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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Political shuttlecock |Next »
January 28, 2003

Many do not dip into Margo Kingston's Webdiary because they think that no pearls of wisdom can be found buried in what they see as journalist dross. So they may have missed this.

It is a site called, NSW Election 2003, and you may still find it of interest, even though it is hosted by the liberal Sydney Morning Herald

There is good material there particularly on the way that the 'crime card' is being used by politicians as an election strategy. It involves responding to the public fear of crime by Scaring up the votes. The aim of the strategy is not to explore answers or solutions but to exploit anxiety for political advantage. The politicians then identify problems they promise to "fix" via sentencing changes, such as "truth in sentencing", "three strikes and you're in", hard-drug pushers would die in jail", "hoodlum patrols would reclaim the streets for our citizens and make them safe again".

And Paolo Totaro here asks, why, are there no properly evaluated studies to measure the efficacy of equally radical proposals such as mandatory sentencing, when the evidenced-based approach was the nom for a medically supervised heroin-injecting room put in place by the State Government? Paolo then makes a good observation:

"Our political leaders do not explain how they translated the public's often justifiable fears about personal safety or crime rates into a demand for expensive, untested policies that, to date, have done absolutely nothing to pre-empt or curb crime - and even less to rehabilitate or educate offenders before release. Rather, the law and order auction that began with Nick Greiner's 1988 "truth in sentencing" legislation and continues today with mandatory sentencing has simply added to our already bursting jails."

And in this piece Paolo refers to a group of international crime experts who have called for an end to the use of law and order as a "political shuttlecock", proposing reforms to safeguard the legal system from electioneering politicians.

These experts observe that the politicisation of law and order has had a "profound effect on the traditional separation of powers between the Parliament, the executive and the judiciary ... [that] hallmark of the Westminster system of government ... appeared to be breaking down at the close of the century in Australia."

And thats a good judgement.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 11:22 PM | | Comments (5)



sorry to be pedantic but your typo has made a man out of Paola!

apologies. Not good. Can we put it down to difficulties of the transition period?

si, so long as I don't get transitioned into Gianni :)

A little off-topic but just wanted to say I liked the layout of the site