Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Australia, on the 'Free' list.

If you have a look at a site called 'Freedom House', and then have a look at the country entry for 'Australia', you will see that there are 3 divisions; 'Free', 'Partly Free', 'Not Free'.
Australia is listed as 'Free' (thanks guys). On this I mostly agree. We are freer than our northern neighbours in SE Asia (Why then would we want to consider ourselves 'part of Asia' Mr Keating?). I do however feel that we achieve a level of freedom somewhat less than the ideal. Don't get me wrong there, I have worn the uniform of this country, I believe the political instutions of this country work reasonably well, but it could be better.

That site, which looks to reasonably objective, says some good things about Oz;
"...Australia is a constitutional democracy with a federal parliamentary form of government. Citizens participate in free and fair multiparty elections to choose representatives to the parliament....", and;

"...Australia is regarded as one of the least corrupt societies in the world and was ranked 9 out of 146 countries surveyed in the 2004 Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index...."
But it also says things that could be problematic in later years;
'...The constitution does not provide for freedom of speech and of the press...".

'...The rights of assembly and association are not codified in law...".
What do the likes of me think we should do to fix things?

Firstly, note I support Australia being a Republic. We DO NOT need to be a Republic to enjoy our freedoms. However, the wrong model for a Republic could reduce our freedoms - and I believe the 1999 model was a wrong model - that model would have made the President (or GG) simply a creature of Parliament's choice, not as he/she could be - a final guardian of the people's interests

Secondly, We need a potent Bill of Rights. Not one that is filtered and vetoed by minority interest groups, but one which entrusts and empowers true citizens in a participatory democracy.

Thirdly, We should adopt the tools of Direct Democracy; Initiative, Referendum, and Recall, so that we can formulate, or strike down laws by a petitioning and majority vote process (Initiative), and call to account politians and officials on the public payroll to give account of their actions, and remove them from office by majority vote (Recall). Referendum we already have, but it could be fine-tuned.

We should also demand that we have a 'State of the Nation' report annually (or immediately prior to an election), where the head of government reports on the Nation's balance sheet, civil health (crime, economic indicators) and how they plan to address challenges identified especially in the medium to long term. They should also set out therir legislative plans for the next year.

None of these things are revolutionary ideas. They all currently work, and have for some time, in places like Switzerland and the US. They should be part of the debate on this nation's plans for it's future.

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