26/10/2011 - 10:21

Back to the future with focus on ‘regions’

26/10/2011 - 10:21


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A referendum question planned for the next federal poll could prove disastrous for Australia.

FOR those who have realised the government’s 18 CO2 taxing and policing bills will mean a massive boost for Canberra’s bureaucratic powers ... you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Moves are already afoot for Canberra to still further extend its bureaucratic and policing powers to every corner of the land.

The origin of this next crusade dates back nearly a century, preceding even the ‘building’ of Canberra.

In an interview conducted straight after the negotiations that created the Labor-Greens alliance now ruling Australia, Senator Bob Brown, said: “There will be a referendum in the next period of government to recognise indigenous people in our constitution.

“There will also be a referendum to recognise local and/or regional government in the constitution.” 

In other words, both those questions will be put to the vote when Australians next go to the polls, at election 2013.

Here, however, let’s only focus on the so-called recognition of “local and/or regional government in the constitution”.

Senator Brown continued: “We are innovators and we will put the sparkle into this next parliament, whoever is the next prime minister.”

Sorry senator, you’re kidding yourself again.

You and your myopic Greens comrades aren’t innovators, you’re old hat.

This idea has been around since the WWI years, when it was hatched by some early Labor luminaries to be a blueprint for abolishing Australia’s states. Go read a history book or two, senator, and you’ll discover that’s so.

‘Recognition’ is certainly a fine word. But when used by Greens it means greater ‘Canberra control’.

They, like many Laborites, detest seeing Australia being governed from many centres of power – six state parliaments.

What they want is for all power to be wielded by Canberra.

Their governance blueprint resembles that of Vladimir Lenin, who kept blabbering about ‘democratic centralism’ – control over everything from Moscow and the Politburo he headed.

It’s also like Adolf Hitler’s Gauleiter administration system, where Berlin nominated all those who’d be in charge of the Third Reich’s newly created Gaue (German for ‘regions’), which were created to replace Germany’s traditional states.

Perhaps Senator Brown should read Mein Kampf, especially Chapter 10, titled, ‘Federalism as a Mask’, in its Volume II, ‘The National Socialist Movement’.

He may learn something about the undesirability, indeed danger, of concentrating all power at a single centre, be it Moscow from the 1920s, Berlin from the 1930s or, for that matter, Canberra in the 2000s.

If he did that he’d promptly discover his band of Greens MPs aren’t innovators as he seems to believe. The Greens are copycats – and what they’re copying is far from what Australia needs. 

Back to post-WWI Labor, however.

Even before that war broke out, a conga line of early Labor luminaries began proselytising what they called ‘unification’, the then-fashionable term for centralisation of power via abolition of the states and their replacement by what were then called ‘provinces’.

Here’s what long-time hardline leftist, Maurice Blackburn, the man responsible for Labor’s socialisation platform, suggested should be added to Labor’s Fighting Platform.

“(a) Unification.

“(b) Reconstruction of Australian Government; centralisation of legislative power in the Commonwealth Parliament; devolution of local powers to Provincial Councils.”

That policy was in fact adopted by Labor and remained in its platform for decades; and Ms Gillard has ensured that commitment survives.

Today, Laborites and Greens no longer refer to provinces.

They instead promote creating ‘regions’, which they now say must be “recognised”, meaning we become ever-more controlled by Canberra.

Provinces or regions are exactly the same beast – centralism – under different names.

Labor in the 1920s even commissioned a cartographer to draw-up a map of Australia without states.

It showed Australia broken up into 31 provinces, with scrapped Western Australia becoming four provinces: Greater Perth, basically the Perth-Fremantle metropolitan area; another called Goldfields, which included the Nullarbor, the Kalgoorlie area and Central Desert; another called Dampier, which included the Pilbara and today’s Mid-West; and South-Western, which was basically today’s South West plus Wheatbelt.

The Kimberley was to be hived-off into the Northern Territory with Canberra controlling both as it did the NT from 1911 until self-government in 1978, implemented by the Fraser government.

Since Blackburn’s blueprint meant scrapping the states, what inevitably followed was abolition of the Senate, state governors, state education, police, health and all other departments.

Future recreated departments would be Canberra-directed entities with the provinces, now called regions, becoming administrative agencies resembling 19th century colonial entities but of a Canberra imperium, rather than London’s before self-government.

There would only have been a single chamber, the House of Representatives.

Throughout most of human history mankind has been under the thumb of single rulers – be they called chiefs, kings, czars, kaisers, shahs, chancellors, sheikhs, emperors, dictators, commissars or presidents – who were all-powerful and generally tyrants, like Hitler, Mao and Lenin, to name just three.

It’s only since the late 18th century, with the emergence of the US and Switzerland – both federations and models for Australia’s founding fathers – that central or concentrated governance began being diffused to many centres.

This, understandably, prompted the great English historian Lord Acton to say the most congenial societies were those where power isn’t concentrated in a few hands.

Former premier Richard Court rightly reiterated this crucially important verity during his 2008 Vista 8 Lecture: ‘It is critical that no one level of government within our federation has too much power’. 

In fact, Canberra, its politicians, and bureaucrats, already have too much power in far too many areas.

Rather than handing across more, we should be moving towards reducing Canberra’s hold over so many spheres.

Australia’s federal or central government was created in 1901 to administer a specified number of responsibilities including, primarily, defence, immigration, communications and broad economic oversight.

Instead of Canberra grasping for ever-more power, as Senator Brown’s Greens desire, the movement should be devolution towards state governments, so the citizens of each devise their own unique ways of administrating themselves.

A single power centre – an imperial Canberra – is most undesirable, as history has repeatedly shown.

Senator Brown and his Canberra Greens cohort fool no-one by doing a deal with Ms Gillard to paving the way for a referendum that will allegedly only “recognise local and/or regional government in the constitution”. 

The fact is, the deal between long-time leader of Labor’s leftist faction, Ms Gillard, and the leftist Greens involved two like-minded centralists reviving Labor’s failed Maurice Blackburn blueprint to ensure 1920s European-style centralism is realised here.    

The Curtin government of the 1940s tried and failed. The Whitlam government of the 1970s did likewise.

But here we go again, another move to revive something from the 1920s that its proponents see as innovative.

Except this time the stale vinegar being served-up by the Gillard-Brown duo as new fine wine is that regionalism is to be constitutionally enshrined, meaning greater power for distant Canberra, possibly forever.


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