- AUSTRALIAN - v - US POLITICS -
In Australian we claim to have three tiers of government, but as most Australians are aware, we really only have Federal & State. Any time it has the inclination (or sees the possibility of cutting a quick profit by allowing for instance a land development application) a State government will overrule the decision of one of it's municipal councils, or in extreme situations will dissolve the council and appoint an administrator, or even (in at least one instance) dissolve a group of councils and reform them with different boundaries.
Likewise, none of our Federal or State governments actually has three heads of power. The US has three clear & distinct levels of power, a President (or governor) who is the executive, a single or double house of Legislators and a group of Judges that (because it's members are appointed for life or elected) retain a modicum of independence.
In Australia the Executive and the head of the party in power in the legislating house can be the same person. In theory these two positions represent two heads of power, in practice the two positions have always been occupied by the same person. As in the US, our courts are somewhat independent of the legislators, although one prime minister fixed a high court's opinion by increasing the membership and appointing cronies to the vacancies.
So in comparison to the USA our system has less inbuilt safeguards to start with. All efforts by Australian citizens to rectify the matter by appropriate voting patterns are subverted. But then, isn't that the failure of the system of government that we call representative democracy? In the USA with it's greater safeguards a new protection is occasionally installed, no matter how grudgingly. (i.e. the most recent US constitutional amendment requires that no increase in a politician's pay rate can take effect without an intervening election.)
In the year 2001 the Australian electorate is ropable. In the last two years Australian voters have cashiered the governments in Victoria, Western Australia, Queensland & the Northern Territory. The federal government of Johnny Howard must face the voters before March 2002, and his government could well be the next government to fall, (since he did not take the advice offered by SPIN:).
But most Australians do not really want the Labor party in power. They are just as bad as the present mob. What Australians would like is a totally new approach, such as would result from a minority Prime Minister.
To achieve that, we will need a swag of good Independents. People of Integrity. People whom we the people have come to trust, like prominent sportsmen or public personalities. Dawn Fraser or John Laws would fit the requirements. Even (god help us) Pauline's party as the independent vote would be better than the present oligarchy. To obtain that outcome the Australian people would have to fine tune their votes, so that the Liberal and Labor parties had approximately equal numbers of seats, with the balance of power to the independents, or Pauline.
It is long odds, but maybe, just maybe, it might happen.
And maybe, just maybe, one of the Independents or that Red Headed Terror might perhaps give we the people a taste of real, (not just pretend-representative) democracy, democracy such as the Swiss or Californians or Icelanders have. Citizen's Initiated Referenda. Direct Democracy. A way for we the people to directly intervene in government, not suck the lolly while it is still wrapped in paper.
I am not holding my breath, but I am crossing my fingers.
(Then again, rather than grant the Australian people true Democracy, I would expect the Liberal, National & Labor parties to coalesce.)
- POLITICIANS & CRIMINALS-
It is quite amazing the number of US politicians who seem to have relatives who are criminals. Clinton. Condit. Who knows where it would end if we got through the alphabet to Z.
Of course in Australia we would never get to hear if a politician had a criminal relative. Our defamation laws are much stricter than those in the US. Probably our laws were the model from which Singapore's Lee Kwan Yew worked. In a recent Australian defamation case, a pair of politicians & their wives earned over $100,000 each when one of the wives was accused of playing around with the other politician decades earlier, before they married!
There is no intent by SPIN to reflect badly on a person just because their relatives are criminal. But let us face facts.
Criminality does run in families. That is established. There are two theories, "nature" and "nurture".
Even if scientific speculation that there is a genetically inheritable "criminal gene" were true, it is clear that the gene would have to be in both parents (if it was recessive) or doubled in one parent (if it were dominant) to be certain that it would be in all offspring. Otherwise, it would be in half the offspring. It is theorized that presence of the gene sequence would predispose the person to criminal modes of thought. Possibly they would lack that empathy with the victim that prevents most people from being criminal. Perhaps in their own mind they are more intelligent than most people & believe that they can engage in antisocial behaviour and not be found out.
Opponents of the "nature" (or inheritance of criminality gene) theory claim that early life experiences ("environment" or "nurture") would be the factor that led to criminality. Most authorities seem to opt for a mix of the two theories.
(Hmmm. Neither of those theories implies anything flattering about people who have a criminal relative, does it?)
I suppose that is why we have such high financial penalties for publishing such information about powerful persons in Australia.
It would be interesting to research worldwide on which
occupations had members more or less likely to have criminal relatives
than the general population. When such occupations were found, the
next question might be, "what is it about that occupation that people with
criminal relatives find so attractive".