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

We've heard it all before « Previous | |Next »
May 8, 2003

Whilst on holiday I missed out on a lot of reading of newspapers. Today I glanced through some back copies of the Financial Review and I could not help noticing that the Howard Government is facing a hostile Senate. The executive is talking about the Senate impeding its ability to govern the country with a strong hand, a double dissolution and using a referendum to reforming the Senate by reducing its numbers and so improve its numbers in the Senate. No talk of doing away with proportional representation though.

This government is becoming ever more uncompromising and concerned with executive dominance. Once again the Senate becomes the battleground around a reform agenda around education, work and family, Medicare and workplace relations. It is a reform agenda that shifts the balance away from the public welfare state to the competitive market subsidised by the state. Is not Howard subsidising the private health funds to the tune of $2.3 billion per year with the 30 per cent tax rebate on private health insurance?

We've been here before. Remember Paul Keating's remark about the Senate being unrepresentative swill? Then, as now, the conflict is about executive dominance.

Then Keating wanted to us to accept high levels of job insecurity as his economic reforms tried to transform everyday life to mirror a competitive market. We had to keep reinventing ourselves to stay employable in a market society. The line then was that education was the big key in the newly-forming knowledge economy. Yet so many graduates could not find work and ended up in low skilled jobs whilst those in full time work worked longer and longer hours.

In one way or another work weighed heavily on our lives in a market economy. during the 1990s. And we became more unhappy and more depressed.

Lets hope this time the Senate stands firm against Howard's attempt to continue to transform Australia into a market society.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 11:18 PM | | Comments (0)