Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Bull

Dozer, that is. John "Bulldozer" Howard and his unchecked power. The Guambat has previously pointed out the almost undemocratic lack of checks and balances in the Australian governmental framework. http://guambatstew.blogspot.com/2005/09/unrepresentative-swill-part-one.html and http://guambatstew.blogspot.com/2005/09/unrepresentative-swill-part-2.html and http://guambatstew.blogspot.com/2005/11/hear-lies-democracy.html

At the heart of the matter is the failure to provide for a separation of the executive from the legislative functions. And if you scratch the surface of any Malcolm Turnbull-style republican who will do absolutely anything to avoid a popular election of the Executive, you will understand why they are so nervous about having to share power with a properly independendent legislature.

Today, the Herald's editorial, "Surrender of the Senate" bemoans this situation, but not in so many words or so generally, just in this one result, but it is an event that will last from time to time throughout the rest of the history of Australian until the fundamental defect of the one-legged stool is changed:
"If voters had wanted the Senate to expose to genuine scrutiny the towers of legislation being lined up for the end-of-year dash, they would have ensured the Senate retained more than a semblance of independence from the executive, instead of allowing even that pretence to evaporate. Wouldn't they?

[John Howard] has the authority to sell the rest of Telstra and to sweep away a century of industrial relations practices, to screw down welfare and to diminish liberty in the name of defending it. And the Government has still got a dozen or so bills it wants crunched through in the next couple of days. Why the rush? Because the Government can.

Chris Ellison, the manager of government business in the Senate, last week tried to pass off the shutting down of debate as a necessary response to the obstructionism of the Labor Party and others. "This is an occasion where we have to put in place a reform for which this Government has been elected, and we have had an extensive second reading debate," he said of the dash on industrial relations. Wrong on both counts, Senator Ellison. There was no voters' mandate and there was certainly nothing extensive about the Senate debate.

WorkChoices cost $131 million to draft and implement, yet the Government had to move 337 amendments, which were given to non-government senators half an hour before the debate began. The legislation runs to 700 pages, and nearly as many again in explanatory notes. To the average reader it is impenetrable, but its impact will be vast and broad. Yet consideration was squeezed into a cursory five-day committee inquiry and five days of Senate debate. And that is just a taste of the Government's new-found zeal to get on with the job."

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