Democracy definition: A system of government in which power is vested in the people, who rule either directly or through freely elected representatives.
So this is why I care, why I bitch and moan, why I protest and email politicians and why I sign petitions. It is why I care most passionately when I hear that the government is trying to pass legislation to make public protests illegal. It is why I share content about sneaky laws that take away our democratic rights and most definitely ignore the will of the people.
The most core basic tenet of democracy is that the country is run by the people, through elected officials who represent the peoples wishes. This implies that those officials MUST listen and respond to the wishes of the people. It does not imply that they steam forward with their own questionable agendas in the face of outcry, questions, protests and civil disobedience. These are the few methods through which “the people” can be heard.
Once upon a time, if there was an unfavourable piece of legislation that lacked popularity. The Government had no choice but to put it out to a referendum. I haven’t seen a serious referendum in a long time. Day light savings? I don’t care. Late night shopping? Nope, still don’t really care, but I said “no” along with everyone else and our government stormed through legislation to get around it anyway. I’d like to see a referendum of substance, the response to which is upheld.
A referendum of substance right now would look like the people being asked if they are happy to have coal ports on the Great Barrier Reef. It might look like are we happy as a Nation to respond or not respond to human rights violations of people in our custodial care off shore- yes, I’m talking about asylum seekers. Not to be mistaken for these imaginary boat people we keep hearing about. A worthwhile referendum might also ask the people if they are happy to have all of their phone/movements and internet use monitored, stored and kept for an undisclosed length of time, at an undisclosed location, and extremely high cost to the tax payer (and therefore community services) for vague reasons to do with something about monitoring terrorism and paedophiles.
I could go on about that last piece of legislation, and I will only briefly. It appears to be a very thinly veiled population surveilance. I am not usually this pessimistic but come on- even I know that anyone trying to do something dodgy is better equipped than a straight forward net connection. They won’t be caught and this expensive endeavour isn’t about terrorism or paedophiles. It is about keeping big corporations happy because if you’re a torrent user who has upset HBO by downloading the next episode of Game of Thrones you just couldn’t wait for, our government will happily pass over your usage history and your ass for legal action. This is their way of getting around the problem of ISP’s not wanting to spy on you. The Government will. For a pissy little thing like TV. But the UN makes damning claims about human rights violations and the Government is all like “the Australian people are sick of being lectured to”. The Australian scientific community says that coal mining ports will destroy the Great Barrier reef and the response is “fuck off, we like coal” (I might be stealing from Jim Jeffries, but it works so well).
In extension of this environmental landscape there are Global movements and countries around the world calling for investment in renewable energies and decrease in extractive energy production because of it’s harmful impact on the entire global eco-system and our Government responds with “climate change is not a real thing”. Most damning of all they are disenfranchising the most disenfranchised members of our community again by withdrawing essential services from remote aboriginal peoples communities and calling it a “lifestyle choice”. The Australian Government has a shameful history in its care for the original peoples of this land and holds no honour for their important roles as custodians of the earth here. They are proving once more that corporate motives are still stronger than their connection to their intent to “close the gap” in health, education and quality of life for aboriginal Australians.
So here’s the thing. Our Government here in Australia is not working as a representative of its people. Not any of its people that I know of in any case. It is working to line the pockets of big corporations and to get brownie points with someone other than the people they serve. They have withdrawn funding from social services that support our homeless people, our elderly have taken a pension cut, they have no regard for the importance of key environmental systems for future generations and they aren’t listening to the people they represent. In my opinion, this is not a democracy. We pay lip service to it through elections, but either way you vote, you end up with the same scenario. Prove me wrong. I’d like to have my hope reinstated.
“Politics, it seems to me, for years, or all too long, has been concerned with right or left instead of right or wrong.” ~Richard Armour