Allan Takes Aim Blog

It’s time for real government of, for and by the people

Posted on: 7 April 2010

First published The Chronicle, Tuesday 30 March, 2010

What better mirror image of Australia could there be than Canberra? The answer should be none! Yet as I talk to young people it is clear a growing number of them think most of our politicians lack the leadership, management skills and social vision necessary to ensure Canberra will be a progressive capital. And not without reason they think many candidates offering themselves as alternatives to current politicians are but clones of earlier politicians who also lacked the skills necessary to ensure Canberra’s progress.

These young people, some not yet able to vote, think, that in some cases, the interests of the community at large now take second place to the personal interests of some politicians, party interests and the interests of the faction within the party to which the politicians belong. More to the point, some also think that many politicians are addicted to power and will do anything to feed their addiction. Naturally, politicians don’t agree with them. And for the same reasons many young people are condemnatory of some Independents who seek a seat in Parliament.

But young people aside for the moment, many older voters not only feel the same but also opine that some politicians today have lost the values of honesty and integrity they once had and treat them now as commodities for sale in return for favours. I was reminded of these values when an older voter citing many examples said: by their acts you will know them.

It must be said also that a view is also becoming prevalent that Canberra lacks good governance, a situation that if it continues makes the city’s future look bleak.

Is there a solution? The solution put to me is for Canberra to ditch the current electoral system in favour of a system that allows voters to elect 17 responsible and intelligent voters, who, regardless of party or business allegiance, understand that unless they undertake real consultation with the community, the policies of neither will sustain Canberra as a progressive city.

This idea will gain little traction with political parties and certain development interests who think their political and business philosophies contain the cure for every social and business problem. They don’t! Not only do their philosophies not work in Australia they haven’t worked in any country that has given them the opportunity to show that they worked. Had they worked, peace would not still be going abegging or the world be perpetually at war.

Perhaps, too, you think I am being unduly harsh when I say that the major parties merely pay lip service to good governance and that continual dissent is their goal? The reality is, that rather than concentrating on providing good governance they spend most of their time trying to denigrate their opponents in hope of keeping them out of Government. The Rudd/Abbott debacle of debate is a good example

The answer usually given to suggestions of this kind is that we live in a democracy. To answer that, let me ask another question: what kind of democracy? I would argue that democracy we live in has been at death’s door and revived as well as changed many times but only to suit the convenience of politicians.

Indeed in the changes no politicians I know have tried to give people the style of Democracy suggested by Lincoln in his Gettysburg address: “ government of the people, by the people, for the people.” In his speech of just over two minutes, Lincoln also invoked the principles of human equality espoused in the American Declaration of Independence and the new birth of freedom that would also create a unified nation in which states’ rights were no longer dominant (State and Territory politicians please note!).

Unfortunately for Canberra, Lincoln’s hope has been dashed. It could be argued that the current Labor Government is being blackmailed by a minor party into accepting policies that are neither of the people, by the people, or for the people.

Sadly too, when minor parties become arbiters of which major party can take government, it seems they, too, become seduced by power as they talk of holding the balance of power not the practice of democracy.
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