Features Australia

Aux bien pensants

24 February 2018

9:00 AM

24 February 2018

9:00 AM

Proscribe parallelism not promiscuity

By proscribing sexual relations with ministerial staff and through his public moral condemnation of Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce, Malcolm Turnbull has not only made himself a laughing stock, he has endangered the government. He is in no position to moralise, thanks to his treachery in plotting against, undermining and eventually bringing down the elected Prime Minister while serving as his minister, only to lead a mediocre LINO (Liberals In Name Only) government. In his alienation of the rank-and-file and his failure to campaign effectively in 2016, Turnbull squandered Abbott’s landslide, surviving only because of the Nationals and Victoria’s unpopular extremist government. The result was so close he had to be dragged out on election night to address the faithful, many of whom had given up and gone home. Even the remaining bedwetters must now realise his game is up. It’s time to bring back the person who can save this government, Tony Abbott.

Joyce’s real failure has been to go along with Turnbull’s disastrous policies especially on energy and water. At least his alleged abuse of the ministerial staff guidelines has drawn attention to the fact that a bloated, excessively expensive, totally indulgent and unnecessary parallel and partisan ‘public’ service – the ‘advisor’ class –  remains a fundamental affront to our Westminster system. Those truly great leaders, Menzies, Curtin and Chifley had no need for ‘advisors’. They obtained advice from the real public service. Not content with establishing their own parallel partisan ‘public’ service, the politicians have also stooped to politicising the real public service to parallel it with their own. Then, on just about every subject under the sun, in parallel to the sources of advice they receive, they commission endless expensive consultancy reports. In the background to their commissioning and even implementation we can detect  firmly embedded in the trough the noses of those ubiquitous lobbyist powerbrokers. This parallel service has enabled the creation and flowering of a separate elite political class totally alienated from the needs, aspirations and lives of ordinary Australians. Recruited from university political clubs and with little or no life experience, they soon learn that essential skill, Machiavellian plotting especially on government-funded mobile phones. Their abiding ‘virtue’  is loyalty to some or other powerbroker who constantly dangles before them that ultimate golden grail, preselection to a safe seat and the gold-plated superannuation and post-political doors which that will open.This little regulated parallel system may be appropriate to some sordid banana republic but not our ancient democracy. So who will perform the ultimate service to Australia and drain this rotting, corrupted swamp? Who indeed?

Certainly not Bill Shorten, who has just called for the creation of a parallel inquisition, this time a federal Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC). The very concept is flawed. Even if it occasionally finds instances of corruption, the chances are nothing will happen. As a parallel activity, the DPP will have to do everything again and eventually assemble a brief for the prosecution of some or other alleged offence before a real court. Paralleling NSW, a favourite journalist will be put on a permanent leak, show trials will dominate the headlines, evidence favourable to the accused concealed, the careers of the innocent destroyed and there’ll be a vendetta against some enemy. No, Mr Shorten, this is not a good idea. Why not instead resurrect that old and trusted institution of the people, the grand jury?

With the calls for Labor’s Susan Lamb to resign, surely it is not too late for the House and the Senate to determine the dual nationality issue simply and without fuss as the Constitution provides. As I’ve stated before, there’s no requirement to refer this question to the High Court. In fact the 1918 legislation merely says either house ‘may’ refer the question to the Court of Disputed Returns.  With High Court judges at the time not exactly inundated with work, they gave them the job. They could just as well have given it to the Balmain Police Court. Had they, the recent cases might have been decided with more common sense and in accordance with the original intention of the Constitution.

Former ambassador Mark Higgie has revealed that Gramsci’s long march through the institutions  extends to our diplomatic corps. This recalls a serious diplomatic incident with Indonesia explained years later in the Australian by the ambassador at the time, passionate republican Richard Woolcott. Excusing President Suharto’s curious refusal to receive Governor-General Sir Ninian Stephen on a planned state visit, Woolcott wrote: ‘Suharto acknowledged Queen Elizabeth II as Australia’s head of state, not the governor-general.’ A reader would have thought this was the result of an Australian constitutional problem, confirmed by the title, ‘Head of State: Diplomatic Blunder’.  In the piece Woolcott did not explain who put this idea into Soeharto’s head nor acknowledge that it was his task to explain to the President the position of all Australian governments about such visits: the Governor-General is head of state and should be received as such. It’s true republican politicians sometimes claim otherwise, but only in speaking to a domestic audience, who they treat as ignoramuses. This is doing what they do so well, speaking with forked tongues. The G-G’s Official Secretary at the time, Sir David Smith, has explained what happened. When Soeharto said he wouldn’t welcome Sir Ninian but would send the Vice-President, this created a serious diplomatic incident. The state visit was cancelled with the full support of the Hawke government. But after other visits as head of state were made all around the region, Indonesia apologised and undertook to receive the G-G as head of state, something which occurred in 1995. It is unacceptable that any government tolerate the conduct of a separate parallel foreign policy.

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