The Null Device

Political omnibus post

A report from the Human Rights Council of Australia says that Australia is moving towards an authoritarian state under Howard. Among the symptoms of this are a political climate dominated by fear, insecurity and division, and the "de-legitimising" of dissent., including, for example, through the demonisation of those with alternative views and the restriction of their resources and public standing, the council says.
There are increasing controls on information, while potential dissenters are co-opted or even coerced, for instance through exploiting growing financial dependence on government and use of provisions in contracts.
There has been a radical shift in how government business is done, with tight constraints on the capacity for dissent. "All but the bravest" will avoid speaking out as more organisations become dependent on government funding.

(Wasn't Howard going to revoke the tax-exempt status of charities that become involved in political debates (as opposed to just handing out soup or blankets)? Has that gone through?)

Though at least here we have the Democrats Greens; on the occasions that Labor shows some backbone, they can blunt the worst of the government's legislation. Unlike in the US (where third parties only serve to leech votes from their respective lesser evil) or the UK (where the upper house is comprised of hereditary peers, gradually being replaced by anointed political cronies; I'm sure a true believer in protecting the interests that matter from the friction of excessive democracy like Teflon Tony won't be in any hurry to bring in proportional representation.

Speaking of which, Blair is planning to lower the voting age to 16 in Britain. Not sure what he'll do to prevent outbreaks of Greenism and socialism in the Houses of Parliament; introduce US-style first-past-the-post voting, count on British youth being less given to rocking the boat (see also: Greg Palast's rants about the Brits habitually deferring to their betters where Americans would raise a fuss), or just sign over enough sovereignty in international "free trade" treaties to render Parliament no more relevant than a student union?

(Speaking of Palast: have there been any counterexamples to his assertion, of British subjects forcing the powers that be to overturn odious legislation through protest or civil disobedience? Wasn't that what happened to Thatcher's poll tax?)

There are 7 comments on "Political omnibus post":

Posted by: Ben Sun Dec 7 23:39:03 2003

Don't worry, as long as the teacher's unions are able to direct the vote of the 16-17 yos, Labour will get the lion's share of them.

Posted by: Graham Mon Dec 8 00:58:26 2003

As opposed to British first-past-the-post voting?

Posted by: dj Mon Dec 8 02:06:35 2003

Yeah, England has first past the post voting, which makes me laugh when people like Kerrie Jones point to the superiority of their system! Yeah, the poll tax got some good riots going. Despite what Militant or the SWP might say, a lot of the protests were organised without the 'benefits' of 'democratic centralism'.

Posted by: acb Mon Dec 8 03:18:26 2003

I thought Britain had preferential voting. If it has first-past-the-post, how do you explain the existence of the Liberal Democrats? Surely they should have as much relevance as the Libertarian Party or Ralph Nader has in the US?

Posted by: dj Mon Dec 8 04:15:23 2003

No, because they are strong enough to get 25-30% of the vote in some places, which is enough to get you a seat.

Posted by: dj Mon Dec 8 04:20:17 2003

Posted by: Dennis Thatcher http:// Mon Dec 8 07:03:10 2003

The Lib-Dems sometimes poll about the same as the Tories (nowadays).