Philosophical Conversations Public Opinion Junk for code
parliament house.gif
Think Tanks
Oz Blogs
Economic Blogs
Foreign Policy Blogs
International Blogs
Media Blogs
South Australian Weblogs
Economic Resources
Environment Links
Political Resources
South Australian Links
"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

AWB: beyond spin « Previous | |Next »
November 28, 2006

Are the journalists swallowing the Howard Government's line that it stands vindicated over the AWB scandal? That it has done nothing wrong and has nothing to hide. Yesterdays news reports lapped up the spin and recycled it. Do the commentators see beyond the spin? Do they link this negligence and lack of accountibility to the health of our liberal democracy? It is a good issue to judge the state of our free and critical press, don't you think?

Steve Lewis in The Australian does go beyond the spin to democracy. He says that yesterday's release of the Cole report also highlights the need for a more genuine parliamentary scrutiny of the executive:

This has never been more apparent, given the changed Senate dynamics and the incapacity of the opposition parties to force the Government to fully account for its actions. If the opposition parties still had the numbers, Howard and his senior ministers would have been subjected to a tougher examination over AWB. This would be no bad thing. Robust parliamentary accountability requires a Senate with the muscle and resolve to question properly the government of the day. Alas, the present Senate finds itself unable to meet this challenge.

He concludes that an executive with unchecked power is bad for democracy and that Australian voters would be better served if the Senate were able to deliver a more robust oversight of the executive.

Maybe, just maybe the ALP has learned to take the Senate seriously. After all, it handed Howard the Senate with its Victorian preference deals that gave a Senate seat to Family First and not the Greens. It also treats the Senate as second rate, as it with fills the Senate with union and party hacks.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 5:06 AM | | Comments (7)


This has been probably the most shameful day for Australian democracy since Whitlam was dismissed.

Which was caused, of course, by the senate.

As long as the Senate majority remains in place, accountability and integrity are no longer a part of the system.

in the absence of an independent Senate the press has to take up the challenge to hold the government accountible. There was nothing in the Fairfax papers--the Age and Sydney Morning Herald this morning.

Worst of all, amazingly the spin seems to have worked (as usual).
And of course no one, not even in the opposition parties, is prepared to mention that elephant in the room, America, such is the level of denial.
The detestably lazy Australian public is in full Glen Milne/ Helen Coonan mode and full-steam ahead ( don't worry about having anyone about to spot ice bergs though ).

The Cole Inquiry was used for the purpose of containment and Cole went along with the postbox theory, which says it was proper for the department (DFAT) not to check wheat contracts to see whether they subverted UN sanctions. The post box theory provides the cover to explain the uselessness, inadequacy and incompetence of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

On your other points. Cole is about accountibility but it is not a vote changer. The issues with more electoral bite are interest rates, climate change, industrial relations and the changing situation in Iraq. These establish a clear policy distinction between the major parties and alll four of these issues are running Labor's way.

The Age has an interesting editorial on this. It says that:

Mr Beazley is fast reducing the Opposition to a one-act show - the workers versus WorkChoices - and there's every risk it will provoke something less than a standing ovation... The Labor leader should understand that banking almost solely on IR to spark revolt at the ballot box could be risky.

It's a slow burn issue so he needs more arrows to fire. As The Age points out the Government is ripe for attack on a number of fronts and this should be a wake-up call that the current formula requires modification.
And yet, Mr Beazley is clearly putting the bulk of his eggs in the IR basket. In Parliament this week, he shifted Labor's attack away from the headline-grabbing AWB scandal back to industrial relations to little advantage...

The AWB stuff was a bit of a fizz. They could have maintained the momentum on accountibility by stirring on the single desk issue and sticking the knife into agrarian socialism.

Maybe this lack, which the Age identifies, is a reason why "Rudd" and "groundswell" and "momentum" are beginning to be uttered in the same sentence.

Beleive it or not, am not quite sure I agree with you concerning the single desk. Am not a big fan of globalisation, AUSFTA's, IMF etc which I feel are not about maximisation of efficency but (post?) modern forms of neo colonialist opportunism, neo Darwinism and Hobbesianism.
Watched Joyce and Tuckey and my sympathies were more with Joyce, despite the fact that he has "form " over Cubbie Creek.
If the yanks can subsidise their growers, why can't Australians use a substitute form , in the marketing single desk, which is not intrinsically a bad idea, in the real world. It is true that it was privatised in the worst way for the worst of all possible reasons. Ergo, we have the current stuff upbut that only speaks yet again about the actual illusion of Australian democracy, archetype of global democracy, against the reality.
Now, we went along with the Yanks, as usual, and should have been able to expect our share of the divis, for dirtying our hands in the evil done.
So I say the elephant in the room is indeed neoliberalism itself, and its main functionary the US; the alibi for destroying democracy. No one is game to say so, including spectactularly those with a vested interest in challenging the paradigm, which legitimates Howardist kleptocracy operative through AUSFTA and the alliance, here. That is, people such as Rudd and Beazley who want to criticise the governemt on incompetence,staying within the paradigm, rather than bringing forth questioning of neo liberalism itself, which would actually show up the West for the real bloody-handed fraud that it actually is. No one is perpared to point out the damage neo liberal globalisation has done to Keynesianist social liberalism and the dashed hopes of the betrayed third world, as typified in the experience of Palestine.
So a few executives operating from a neo liberal values platform, individuated to behave the way they did, are made scapegoats ( along with a million Iraqi dead! , but we fail to find out what American power has really been up to and why in the middle east; the real value of Howard's commitment to "democracy" trumpeted in the Murdoch press by brainwashed individuals like Milne, or discern the reality of of neo liberalism against its theory, and AUSFTA (against the dismemberment of the ABC, say ?).

interesting comments. I wasn't advocating full scale competition in the sense of John Roskam at the Institute of Public Affairs that would ensure the small farms disappear and we have corporate agri-businesses in wheat, rice and cotton.

I was only thinking tactically---stirring in the sense of giving power to the regulator which the Nationals ensured was crippled. That would keep the ALP in the debate--it is nowhere to be seen ---its between Wilson Tuckey and Barnaby Joyce as you say. They don't have much to lose by having a go at both of them.

Re neo-liberalism --I'm beginning to have a look at it over at here and here through the work of David Harvey.

One way the ALP can begin to address the neo-liberalism re agriculture is through addressing the issue of small farmers on marginal lands in a drought overlaid by climate change. This kind of farming is not sustainable.

Australia's agri-fod industry is dominated by small and medium farmers that lack the critical mass, expertise and capital to be serious players in the global market. They lack the economies of scale to be globally competitiveand under capitalised.

They look to be outgunned in terms of technology, innovation, marketing and customers service and are losing traditional markets.

So there is a problem. Something for the federal ALP to address. They will avoid it. Too hard.

Seems a shame to reef out whole communities, and communities that may be healthy for people living in them and kids growing up, and waste all the superstructure that hard working people may have built over generations, just to consign them to some meaningless existence on the outer fringes of some clogged-up mega city whose services have long since passed breaking point, with little hope for immediate relief.
Are there certain intangibles that modern neo- economics is too narrowly focused away from, for these to be takeinto account in their compiling?eg quality of life, healthy future people who are therefore educatable.
"Acres and acres,
of tar and cement".