Anti-conseravtive group GetUp have been running an advertising campaign with the aim of giving control of the senate to the Green, Democrat and Labor parties under the guise of "balance", but balance, as Samuel explains, is not ideal in parliament, as it only panders to minority groups.
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Welcome to Editorial Echoes for November 19, 2007, I’m Samuel Gordon-Stewart.
A group called GetUp have been running an advertising campaign to, according to them, return balance to the senate. The advertising campaign, called “Save Our Senate” features Lyn Allison from the Democrats, Bob Brown from the Greens and Kate Lundy from Labor, urging people to vote for either of the three parties in the senate, in an effort to restore balance.
The advertising campaign has been running quite heavily on television and radio, and fair enough, if people want to push their point of view in an election campaign, that’s their choice.
On the surface of it, The GetUp group have honourable intentions, to quote from their website “GetUp is an independent, grass-roots community advocacy organisation giving everyday Australians opportunities to get involved and hold politicians accountable on important issues.”
That makes them sound like an impartial group who just want to help people get involved in the democratic process more than once every few years, but when you dig a bit deeper, that picture changes dramatically.
To further quote from their website “GetUp does not back any particular party, but aims to build an accountable and progressive Parliament – a Parliament with economic fairness, social justice and environment at its core.”
To quote their explanation of why we need a group like GetUp, “It has not been a good decade for Australia’s progressives – those of us who share a commitment to the values of social justice, cultural diversity, ecological sustainability and economic fairness.
With its Senate majority, the Coalition Government now has more power than any government in a generation: the other political parties aren’t providing a strong opposition and the media is influenced by a handful of conservative voices.
GetUp.org.au is providing Australians with the tools to fight back”
I think you’ve heard enough to get my drift, GetUp are not in the least bit impartial, they are an anti-conservative movement. They claim to not back any particular party, but their recent commercials paint a very different picture, they are backing Labor, the Democrats and the Greens under the guise of “balance”.
But are GetUp really interested in balance? If the Greens had a majority in the senate, would GetUp be advocating that people vote for the Democrats, Labor and the Liberals? Let’s turn to GetUp’s campaigns for an answer?
GetUp want John Howard to announce a new plan (in other words, a plan they send to him) for Iraq, GetUp have called WorkChoices “un-Australian”, GetUp want John Howard to say “sorry” to the Aborigines, and amongst other things disagree with the Liberal party stance on climate change, the Tasmanian pulp mill and the Northern Territory intervention.
So, if the Greens had complete control of the senate, it’s safe to say that GetUp would not advocate that anyone vote for the Liberal party in an effort to restore balance, because quite simply, GetUp do not believe in balance, they believe in so-called “progressive policy”…in other words, anything which isn’t conservative.
But it’s not just this masquerade of impartiality that bothers me, it’s the fact that they are trying to paint balance as perfection, and the current majority coalition senate as a travesty.
GetUp have obviously forgotten that the reason the coalition have a majority, is because the majority of people voted for them. They also forget that balance, which by definition would be an equal number of people from each party, is not only undemocratic unless it is voted for, but is an awful deadlock.
If, to pick a number out of the air, you had five representatives from Labor, the Liberals, the Democrats, the Greens, Family First, the Citizen’s Electoral Council, etc, it would be almost impossible to pass any legislation because each party would have a gripe with something another party would be in support of.
I doubt we will see another majority senate for a while, but I can only worry about who may hold the balance of power, because in many ways, having a minority extremist group like the Greens holding the balance of power would be worse than a majority. A majority actually requires a majority of people to vote for the group in question, whereas a balance of power requires a minority, in many cases less than twenty or even fifteen per cent of people to vote for the group in question, and despite this small minority of votes, the group would be more-or-less in control of the senate.
I picked the Greens as an example of a minority extremist group a short time ago for a reason. The Greens have always been a far-left-wing group, and by definition are an extremist group. They also, like most extremist groups, only ever manage a relatively small number of votes. Whilst there is certainly nothing wrong with voting for them if you agree with them, the fact that they only ever receive a small percentage of votes, puts them in a perfect position to receive the balance of power.
“And why would that be bad?” I hear you ask…perhaps I’ll let Greens leader Bob Brown explain that with his answers to a couple questions Rove McManus asked him on Channel Ten last night. Mr. McManus asked him if any trees deserved to be pulped. Mr. Bown answered with a very succint “no”.
Mr. McManus posed a clearly jocular question, are vegans just a bit boring? Mr. Brown’s answer, in a very serious tone, “Vegans are helping save the planet.”
Sometimes I wonder if perhaps we should send the vegans to Africa so that they can witness nature in action. The more sensible amongst them would realise that consumption of meat is perfectly natural, whilst the more silly amongst them would try to educate the lions about the error of their ways, be eaten, and we’d never have to hear from them again.
But I digress, my point is that if, for example, as the polls indicate, Labor win the lower house, the idea of giving an entirely different group the balance of power in the senate is nuts. Surely if you vote for a party in the lower house it is because you believe their ideals and policies, and you would want them to be be able to get those policies through the senate as well.
As it happens, if it were up to me we wouldn’t have a senate. I think a single house of parliament is far more democratic…for example here in the ACT we have a legislative assembly which is currently under majority Labor rule. I disagree with the majority of their decisions, but I accept that the majority of ACT residents voted for them. I reserve the right to whinge about the decisions of the ACT government, but I don’t complain about the fact that there is a Labor majority, and I don’t wish that we had an upper house complicating things.
It is my view that federal parliament should be the same. Perhaps then people wouldn’t vote one way in the House of Representatives, and then vote for people they disagree with in the senate, simply to maintain a balance, when in reality you should vote the same way in both houses because you are putting a group in power who you generally agree with.
People got it right in the last election by voting for the same people in both houses. I can only hope that this ridiculous call for an effective deadlock via balance by GetUp doesn’t make people vote differently in each house this time.
By all means vote for whoever you like, but be sensible and vote for them in both houses.
This has been Editorial Echoes for November 19, 2007, if you have any thoughts or comments about any of this, email them to firstname.lastname@example.org
I would briefly like to thank Cloud Nine for sending me a bunch of quotes about the sham of man-made global warming, and remind you that the weekly poll on my blog this week is an election poll to see who you will be voting for in the house of representatives. If you’d like to cast your vote, samuelgordonstewart.com is the place to go.
I’m Samuel Gordon-Stewart, enjoy your day, and until tomorrow, tada.