May 06, 2014

Horse 1669 - That Was Not What Democracy Is About

Hey hey, ho ho.
Something or other has got to go.
Hey hey, ho ho.
Something or other has got to go.

When strudents on ABC1's "Q and A" program last night protested, presenter Tony Jones in the interest of decorum and order quite rightly asked them to hush and some degree of order was brought to the studio. However, I think that he said something which was quite quite wrong:

That was not what democracy is about.
- Tony Jones, Q and A, ABC 1, 5th May 2014.

Granted that being disruptive and loud in what is supposed to be a television show with sensible and robust debate, isn't exactly what it is supposed to be about and it did appear horribly misguided but I couldn't help but feel that democracy was being trampled into the dirt.
Treasurer Joe Hockey is offering privileged access to a select group including business people and industry lobbyists in return for tens of thousands of dollars in donations to the Liberal Party via a secretive fund-raising body whose activities are not fully disclosed to election funding authorities.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption is probing Liberal fund-raising bodies such as the Millennium Forum and questioning their influence on political favours in NSW.
Mr Hockey offers access to one of the country's highest political offices in return for annual payments.
The donors are members of the North Sydney Forum, a campaign fundraising body run by Mr Hockey's North Sydney Federal Electoral Conference (FEC). In return for annual fees of up to $22,000, members are rewarded with "VIP" meetings with Mr Hockey, often in private boardrooms.
The North Sydney FEC officials who run the forum – which is an incorporated entity of the Liberal Party – say its membership lists and therefore the identities of its donors are "confidential". Mr Hockey also says details of who he is meeting and what is discussed are confidential.
- Sydney Morning Herald, 5th May 2014.

The front pages of both today's and yesterday's Sydney Morning Herald and The Age both ran with these allegations that the Treasurer Joe Hockey has been charging to host an audience with people.
Is that what democracy is about?

Given that neither the Australian and the Daily Telegraph who proudly championed the cause of the Liberal Party and have done their level best to stomp the ABC into the ground, have remained incredibly silent, when even the so-called "fourth estate" is negligently asleep at the wheel...
Is that what democracy is about?

The recent Commission of Audit which handed down its report of over 1300 pages and which adopts 21 of the IPA's wishlist from John Roskam, Chris Berg and James Paterson (the first of whom was on Q and A last night) and most of which will probably become government policy within 3 years, written by big business; for big business, suggests to me that policy is written and made by those with the most money.
Is that what democracy is about?

Democracy (in so far as I understand the Greek roots) comes from "dêmos" or "the people" and "kratos" or "rule". Democracy in theory should be literally "rule by the people" but seemingly, it isn't.
Instead we have a word from "ploutos" or "wealth" and "kratos" to become "Plutocracy" or "rule by the rich" where increasingly, the people in charge have no regard for any social or civic responsibility despite readily demanding taxation and labour from the people.
Instead we're very quickly heading down the road to another kind of rule. "Kakistos" or "worst" and  "kratos" to become "Kakistocracy" or "rule by the worst kinds of people". Governments have decided to throw their citizens overboard and Capitalism has decided that it no longer needs to listen to government; not when it can just buy all the voice.
Is that what democracy is about?

What's really sad is that Christopher Pyne who sat on the panel, is prepared to sit and merrily laugh away like a grinning Pierrot, whilst the decisions that he makes as the Minister for Education has real effects on real people. Who does he choose to listen to? Certainly not the rowdy bunch of people in the public galleries, who are those people who his decisions have real effects on, no. "The Honourable" Christopher Pyne listens to the man a couple of seats away down the panel, John Roskam.
Because that's what in an Australian context, our "democracy" is really about.

The following items from the IPA's list either became government policy, or appear either entirely or elements therein in the Commission of Audit and so by an appeal to supposed authority, will become government policy (after all, that is the point of the report isn't it?)

2 Abolish the Department of Climate Change
3 Abolish the Clean Energy Fund
4 Repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act
7 Return income taxing powers to the states
11 Introduce fee competition to Australian universities
18 Eliminate family tax benefits
19 Abandon the paid parental leave scheme
20 Means-test Medicare
21 End all corporate welfare and subsidies by closing the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education
28 Abolish the Foreign Investment Review Board
29 Eliminate the National Preventative Health Agency
30 Cease subsidising the car industry
43 Repeal the mining tax
47 Cease funding the Australia Network
48 Privatise Australia Post
49 Privatise Medibank
50 Break up the ABC and put out to tender each individual function 
51 Privatise SBS 
52 Reduce the size of the public service from current levels of more than 260,000 to at least the 2001 low of 212,784
69 Immediately halt construction of the National Broadband Network and privatise any sections that have already been built
72 Privatise the CSIRO
75 Privatise the Snowy-Hydro Scheme

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