An appeal to young Aussies
Australia is in trouble. Young Australians will have to save it, if you decide it needs saving.
Australia was a democracy. It has slowly become a Corporatocracy: government by Big Business. You will have to change that, if you think it is a bad thing. I will not tell you what to think.
You could argue that Australia is still a democracy. Australians vote in free and fair elections to decide who will run things until the next election.
You could argue that Australia believes in the principle of a free Press (or news media generally). The British parliament, the model for ours, recognised the Press as the Fourth Estate, granting it the right to sit in the parliament and report on the affairs of government.
You could argue that nothing has changed and all is sweet in the land of Oz. You could look more closely, dig deeper, and decide whether or not this is true. I will not tell you what to think. I will only ask you to look more closely, dig deep and decide for yourself.
It is true that Australians are free to vote in elections for people to represent them at local council, State and federal government levels. Who are these people? If they are locals you may know them personally, or you may have heard about them. You might have read about them in an online “newspaper” article, a blog, a Facebook comment or a tweet. You depend on the people who write these articles and messages to tell you the truth. Can you rely on them?
If you do not know who these potential MPs are, or who they really represent, should you be voting for them? Running an election campaign is an expensive business, if you really go for it. Where does the money for the advertising, posters, banners, balloons, travelling to attend meetings, hiring halls and so on come from? What do the people, companies or organisations providing election fund donations expect in return?
While we have the right to vote, we do not have the right to choose the Prime Minister; that is done by the caucus of the governing MPs. We do not have the right to choose the Governor-General; that is the privilege of the Prime Minister. Is that democratic?
We have no say in the fact that the monarch of the United Kingdom is also the monarch of the British Empire and therefore the monarch of Australia. Does that seem right to you? Is it appropriate considering that Britain threw Australian and New Zealand (ANZAC) troops into a disastrous invasion of Turkey in World War I and then used them as cannon fodder in Europe? Britain abandoned Australian troops in Singapore in WW II and turned its back on Australia as a trading partner when it joined the European Economic Community in 1973. I won’t tell you what to think, but I will ask you to think about these things when you are asked to decide if Australia should become a Republic.
I know most young people do not read newspapers. Do you think newspapers should be obliged to do their best to tell the truth? Would that be a respectful way for the Fourth Estate to honour the privilege that was granted to it by the British parliament in 1771?
When considering Freedom of the Press, please consider this: the bulk of your information about the world of business and politics comes from the journalists who report on these things initially. It may then get copied or interpreted before being passed on via your favourite internet sites. That’s how most of us get our information. Hopefully, in a healthy democracy, the information is accurate, honestly presented, without bias or spin. Some people, including journalists and professors of journalism studies, say impartiality (or a complete lack of bias) is impossible because personal interests and beliefs will always interfere with a journalist’s judgment.
If you cannot rely on a journalist’s reporting of events, who can you rely on? You could rely on another expert, or maybe a football hero, a movie queen or a musician giving their interpretation of events. Some of them are good at it. You might rely on your own interpretation, in which case you will have to know more than all the other experts put together. Is that possible, realistic or even practical? I will not tell you what to think, but I will ask you to think about what Freedom of the Press really means, or should mean.
Newspapers publish opinion polls. Some of the newspaper companies own some of these opinion polls. The people who give their opinions get their facts from the newspapers. The newspapers then publish the results of the opinion polls. Do you think there might be a problem here? Does this situation make it even more important that our newspapers report fairly and honestly in the first place?
Recall that I wrote Australia has become a Corporatocracy. Big multinational corporations are now deciding what Australia’s policies should be, what your rights should be, what your future should be. The big political parties that say they represent you actually represent these corporations. Is that fair and right? What can you do about it? What will this mean for you and your family in future years?
Australia has experienced boom times, usually when it has exported its produce to the world. These booms were based on wheat, wool, beef, gold, coal, iron ore, bauxite (the raw material for aluminium), uranium yellow cake and to a lesser degree timber, fruit and vegetables and fish or other marine produce, including whale oil. Do you see the picture? Natural products (all subject to damage due to environmental pollution and/or climate change) and raw materials, all of which (with the possible exception of timber) will one day run out.
Mainly because of its high wage structure (which leads to high prices for everything), Australia finds it hard to profit from manufacturing things that can be produced more cheaply elsewhere. This is why we are losing our car manufacturing industry. The multinational corporations want to run Australia because they want to profit from the raw materials and natural resources while they last. In some cases, they want to import their own workers on 457 visas. This affects your future and the future of your family and friends.
I will not tell you what to think. But, as you can see, there is a lot for you to think about.
This article was first submitted to The Hoopla, whose editor deemed it not suitable for publication.