Lies, damned lies and politics

The interviewer is Dana Bash. The interviewee is Harry Reid, former Senate Majority Leader in the United States. During the election in 2012, he helped lie Obama back into the White House by stating that Mitt Romney hadn’t paid taxes in ten years. And so, the other day this is what he said:

BASH: So no regrets about Mitt Romney, about the Koch Brothers. Some people have even called it McCarthyite.

REID: Well… [shrug] … they can call it whatever they want. Um … Romney didn’t win, did he?

This is how it works on the left in politics everywhere. There are the “intellectuals”, academics and journalists. And there are those who are on the receiving end of a pipeline of government money, some rich (crony capitalists and all) and most not so rich. Good governance is the farthest thing from their minds. With the media as slanted to the left as Pravda in the days of the Soviet Union, it is a generally winning combination. That the US is now a mess, and becoming less consequential every day, is no concern of theirs. Harry Reid speaks for them all. Admits he lied, but so what. Obama won and Romney didn’t.

And in Australia. You have the same combination of the left intellectual “elite”, who generally are anti-market, and the ALP/Green support base, who have little clue where the good things in life come from, other than knowing they aren’t getting their fair share. What’s cheaper electricity and a more reliable supply got to do with anything? If you can make ownership of poles and wires work for you, you can win government. Everybody at the top of the Labor Party knew Martin Ferguson was right. But had it not been for him and a few others, Labor might have won the election, just as Obama did in 2012.

In Australia, our media is not as slanted. You do get to hear both sides on most issues – although the ABC, being a public broadcaster and the most far left of the lot is a major distortion in our news and information flow. Under the Harry Reid Principle (or lack of principle), Martin Ferguson is being forced out of the Labor Party for telling an inconvenient truth. Truth in politics is what you can get away with.

Victoria’s union chiefs have unanimously called on Labor to expel Rudd-Gillard frontbencher Martin Ferguson from the party as anger rises over recent comments savaging the ALP and the trade union movement.

Mr Ferguson, a former ACTU president and federal resources minister, describes himself as “Labor to the bootstraps” despite now working as a lobbyist for the oil and gas industry and representing companies including Shell, Exxon Mobil, Woodside and BHP.

But a slew of recent political attacks by Mr Ferguson have sparked frustration and a strong push to turf out the former Labor heavyweight from the party.

Tensions spilled over this week, with Mr Ferguson publicly supporting the reinstatement of the hardline Australian Building and Construction Commission, claiming the militant construction union must be “brought to heel”.

He also accused NSW Labor leader Luke Foley of “rank opportunism” and “blatant scaremongering” in the run-up to Saturday’s state election. Mr Ferguson became the face of a NSW Liberal Party campaign ad, where he expresses disgust over his party’s anti-privatisation campaign. [Bolding added]

And where are we now? Labor might well have won had Ferguson not said what he said as publicly as he did. The entire east coast would have then had the same junk governments, and Tony Abbott would have had to go. An informed electorate is one thing; a perpetually deceitful and ignorant media class is quite another.

And I draw your attention to the implicit bias in the story which clearly implies that working for the resources sector and trying to control rogue unions is somehow against the Labor Party ethos. It may well be so, but it is not a winning combination for the long-term prosperity of this country.

Quentin has done us a favour by showing why an elected G-G is a terrible idea

OK. Professor Julia Gillard, in her retreat by the sea in Adelaide, feels she has something to contribute on our current controversy with Indonesia. She is not only welcome to do so, but as an almost perfect direction finder on policy – do the opposite of what she suggests – she actually does contribute to the debate. Have her out in front, I say. Make sure she remains the most visible member of the Labor Party. Never deprive her of an opportunity to speak whenever she feels the need. I will defend her right to free speech etc etc etc.

However, this is not also the case of Quentin Bryce whose views seem to be as inane as the views of the former Prime Minister but the thing about those personal views is that we are not supposed to know them. She is permitted freedom of opinion, but given the job as Governor-General, she is not free to express them. I again think that by speaking her mind in public, she has actually damaged the causes she favours but that is so far from the point that it is almost not worth mentioning. It’s really this incredible lack of judgment in neither respecting nor understanding her role in a Parliamentary system that is the concern.

Indeed, she almost perfectly underscores why an elected President would cause great harm to the governance of this country. The job of the Governor-General is to hold a series of reserve powers to be applied in those very rare cases of constitutional division and deadlock. In the meantime, it is to be as far from possible from political engagement. If she doesn’t understand that she should by now. And if an apology is owed anywhere by anyone in this country, it is she who owes a private apology to Tony Abbott, and a sincere one.

But if she were an elected President, then she would feel a greater licence to say what she wants in public since she would have the authority of the approximately 50% of the country who had voted for her as President. And rather than commenting here or there on some issue of some kind, the elected Governor-General would feel free to become involved with any and every issue of the day since they would feel they have a constituency of their own.

The Governor-General has done us a favour by giving us just a taste of a world in which our head of state might feel free to enter the political debate. It is why electing the Governor-General would be the worst of all possible constitutional arrangements we might possibly construct.