Allan Takes Aim Blog

Is Democracy stirring in Canberra?

Posted on: 18 May 2010

First published The Chronicle, Tuesday 11 May, 2010

Even before favourite Gai Brodtman got to the starting gate in Labor’s pre-selection race for the seat of Canberra, the nobblers were in action. And if the tactics they used in this political race were not quite what nobblers use in the real world of racing (if really desperate I wouldn’t put that past them), they hoped that smear and attempted character assassination would stop her. Fortunately they didn’t succeed.   

I don’t know Gai Brodtman, although I have met her briefly. Nor do I know Andrew Leigh, the Labor candidate for the seat of Fraser, except as a contributor to Radio National and like me a contributor to Online Opinion, the national online newspaper. He, too, was also subjected to character assassination. Fortunately the nobblers didn’t succeed with him either.

It is fairly well known that I am a supporter of independents in politics and so do not share Brodtman and Leigh’s political views. Indeed both of them might have different views on Labor Party policy, views no doubt that will become clear during the election campaign. But regardless of their individual views, if elected, I hope in parliament they demonstrate the same attitude as that of the rank and file who pre-selected them.  

It is well known too, that if media gets wind of an internal party disputes in any party hierarchy bosses when questioned they dismiss the problem by saying that because the party is a broad church such disputes occur. Believe that if you will, but, during the pre selection campaign for candidates in the Canberra and Fraser parishes of the ALP’s broad church, a process the hierarchy usually controls (it is the same in all political churches) the hierarchy’s behaviour was illuminating: democracy ran a poor second to dictatorship.

Unfortunately for ACT Labor, the congregation (better known as the rank and file) in both of these parishes, so disliking the ALP hierarchy trying to manipulate the process to suit its choice of candidates, took matters into their own hands. In a rare show of defiance they decided democracy should prevail and made their own selection.

And while perhaps I hope for too much, nevertheless I hope people have stopped being apathetic about who controls their destiny. I hope also, that the feeling which stirred and motivated Labor’s rank and file in Canberra and Fraser to rebel against dictatorship of the hierarchy spreads to the Liberals, Greens and Democrats party rank and file. 

Much as I am optimistic I am also a realist and doubtful that, come the next election, the example shown by Labor’s rank and file in Canberra and Fraser will be replicated. Indeed I suspect most of the rank and file in all parties will, like Pavlov’s dogs, come to heel at the command of party hierarchies and vote according to party orders.

It is unfortunate also that in Australia the practice of democracy is being exercised by opinion polls and demagoguery. People now talk of electing a Prime Minister as if electing a president. At the same time we are losing our once famed values of independence, caring, compassion and the ambition to do good. We are becoming a society without values. And as countries in Asia, the Indian sub continent and Africa shape democracy to suit their cultural and social needs, not ours, Australia if not careful, could become a third world country.   

Regrettably our  leaders (?) do not realise that, in the not too distant future, unless real democracy is restored we shall become followers, not leaders, which is why, if we want to retain democracy, freedom and progress, we need people with real vision as leaders.

What we don’t need are more people who, without any idea of what leadership or greatness means, have leadership and greatness thrust upon hem. It seems to me our current national leader is an exemplar of someone without either of these qualities.

And so, when people are mistakenly elevated to leadership and greatness without any understanding of what they mean, they often try to copy a great leader from the past. Sadly, full of self-importance, they fail to understand that because these great leaders from the past were unique, they cannot be copied.

The Chronicle every Tuesday for the best of Canberra Community News


6 Responses to "Is Democracy stirring in Canberra?"

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