Treachery at the heart of our politics
Australians have been told over and over that Senator Dastyari has broken no rules. He may well have broken the nation’s fundamental law. The matter would have been glossed over but for Liberal strong man Cory Bernardi. He called for an inquiry into what he described as this ‘dodgy deal’, one with the ‘stench of corruption’. The Prime Minister missed the point and swallowed Bill Shorten’s line that this is just about donations. Rather, it is about the influence and indeed control exercised in Australia by the Chinese Communist Party. Dastyari has to reveal not only what the financial arrangements with his benefactor are, but any link between those arrangements and his frequent undermining and public denunciation of our crucial bi-partisan policy on freedom of navigation, under international law, in the South China Sea. His explanation so far is pitiful: from ‘misquote’, to ‘misspoke’ and ‘wrong’. The Australian Constitution is clear on this. It expressly disqualifies a senator in allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power. The High Court has indicated that an informal act of obedience could be enough. One senator even lost her seat when she had been too slow in revoking her dual citizenship of a close ally. Australians are therefore entitled to answers. Dastyari, his benefactor and others, with all relevant documents, should be thoroughly examined on oath before a short and sharp parliamentary or royal commission. Any adverse finding can be dealt with by the Senate or possibly the High Court as the constitutional guardian. The Court could even hear a case brought by a member of the public under obscure legislation, the Common Informers (Parliamentary Disqualifications) Act. There is widespread disquiet across the land that there is more than a whiff of treachery at the heart of the Australian body politic. Only a formal inquiry will get to the truth.
On the subject of treachery, this column declared one year ago that: ‘If Malcolm Turnbull is remembered for anything, it will be for his supreme act of treachery in bringing down a successful prime minister merely to achieve, illegitimately, the office he has so long lusted after’. Calling the double dissolution election would, we later warned, be ‘likely to be seen as a major error of judgement’, explicable only as a desperate attempt to counter the increasing impression that Turnbull is weak and indecisive. We added that even if he scraped through in the election he would have lost. He has and this truth is demonstrated every day. All this is confirmation yet again of Sir Walter Scott’s timeless warning ‘O, what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive!’ Little wonder then that political parties in comparable countries have concluded that leaving the selection of a leader to the plotters and the self interested who infest parliamentary parties is no longer tenable. This is especially so in Australia, where our major parties are probably the most elite, undemocratic and authoritarian in the Western world.
With the pieces of paper he released on foreign land ownership, Treasurer Morrison must think he has succeeded in pulling the wool over his fellow Australians’ eyes. Just as he believes he has done over his assault on self funded retirees. On the maximum amount he proposes to allow them, banks are now offering $24,000 a year − about a fifth of the post- tax income the average retired politician receives. That’s apart from the rivers of gold they enjoy from opening doors for various clients, including the odd communist government, entity or oligarch. Morrison’s few highly selective statistics hardly constitute the foreign land register we Australians were solemnly promised. As Barnaby Joyce told Parliament, this register was to be like a map letting Australians ‘see who owns what, where’. A handful of broad, overall statistics, including those about near desert land, is no register. Australians especially want to know who owns all of our prime agricultural land which makes up a mere 4 per cent of the continent. Can’t the politicians protect that and its aquifers from miners and communist governments? Not only is there a vast difference between ownership and investment, there’s a qualitative difference between, say, a Dutch investor, and a communist government, its entities or the billionaire oligarchs it has created by ignoring human, property and labour rights.
Why are some people so afraid of allowing the people to decide whether to change that fundamental institution, marriage? As for cost, why kowtow to the belief some politicians have that Australians are stupid? They think we can’t cope with referendums, plebiscites and an election at the same time. If the power the people gave to the politicians to make laws about ‘marriage’ means anything, it means whatever a reasonable person thought it meant at the time. Since Labor wants a bill to take immediate effect on a favourable vote, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel −just hold a referendum at the next election. And, incidentally, why are some people being presented as ‘leaders’ of an ‘LGBT community’. Who elected them? And when did the people identified agree to be roped into some so-called community?
Barnaby Joyce explained the reason for the swing against the coalition in the NSW local government elections in two words: ‘Greyhound racing’. He could have added ‘forced amalgamations’. Like the Turnbull government, the Baird government seems to only have its base in its sights.
Surely the leaking of secret information concerning the French submarines sold to India should have put the Turnbull government on notice to reconsider the $50 billion on a fleet of Barracuda submarines, minus their nuclear powered engines, and in the never-never? We should lease a fleet of nuclear submarines now, and based on international experience, take them only from our closest allies, the UK or the US. In the meantime both major parties should give up raiding the defence budget to shore up electorates in South Australia. Persuading the state government to reverse the skyrocketing electricity prices they designed to slow global warming − something which stopped two decades ago − would be a start.