|Dated:||11 March 2016|
This article is for QUEENSLAND readers of Australia Wakeup's newsletter.
Queenslanders will be voting on 19 March not only for local Councils but also in a referendum to increase the term of the Legislative Assembly from unfixed-date three year terms to four-year fixed terms.
The real issues here are the desire of both the major parties to give their representatives more job security, to subject them to less frequent accountability, and to make no provision for early dissolution of the Parliament even in the event of "reprehensible circumstances."
The YES and NO cases were sent out to voters in the mail a couple of weeks ago.
The YES case is supported by both major parties and various economic interests on the main grounds of(1) more certainty (as to election dates),
The NO case stresses:1) there's less voter control, and this is especially undesirable in the only State without an Upper House;
Australia Wakeup approaches the referendum keenly aware that around Australia - not only in Queensland - large numbers of people are thoroughly turned off the political class in general, because of its blatant refusal to listen, and its arrogant belief that "we know what's best for you." This is why at just about every election over the past decade and more, the number of voters saying "none of the above" and voting for minor parties or independents has grown continuously.
In their book published in 2013 called Give us back our Country, David Flint and Jai Martinkovits describe how political elites have marched through our key institutions, aided by activist judges and international treaties wanted and taken seriously only by Western elites. The authors point to the enormous disconnect and alienation felt by large numbers of people about the political parties. Australia Wakeup firmly believes that the coming 2016 federal election will certainly see much more of this. We believe that parties such as Australian Liberty Alliance, One Nation, the Christian Democratic Party, Rise Up Australia Party, Australia love it or leave, and a gaggle of others, will eat substantially in to the major parties' vote.
The elites know what's best for THEM, and they want to tell us what's best for US even when we don't believe them and want them to listen!
In the Preface to Give us back our Country, Flint and Martinkovits say:
"Recognising that the people are aware of the decline in the quality of governance, the perpetrators [political elites] have from time to time unashamedly proposed a series of FALSE 'REFORMS' ... to distract the electorate from real reform.
"These 'reforms' have included FIXED TERMS, LONGER TERMS, new methods of voting, making it easier to vote when no one has complained that it was difficult, abolishing one tier of government, introducing a new tier of government, introducing a politicians' republic, increased pay for politicians, increased staff, advisers, even something as obviously transparently useless as community cabinets, etc.
"Not one of those actually introduced has improved government. And Australians must be assured that none can. If it is not to increase power it is a camouflage and a distraction. Sometimes it is both."
In their chapter 12, 'False Solutions,' they write, concerning longer terms and fixed terms:
"The results have not been as predicted. There has been no distinct improvement in the standard of government and in the case of New South Wales there has been a very significant decline. Indeed, under the previous [Labor] government in New South Wales, there were constant calls for an early election. The Governor was frequently the recipient of requests that she act to dismiss the government."
Queensland stands apart from all the other states in having no Upper House - it was abolished in 1922. This means there is no brake at all on a government with any sort of majority in the Legislative Assembly. This has enabled a tradition in this state of authoritarianism.
In Queensland we have had two consecutive cases when the electorate was itching to turf out the State government - that of Anna Bligh, and that of Campbell Newman. Four-year fixed terms would have meant the electorate had to wait for an extra year to vent its displeasure on the government.
Australia Wakeup is NOT convinced that longer, fixed terms will improve governance in Queensland - especially given the absence of an Upper House, and especially because the changes being put to the people make NO PROVISION for recall elections or out-of-cycle dissolution of the Parliament when a large number of people believe there are "reprehensible circumstances" and petition for an early election.
We urge readers to deliver one in the eye to the political class and vote NO in this referendum.
Closing general thoughts
Whenever we see anything from politicians that involves the political processes, our hackles should automatically go up.
Mostly politicians conspire against the electorate because they do not represent our interests but just pretend to, for the sake of their political interests. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" should be the guiding motto for all referendums and controversial proposals. Is the present arrangement "broke"? No!
Our great-grandparents sought to design a system to rein in political corruption and the worst of human nature. We tinker with Constitutional and other longstanding stable arrangements at our peril.
In New Zealand, the current attempt motivated by John Key to replace the flag in use since 1869 and adopted officially as the national flag in 1902 is a classic example of this sort of meddlesomeness and waste.