I haven't posted in a while. It is winter down here so it must be something to do with hibernation. I have also been very busy, reading all your blogs, even if some of you have dropped off the perch ,London Lass being one of them . The article below was published in The Age a few days ago.
Our governments over here both state and federal are forever hiding deals behind Contracts they call 'In Confidence'
From public transport to health, education to new roads. Across the board we are being hoodwinked. Often at the behest of big business, accountants and economists.
Money is the root of all political evil
- Kenneth Davidson
- July 10, 2008
Two decisions on advertising have had a toxic impact on good governance.
POLITICIANS are bastards. But they are not necessarily born that way. I still believe that even the most cynical politician enters the game with at least a smidgen of idealism. But they are as much shaped by society as shaping it.
Reporter Royce Millar, who has been covering the details of
A good example is the sale for $80 million of 27 hectares of land, which housed 300 intellectually disabled residents in the Kew Cottages, for a medium-to-high-rise housing development. The money would be used to socially integrate the inmates into the suburbs and build additional new accommodation for those on the acute waiting list. Bollocks. The most cost-effective way of extending quality accommodation for the intellectually disabled would have been on site, a sensible proposition when there are 3000 intellectually disabled people on an urgent waiting list for this type of housing.
Furthermore, the site is unsuitable for housing redevelopment. Princes Street, which runs past it, is already gridlocked in the morning as cars attempt to get onto the Eastern Freeway and into the city via
This is classic planning
For arrogant stupidity this must rank with Transport Minister Lynne Kosky's 2007 statement: "Do I want to run a train system? I don't think so."
If Brumby were sincerely interested in a healthy democracy, he would begin by publishing information about the decision-making of his Government so voters could make up their own minds whether they are better off funding schools, hospitals, roads and other infrastructure as public-private partnerships rather than out of borrowings or consolidated revenue. If sincere, he would undertake proper environmental impact statements and public benefit cost analysis of major projects such as channel deepening or the Wonthaggi desal plant, and he would explain why the Government has refused to conduct an independent inquiry into the decision to persist with franchising public transport.
This is a bipolar Government. It makes decisions on water, brown-coal electricity generation and freeways while ignoring how these decisions relate to the global water, climate warming and "peak oil" crises. Money politics is the root of this bipolarity. It encourages secrecy, excluding the bigger picture. It undermines public ownership of decisions even when they are defensible, fuels cynicism about politicians and political processes and encourages public apathy, a characteristic of public life more readily identified in dictatorial regimes without the superficial trappings of democracy.
But let's be fair to our politicians. The huge sums paid by corporations to political parties detailed by Millar are not pocketed personally by the politicians. They are used by political parties to fight elections. Most of the money ends up as profits for the owners of the electronic media.
The cost of a 30-second TV spot covering
For most voters, who get their primary information about the world from the electronic media, their main impression of the campaign will come from these ads. Advertising is about persuasion, not information.
To their credit, a majority of the 1991 federal parliament passed legislation banning political advertising during elections on the electronic media. The legislation was challenged by the commercial broadcasters. A majority of the High Court found in favour of the broadcasters on the grounds that they found the legislation violated an implied constitutional freedom of political communication.
Who could possibly believe that election advertising was vital to free speech except the High Court and the media moguls concerned they might lose (then) about $30 million every three years from state and federal elections?
This High Court majority also found in 2005 that the government could spend $40 million on taxpayer-paid advertising of the most partisan nature (WorkChoices) without specific parliamentary authorisation or even the legislation being presented to parliament. These two decisions have had a toxic impact on good governance of
Kenneth Davidson is a senior columnist. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org