Thursday, January 05, 2006

Imagining a new force in Aussie politics

Ariel Sharon As if Israeli politics hasn't had enough shakeups in the past three months! Ariel Sharon is in a critical condition and not expected to survive with faculties intact. Ehud Olmert has replaced him as acting Prime Minister. And an Israeli election is scheduled for March...

It has been kind of exciting to see the recent shift in Israeli politics with the rise of Peretz first and then Sharon's move to his new Kadima party. Then today suddenly a very sobering situation for Kadima with this expected to be the political end for Sharon... What will it mean? What of Kadima now? No matter what bad things Sharon has done in his capacity as Prime Minister of Israel surely it's a positive thing that he's left a legacy of hope for Israeli politics by digging a new political force out of Likud and Labor.

When Sharon left Likud last year I was impressed. I couldn't help but fantastise about what a similar shakeup would mean for Australia. Would it be possible? What would it be like? Okay it's a vivid imagination I have, but just try to let your imagination run with mine here...

Split the Australian Liberal Party - image thanks to Some situation crops up which drastically threatens the Liberal party majority in the lower house and Howard realises his personal popularity is sufficient for him to risk moving away from the Liberal party and carry a bunch of votes with him. So he moves from the Liberal party to form the new Third Way Australia party and Malcolm Turnbull, Kevin Rudd, Alexander Downer, John Faulkner and others join him.

With mixed feelings Costello takes the Liberal reins and Beazley or some other poor sod stays leading the ALP. The people are filled with inspiration at the shakeup and polls reveal the new party would receive a healthy primary vote some ten to twenty percent short of the majority. Then, unexpectedly, something happens to Howard that pushes him permanently out of politics. But the damage has been done and we're left with a new political force bent on triangulation of Aussie politics — Downer takes over, having matured since his last leadership debacle — or Turnbull does. Cartoonists start depicting Downer without the fishnet stockings, in case the Americans get the wrong idea.

Turnbull gets his way and is the driver behind a successful referrendum for Australia to be a republic. Tempted by the idea of presidency, perhaps Mark Latham even stops sulking at this point and announces his return to Australian politics as a new Third Way man. And then Gareth Evans announces his exile is over and returns from the UK to play a new part too...

Of course new year is a time for dreams! If you had to imagine a drastic change for Aussie politics over the next 18 months, what would it be?

Cartoon image courtesy of
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Changes for the next 18 months ...

A republic, with a bill of rights, and a popularly elected GG who has the constitutional responsibility to veto legislation which contravenes those rights.


January 06, 2006 9:06 am  
Blogger Lisa said...

Interesting. Perhaps slightly more possible than my imaginings :)

What about a republic with real, active democracy as in Switzerland? Imagine being able to extend the Swiss model to not only include reactive/responsive democracy but active democracy. That way we wouldn't have to wait for political figures to think something is important before we see some are able to take action to make change.

January 06, 2006 12:33 pm  
Blogger Anthony said...

I wish I knew more about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than I do.

January 06, 2006 5:56 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lisa, Back in the period toward federation, Henry Higgins proposed a canton model for Australia. The difference between the Swiss and Australian systems is the dyamacism in the constitutional and electoral component. The Swiss are dynamic and active in the constitution, but we have a static mess which is proving difficult to mould by the people. Instead we get activist judges deciding it should be a living breathing document. That has only led us to the federal dominating the states to the point where the tax for them and dictate their policies.

We have a dynamic system at the electoral level. From the secret ballot in the 1800s, to the robson rotation, proportional representation and all manner of preferencing systems - that is definately Australia's democratic strength.

IIRC Victoria is already starting to accept citizen legislation. It has to come through a representative though. It will become the way of the future if we can remove the party/discipline stranglehold on the executive and executive cabinet.

The comment I made above is pretty conservative in changes. I would also have ratifiers/sortitionists between parliament and the GG. They are chosen by lottery (same as a jury), bill by bill. They cannot vote yes on the bill, they can only abstain or vote no. This would stop truly repugnant legislation going through.

Once that is established, I can see the legislature being replaced by sortitionists with maybe only the executive cabinet being professional, and popularly elected politicians.


January 09, 2006 12:44 am  

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