Browncoats Unite!

Browncoats unite: Support the Independents

Oh wait I all ready do support Windsor, Oakeshott and reluctantly Katter as well as the late Peter Andren.

What a perfect election result. I did not get the local member I voted for but I got the election result I voted for. I couldn’t be happier. I’d prefer a balance of power in both houses every time. We’ve had a BoP in the Senate for a while with Xenophon and Fielding but whereas Fielding was predictable, Xenophon was a bit of a let down. I would still like to see some more competent and intelligent broad based Independents in the Senate.

So often, the government with little or cursory debate rams through legislation, knowing it has the numbers. Government and Opposition backbenchers, and independents, are treated with disdain.

– Peter Andren

It will be interesting to see how the Victorian DLP Senator goes, I’m predicting predictable.

A cross-bench of independents (whose preselection and election is one and the same), holding the balance of power, seems to me the most satisfactory solution to what is currently a representative vacuum.

– Peter Andren

And that is exactly what we have. The outcome democratic process has always intended. The winner is Democracy and effective Representation at long last.

Support the Independents, Democracy always needs and requires a Balance of Power.

You can’t stop the signal!

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On the Move

G’day Folks,


Long time no update eh?


I’ve moved all the posts from here back to the main blog A Senex View, future posts on Independents will arrive there.

I’m closing this one down.

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Why I’ll be voting for the Nationals

Don’t choke, ok?

This first appeared in it’s original form at Kathryn Crosby’s Begin Rant blog. She is a PR specialist.

I really feel for the Nationals. They lost their way for a long time, allowing the Liberals to bully them too much, allowing the Liberals to portray them as being more conservative – when it is actually the other way around. Recent moves in the party towards open primaries to select candidates, and the stunning win of the party faithful to get the party to adopt a formal policy against the internet filter, need to be rewarded and encouraged.

I also want to encourage the Nationals to return to being a political force in their own right – tell the Liberals to get stuffed, and keep representing your constituents.

Nationals are often regarded as being more rebellious than their Liberal colleagues. But when you look at their so called rebellious moves what they are doing is actually representing their constituents.

Fiona Nash  in particular knows what it is like to be punished by the Liberal Party machine for doing what was right by their constituents… and I want all members of parliament to represent their constituents first – so I want to encourage the Nationals to stay in parliament as much as possible. Again, they need to tell the Liberals to get stuffed.

If Kath was advising the Nationals – which neither her or I  think will ever happen – She’d be telling them to walk away from the coalition. It does them no favours. Ok sure, a few of them got to be ministers for a while, but what good is that if you need to constantly violate your ideals and your supporters just to stay on the team?

Imagine how different the Senate would be if the Nationals were an independent block? If the Government of the day had the option of dealing with the Nationals or the Greens?  You can use that same argument on a State level with New South Wales with the Legislative Council.

I care deeply about rural and regional Australia (RARA). I’m passionate about rural development, and parity of service, and lots of other issues that lots of people never have on their radar unless they live in rural Australia. When you know what it is like to be sick, and the only way you can get the help you need is to get on a plane – or know that the only way your kids can get the education they need is to leave home – or to know the planning that is required just to go to town… then you have a very different view of the world.

I’ll give you an example. The Federal Government’s water buy back program has no real structure or planning – they’re just getting water out of the system. But if they buy up too much water from one area, they seriously threaten the survival of that entire town. They haven’t thought about that, they’re just buying water out of the system. Those who get it aren’t opposing getting water out of the system – they pretty much all know that we’ve over allocated it – but they want to make sure that in doing so you don’t kill off entire towns.  I think Tony Windsor calls this the Swiss Cheese effect.

Those who advocate for RARA are often misunderstood. That’s understandable – because they are talking from a completely different world view. There are people sitting around in inner city cafe’s accusing farmers of all kinds of environmental atrocities because they don’t understand that Farmers are our best land stewards… but they are often constrained by green tape from best managing the land in their care, and they speak from a different place and with different language, so inner city greenies don’t hear what they are saying.

Often the services that are being asked for by regional communities are things that people in cities take for absolute granted.  Every time I hear people in Sydney complaining about overfull trains running 3 minutes late, I want to tell them to be grateful they have a train service. When I hear people complaining about their inability to get a doctor to bulk-bill, I want to tell them to be grateful they have GPs that they can get in to see.  Every time I hear complaints about city roads and needing more lanes or more motorways, I want to take them for a drive along the dirt/poorly sealed roads that connect many rural communities in NSW.

That is not because I don’t hear their complaint – I just think it pales in comparison. I have a different world view.

The reality is that both city and rural Australians have issues that need addressing which are equally important. And both need people advocating on their behalf.  This is why we need the Nationals and why they need to tell the Liberals to get stuffed.  The alternative is the rise and rise of the Independents.  The current true representation of RARA. They’ve even finally gotten a voice in national government.  There are no Independents running for my State seat.  Even if there was that doesn’t guarantee them my vote.

Kath’s rant was a view that she took into the Federal Election.  It is a view I take into the NSW State Election.

I say this despite the fact I know the tail cannot wag the dog. I will give the Nationals my number 1 vote this State election, as I did on the last, and trust they will keep representing those who have a different view of the world. A regional and rural view of the world.  They will have the power with a likely O’Farrell lead government, I trust they will manage it in their constituents best interest – responsibly.

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NSW: How To Vote

As much I would like to see many more independents within our parliaments, I’m concerned our voting system in NSW doesn’t give true independents the opportunity to make their independence clear.

In the federal election Independent candidates are able to issue a ‘how to vote’ card that simply says, “Please give me your Number One vote, then make up your own mind on your preferences after that, making sure you fill in every square.

It is compulsory to fill in every square in a federal election, but in the NSW (and QLD) election you only have to place a Number One next to the candidate of your choice, although you can also number second, third and fourth etc. preferences if you wish.

There’s far more opportunity in the state election system for parties to support so-called ‘independent’ candidates, sometimes by running only token candidates of their own because the party ‘brand’ is on the nose whether it is Liberals in western Sydney or Labor in the bush.

There’s no perfect voting system, but I don’t think NSW is anywhere near it.  The best message for voters is “Voter Beware”, ignore the How to Vote directions and make up your own mind.

My personal preference is to exhaust the ballot by numbering all the boxes.

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Tony Windsor understands Economics

He recognises that the Federal Government, as in other areas, is the insurer of last resort.

The Independent Member for New England, Tony Windsor today voted against the imposition of a levy on the Australian taxpayer to raise $1.8B to fund the reconstruction of disaster affected regions of Australia but believes the need for a Natural Disaster Fund is now clearly established and the people of Queensland and Victoria need assistance.

Mr Windsor told the Parliament:

“There are a number of ways of doing this (funding the reconstruction). One way the government is suggesting is to impose a levy to pick up part of the bill. If there is another disaster tomorrow, do we strike another levy to pick up part of the bill? I think not. Other ways of doing it are either to run a deficit or to pick it up in the budgetary process. I would have opted for the last two rather than the levy. Therefore, I will not be supporting the legislation before the House today.”

Mr Windsor argued that “As an economy, we are the envy of most economies in the world, which leads me to this issue that we are debating today. I cannot see why one of the best economies in the world has to strike a levy to find funds to assist people in a natural disaster….. given the economy that we have got and given the way in which we have been able to come through the global financial crisis.”

He continued, “Over the last decade we have had these machinations around surplus and deficit. For an economy of our size and scale and because of its health, there is nothing wrong with being in deficit for a short period of time. We did it to overcome a crisis. We can argue about the administration of some of those moneys, but the fact is that the whole intent of the massive amount of money that was spent was to keep the economy pumped up when the private sector had left the building for a short time, and it achieved that end. The private sector is back and the economy is running again. We did that through deficit budgeting. No-one suggested that that was the wrong thing to do at that time—there was a crisis. There has now been another crisis—a crisis in one of our states. I do not see why the same logic does not apply again.”

Mr Windsor concluded: “The final thing I would like to say is that the people of Queensland do need assistance. The governments of Queensland and local governments, in my view, probably did not do their jobs correctly in the past in terms of preparing for a disaster. There have been arguments about the rate at which you could insure against particularly cyclone damage, because that part of the world is very prone to cyclones. But I think we have to make sure that when we work through this process, all of the state governments are involved or the national government can strike a national scheme where there will be some degree of cross-subsidisation in terms of the risk assessments of disasters in various states.

“It is important that at the end of this process we are not back here next year having this same debate about whether we strike a flood levy to fund a disaster. We have to actually define what an extreme, extraordinary event is, and then have a set of guidelines that kick into gear on day one that assist with whatever it is—the reconstruction process, the assistance to individuals or whatever it is under the guidelines that are struck. But to have this ad hocarrangement that we have had in the past is something that does need to be redressed.”

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Turnbull & Windsor on the NBN

In the last few days of November I was trawling either Hansard or Open Australia, I don’t particularly remember which. These days I think it is more likely the latter.

I came across this passage from Turnbull:

The member for Lyne said that this is an ugly way to go about achieving structural separation. He is absolutely right. It is also unprecedented, unjust and unnecessary, and it comes with an enormous cost to the taxpayer that will not deliver what we seek to achieve with telecoms reform, which is universal and affordable broadband.

Subsequently I tweeted to @TurnbullMalcolm says that structural separation is “unprecedented, unjust and unnecessary” and now we can dismiss all he says on the issue.

To which he promptly replied: “I have supported structural separation – so you are wrong on that point.”

I went on to say

“I was quoting Hansard. Apologies if I took you out of context. Though it didn’t seem to be. 16/11/10”

Turnbull replied:

RT @TurnbullMalcolm: @Senexx I agree w struc. sep’n – opposed the gun at the head way of achieving it. #auspol #NBN

I replied:

the only alternative was to do nothing. Something always better than nothing. See T. Windsor’s points on years of delay.

Malcolm’s final words were:

the weakest justification for bad policy is “alternative is do nothing” – alternative is good policy well considered.

My final reply was:

I disagree with you that it is bad policy. I commend you on attempting amendments for it. A lesson the rest could learn

Another Tweeter by the name of Dave Braue joined the conversation and asked Malcolm:

Do you really think Telstra would have ever done it voluntarily? Malcolm Turnbull seems to think it would have happened on its own

What happened between that pair from there I do not know.  In fact I’ve just looked it up and Turnbull said:

with the approp pricing regulation along utility lines, yes it wd have been in tls interest to do it.

Nevermind the advocacy of structural separation from several organisations prior to the T3 sell off of Telstra and well before that by Peter Andren and the rest of regional and rural Australia. It is quite clear that it would never have occurred on its own & that the coalition government was too wound up in it’s own ideology to enforce the pricing regulation that Malcolm refers to, if only they had been pragmatists.

If all this was done correctly in the first place, the NBN wouldn’t even be necessary.

Turnbull has been shown up for his own naivety.

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Oakeshott reviews Private Members Bill process

If you go back to the record, what I was trying to achieve on behalf of all of us was to have a set period of time—I think the time allocated was a Monday afternoon—for what I called ‘cats and dogs’ votes, for votes to actually take place back to back in private members’ time and that the executive did not control the agenda; the parliament controlled the voting agenda. Unfortunately, though, there was not support from the opposition at that time. The position that the opposition did take was to support the government and say that, no, the executive should have control of when the votes happen. In my view, the continued and prevailing view that hopefully we are culturally changing, and somewhat slowly, is the belief of the opposition six weeks ago that you would not be able to run a government if the parliament had control of when the votes happen. I lost that vote six weeks ago.

We have established a process now, which is that the Selection Committee recommends to the Leader of the House, whoever that may be, that a certain bill or motion is ready to be voted upon. Then, at their discretion but as soon as possible, the Leader of the House and the executive make time for that vote to happen in government business time, as we are seeing this morning. If anyone goes back to when the standing orders were changed, they will see we made sure that the Leader of the House in his speech did verbalise that, and so we at least do have that on the record. To the credit of the Leader of the House, he has not broken that agreement to date, but we are watching closely. We now have a process established where, through the Selection Committee, we refer to the Leader of the House and as soon as possible, depending on the legislative agenda, we then have a vote. That is historic—we are getting votes on private members’ business. That is to everyone’s credit.

As it is the last week of sitting now, I think it would be in breach of the process we have established that we start a process of individual members seeking leave to achieve their own agenda. That would not make for a working parliament during 2011-12 in what are tight numbers. We have established that process; we should commit to that. If there is any reflection about the original suggestion of six weeks ago that we have a set time on a Monday or a Thursday for the ‘cats and dogs’ votes, I would be more than willing to support a submission that suggests that. I only wish that six weeks ago the coalition was supporting that, in which case we would not be having this debate today.

Hansard 25-11-10

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Oakeshott on Nation Building Abroad

Much of which is difficult to argue with

It is a lie for government to try and guarantee safety through invading one nation. This is a global challenge of trying to capture the heart and mind of that one person with evil intent. It involves all people in all countries. I am optimistic that we are doing good work on this in many locations which deserves recognition within this debate.

I mention as an example my brother John, who works for the little known Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research. He lives in Davao City on Mindanao, a southern island of the Philippines, home to some of the world’s most violent and extreme religious and antigovernment fundamentalists. John works on building economy for local farmers to try to build a long-term sustainable option other than the money to the locals that is on offer for terrorist actions. John does not carry a gun in one of the most dangerous places in the world. John is not alone and has many other Australian aid and development workers in the field in the areas of agriculture, education and health working alongside him.

It is the John Oakeshotts and the many Australians like him who are the nation-builders and who are the answer for the long-term to global terrorism. Australia’s name is strong in the southern Philippines because of this, just as it is in Cambodia, where many in the legal profession have just completed the Duch trials following the atrocities in this poorest of poor nations and the most corrupt of corrupt nations. Civil engagement, without a military engagement, can be achieved. This is how we build safe havens for the long term.

This is not to deny the military role. They have done an excellent job, and I particularly mention the faceless men of the SAS, who have been on the front line in the most difficult of conflicts. To the best of my knowledge, Australian troops and all coalition troops have won all battles. To that I say, ‘Job well done.’

But the challenge is to move beyond the ‘clear and hold’ to the build. And the build, through the peace and reconstruction trust, will be and should be through all Australian departments and all of Australian civil society—just like in the southern Philippines and just like in Cambodia. I would therefore ask the Prime Minister to reconsider her 10-year military commitment and bring that forward to at least 2014. I would ask for her to consider the civil society building that is being done in other hot spots in the world and focus on them as a model for Afghanistan. And I would ask for her to admit we are talking to the Taliban now and we are working for a peaceful settlement now. We will be a stronger democracy if she does.

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