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Today I want to write about stopping the boats—not the annual event that results in spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayers' dollars to rescue supposedly well-trained crewmembers of high-tech, ocean-going yachts that make the voyage on the treacherous waters of the Tasman Sea and Bass Strait from Sydney to Hobart—the illegal trade in smuggling people seeking refuge from their homelands to find a better place elsewhere; the euphemistically-termed "irregular maritime arrivals".
While every person who participates in the Sydney-to-Hobart Yacht Race is well aware of the risks involved, and our rescue operations are geared to assist people and vessels that get into difficulties on the high seas, the issues for asylum seekers are very different. In the case of asylum seekers, we Australians are not so "accommodating". For the most part, our politicians seem more concerned about political points-scoring rather than having a more genuinely sympathetic understanding of the need to address the real concerns of those fleeing persecution, seeking asylum in Australia—a land of opportunity for those willing to contribute to it.
It is unfortunate that, in this discussion, the victims are the asylum-seekers (or the taxpayers who have spent—perhaps wasted would be a better word—billions of dollars) whose welfare is hardly the primary concern of our Government. I'm not suggesting, of course, that the Government is unconcerned about the welfare of taxpayers. I'm also not suggesting that there isn't a willingness by Government to look at ways we can accommodate the tens of thousands of people who want to migrate to Australia, either. The real question is more about whether we, as a country, understand what's at stake.
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Our system of government is based on the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act and the Statute of Westminster Adoption Act 1942 that define the roles and functions of the executive (the "Government"), the legislature (the Parliament) and the judicature (the law courts). These three branches of government - the executive, legislature and judicature - maintain a balance to protect us, the people, from an excessive abuse of power by any one branch. This is known as the separation of powers - the cornerstone of our democracy.
This article raises questions about the success of the current Australian system of democracy given the gradual erosion of Government openness and accountability, the abuse of the Parliament's power over the courts so as to interfere with State and Territory legislation, the reduction of our civil rights and the powerlessness of the courts to intervene meaningfully. I am not suggesting that our system of government is broken but I am deeply concerned that things are not working the way that they should. It seems to me that our politicians have been acting more in their own self-interest as opposed to acting in a way that it truly in the national interest.
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This website was originally created in 2008—it was one of the first websites I built using Joomla CMS— in part to provide a home for an online community that I had been involved with since the late 1990s but, more importantly, to realise a personal ambition of a place on the internet where I could discuss serious issues with others who were concerned as I am about Australian current affairs. In the time since this site came into being there have been many changes, not only in our lives but in terms of what purposes, objectives and outcomes I sought to achieve.
Everything old is new againPeter Allen
The last time I made-over this site was two years ago and I used this opportunity to reduce some of the clutter—material that was irrelevant or "unhelpful" in achieving my goals—but I did not diligently persevere with the activity owing to time I was spending on my other projects. The time has come for a major overhaul, a complete re-think and to implement a new strategy; that's what I'm writing about today.
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The independent inquiry into the Australian media is looking at a range of issues affecting how the media operates in this country. Australian Labor politicians' complaints about the Murdoch-owned media are, of course, a constant source of news. They are, perhaps too, an expression of fears regarding the disproportionate influence of News Limited (owned by Rupert Murdoch) in how news and information are presented to the Australian public via its newspapers and other media holdings.
Whatever your view, we should question the sincerity of the media in presenting information to the public and whether opinions expressed by journalists are an abuse of the power of the press and actually constitute an attack on Australian democracy.
This is a huge subject, and I will only touch on a few aspects of it, but I hope to show that there are clear indications of undue influence by the Australian media on the way we think and how we exercise our democratic rights. I've addressed this topic in the outline below:
- A comparison between the media in Australia and overseas
- Is Australia truly a democracy? What are the threats to Australia remaining a free, enlightened democracy?
- The War on Democracy
- Freedom of the press vs "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness"
- Is socialism bad? Is conservatism good? What's all the kerfuffle about anyway?
On the whole I think Australia's media is of a better quality than what we've seen first-hand elsewhere but I'm concerned that, unless we keep an eye on our media, Australia could find itself in as bad a situation as what we're seeing elsewhere around the world.
Sozz asks whether the Australian community is served well by its media. An excellent topic for discussion.
My response, in a word, is NO.
More from me on this later.
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