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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Let's hear it for good governance

Parliament House, Perth, Western Australia
Miss Eagle has from time to time posted on the topic of governance. Miss Eagle believes that good governance is conspicuous by its absence at state and federal levels of government in Australia.
Miss Eagle was interested in David Cohen's The Strife of Brian in to-day's The Age which outlines the wreckage in the trail of Brian Burke and Julian Grill. In fact, the Burke and Grill's political and lobbying expedition has been disastrous for good government, particularly ALP government, in The West and has done extensive damage to many political careers and personal lives.
Midas and his Golden Touch are well known. This is a story of legend and myth. The Corrupt Touch, however, is commonplace around the globe. It is accompanied by a unique stench and lays waste to governments, corporations, shareholders and various innocent parties. The following quote is striking in Miss Eagle's view.
None of the CCC revelations have surprised Larry Graham. Graham was a Labor MP from 1989 until he was dumped in a preselection stoush in 1999: he then served as an independent until he retired in 2005.
"This will be a contrarian view, but the problem is not with Burke and Grill: people always get lobbied," he says. "The problem is with the talent pool in WA: it's drained, it's gone."
The combined membership of the Labor and Liberal parties in WA is about half that of the West Coast Eagles, Graham says.
"Between them they don't even have a decent suburban football club." He believes WA MPs are unable to delineate between public affairs and private interests.
"These people took an oath to serve without fear or favour - do they?
"There is no one of substance in the WA Parliament... Here, the influence- peddling and the warping of the system has happened because WA's political system has been so potently inbred for so long," Graham says. "It's impossible to get ahead unless you kowtow to the numbercrunchers."

WA throws up some tough and unusual characters on both sides of the political fence. Let's run through some:

This list is not definitive and nor would a complete list be a men only affair.
Larry Graham's points are well made and deserve a hearing. However, if anyone thinks that these flaws are restricted to Western Australia then they should think again. The drive in the political parties for power over values and hard work at community level has led to a race to the bottom at the local level.

Once, in the long, long, ago, the ALP required a minimum three year membership to be eligible for election to major party forums and to be eligible for pre-selection to state and federal parliaments and municipal elections where an official Labor ticket was run. Not any more.

Spend your life making money or a name for yourself. Don't even bother to be an office bearer on the local P&C, as long as you are a top dog local people will be trampled over to give you a seat. And what sort of seat do the top dogs get? Why they receive the golden parachute into safe, iron clad ones of course. Not marginal seats where a well-known name might just give the ALP an edge to get a candidate over the line and take a seat from one of the conservative parties. Miss Eagle congratulates Maxine McKew on her decision to run against the Prime Minister in the seat of Bennelong. This is a good use of her high profile name and her skills.

So there is little future in local people joining a local branch to enhance and/or enrich the candidacy/career of another. Time was when people joined a local branch of a political party as an expression of their personal and community values and they were prepared to assist a candidate who share those values and would promote them in parliament.

To-day, values have gone by the board. Kim Beazley has never given any indication that movement away from Labor values in relation to "boat-people" was a factor contributing to his inability to secure federal government for the ALP. There seemes to be some awareness of the disaster that has been the ALP on immigration by Tony Burke, Labor's Shadow Minister for Immigration, Integration & Citizenship. The latest round of people being herded on to Christmas Island will give Labor and Burke plenty of opportunity to strut their stuff and show how diligent they are in attacking John Howard and the Liberal Party on their draconian immigration policies.

Graham hits the nail on the head when he speaks of there being no delineation between public affairs and private interests.

Look around Australia. The old adage says that a people gets the government it deserves. Perhaps our governments without good and sound governance are a true reflection of the people who elect them. Are we Australians as self-interested as that?