Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Alert & alarmed: Trivia question: Where have we seen plebiscites used to circumvent parliamentary democracy?

The Coalition were strong on precedents in Parliament today. There are some interesting precedents on the use of plebiscites to circumvent the decisions of a duly elected parliament. One jumped out at me....

"On July 14, 1933, Hitler’s “Law against the Establishment of Parties” marked the factual end of the party system and parliamentary democracy. On that same day, he passed the “Law on Plebiscites,” which allowed the Nazi regime to use strategically organised plebiscites to create the appearance of democratic decision-making."

The words "to create the appearance of democratic decision-making" resonate here. In our Parliament, governed by a minority government, a type of systematic sabotage of the democratic process has taken hold, where the conventional processes of the House of Representatives are debased daily by an attempt to censure the government and/or suspend the standing orders to enable Abbott and his mob to rant & rave about 'lack of legitimacy' and 'dishonest government'. They basically want to engineer a vote of no-confidence in the Government.

Now we have the spectacle of an Opposition leader attempting to subvert the Parliamentary process through a 'non-binding' plebiscite on the introduction of a price on carbon. Make no mistake, this is a further iteration of a power grab, pure and simple. The ultimate objective is to make the Parliament unworkable, undermine the government and bring on an early poll, which Abbott sees will install him in the Lodge. We do not live in a one-party state and yes, our democratic institutions are intact and strong, but the predilections of the current Coalition leadership are a tad troubling, don't you think?

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