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An appeal to young Aussies

May 4, 2014

The Sniper*

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.

*The Sniper is Barry Tucker, a retired journalist. He operates the Truth in News Media Resource Centre and can be found on twitter, as Sir Loinsteak (@btckr).

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19 Comments
  1. ” Australians vote in free and fair elections to decide who will run things until the next election.”

    Hmmn. Well actually, our bodies are certainly free to vote on election day – but our minds are definitely not.

    They have been nobbled by the capitalist press practicing sins of omission, that is, they suppress what they don’t want we, the people, to know.

    Because we don’t see what we are not meant to see we don’t know what is is that we don’t know. Australians therefore vote in deep, maliciously programmed ignorance.

    This means that Australians’ elections are NOT fair.

    • Technically, our elections are free and fair — but the news media we rely on to inform the electorate is not.

      Perhaps that is why The Hoopla rejected this article. In the minds of the powers that be, people are allowed to know only so much, and no more.

  2. Barry says “Technically, our elections are free and fair — but the news media we rely on to inform the electorate is not” and technically, as he has astutely perceived, he’s quite right (if there are no electoral office or other tricks) and I’m grateful for his amendment.

    But whatever method is used to deceive the people and sabotage electoral outcomes, the fact remains that such devilment does indeed render our elections unfair overall. It doesn’t matter which poison kills you — you are still dead.

    At the age of 74 and through long-term observation, much assessing of news reports and by casual conversations with relatives and strangers, I have finally concluded that Australians in general are extremely superficial thinkers (if they bother to think at all) who, when they enter a voting booth, don’t really know what they are voting for. I can declare them politically ignorant — as I’m confident would be clearly revealed through individual testing.

    It’s that almost universal and deplorable ignorance of realities, combined with individual mental laziness, that has allowed the current devastating government to secure office on behalf of overseas corporate interests whose main purpose is the control and exploitation of this nation’s resources, assets, ideas and people.

    Those evil corporate interests will keep this government in office via their established means of control over the unwary, the uneducated and the unthinking — of whom there are very many.

    A traitorous government knows this and counts on it for its pay-off, and therefore this government, through its self-seeking complicity, has betrayed the nation.

  3. Reblogged this on dadirridreaming and commented:
    I doubt that young Aussies read my blog, but perhaps reblogging will help disseminate this thoughtful piece of writing about the state of our nation. It certainly affects us here in the local council, in the state and federally, where big business all have their way if they can buy influence 😦

  4. May this effort find success locally, reversing the global corporate takeover.

  5. This mirrors exactly what is occurring here in New Zealand.

  6. Reblogged this on Meeka's Mind and commented:
    I’ve thought for a long time that we didn’t live in a democracy. This article by Barry Tucker, a retired journalist, lays it out with as little bias as possible. Well worth the read.

  7. The same is true of the USA.

  8. Two likeminded blogging friends reblogged this piece, and although I’m not young, or the young it seems the article was directed at… I thought it was worth a read and a version of my comment posted on their blogs. The article covers a lot of ground and *much of it is worth being aware and thoughtful of… which is why I voted even though I didn’t have much faith on anything on offer… We are in trouble and I still can’t find one person who voted for this government.
    *Wiki – The Australian republic referendum held on 6 November 1999 was a two-question referendum to amend the Constitution of Australia. The first question asked whether Australia should become a republic with a President appointed by Parliament following a bi-partisan appointment model which had been approved by a half-elected, half-appointed Constitutional Convention held in Canberra in February 1998. The second question, generally deemed to be far less important politically, asked whether Australia should alter the Constitution to insert a preamble. For some years opinion polls had suggested that a majority of the electorate favoured a republic. Nonetheless, the republic referendum was comfortably defeated due to sustained opposition from monarchist groups and to division among republicans on the method proposed for selection of the president.

    • It’s interesting to note also that Tony Abbott wrote to “No” case against a Republic, presented by then Prime Minister John Howard. Abbott is an ultra Conservative, intent on taking Australia backwards.

  9. A Facebook friend, Mistaogeny DA, has replied to the re-posting of my article on Facebook. He has given me permission to Copy & Paste his reply.

    Mistaogeny DA wrote:

    How much more proof do Australians need that we cannot trust politicians with any vote on any legislation in The House. Take this power away from them and give it to The People.
    Abandon our “representative democracy” and go to “True Democracy”. It goes like this:

    We are “being governed” by Politicians, but democracy is characterised and defined as, “Government by The People”. The “governing class” should be “The People”, not the Politicians. Our “elected representatives” should be in the class called “servants of the people” (part of their oath, by the way).

    Over the years of successive governments, politicians have taken unto themselves the mantle of “leader”. They form policies that they have decided we want, and then proceed to sell these policies to us. They should be asking their constituents what WE want and then promote and reflect the majority wish in the House. That is their one and only mandate. However, it is now the case that voting on bills is along party lines, with a nod to lobbyist influence and personal benefit; the citizens are ignored.

    In a “Representative Democracy”, such as ours, citizens have only one democratic right, that they exercise between the hours of 8am and 6pm on a Saturday every three years or so. After that the politicians do what they want and we are impotent unless we challenge in the constitutional court (something the vast majority of citizens cannot afford).

    The Swiss have a system of Cantons that give the people a direct input into legislation. It works! There is also a movement in Italy called “Real Democracy”, that holds public forums, the findings of which are submitted to the government for consideration when enacting legislation. Good.

    We can go one better.

    Abandon our representative democracy and go to “true democracy”.

    Take the vote on bills away from the politicians and give it to The People.

    The politicians propose and debate the Bills of Parliament, the debates are reported and shown in all media. After a set period of time the people then, optionally, vote electronically. Twenty years ago the logistics for this were too difficult. Today it can be done. We have the technology!

    Optional voting is proposed only for voting on Bills. This would ensure that only those that are affected, interested enough, and have taken the effort to be truly informed will vote. We should retain compulsory voting for electoral representation.

    “True Democracy” could be trialled in Local Government, then selected State areas of responsibility and finally introduced into Federal Government. It would be an “evolution”, without the “revolution”. (My mind goes to the revolutions in the middle east, which are desperate calls for democracy. Our democracy has been diluted and prostituted slowly and surreptitiously over the years.)

    Imagine: the “lobbyist” industry would disappear — no point lobbying a politician who has no vote. There would be no use for party factions, as the “party line” vote would not exist — there go the numbers. No need for political donations or slush funds; no one could provide the kick back.

    • In “our kind” of democracy the input of ordinary people is missing. Lobbyist are the only people influencing the politician. “Direct democracy” governing through referenda is not always desirable unless there are strict rules of who, when and what can be asked.

      You may have noticed how the questions in Republican Referendum were spiked. The win for the “No” case was predetermined by a sneaky Mr Howard.

      Electronic voting, in my opinion, should never be introduced, as any computer program can be hacked and interfered with. The good old manual count is still the best way of vote-counting. Unless of course they lose bags full of votes.

  10. An excellent piece of lateral thinking Mistaogeny DA. It eliminates a lot of potential for corruption and makes the people the deciders of policies. Politicians may be the best people to wrangle, negotiate and compromise. They are not necessarily the best people to decide policy, especially when subject to pressure from professional lobbyists, some of whom are former MPs.

  11. Agreed. I wrote a similar article called ‘Which news pool do you feed in?’ I am a Kiwi and I think both Oz and NZ are going down the ‘corpocracy’ gurglar. http://goo.gl/7J8V4C

  12. Reblogged this on auntyuta and commented:
    This post makes you think about what state Australia is in right now.

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