurie thinks that a unicameral parliament can, with certain safeguards, still provide proper checks and balances.)

 

But he does say that he believes the poor political culture in Queensland stems from the time of the abolition of the Legislative Council. “It does not necessarily relate to the abolition of the Council per se, but rather the manner in which its abolition was effected and the nature of unicameralism that followed,”  he argues.

 

“The Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council of the early part of the 19th century were hopelessly at loggerheads.  Reform was being stifled by the Council, no doubt on not only ideological grounds but because of vested interests.  Nonetheless, the people of the State by referendum voted convincingly against abolition with 179,105 voting against the abolition of the Council and only 116,196 voting for abolition.  Historical revisionists have numerous contorted reasons for the failure of the referendum. 

“But the simple facts are that:

·          the referendum failed; and

·          the forces against the Council saw fit not to let the people get another chance.

 

“In the end, it became a simple mathematical exercise.  Appoint more and more members until a majority supporting abolition could be obtained.  Thus, the appointment of the ‘suicide squad’ and the absurd spectacle of Lennon appointing Lennon to preside over the final demise of the Council.

 

“One cannot but think that the culture evident in the abolition of the Legislative Council re-emerges from time to time in Queensland.  It is a numbers game, winner taking all, no need for compromise, no conviction that people other than those in government can positively contribute, for example to review or amend legislation.

 

“My observations of other jurisdictions with bicameral Parliaments, suggest that there is, by virtue of necessity, more of a culture of compromise than exists in Queensland, more tolerance of other views, no matter who sits on the Treasury Benches. But the same culture of compromise can also be said of other unicameral Parliaments both in Australia and abroad (such as New Zealand and Canada), but those unicameral Parliaments are more likely to have narrower government majorities, or no government majority at all.”

…just imagine what it would be like under a politicans' republic..

 

Given what happened in Queensland when the Legislative Council was abolished, we can only imagine how uncontrolled the political class would become in a politicians’ republic.

It is little wonder that they want to remove the oldest institution in the country,  which with the High Court straddles  the Federal State divide, and which provides an important check and balance on the exercise of political power.   

This is, of course, our Australian Crown.

 

 .


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