20 02 2002


*Tall Poppies is an expression that generically refers to people who stand above the common crowd.

In Australia this week's news is the past naughtiness of the recently appointed Governor General.

The Australian Governor General has enormous constitutional power.  Commander in Chief of the armed services, he can prorogue parliament and can rule by decree.  (A bit like the US presidential directives).  The only brake on his power is the Queen.  She appointed him on the Prime Minister's advice.  She can take it away.

Governor General Hollinsworth was chosen by Prime Minister Howard from his post as Archbishop of Brisbane.

It must be admitted that the Journalists are beating up on this ex-cleric.  This is because what is front page news about a governor general is only scandal sheet gossip about an Archbishop.

The complaints were around for decades.  Apparently Archbishop Hollinsworth was somewhat less than diligent in supervising inquiries into the possibility that some of his staff were pederasts.  He appointed people who were subject of complaints to investigate complaints.

The story has aroused public anger.  Australians do not like tall poppies is that many of us have suffered injustice by Someone In Authority.  The persecuted feel that those in power are a cadre.   Those in power stick together and generally it is impossible to bring them to justice.

Lets play scenarios with Johnny Howard's republic option.  That had a "Johnny appointed & Johnny Sacked" president.   SPIN worries that instead of Johnny Howard as PM, what if we had Adolf Howard?  Adolf appoints his half brother Johnny Hitler as President, and Johnny Hitler then dissolves parliament (with the tacit support of Adolf), changes the voter rules by decree so that only "sane people" (as defined maybe by those who correctly answer the "Socialism National" sanity test) may vote, adds another eight mates to the high court, (bringing the total to fifteen) and has the whole procedure declared necessary and legal by a full bench of the high court, all without breaking any rules of the Australian constitution.  He then holds an "election" and Australians wake up to find that the majority of them have been legally disenfranchised.

Our system of representative government is broken.  We need a new system.  A system where the representatives answer to the people every three years is just not good enough.  For the two years following an election the feeding trough is open, politicians follow their inclination, and give the middle finger to the electorate.

Direct democracy, like that by which the Swiss have governed themselves for about 800 years, and which has existed in many US states for over a century would seem to be a possible solution.  Or some other system that similarly offered the electorate real participation in matters of public interest.  Getting the middle finger is not an option.


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