1. What happens when fools get to vote
Philosopher AC Grayling told Phillip Adams that just 26% of eligible voters voted in favour of Brexit, and exactly the same percentage voted for Trump. It doesn’t sound like democracy. BTW Google says that 36.8% voted for Hitler’s party in Germany.
Grayling says that Plato worried about democracy when everyone had the vote, although ‘everyone’ in Greece meant ‘citizens’, by definition male, and constituting about 20% of the adult population.
Alexis de Tocqueville worried about American democracy, in that case the votes of property-owning men, so the founding fathers designed a system of checks and balances to protect the system from possible mob rule. In the 18th century Edmund Burke made a coherent case for opposing democracy because, in the first place government required a degree of intelligence and breadth of knowledge of the sort that occurred rarely among the common people.
Philip Coorey in his latest AFR article points to a ScoMo speech back in June to the Liberal Party Central Council:
- “It is no longer about convincing Australians to be on our side, but to convince Australians that we are on theirs,” the Treasurer said.
“To crack through this thick ice, we must communicate candidly and with authenticity. And we must answer with our actions the questions that Australians are asking: ‘Do you get it?’, ‘Are you on my side?’.”
So the Business Council should take note, corporations are no longer a protected species. Government actions will be ruled by populism, not information, knowledge, logic or even what is best for the people.
This, however, ignores another issue. There are more country Liberals in the parliament than Nationals. Together they perhaps constitute about 15% of the vote, but are making 100% of the policy in some value-laden issues, also with an alternative view of climate science.
2. Politics has gone completely strange
Today I heard someone saying that it is important to retain the possibility for respectful dialogue in politics.
Katherine Murphy told Phillip Adams that around 50% of people were avoiding the news, to make sure they did not hear anything about politics.
At The Guardian Murphy writes that:
- You’d think shouting your way, incoherently, to victory would be impossible, absurd, ridiculous – except that modern politics is really a curious business. Shouting furiously about things often substitutes, successfully, for doing them.
Then “posturing and blathering” become more important than substance.
That’s mainly what is going on in energy policy, she thinks.
But on media law changes, she points out that One Nation abstained from voting for their own policies so that they could continue complaining on Facebook.
Lenore Taylor reckons in the media law changes, the government was doing stuff, very precisely stiffing The Guardian. The government had quoted The Guardian as one of the reasons there was now more diversity, so ownership rules could be relaxed. But when it came to doing a deal with Xenophon over $60 million to help regional publishing, minister Mitch Fifield used The Guardian’s foreign ownership to excude it, saying they were only interested in helping Australian journalism.
Never mind that the G pays 80 Australian journalists, has won seven Walkley awards, numerous scoops and has a unique monthly audience of 2.8 million readers, mostly no doubt Australians. Richard Di Natale:
- concluded it was “hard to escape the fact this was structured in this way … to deliberately exclude the Guardian and other Australian-based international outfits that are indeed holding the government to account … it is hard to escape the conclusion that this was done for anything other than political reasons.”
The Guardian makes no profit and has no shareholders to pay.
Meanwhile respected commentator Margaret Simons reckons the law changes do nothing to arrest the crisis facing journalism, which is withdrawing from the local, while Facebook and Google suck up the advertising revenue and pay no tax.
According to OECD and World Bank data, Australia ranks 27th out of 37 countries on work-life balance for parents, taking into account things such as annual hours worked, paid annual leave allowances, paid maternity leave and paid paternity leave.
Actually New Zealand ranked two below Australia and the worst country was the United States.
Finland, Germany and Japan were among the best countries in the world for parental work-life balance.
- According to the index, Australians are working an average of 1669 hours a year, get 20 paid annual leave days, just 7.6 weeks full-time equivalent paid maternity leave and only 0.8 weeks full-time equivalent paternity leave.
This compares to Germany with the lowest average working hours at 1363 hours a year, France with 30.3 paid annual leave days, Estonia with 85 weeks of full-time equivalent paid maternity leave and Japan with 30.4 weeks of full-time equivalent paid paternity leave.
Australia recorded the second lowest paid maternity leave rate of all the countries in the study.
So, ScoMo, Messrs Turnbull and Cormann, you’ve been there four years now. Why is it that we have to work 22% more hours than the Germans?
4. Citizenship saga reaches the High Court
Finally the saga has reached a directions hearing, where a few things happened. The Solicitor-General is arguing that the cases of senators Fiona Nash, Matt Canavan, Nick Xenophon were “virtually indistinguishable” by law from Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce’s case. Tony Windsor’s lawyer is arguing that Joyce is special, but we have not been told why.
I can’t find a link, but Windsor’s lawyer is also arguing that ‘citizenship by descent’ was common at the time when the constitution was formulated, so would have been in the mind of the founding fathers. I think he said it applied in France, Germany and the USA at the time, possibly more.
I think Canavan is a bit different because of what his mum did. It still seems incredible that he would not have known what she did when she did it specially for his benefit.
Roberts seems to be in the most trouble, and got into trouble again for being late with his paperwork going to court.