In my schooldays in the bush, the farmers around my little timber town often had the unpleasant task of putting down an animal that was in such bad shape that the most humane step was to end its existence.
Last week, I spent three days at Parliament in Canberra meeting MP’s and Senators – 33 of them in all – some for 15 minutes. others for half an hour. As usual, all were courteous and did their best to be helpful as I talked about plans to establish an Age Pension Tribunal, create Affordable Housing Communities, foster Intergenerational Partnerships and talk about finally achieving the vision that I have had for twenty years of building an Inland Railway.
My 33 meetings covered Liberals, Nationals, ALP, Greens and Independents as there are good people in all of them, but I could sense a background of unease everywhere.
There was a silent acknowledgement that the Parliament was not going well, actually heading towards a state of dysfunction.
The Coalition is divided into three camps – Turnbull, Abbott and those aligned to neither. The ALP is worried that the Polls constantly show that Bill Shorten is not popular personally and the other Parties are unsure as to whether there supporters might have become fickle.
The presence of death pervades the Parliament. It is ready to be put down.
For reasons that I cannot understand, the issue of Same Sex Marriage gripped the Parliament and tore it apart. It just needed a simple vote in both Houses, but it was turned into a national issue that will tear apart the fabric of society. Everyone knew they had handled it badly.
After all, we went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq without even a vote of the Parliament, but the fact that gays want the basic human right of marriage became a huge crisis requiring a vote of the people. It was incredible. The High Court has already ruled that they are entitled to that right and have asked the Parliament to legislate it. How silly can a Parliament get?
Then, the Government allowed a censure motion against them to pass because some of their MP’s did not turn up to vote. Incredible indiscipline.
But, the big issue was eligibility to sit in Parliament if you have ‘allegiance’ to another nation. I must say that I was unaware that if your parents were born outside Australia, you actually had to revoke your citizenship in those nations. I find that requirement to be quite stupid.
I have done a lot of reading about the Federation of Australian States in 1901 as I am writing a book called “Dinner with the Founding Fathers’.
The facts of the matter about Section 44 of the Constitution are that when the Founding Fathers were writing the Constitution, they were citizens of six different British Colonies. When they travelled overseas they were issued a British Passport. In addition, very few people did undertake international travel as it took months, plus a lot of money, to get anywhere by boat.
They took the decision that they wanted everyone to cease to be British and become Australian. This was achieved by the simple issue of issuing Australian Passports to those who applied. When they referred to foreign nations in the Constitution that did not include Britain or any of its Colonies. They were not considered to be foreigners. They were family.
If we uphold their intention today, no one from Britain, New Zealand, Canada etc is foreign and they can sit in our Parliament.
However, it has been turned into such a fiasco that it is best to shoot the entity that we call Parliament and call an election, giving all candidates time to renounce citizenships anywhere.
Indeed, the voters of Australia will welcome a new Parliament that will work.
And it will be a very different Parliament.
The Coalition and ALP and Greens will lose seats as the voters are angry and want to punish everyone in sight.
Hanson won’t do anywhere near as well as she or the media think she will. She operates on the politics of fear and bigotry, both of which have a small power base.
Independents will do well. If you want to have a shot at getting into Parliament, now is the hour.
Shorten will probably wind up with the most seats, but he will have a hell of a job putting a government together.
Nevertheless, this is an experience that Australians have to live through while we sort out the way in which we are governed.
My hope is that the Left of the Liberals and Right of Labor will join together and form a Party of the Centre, running a highly qualified batch of candidates in the following election so as to become the natural Party of Government.
Quite simply, its time for a revolution that will bring out the best quality of democracy that Australia can produce.
Let us accept the pain and the joy. It will lead to new life for a great nation.
Yours at Large
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