Labor’s adopts yet another Howard position – they want to treat the Senate like a rubber stamp too!

The federal Labor Party’s emulation of every stance John Howard takes now extends to them also demanding the Senate rubber stamps major legislative changes with no time for proper inquiry or public input.

The Federal Opposition is warning the Senate to support Labor’s industrial relations policy should it win the election.

Deputy Opposition Leader Julia Gillard has told ABC TV’s Lateline if Labor wins the election, it wants the legislation passed before year’s end.

“We would say to Senators from all political parties they ought to respect that Labor has been elected with this mandate.”

Insisting that legislation be rushed through before its even been written is the sort of thing governments do after they’ve been in power far too long, but the ALP is doing it before they’ve even been elected!

Regardless of whether I’m re-elected at the coming election or not, my current term doesn’t expire until June 30, 2008, and there is no way I am supporting the bulldozing of any legislation of this significance and complexity through the Senate in the space of a few weeks. Nor I am going to automatically support legislation without considering amendments just because a newly elected government rolls up the old “mandate” furphy.

It never ceases to amaze me how a government can interpret winning an election as a “mandate” from the electorate for every word, every comma and every semi-colon they pack into subsequent legislation. Even if Labor wins and tries to claim a mandate for their industrial relations policy, – a dubious enough idea in itself, as many people will vote for Labor for plenty of other reasons, not least because they just really want to get rid of the other mob – this is still a far cry from being able to say that legislation in the industrial relations area should have to be pushed through the Senate without proper examination and inquiry, and with no right for the Senate to amend it as it then sees fit.

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22 Comments

  1. Every time a politician, no matter what party they are a member of, cries “Mandate!”, my nose starts twitching. It’s the grossest form of spin I’ve seen to date; to call it disingenuous is giving it far too much credit.

    *No* government has a mandate for any given piece of legislation unless and until they put that piece of legislation up for a vote by all registered voters. You can make the case when there is a double dissolution election, perhaps, but that’s the only exception to that rule that I can think of.

  2. Andrew Bartlett, you said

    ” ” …. legislation be rushed through before its even been written is the sort of thing governments do after they’ve been in pInsisting ower far too long, but the ALP is doing it before they’ve even been elected!” ”

    Good on you for standing up for us!

    The new synonym for “oppression” is “MANDATE”.

    By the way, giving the appearance of protecting workers on pay of less than $100 000 a year sounds terrific until you think of inflation …. and then $ 100 000 a year would be, sooner or later, way below the poverty line.

  3. Labor,certainly loves power,and after these long years of Howard who has followed the trend of those before him,we now see the new prospects,no longer appreciating The Senate in anyway..but ready to claim foul.Many people would be finding it very difficult to understand all the financing of APEC and still have to accept Labor is in power in the state of N.S.W. So what Labor is doing,is what it does in N.S.W.,and what it cannot do in Queensland…the Houses of Review are costly mal-functions of democracy they call frequently.No doubt sections of the media will parrot such in unison.I think Senator,if Labor doesnt learn a lesson soon, the populace will,and we will have even less representative government than now,and that may mean no house of review.Labor is sounding like they want all its critics and opponents pushed into the same camp as the Lib/Nats.They take a risk with that,which means,even if they succeed electorally,there is no way we can all jump the Labor jump.I am still a physical human being,and if a mean little man something like Rudd tried to tell me something..he will have to rely on his christian fantasy.Which I dont immediately share.

  4. i wonder why ozzies never twig to the usefulness of democracy?

    is there some national genetic predisposition that requires submission to pollies?

    it’s almost scary, seeing those bandits run the place with nothing more than habit keeping people from shrugging their shoulders and chucking pollies into the dustbin of history.

    and that’s among the ozzies who imagine they are political, most never dream of participation. there is such a thing as the kingdom of the blind, and this is it.

  5. You will of course recall my posts on this when various labor figures were crying copious tears about lack of consultation on Workchoices 1 from memeory. glad to see you’ve caught up.

    And Al the answer(s) is bascailly yes, basically becasue in this lucky country most of the poepl contineu to be mostly better off most of the time

  6. The ALP likes to criticise minor parties by dismissing them as never likely to form government. The claim – on the IR policy, for example – that these parties should also not influence government via the Senate is consistent with this fundamentally arrogant line.

    Conversely, Labor likes to paint itself as the only alternative government. They would have voters believe it’s ‘us or them’ (them, of course, being the Coalition).

    Fortunately, we can vote for an alternative government while opting for a Senate that qualifies government power and calls its decisions to account. To use the word ‘mandate’ to deny this possibility is nothing more than a fantasy of control.

  7. I think that there needs to be new legislation:

    That there be no dominant party representation within the senate.

    That each Bill process must be given a reasonable amount of time for all representatives and senators to thoughtfully consider.

    That voting be anonymous, so that the party line cannot be imposed.

  8. I think Tony Jones should have pressed Ms Gillard further on her “mandate” remark. And who cares whether Kevin Rudd’s advisers gave some shadow ministers a “pep talk”? It would have been more interesting if he had asked her about the current CFMEU campaign and film about the ABCC!

    Speaking of power, last evening’s “Socratic Forum” at Parliament House elicited some interesting points of view!

  9. Good article, Senator. When I heard Julia Gillards comment, I had a little cynical laugh to myself. I guess the instinct for power is alive and well in the Labor party. It seems that their only problem with the current Senate-as-rubber-stamp setup is that it’s not their rubber stamp.

    This will be John Howards legacy, I think. He’ll go down in history as THE case study showing why the government of the day should never have control of the Senate. The way his government has used it’s “mandate” is disturbing, and hopefully people will remember it whenever they vote.

    And on that note, you’ve definitely got my vote for what it’s worth. After the election, I hope we have a situation where the balance of power is held by some grouping of Democrats/independents/Greens/others, so that the whole rubber stamp thing doesn’t happen again!

  10. And what swifty can a Federal Environmental Minister pull,that somehow could make the House of Review ,the culprit enemy of decision making even when the flag of mandate could be changing hands!? Cannot find it in his name like the case,his case for damming, the Northern Rivers of N.S.W.,as in his name TuRNbull!?Is it in Malcolm then the pulp mill?Hmmmm.Needs a respelling comparison!?If only I could give away an award called the Wet sock!?Gunns as great enterprise is hollow to me,but, what will Turnbull do,that insures the ALP Greens somehow feel neutered even if he decides it cannot go ahead!?The case will be to make the Senate look abysmal.Rat cunning,therefore has a new actor…Turnbull!

  11. Muzzmonster [7]:
    Yea verily!

    Donna [8]:
    Agree!
    Anonymous vote sounds good but how would you stop the voting being rorted?

  12. Graham Bell

    I don’t have an answer for that.

    But on the issue of voting, and I am open to comments that I might be being ‘paranoid’, as I have been called before, what do you think the chances of the Federal election being rigged?

  13. Gee!I AM getting desperate for a blog site to rattle off a few opinions.Seen Ruddock s addition to correct political posture today,in the SMH! Ride tall in the saddle,and wear imported boots…Aussies are still cowboys at heart and havent changed really from the 1890 s.A fairer fact hasnt been produced since that time,I know, I look more like my father everyday,who began to look like his father.Trouble with dad he liked a wager on a horse,whilst those who represented him until the 1960s and pounds shillings and pence,diddled him out of a pay rise because of conversion to the dolled up dollar.The Liberals learnt a lesson then about delivering free speech ,which ,they enhance ever so often to their own sense of what is right.So the value of the token gesture has gone down in relationship to the individual,and the costs to the individual receiving the token have gone up.The government controls the rate of devalued token gestures,for the sake of government.Me!I dont wager on horses,but,shit ,I have been coughing and spluttering ,as in ill health… since burning off took place a number of weeks back followed by a cold snap.The horses of Guy Fawkes River National Park,must have better lungs than me..I would trade mine in right now.So are the elections rigged!? Yes!?If your lungs need replacing by horses.

  14. Donna – I think there is some merit in those legislative proposals, certainly intuitively. Apart form the unlikelihood of the political class actually ever agreeing, there is, in all types of organisations a process of people grouping together either formally or informally, so I guess even if parry representation was banned, it would happen in some form or other.

    The idea of legislation taking some specified time for consideration has merit – if for no other reason that a period of time for public comment and consultation should be mandated – while this does occur for some bills at present – the plethora of white green and whatever colour papers, it is also conveniently usurped when it suits. I would foresee problems in a black and white application as clearly there will arise occasions when even the monolith of parliament has to make rapid decisions – so a lot of thought would be needed to have a satisfactory process.

    Secret ballots – well its good enough for this to be imposed on the Unions, so why not, threes no doubt technology today could be configured for each member to have a red / green button, and for that signal to be tabulated, but also scrambled so the source couldn’t be identified. The opposing argument is however strong in that there sis a degree of accountability in people voting being open to scrutiny. So again pros and cons.

    Paranoid, maybe maybe not, perhaps more apprehensive. – I don’t think the election will be rigged, threes a lot of scrutiny both formally and informally – don’t let yourself get spooked three’s just as many people out there, not just the conservatives, that are happy to make people scared to achieve their aims of control eg the untested but portrayed as face value truths on another thread about the apparent actions of the AFP in NT. I prefer to be either a mushroom or see evidence before I jump at shadows.

  15. If there were ever a moment for me to renew my allegiance to the Democrats, this is it. Politicians from the major parties may be good people as individuals but collectively they are all bastards and they all need to be kept honest by an independent third force.

    Earlier in the week, it was the one year anniversary of Don Chipp’s death. It was a poignant reminder of what people like you, Andrew, are trying to do for this country in demanding honesty, accountability and good outcomes for all Australians from our government.

  16. Rudd won’t have a mandate unless he goes to the polls with a clear outline of what he wants to implement and the Australian people deliver a Senate majority and a massive majority in the House of Representatives.

    This latest behaviour by the ALP is absolutely spineless.

    Australian democracy is in poor health, perhaps we need to shake up the electoral system? I think citizen-initiated referenda are something we need to see.

  17. If Labour gets elected then they can claim to have a “mandate” in the election to govern, and have also a “mandate” to pursue the Industrial Relations reform it has indicated, however it does not have a “mandate” to dictate the Senate, a State House, as to rubberstamp whatever the Government of the Day may desire.
    When we had Boswell making his infamous phone call to John Howard “Prime minister you have got control of the Senate” (or something to that nature) he was wrong. A Prime Minister never can have control of the Senate as Senators are elected on behalf of the States, whereas Members of the House of Representatives are elected for the Commonwealth, that is the balance of power that exist in the Constitution but regretfully Senators are, so to say, seeling them self out, such as accepting to be a Minister of the Crown, something that was never intended by the Framers of the Constitution! We should never have a political party operating in both Houses of Parliament! And, Governments are to operate to what the Parliament permits, and not as now is happening the Government dictating the Parliament what legislation is to be put in place.
    Even if a political party were to have the majority in both Houses of Parliament, and the Government of the Day where to have been elected on certain matters it canvassed and hence federally can claim to have a “mandate” in the election to govern, and have also a “mandate” to pursue the Industrial Relations reform it has indicated, however it does not have a “mandate” to dictate the Senate, a State House, as to rubberstamp whatever the Government of the Day may desire. Senators must deal with matters on State interest, regardless of the “mandate” the Government may claim. But again Senators are too willing to be a Minister rather then appropriately representing the States.

  18. Thanks Ken

    I suppose there will never be a perfect system, but I suppose we believe that there should always be a commitment to improve on what is already in place.

    My own personal belief of the dominance of both the HofR and the Senate is that it will be the significant contributing reason for the downfall of the Liberals, and any other party that finds themselves in that privileged, but unsustainable position. It is just too overwhelming and disempowering for Australians. So I suppose it would be in the best interest of any ruling party to attempt to avoid that scenario, for their own governing durability.

    The voting along party lines has, for me personally, been a most bitter experience and a cause for me to develop quite strong resentment and lack of leadership confidence in my own (until I moved) electoral representative, a boy (well he’s really a man) from the same small community I grew up in. So this practice of dictatorial voting is also not sustainable for the political career of the individual Minister. They’ve got to leave Canberra after the sitting, go back to their individual electorate, and explain themselves to their own electorate members. That can’t be fun!

    I understand that there are some issues that need to be rushed, such as the gun laws after the Port Phillip massacre. But it’s still a massive bummer when you get a dominance by one party of both houses, on an issue that is of personal interest, and they’ve been told how to vote.

    The reason I am open to a possibility of ‘rigging’, and I know it’s far-fetched, is because this current government are just ingenious. They blow my mind with their own inventive and novel style of autocracy.

  19. Fair enough Donna – but remember the sun comes up tomorrow, the fish swim, and someone dies, turn to hope not despair

  20. Oh oh There’s that word mandate again. Julia Gillards remarks indicate that it has slipped her mind that we live in a democratic community and that there may be other views than her own. I think I’ll drop her an email on this!

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