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Democratic Audit Update September 2007

by Democratic Audit of Australia

The latest update from the Democratic Audit program at ANU on how our democracy is working.



Peter Andren: An independent way in Australian politics
Following Independent MP Peter Andren's announcement that cancer has forced him to withdraw from active politics, his former Chief of Staff Tim Payne reviews his parliamentary career.
The accessibility of administrative justice

The Queensland parliament's Legal, Constitutional and Administrative Review Committee has picked up the inquiry on the accessibility of administrative justice initiated by the former committee, broadening the original terms of reference. The deadline for submissions is September 28th 2007. Full details of the inquiry can be found here.
Due process in Queensland local government mergers?
In the wake of the Northern Territory Emergency Bill, it seems it is not just the federal government that is keen to push legislation through without due process. The Queensland government has pushed through the legislation reducing the number of local authorities and councillors dramatically with little consultation and only one day of parliamentary debate. An amendment sacking any council that held a local ballot on the proposed mergers was introduced. The State government subsequently announced backed down on the threat after the federal government threatened to intervene to overrule it and to fund the ballots, and a Senate committee inquiry was launched to investigate the matter.
The details of the Senate inquiry are here.
Read more from the Age here.
Government questions polling integrity
The federal government has responded to continued poor opinion polling by questioning the integrity of the one of the polling companies. This emerged as a result of the involvement of a senior member of polling firm IPSOS in fundraising for ALP candidate for Bennelong, Maxine McKew. Whilst the objectivity of polling is surely important, it should be noted that the government has been getting poor results in polls by companies where no ALP connection has been found!
Read more in the Australian.
'Be honest, Minister!' Restoring faith in government in Australia
At the request of the authors, we are making the report of the Australasian Study of Parliament (ASPG) Accountability Working Group's report, 'Be honest, Minister!' Restoring faith in government in Australia, available on the Audit website. The report recommends codifying ministerial responsibility, strengthening FOI, regulating lobbying, the establishment of a Parliamentary Standards Commission, and establishing independent Parliamentary Presiding Officers.

Dr Phil Larkin
Democratic Audit of Australia
Political Science
Australian National University
Canberra ACT 0200
Tel: +61 2 6125 0696 or 1600
Fax: +61 2 6125 3051


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Comment by Kingston re Albrechtsen.

You know, this a site that eternally baffles me!

Why did you place the  Margo Kingston update re  albrechtsen, if you were not prepared to inform people not to attempt return comments or replies?

Elsewhere threads say "reply" , but for "carlos" thread the login/register facility appears,except  that one is only returned again and again to the history page after providing log in details.

You surely hope for participation, but again and again the mechanics of this site defy  attempts at this.


Richard:  Paul, I think it's a glitch.  At the moment replies appear in comment order anyway, so it doesn't matter that much at the end of the day.  Posting in the comments box does exactly the same job.

It all sorts out eventually, I guess. 


another try

No doubt about, contributing to WD is gruelling business.

Richard,  your comments previously concerning "glitch"so has me in mind of Dr. Pangloss who says:"All for the best in the best of all possible worlds."

Since last example effort remains jammed, this time on "preview", will content myself with observing relevance of following to both Democratic Deficit and the Carlos thread. That is, an SMH article, 7/9/07, "Government broke its own  workplace  reforms",  by  Andrew  West.  We learn that:

" The  Howard government broke its own workplace reform laws when it ordered public sector managers to deny workers access to leave to take part in a national protest against the new industrial relations legislation".

And who is the sinister 'Trot' who forwards such an assertion?

The miscreant ne'er do well is actually the  Federal Court  Justice (Catherine )  Branson, who

"...also criticised the government for violating the official 'values' of the Australian Public Service Act, the first of which insists that the Public  service remains 'apolitical' ",

In a court case in which Joe Hockey's Dept of Employment and Workplace Relations had "tried to protect the governments interests" when "supposed to be impartial public servants"( West ). Continuing, West observes that :

" Justice  Branson found the government had broken the very law it was supposed to uphold- the Workplace Relations Act- by denying staff in other departments the right to freedom of association".

Now considering that the protest involved was to occur at the end of 2005, a reader may wonder at its relevance to the present. Didn't the government say it would fix unfair anomalies?  In that case, my reply is quite simple. Hockey has announced he is considering an appeal against Branson's  judgement (although not on what grounds ).

Remember,  the government is being pasted in the opinion polls. But the same ingrates responsible for this, the electorate, are equally pasted by the commentariat for not realising what a benevolent government we have, including in its squandering of $2 billion of our money over a decade on propaganda junk intended to convince us white is black against the evidence of our eyes and ears.

The latest bout has had supposed 'impartial" public servant Barbara  Bennett reproving us for feeling threatened by 'No-Choices' IR.

But  Branson J's decision emphatically exposes a situation so utterly at odds with  Bennett  and her "Brady Bunch" world, involving coercion and thuggery of a sort and on a scale that would make an army of shop stewards blush.

And if Hockey is going to appeal Branson's scathingly worded and emphatic decision,  at the very time it continues the Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice Bennett ads earnestly reassuring the public of the government's desire to leave no stone unturned in its efforts to, foremostly, protect the rights of workers, do we not recall that the  Bennett ads have manifested themselves since the government's own wilful perversion of an already mean-spirited act?

But we apparently remain village idiots for discerning such galactic contradictions and gaps between  proclamation and practice?

A coming electoral disaster?

Just how massive a train wreck the Coalition could be facing is set out on crikey.com.


There is a precedent. In 1993 the governing Progressive Conservative Party of Canada got left with only two seats after a near-total wipout in the federal election. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wipeout_(elections)

John Howard faces defeat in Bennelong on the basis of recent poll results. So he will have to put in a lot of effort there if he wants to retain it. Which is probably just as well, as most of his colleagues will probably see him as a liability rather than an asset in their campaigns in their own electorates, and invite him to stay away.

Not that Rudd will be much better.

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