Put Your Faith in Democracy? It’s Getting Harder

Having coffee as usual with a number of friends on Friday morning. Don’t want to over-claim, but we all meet the average IQ of Australians, I think. None of us understood the details and implications of the superannuation changes announced by Jim Chalmers. I had made the mistake of reading a piece in The Australian earlier in the week by Jonathan Pincus; an expert on the matter. I admit to not making head nor tail of it. There it is, maybe my IQ is not nearly as high as I think it is. Maybe most voters are brighter than me and understand it? Nah.

It’s lucky in a way for the government. The broken promise of the superannuation changes – whatever they are — fleetingly took attention away from the Voice. Now there’s a matter about which voters are struggling, of that we can be sure. The aforementioned newspaper is doing a grand job of presenting the pros and cons through the eyes of assorted of commentators. However, few in the great scheme of things will be assiduously taking this in.

How many who vote in the Voice referendum will consider, for example, whether the form of words render the constitutional amendment justiciable. Personally, I had not come across the concept until Janet Albrechtsen introduced me to it, and might not have understood what it meant. Though, on reflection, it is onomatopoeic. And, as it turns out, is of some critical importance.

Will a woke High Court, and we can probably bank on it becoming more rather than less woke in coming years, be able to manipulate the amendment to increase the power of the Voice and, to wit, the power of inner-city (self-identifying) Aboriginal activists who will control it. Not a promising development. Neither, I suspect, for the vast majority of disadvantaged Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, nor for the rest of the population stuck with the bill.

Yet, as important as it is, don’t expect justiciability to weigh heavily in the minds of voters. Anthony Albanese is busy running a disinformation campaign that the Voice is a generous offer to us non-indigenes, which would be most discourteous of us to refuse. Indeed, we are told, it might cause untold distress among the indigenes. And who wants to bear responsibility for that? No one.

This is a far cleverer campaign than Albanese is given credit for. It has produced a hue and cry for more detail on the propose amendment. Asking for more detail about the amendment forms one key to its potential success. Peter Dutton fell for it hook, line and sinker. He asked fifteen questions, no less. You may have caught Chris Kenny (and others) answering these questions in newsprint. Of course, you could drive a truck through Kenny’s answers; as you can the questions. That’s the fault line.

Take question one: “Who will be eligible to serve on the body?” Let me answer in the lingua franca of the Aboriginal industry. First Nations people chosen by First Nations people. Silly question!

Question 4: “How will members be elected, chosen or appointed?” I’ll answer again. Regional councils and State-based voices will develop democratic processes to fill positions. These processes might well vary according to circumstances. Get nicked!

Question 8: “Is it purely advisory, or will it have decision-making capabilities?” Really, what a Dorothy Dixer. It’s purely advisory, stupid!

I could go on. Anyone with half a brain, as I’ve proved, can answer all fifteen questions without raising a sweat. The government will take the Fifth, as the Americans say, to avoid muddying the water or saying something immediately contradicted by Marcia Langton. Its job is done. If you ask questions which are adequately answered in the public square or upon which the government will entertain discussion, you have already accepted the principle of a race-based third chamber, albeit supposedly advisory, in the Constitution. You don’t ask someone to marry you and then back out when she says ‘yes’ (assuming the traditional order of things). That’s called breach of promise. It used to be a criminal offence. It still is morally questionable, at best.

Voters without the least idea of what’s at stake will be faced with a determined ‘yes’ campaign versus a compromised ‘no’ campaign. Dutton asked the questions. They’ve been answered. Tally-Ho!

Both superannuation and the Voice have temporarily put climate change on the back burner. This most definitely suits the government. Chris Bowen, hell-bent on destroying Australia’s energy system, is faced with the imminent demise of Snowy 2.0. We know that because he recently said it would be completed and wouldn’t be canned. With costs escalating up and up, a CEO let go, a contractor bankrupt, borers stuck in soft ground, environmentalists up in arms, trout under threat, workers served with hors d’oeuvre avec maggot; its future is, to say the least, unpromising.

You might recall the recent collapse of a mad scheme to send solar electricity and battery power undersea to Singapore. I covered it in the-pipeline. A joke from the start. Yet when the news of its particular demise came through, Bowen’s response was that it was just a corporate restructuring. What a wally, proving again that politicians have a limited range of skills of which running the country is not one.

Imagine insisting that 82 percent of Australia’s electricity will be generated by renewables by 2030 while, at the same time, closing coal down coal power and laying out a completely infeasible path of installing more wind turbines and solar panels than is remotely possible. Can’t be true? Only in a rational world can’t it be true.

Will any real information on the disastrous climate agendas of state and federal governments seep into the minds of most voters. A silly question. The planet is dying. We must do our bit to save it. That’s the level of sophistication which swings elections. I’m losing faith in democracy. It can handle some straightforward simple questions. The times and issues have become too complex. Sophists flourish.

26 thoughts on “Put Your Faith in Democracy? It’s Getting Harder

  • GG says:

    Democracy has only ever been an ideal. There isn’t one example of a functioning democracy in the world today. As a former student of Comparative Political Analysis, I can’t find one example in history of a functioning, genuine democracy either. They’re all permutations of aristocratic oligarchies. At one extreme you have government by the inbred, braying courtiers of Louis XVI (but in the 21st century) as in the USA and UK. At the other extreme the overt totalitarianism of a Xi or a Kim. Waiting and aspiring for a democracy to take shape is like waiting for a date with Grace Kelly. It’s not going to happen, because she’s dead. The only viable solution is war upon the offenders.

  • Adelagado says:

    Love your writing Peter. Unfortunately you are preaching to the converted. My own nitwit children and younger inlaws are probably going to vote for the voice because its ‘the right thing to do’. They don’t read Quadrant or The Australian, or watch Sky. They don’t discuss it with their equally stupid friends. The No Vote campaign needs to have headline shaking power and simplicity or that will sail straight past them as well.

  • Ceres says:

    You’re 100% as usual Peter. We’re like broken records. So many appalling schemes on the march – the Voice with Libs MIA, climate rubbish daily, continuing covid fear mongering, courts rewarding crims, shocking debt, on and on the decimation of Australia continues.
    Perhaps food rationing and/or breadlines, energy costs for average household to increase by $5000 or more with heaps of blackouts – can’t charge your iphone, that might upset the twitter kiddies, , reparation paid to each aborigine $100,000 plus, and rent paid from home owners for use of “their” land?
    Will that wake up the 50% of brain dead Aussies? Probably not.

    • Lawrie Ayres says:

      I thought the going rate for reparations was $5 million. It also looks like anyone who claims Aboriginal heritage would get a cheque and who would challenge their claim? If Bruce Pascoe can be accepted then every Australian should put their hand up and say “yes please” because I belong to the (insert some far removed) tribe and was terribly disadvantaged when my share of the annual $31 billion failed to turn up. Since you don’t really have to be an Aborigine (see Pascoe) to get the gig we should all be considered suitable recipients.

  • Dallas Beaufort says:

    Coffee? How about getting off the’ intellectual Masturbation fence and apply the Kiss, ‘keep it simple stupid’ approach as a means to cut through to the general public, What’s in the Aboriginal Secret Mens Business, is the real Voice in there and why are Aboriginal women and Children still suffering under customary laws ‘invisible’, even in the Cities?

  • Ian MacDougall says:

    GG: “Democracy has only ever been an ideal. There isn’t one example of a functioning democracy in the world today. ”
    Try Switzerland, the Scandinavian countries, Iceland and ‘Australasia’ (Australia + NZ). The UK will not be one while it has the House of Lords sitting there ready to block legislation coming ‘up’ to it from the Commons ‘below.,’ but admittedly that power has lain dormant since 1911, and the Lords all know that its next use will be its last.

    • Sindri says:

      Dangerous talk Peter. What you say about the stupidity of the public debate is true, but what’s your alternative? No matter how badly democracy works, which system of government works better? Name a better system! Churchill said it all in one pithy aphorism, that democracy is the worst system of government ever devised, except for all the others. That being the case, there is no adult alternative to just knuckling down and trying to make it work better.

  • ianl says:

    The Seinfeld position: “It’s not a lie if you believe it”.

    Since superannuation became compulsory in 1993, every election campaign we have been assured that super rules would not be touched – and every incoming (or repeating) government has deliberately reneged. Every time, bar none. Including now. Rudd even tried that twice in a row, after both he and his nemesis Gillard attempted to smash super certainty into shards.

    Are we to think during the campaign that Elbow et al really believed they wouldn’t change super rules ? Then magically changed their minds ? C’mon Smithy … of course it was, and is, a lie. Quite a black one actually.

    Ongoing comment from the despicable MSM is almost all based on envy, predictably so. If one spends 45 years depositing into super (NOTE: *not* “contributing”, depositing) while not touching the funds, and has a modicum of ambition over that period, accumulating $3m+ is not at all unattainable. Yet only Judith Sloan has made the brutal point that since you don’t know how long you will live, nor how much money you may need to relieve slow, terminal, debilitating illnesses, $3m+ is not a luxury. Disappointingly, even Judith made that point last in her particular litany, when it must be *first*.

    But, as I suggested to my own accountant over 10 years ago while looking at super, accumulating even $1m+ will just provoke bitter envy, to be promoted by the MSM, and will give politicians and their bureaucracies the lever to claw it back.

    • DougD says:

      Occasionally a politician tells the truth: Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones recently described superannuation as a honey pot. That’s how Labor sees it. Remember Labor’s second Queensland budget in 2016 which took $5 billion out of QSuper’s defined benefit scheme “to pay down debt and fund infrastructure”.

  • Davidovich says:

    There can be no doubt that our democratic system needs improving although it will never be perfect. The Swiss have some useful processes we could adopt to improve accountability of politicians and give some real clout to voters, at least those who think seriously about issues. Recall elections and citizen-initiated referenda are two such processes.

    • Brian Boru says:

      “Recall elections and citizen-initiated referenda are two such processes.”
      Yes, both good for democracy. We also need honestly and openness as a fundamental requirement for politicians.
      A Prime Minister who secretly appoints himself to multiple ministries in a system of government where Ministers are supposed to be responsible to Parliament undermines our democracy. A Government and a Minister like Stuart Robert promoting a policy like Robodebt also undermines our democracy.
      Now we have that mob of non-statesmen as a failing policy free opposition too gutless to take positions of principle. For parliamentary democracy to work we must have opposition from statesmen and stateswomen.

      • Ian MacDougall says:

        Brian: I suggest banning the self-nomination of politicians. Appoint them as we do jurors, by elimination from a bunch of names drawn out of a hat.
        Alternatively, we could allow would-be jurors to self-nominate as pollies do. But if you or I were on trial and glanced up at the jury box only to see sitting there the likes of ‘Scummo’ Morrison, Lidia Thorpe, “Porky’ Barilaro, Michaelia Cash, [insert name of preferred ALP pollie here] I suggest it would not do much to raise our hopes for an aquittal.
        If you or I were in the habit of hanging around courthouses seeking to ‘serve’ on a jury, buttonholing judges and officials etc, we would each probably get ourselves arrested as a public nuisance. And rightly so, IMHO.

  • Phillip says:

    Peter this was a great essay until I stumbled at ‘onomatopoeic’!
    Sounds like I’m struggling….I need a soundboard.

    Can somebody also educate me on what is an Aborigine and what is a First Nations? Aren’t we all First Nation people because we are citizens of a country spanning a whole continent which operates under a solid Constitution that embraces a national government with electoral representatives as commenced in 1901. I was always taught that Australia is the First Nation established on this continent. Nobody can find or deliver any documentation to prove a previous National Government, with Constitution, existed on the continent before 1901, hence I truly believe that fellow Australian citizens and I, are currently living as members of the First Nation on this continent……am I missing something?
    So as a citizen of the First Nation on this continent, am I, Aborigine?
    If I am Aborigine, as a citizen of this First Nation, why should I be treated any differently to any other Australian citizens?

    • Brian Boru says:

      Sizzling sausages Phillip, I too could not see how “onomatopoeic” could fit.
      As to your “first nations” comment, that expression is just another tactic in the war of words waged against our egalitarian country.

      • Peter Smith says:

        Give us a bit of poetic licence Phillip and Brian. The word ‘justiciable’ might not strictly be onomatopoeic, like, say buzz, but it does sound as it is.


    Snowy 2.0. A perpetual pushing water uphill exercise where water is pumped uphill against gravitational forces using ostensibly cheap and ‘green’ electrons then stored in a reservoir as a potential energy source. This energy enhanced water is then released downhill and using the resulting kinetic energy, drive turbines and electrical generators to produce electrons, hopefully, for a net gain. The kikker in all this is that whilst the energy physics is indisputable, the reality of political bungling leading to cost overruns will make Snowy 2.0. an overwhelming dud underwritten by taxpayers.

    • Adelagado says:

      Not just ‘cheap green electrons’ but they also need to be EXCESS electrons. Yeah right, as if there will be any of those left when all the power stations close and and hundreds of thousands of electric cars are hungry for a daytime or overnight charge.

  • lbloveday says:

    “It used to be a criminal offence”.
    Never heard that about breaking off an engagement before, not in Australia or any other jurisdiction. There used to be rape charges in some places on the basis that the woman only gave up her virginity because of the promise of marriage, and occasionally fraud if the woman accepted gifts given on the basis of her faux agreement to marry, but other than that I though it was involved tort, civil liability of damages.

  • Stan Yeaman says:

    Let’s look at some actual observed facts, instead of climate computer models based on rather subjective assumptions.

    1) greenhouse gases are greenhouse gases because their molecular bonds vibrate at frequencies in the infrared, ie the invisible hot end of the solar spectrum. That is why the trap heat.
    2) the greenhouse gases are hydrogen monoxide (fancy words for water vapour); carbon dioxide, which 8billion people are breathing out every second of every day; nitrous oxide, from lightning strikes and nitrogenous fertiliser, and methane.
    Water vapour is the most abundant by far, at 10 to 100 times carbon dioxide, depending on the weather that day. So, why does the AGW brigade not call for banning water vapour? If CO2 plays any part in trapping solar heat, it is negligible compared with H2O..
    CH4’s atmospheric life is very short-lived, and N2O, ‘laughing gas’, is so minute that it can be ignored.
    3) radioactive carbon shows that CO2’s atmospheric life is limited to about 8.6 years, not 400 years as stated by IPCC. It is taken up by botanical material to make carbohydrates (food!) or dissolved in the ocean to be partly taken up to by coral, lobsters, crabs, oysters, (food!)etc, or limestone.
    4) computer model global warming forecasts of twenty years ago have not been borne out by observed temperatures today. A lot of hot air?
    5) contrary to the very scary story put out by certain tv program presenters, CO2 does not, and can not, ‘acidify’ the oceans. Doubling CO2 in seawater will drop the pH by a minuscule 0.12 pH units..
    6) Oh dear, there’s a problem! If global warming releases CO2 from the oceans, how can it possibly ‘acidify’ the oceans as stated by Sir David Attenborough?
    7). The AGW brigade loves to spout glacial retreat as evidence of AGW. Oh dear, there is documentary proof of glacial retreat around 1700 in Patagonia. What about Vancouver’s charting of the glaciers in Glacier Bay, Alaska, in 1797? In retreat ever since then. I have studied the Engabren Glacier in Arctic Norway,- totally stable 1900 to 1933, rapid retreat 1933 to 1940 (warm European summers?), then pretty stable from then until today. Why, if there is AGW? My opinion is rainfall is the main cause of glacial retreat,- not very dramatic..

    Too many contradictions, fudged historical data and observed contrary facts for AGW to have much credibility.

    • lbloveday says:

      “…..hydrogen monoxide (fancy words for water vapour)”
      I’ve long used dihydrogen monoxide; is “hydrogen monoxide” the correct/preferred term?

      • Rebekah Meredith says:

        March 7, 2023
        With the modern habits of ignoring absolutes and criticizing standards in every area from sex to mathematics, “hydrogen monoxide” may now be accepted; but it shouldn’t be. Such a term fails to identify the number of hydrogen atoms in a water molecule (in whatever state of matter it is, not just in its gaseous form as vapour).

        P.S. I wish that Quadrant would stop using an American spell check; “vapour” is the correct Australian spelling.

        • lbloveday says:

          Good luck with that! An American-based spell check seems ubiquitous. I just checked on the following sites:
          The Australian and other News Ltd sites
          Spectator Australia
          Spectator UK
          Spiked (UK)
          Richardson Post
          Michael Smith News
          In all cases Vapor was accepted and Vapour underlined.

          • Rebekah Meredith says:

            Yet on my personal computer, I can change the spell-checker to UK English–and it actually changes! Surely it would be possible for traditional British/Australian publications to do something similar?
            And I AM an American; but I’ve lived here most of my life. In the States, I wouldn’t like to see British spell-check being used; here, I hate to see an American one being common. It frustrates me that my family talks about eating biscuits, while Aussies seem more likely to eat “cookies.” American terms (some, anyway!) are fine on the other side of the ditch, but we’re not in America anymore.

            • lbloveday says:

              My MS Word spell check accepts Vapour, underlines Vapor; my Outlook spell check accepts both.
              Yes, it would be possible, easy even, for software developers to offer sites various versions of spellchecking (that passed) software, or for a large company like News Ltd to insist on it.

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