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The Forum > Article Comments > The keys to the constitution > Comments

The keys to the constitution : Comments

By David Flint, published 23/11/2006

If the states are to be restored or are to be emasculated, that decision should only be made by the people in a referendum.

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As far as the Constitution and states rights goes, how many people really care which bunch of politicians makes the decisions, as long as they are fair and equitable? Would we really be any worse off or better off with more centralisation? It could lead to fewer expensive snouts in the trough big gain, there.

The current requirement that the Constitution can be changed only by referendum of the people is the thing we have to guard, not the rights of a few daggy state politicians
Posted by Leigh, Thursday, 23 November 2006 8:50:02 AM
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I rarely agree with Dvid Flint, one of Australia's most persistent arch-conservatives.

(He is worried that the Howard Government's attempt to expand federal power over the States may work to the advantage of a future Labor government.)

But, as a matter of democratic principle, fundamental changes to commonwealth-state powers should be put to the people, not done on the sly.

If Australia's political structures were being set up now, with the advantages of modern communication, there is no way we would choose a cumbersome 3-tier system. There is a lot of logic behind scrapping the States altogether and evolving a 2-tier system, local government being given an expanded role. New Zealanders live comfortably without having States.

Easier said than done, it is very hard to break away from the status quo with all of its entanglements.

But such an eventual evolution should be put to the people through a protracted nationwide discussion and constitutional referendum process.

Dividing powers and responsbilities between the commonwealth (where it is most sensible and appropriate to do so) and regional goverment (where it is most sensible and appropriate to do so) obviously needs a re-hash. There are so many rough edges to our present system.
Posted by gecko, Thursday, 23 November 2006 9:18:29 AM
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it is the habit of australians, both educated, and those less so, to refer to their nation as a democracy. but it is not.

it is a monarchy in law, but one where the monarch long ago was supplanted by the propertied classes, a plutocracy in fact. the existence of the legal fiction of monarchy is maintained purely to ensure that there is a legal alternative to actual democracy.

the politicians guild has been running the state for long enough to become the de facto rulers, by acting as brokers to the corporate interests, the public servants, and the labor unions. the result is far from being a tyranny- but it is not democracy.

mr flint's complaints reflect this reality. he has much to say about what the powerful in our society 'ought to do', but nothing to say about what citizens should do. that's as it must be, for the people of australia are subjects, not citizens. they, and he, are not 'doers', but rather those 'done to'.

mr flint wants the decisive power of australian society to remain in the hands of the 'betters', and also wants the 'betters' to use that power for the common good. (he might sooner wish that hyenas were vegetarian) the 'betters' are inclined to use their power for their own good- to no one's surprise, except possibly mr flint.

it is not impossible to achieve actual democracy in australia, it merely needs a large group of educated self-reliant people to organize and demand it. alas, mr flint represents the standard of political thought that passes for 'intelligentsia' in oz, which may be why this group is commonly called 'chatterati'. while his thoughts pass for relevant discussion, democracy will not be on the agenda.
Posted by DEMOS, Thursday, 23 November 2006 11:20:26 AM
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As opposed to "You get the government you vote for" Dave seems to have woken up to the parallel "We get the government you vote for" and "You get the government we vote for".

Everything's been trundling along so nicely for Dave and his mates under John Winston, but it seems to be dawning on them how awesomely bad the consequences could be for them if JW isn't immortal after all. Apparently it's OK to stuff around with the constitution so long as your favourite people will always be in charge.

Shame this didn't occur to you earlier Dave.
Posted by chainsmoker, Thursday, 23 November 2006 1:00:13 PM
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I too need to align myself with the professor of the pompodour:

The decision by the High Court has left the population at the mercy of Politicians - more so than we are now -

The mutterings of some of Howards Mininsters yesterday about how they will give the Australian public what they think is in its best interests was frightening -

and flies in the face of Howards assertion that there would be no hubris shown by the Gubment just because they had control of both houses - that has been proved a porky -

they will use this power as they see fit - whether it fell into their laps or not - and at some stage it will be the turn of the left as we say.

At least this gives Rudd something to go the PM with next year - not that they have laid a glove on him yet.

A refendum on states rights might just ginger up the poll in 2007.
Posted by sneekeepete, Thursday, 23 November 2006 1:34:14 PM
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I nearly got sucked in but then Flinty let the cat out of the bag in this one by saying

"A future government could attempt to regulate prices and incomes, re-regulate the labour market and if socialism becomes fashionable again, effect the nationalisation of any sector of the economy"

Howards IR laws?

A fedeal Labor and States to match?

The death of conservative parties?

Flinty may appear to be bipartisan here but scratch the surface and there's much to reveal.
Posted by Rainier, Thursday, 23 November 2006 2:25:33 PM
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