Today, 1-July-2007, I visited Old Parliament House in Canberra for the first time in about 3 years. I refreshed my memory about its importance, history and traditions, while I read the "self-guided tour" pamphlet.
It describes King's Hall as "the heart of the House, symbolising the openness of our parliamentary democracy..." I nearly choked!
Prime Minister/Premier, over successive governments, both Labor and Liberal, the openness of our democracy has declined, almost to the point of being meaningless.
Consider, please, the following:
1) the FOI laws: their intent was to make government and bureaucratic decisions more available for scrutiny in the public interest. ie the "openness of our democracy". They have, instead, become a means for governments to obfuscate and hide behind public servants whose only mission is to "do as they are told" (a response from your government to recent 'whistle blower' legal pursuits, including journalists.
2) the degradation, almost to non-existence, of Ministerial accountability and
responsibility to Parliament; and to the Australian people.
3) the abuse of Question Time, mostly to have compliant Party members ask trivial questions, the purpose of which is to give Ministers a springboard to gloating &/or abuse of Opposition members. Often, valid questions form non-government members are answered with "I don't recall" / "I haven't been told.." / "I'll get back to the member". Some of these are questions on notice, and it behoves Ministers to answer them, in Parliament, on record.
Prime Minister/Premier, these are serious problems. King's Hall no longer symbolises our democracy. What we have is an insidious, evil cancer. I ask you to take action to address each of the above problems, so that our democracy can be restored to the highest world standards: standards it once held.
Yours, as a voter
The Sydney Morning Herald of 3-July-2007 carries a story about the Federal Government denying a Freedon Of Information (FOI) request for public opinion surveys performed for the Federal Government, paid for by us taxpayers, but which we are not allowed to see (at least till after the upcoming election!)
( http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/government-refuses-to-let-public-see-survey-results-on-ads/2007/07/02/1183351125216.html )
The Dept of Workplace Relations (WorkChoices) said
- the information was not inthe public interest! (Rubbish! Ted Cole, Principal Adviser means it's not in the interests of the Government)
- Mr Cole also indicated that "they" (the voting public) would not cope with the "outdated" results. Poppycock! We voters can make up our own minds, thank you)
- Matthew Moore, FOI Editor for teh SMH said "A final reason offered suggests the Government believes it can withhold survey results indefinitely as long as it plans to update the results in the future." But that doesn't mean we voters aren't entitled to know, under the intention and letter of the FOI legislation.