It is an indisputable fact in most countries that you get the politicians that you, the voting public, give the most votes to. Complaining about the job they then do when they get in (which is sometimes, perhaps increasingly so, not what you thought they said they were going to do before you voted) is a bit like blaming a car you bought for not being what you thought it was before you bought it. The fault is at least partly yours because you really should research important decisions WELL before you make them.
Just buying a Ford because your Dad swears by them is not actual research. Voting for a politician because your Dad voted for the party (or because he voted for the opposing major party) is not good research either. Believing that someone who desperately needs your vote to get a better job (or keep the one they have already) will do what they promise before you vote for them is, at best these days, being dangerously naive.
Many Americans are currently unhappy with ‘their’ choice of President. Many other Americans were unhappy for the previous 8 years with ‘their’ choice and are much happier now, but i digress.
This post is to give the unhappy Americans what i hope is some relief from their despair by showing them other places in the world have their own versions of what can go wrong when you vote politicians in because you think they might do some good for the country.
The Australian political system is based upon the UK system and has just 2 major parties (Labor/Liberal NCP) who are the only ones who ever get to govern, well, when i say 2 there are actually 3 who govern but two of them only get that chance by teaming up together in a coalition to get enough voters to have a chance to beat the other one. (There are more than a dozen political parties we can vote for but the other 9 rarely manage to get more than 25% of the national vote between them!)
We in Australia don’t vote for a leader directly; he or she is chosen by their respective parties to lead them before the election and is given a known ‘safe’ seat so he will be voted in to govern once the election is decided – only the few thousand voters in his electorate get to actually vote for the leader, or not. The rest of us have to put up with whoever the winning party chose as leader.
The current government chose a leader while still in Opposition and in 2013 he was put into power by a minority vote, but thanks to our preferential voting system, where ‘failed’ party votes are counted towards the two top party’s balance of votes, he found himself in power, after spending some 6 years under the other side’s government.
After just 14 months in power and with approval ratings that made even Donald Trump seem popular by comparison, his party gave him the flick. (Yep! we can do that here – in fact we’ve done it 3 times in 6 years and could very well do it again real soon!) The party put up another guy, one the public liked better because they thought he was a more moderate politician who would do great things for the majority (we fell for it yet again folks!,) and the whole thing has gone downhill ever since.
An early election was called by the replacement party leader after just 2 years in government, before the new leader’s popularity could fall to the previous one’s level and he was sent back to his old job. He got back in but with a lower majority in the lower house of just a single elected member. In the upper house the situation was even worse than before he called it and it was not all that great back then. Basically our leader shot himself in the foot to save his bacon – it might be a temporary reprieve given the shambolic nature of the current Australian political scene.
Our current political problems are of two fundamental types: The appalling state of play concerning the as yet unmade law on same sex marriage – makes the whole Obamacare/Repealing Obamacare seem like a simple, rational process!
and, the inability of some of our elected Federal members to realise that they hold dual citizenship with another foreign power and that, under section 44 of our Constitution, this made them ineligible to stand for election to Federal Parliament.
At this point in time 2 senators have resigned, one has withdrawn until a court case appeal is decided, one is appealing but has not withdrawn and our Deputy Leader himself is appealing to the High Court to defy the application of section 44 to him as he was, at the time he sought office, also a citizen of the New Zealand (an ally of US and Aus).
This fact should render him as ineligible to sit in the current Parliament and this would mean the two opposing party’s would be deadlocked in the lower house and would find it extremely difficult to pass any legislation the other party opposed. Order would be greatly compromised and governance might have to go back to the people for yet another decision. Given the current mess and behaviour we are seeing from our elected officials it is highly unlikely the current government would be re-elected, not that the other side is any better behaved or has any better ability to govern us. Accordingly the fight to keep our Deputy Leader in office is getting very spiteful and nasty for all concerned. It is not a good look in a country that has long been used to not liking the look of it’s government.
The tenuous situation the government finds itself in (largely of it’s own making) has seen some Ministers resort to truly despicable acts of bastardry in attacking their opposing sides (and in some cases members within their own sides), one especially sad case being when our Foreign Minister accused the opposition of conspiring with a foreign power to bring down the Government – basically accusing them of treason, for pointing out that their Deputy Leader was, under the Constitution, not entitled to be in government – which is true!
It would have been (and is entirely the obligation of all elected politicians) a simple matter to renounce any citizenship to a country other than Australia before they applied to sit for government election, But so far some 5 out of 230 politicians seem to have failed in their duty to do so and now some are screaming the Constitution is unfair and demanding legal action to save their own skins, and a possible referendum, to alter the section of the Constitution, and their fellow team is blaming the oppostion ( isn’t everything always the other sides fault with these people??) because they were too lazy and/or ignorant to do what it requires of them.
As for SSM? The current government (for how long?) says it has a mandate to put the decision whether to make it legal or not to the people in a plebiscite (national vote but not legally binding on the government). This has two problems: it needs to be passed by the upper house (Senate) who have the numbers to reject it, and now have – twice!); and secondly, the vote is NOT binding on our politicians – they can still veto it and not change the Marriage Act to allow it. It is also not required as the Government (just the Leader technically) has the right to amend the act just by reason of being in Government.
Because the bill to put the decision to a plebiscite of the people has now been rejected after two attempts (a third is allowed and then it is cancelled) the Government has put up an alternate (and highly problematic, if not illegal) ‘solution’ – to hold a postal vote of all registered voters on if it is a ‘Yes’ or a ‘No’.
This is estimated to cost taxpayers upward of $122 million dollars!(See Above.) It is not going to be run by the appropriate department, the Australian Electoral Commission, but by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. There is a legal question regarding personal detail distribution as to whether the ABS can obtain information as to where to send the postal forms from the AEC who are bound to confidentiality laws, and a second question as to whether the government has the right to allocate funding to them for it.
There is also the matter that like the plebiscite, but more so, the postal vote is not binding on the government to make the changes to the Act so a majority of the population might say Yes and the politicians then ‘vote’ No, or vice versa.
Once the result of the vote is known the government will then vote amongst themselves as to what, if any, change is made to the current Act making marriage only between one man and one woman. (This was amended to read this way in 2004 on the sole decision of the then leader of the government (he has that right) which, co-incidentally, is the same party as is currently in power. It is easy to see which way the party wishes this to go and it is NOT the way the people might want to vote for. (Unless the majority want a No vote!)
The current leader, Malcolm Turnbull (or Trumble/Trumbull/Turner as various White House staff have named him) could, if he wanted to, just make the change to allow it and he has previously (when not in leadership) stated he is personally in favour of SSM. The issue is, he is fearful of getting dumped by factions within his party and is trying to placate them by sticking to the agreed party line to ‘put it to the people before deciding’ rather than just doing what most people who voted for him are thought to want, which is to represent their wishes and make it legal. One estimate is that 2/3rds of the thousands who voted for him in his electorate are in favour of SSM. Whether this will be confirmed by any eventual nationwide popular vote remains to be seen.
The fact that this issue has been rolling and bumbling along for the last 4 years that the current government has been in ‘power’ is a very sad reflection on the Australian ‘Democratic’ political system.
But i can’t complain because the majority of voters chose to put these people ‘in charge’ of us for a (usually) 3 year minimum period. (I chose the other mob of the two real choices, if anyone is interested).