PNG: Reform must be pitched at community level
The erosion of Australia’s political integrity

What to do in case of irrelevant government


TUMBY BAY - This is an interesting question when you consider that Australia will be going to an election fairly soon.

The current Morrison government is irrelevant when it comes to tackling climate change.

The world is moving forward, as are our state governments and corporations, but the federal government is still pathetically twiddling its thumbs.

At the same time it has been either ignoring or bungling its responsibilities while the state governments have taken the lead in tackling the Covid pandemic.

And just recently it effectively outsourced Astralia’s security and defence to the USA (and maybe the UK).

All of this has been accompanied by spin and lies, fudged carbon emission claims, fudged vaccination claims, fudged economic numbers and fudged unemployment figures.

But it is not just our government that has become irrelevant, it has also dragged the rest of us along.

It is a neoliberal nightmare come true. Or perhaps a neoliberal dream, if you’re that way inclined.

Australia doesn’t matter anymore. How good is that?

Perhaps we need to look to our nearest neighbour for guidance and advice.

The government of Papua New Guinea has been irrelevant for many years.

Somewhere in the 20 years after 1975, it abandoned all pretence at governing for the people (the 1997-99 Bill Skate prime ministership is a useful milestone).

The people were pretty much left to their own devices while the government enabled those who were well placed to concentrate on accumulating as much personal wealth as possible.

Just like Australia today, the PNG government became relevant mainly to a small number of politicians and their friends and relatives, and the major corporations who pay the bills and pull the strings.

And so has been created a little world of greed and luxury which is guarded fiercely against others, or inducts them into the syndicate as the case may be.

MorrisonThe rest of the population has been marginalised, which sounds terrible until you ask them about it and they tell you they prefer it that way.

The great people of Papua New Guinea have got thousands of years of traditional subsistence living behind them and know how to look after themselves and their families.

Most of the crises the world brings upon itself tend to float by like a distant cloud. If anyone survives climate change with minimal inconvenience, it will be them.

An irrelevant government doesn’t matter to most Papua New Guineans, except perhaps those caught up living in proximity to freebooting mining ventures.

If it wasn’t for the electoral laws that demand Australians vote, we too might ignore our government and leave it to rattle around in its little bubble, just like Papua New Guineans do.

After all, the federal public service will still look after us, at least that part of it that hasn’t been corrupted, and we can just get on with our lives like most Papua New Guineans.

It’s not as though voting changes anything. Our government and the opposition look and behave like peas in a pod, Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Why replace one irrelevant government with another?

It would also save us a lot of embarrassment. While our federal government might be increasingly irrelevant it still has the capacity to make us all look like idiots whenever it opens its mouth.

For instance, how many people are hoping and praying that our prime minister doesn’t go to the United Nations climate change conference in Glasgow next month to embarrass us even further?

Just think what we are going to feel like when he empties his bag of lies and spin at that august event.

What will we tell our grandchildren about that disaster? The truth I suppose. Sorry kids but your government doesn’t give a rat’s arse about your future.

Isn’t that a beautiful bedtime story for them?

I’ve been bagging my relatives in the USA for years about their succession of idiot presidents, especially the orange gorilla.

But now they’re getting their own back about our bag of wind. I can tell you it is most unsettling.

It would be much better if I could tell them I had nothing to do with voting for the people who are pretending to govern our country.

Unfortunately, I’m forced to take part in elections, even if I have the consolation of a donkey vote.

You’d think people over seventy could be exempt from such buffoonery on the grounds of the threat to their mental health.


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Philip Fitzpatrick

A friend of mine once observed that "the average Australian fuckwit votes Liberal".

He was making the point that compulsory voting favours the conservatives and that if it was abolished they wouldn't stand a chance of getting elected.

That is, if only thinking people voted they'd never elect a Liberal government because the "average Australian fuckwit" wouldn't bother to vote.

It's an interesting theory which, no doubt, has some truth to it.

This is not to say that some thinking people might actually vote for a conservative government but with no compulsion involved their numbers would be too small to succeed.

Exhorting people to get out there and vote in a compulsory system will have no impact if they are not also exhorted to think about how they vote.

That's the tricky part. Getting people to really think about politics is exceedingly difficult. At the moment their thinking doesn't seem to go beyond listening to the hollow promises of the politicians and ticking the boxes of whichever party promises them the most, lower taxes, cheaper beer and cigarettes, free lamb flaps etc.

Compulsory voting only proves one thing: you can't compel people to be intelligent.

Harry Topham

When I was a young fella working in the bank I was asked whether I would like to attend a local branch meeting of the Young Libs.

Whilst at that time politics was the last thing on my mind, I went along thinking maybe there might be the chance to meets some nice young ladies.

After we listened to various speakers my friend introduced me to the group and I was asked to give a short talk on what I felt were the current issues affecting young folk.

After I had finished my short talk, my mate turned to me and said, "Harry, I think with your attitude you might be better off joining Labor." C'est la vie.

Paul Oates

So what's the answer? Well that usually requires identifying the problem. The problem is human nature. We haven't yet come up with a better way of governing ourselves because essentially, no one really wants the job unless they have some personal motivation: read wealth, power and prestige, a more attractive partner, etc.

So perhaps the issue is defining the best of the worst? As Churchill is reported to have claimed: 'Democracy is the worse form of government, except all the others.'

One of the biggest stumbling blocks as you point out Phil, is the general apathy of most of the population about politics and politicians. Politicians just live up to everyone's expectations.

The only way you can ever judge a politician's performance is after they resign.

But that gets back to the age old question: Who are we, and they responsible to?

I read recently that the Emperor Constantine, only allowed himself to be baptized and to take confession on his death bed. This allowed him to believe he could enter heaven without any sins to be held accountable for.

It's enough to make some people cynical, eh Phil?

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