All you need to know that is wrong with The Australian is in this picture:
Yes my friends, mark this day down as the date the “democracy” was viewed as a pejorative by The Australian.
It’s a terrible thing democracy, and Paul Kelly, that old man of gravitas, is right to suggest we should limit it. Hell the very last thing we would ever want is for an elected government be able to do what a majority of those who voted for it in an election want it to do…
The issue of course is gay marriage. Kelly and Dennis Shanahan are truly frightened by it, and have been writing hard in the last week or so on how if The Greens get their way, why you’ll be seeing Steve and Steve walking down the aisle destroying everything that is right and good about Australia!
Err except it won’t.
The issue involved a Bill in the federal parliament which will (look you best sit down, the shock may cause you to hurt yourself if you’re standing up) mean if the ACT or Northern Territory Government that have been elected democratically pass some legislation that the Federal Government doesn't like, they will have to pass a law through parliament to have it struck down.
Yep. I know what you’re thinking: “Here comes the groom, here comes the groom…”
At the moment any ACT or NT legislation can be struck down by the “Commonwealth Executive” – ie no need for a vote, if the Federal Govt doesn’t like it, it’s gone. What does the proposed Bill do? Well let’s let The Oz tell us:
The bill, put forward by Greens leader Bob Brown, would abolish the right of commonwealth ministers to have a veto over territory laws, but retain the right of veto through approval of both houses of parliament.
I know. The horror.
On Sunday Andrew Robb on Insiders, reflecting nicely Kelly’s and Shanahan’s stance, described the issue thusly:
ANDREW ROBB: Obviously, I mean I think it betrays a lack of conviction. You know that's why she has not established in six months any authority and that's why I think she's increasingly looking out of her depth because Bob Brown has dominated the agenda since the election.
And again we've got this whole spectre of, you know, gay marriage. And it's a 250th order issue. People cannot understand you know why the hell is it, Parliament dominated by these sorts of issues
Yep “a spectre”. Wow, I hope you’re all able to get some sleep with this evil thing threatening to haunt our homes and lives….
Today Kelly got out his quill and set forth on making some points, and in the process completely confused and contradicted himself.
If the ACT had the constitutional power to legislate for same-sex marriage then it would do so. Such a law would almost certainly be unconstitutional and Attorney-General Robert McClelland has been at pains to ensure that existing ACT laws do not infringe on the national government's marriage power under the Constitution.
So if they had constitutional power to do something it would be unconstitutional… The fact is the ACT already have the constitutional power to legislate anything they like except if it unconstitutional, so this Bill won’t change that at all.
The ACT lacks many privileges of the states guaranteed by the Constitution. The ACT has no claim to statehood. It never will be a state. Its constitutionally inferior status is enshrined for good reason.
Does Kelly give us any “good reasons”? That’d be no. He then follows up with this doozy:
It means that while Australian citizens living in the ACT should be accorded the same political rights as other citizens, this does not gainsay the more limited nature of the ACT as a self-governing entity whose originating purpose as a territory still remains.
So Kelly in one sentence tells us that people who live in the ACT lack “many privileges of the states guaranteed by the Constitution”, and then a few sentences later he says that those citizens “should be accorded the same political rights as other citizens”. Yeah, logic is not Kelly’s strong point today. To top it all off in the very same sentence he then says the ACT Government which represents those people who “should be accorded the same political rights as other citizens” should have a more limited nature than the Governments of other states!
Kelly then again points out that his whole article is pointless:
[Simon] Crean points out the ACT cannot legislate for euthanasia (because of the famous 1997 Andrews bill) and civil unions laws are already on the ACT books courtesy of the McClelland sanctioned 2009 law.
But no, you see there is badness afoot:
But this arrangement is not good for Australia.
Does Kelly say why? Of course not, except for this gormless final paragraph:
It is entirely appropriate and prudent the national government retain this executive power, given the ACT is the home of the national institutions. The one certainty is that its removal will be regretted at some stage down the track because in terms of improving our national governance this step is a negative, not a plus.
Except as Kelly would know (well you would hope) the national institutions are taken care of by the National Capital Authority. What is the NCA?
The National Capital Authority (NCA) is established under the Australian Capital Territory (Planning and Land Management) Act 1988 (the Act).
The Act establishes the NCA, prescribes its powers and functions and makes it subject to general ministerial direction. The Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government, the Hon. Simon Crean MP administers the Act.
The statutory functions of the NCA comprehensively establish the Australian Government's continuing interest in the strategic planning, promotion, development and enhancement of Canberra as the National Capital.
The functions of the NCA provide an enduring framework to secure the planning and development of Canberra as the capital; to accommodate the Seat of Government and associated national and cultural requirements; to provide national public places for all Australians to visit and enjoy; to enhance the unique character and symbolic meaning of the capital; and to develop appreciation of the capital as a reflection of our democracy and national life.
So don’t worry Paul, gay marriage won’t cause the destruction of the national institutions.
And who is going to “regret” the removal Kelly? I do love the passive voice – that case where the journalist is unable to actually name who will do something that they themselves believe.
If Kelly is against gay marriage, he should just state so and argue why that is a right position to hold, not hide behind some furphy that he is worried about the governance of the ACT – let alone the evils of democracy posing risk for “the nation”.
Today there was big news on the carbon price debate. Tony Windsor had yesterday gone on Lateline and said he couldn't commit to a carbon tax. The Oz ran big with it, so too the ABC.
How’s this for a shocking line:
He says people in his electorate are telling him that they want a productive debate, rather than one dominated by politics.
"They want it a little bit more advanced than the word 'lie' and the word 'tax," he said.
"I think they want to find out what could happen, what sort of contribution we should be making, what are the advantages in regional Australia for instance in terms of renewable energy?"
He says he would like the same, and says he needs plenty more information about the implicit price of carbon and how Australia's efforts sit globally before the Government can win his vote.
"There's a lot of ifs and coulds... I haven't ruled anything in or out, because there isn't anything," he said.
Oh dear, he’s not ruling anything in or out!! He wants more information!!!
Little wonder Andrew Bolt was able to write “Windsor Blinks”. What a massive turnaround from when Windsor fronted up with Gillard, Oakeshott, the Greens and Gillard to announce the carbon price framework.
Err, except actually it’s not. Here’s what Windsor said back then to the full contingent of the Canberra Press Gallery:
WINDSOR: Your question if I can remember it Lenore relates to the proposal. This is very much the start of a process in my view. I know that you were trying to get some information from Greg there a moment ago in terms of the transport issue. There’s a lot discussion to take place, on this issue, what we have established today is a framework to attempt to work within. Now that doesn’t mean that the game is over. In my view, and one of the reasons I wanted to be involved in this Committee, was we wanted Professor Garnaut to look at the international stage as to what was happening, either with or without the emissions trading schemes, what is happening globally, and also for the Productivity Commission to look at some of these competitive aspects and the impacts of various prices and different systems on our nation. And so I see this and please don’t construe through my presences here that I will be actually supporting any scheme. I’m more than happy to be involved in a process within this framework, but there is a whole range of unanswered questions that all of us have to deal with until we reach conclusion. I’m pleased about the way in which agriculture and land use management, landscape management and some of those issues are being addressed both in the committee and in the boarder community and I will be one of the interests that I will be looking at as well.
JOURNALIST: Just to clarify that, because people are saying that by next year we will have a starting point, are you saying that it’s possible by next year we might not have a starting point?
WINDSOR: I think that all options are on the table. This is a framework to work within. We’ve made progress. Obviously, there would have to be there would have to be an agreement in both houses of Parliament of a model that we all agree with. We haven’t seen that model yet and I’m sure there would be arguments and issues raised. Nothing’s settled in my view, I can only speak for myself. I think that the globe, and this is a personal view, should be looking at doing something in relation to climate change. Whether Australia doing something in the context of the globe will be sufficient to have any meaningful effect, my vote will not only be determined on what the committee does, but also in terms of the information and feedback from the globe as to what it’s doing.
In other words, since the announcement of the framework, during which time Windsor has been subject to abuse and death threats, and in which the ALP has been slapped in the polls, Windsor’s position is… err exactly the same.
Look I don’t expect journalists to be able to remember every little thing. There are a lot of things said by a lot of politicians. And sure, people forget that someone said something six years ago, and is now saying something totally opposite, but if journalists or their editors don’t realise that something said today is the same as what that person said less than two weeks ago during the biggest press conference held this year, then I ask you – what the hell is the point of reading anything they write?
This morning while reading The Oz, I got a bit of a shock when I perused the editorial. It was on the carbon price debate – no surprise there, it is the big issue of the times – at the end of the piece however I came across this rather fun line about a carbon tax:
Unlike the GST, which at least simplified the tax system and could be sold as real reform, the carbon tax is hard to grasp conceptually.
Excuse me? A carbon tax is not a “real reform”? Now look, normally I wouldn't like to quibble, but only two weeks ago this was written in another editorial of The Oz about the announcement of the “carbon tax”:
Broken promise or not, Ms Gillard is finally underway on a major reform.
I guess “major reform” is not “real reform”
Today’s editorial also had this:
the carbon tax is hard to grasp conceptually… Unlike Mr Howard, whose passion for the GST was overt, Ms Gillard does not look at ease with the detail.
Except, as I have pointed out last week in parliament a number of times the PM simply and clearly explained how a carbon price will work. But I guess journalists having to remember what was said in Parliament would be just as hard as remembering what was said in a press conference.
And as for actually reporting what the PM said, or even better, giving their readers a guide through the apparent “complexities” of the issue? No, they wouldn’t do that, because hell, why would you want to gain insight on policy from reading a newspaper?