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Editorial - Greens power

THE situation occurring in the Western Australian parliament with the Greens (WA) decision, unusually backed by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in at least one instance, to oppose the Gallop Government over a number of issues shows how politics really works.

Under the Westminster system, a decision by the lower house, where the Government is formed from the majority of members, must be ratified by the upper house that might just have a different political complexion. That is the case both in WA and in Canberra, with minority parties holding the balance of power.

For those in power, it seems unfair that they can be held to ransom.

You can be sure that Geoff Gallop and his cabinet hate having to do deals with the Greens (WA) to get their legislation through.

We certainly know that John Howard and the Federal Government detest this speed hump on their roadmap for change in Australia, particularly because the hue of independents in the Federal Senate is markedly different from Liberal blue.

So you can understand why the Prime Minister, seven years in the job and playing the electorate like a musical instrument, believes his laws are what the public wants and changing the Senate structure is simply removing an obstacle to good government.

Well, I might agree with many of Mr Howard’s policies but I can’t agree with his moves to change our parliamentary system.

If it is a speed hump to good government, that is the price you pay for having a potential roadblock to bad government.

The Senate was designed as a house of review, not to impede Mr Howard but to stop the power of government being abused, as has happened in many democracies around the world. Australia might not have a history of dictators but perhaps that’s because our system won’t allow them the free hand they want.

In drawing up our constitution, our forebears considered this possibility. I am yet to be convinced that the system needs changing.

 

Migration and nation building

 

I WAS heartened to hear that increased migration rates for the next three years will help cushion an expected slowdown in the building industry.

Migration is an especially strong economic instrument in the hands of the Federal Government and should not be underestimated in its power to remove troughs in the cycle.

It exists because people want to move here and we should take advantage of it as a nation — for as long as it lasts.

Migration has the power to create a perpetual boom and, as I have argued previously, a significant intake of newcomers would beef up our population to a level where we could be more than just an island exporter — we could become a market in our own right.

That has a bunch of advantages. I know the doomsayers say it will be an ecological disaster or that our way of life would be destroyed but I argue differently.

Such an influx must be handled properly but more people makes systems such as public transport and energy/waste efficient suburbs more viable.

As for our lifestyle? There are plenty of places to escape to in WA if you don’t want to be part of the rat race.

Best employers

IT’S TIME for a couple of quick plugs. You might have noticed that we launched our Best Employers in WA survey — a search to find the companies in the State whose employees value working there the most.

At first glance, this is a tough ask for management.

After nomination, the process requires staff to get their hands dirty filling in an online form, and the bigger the firm the more responses are needed. However, it’s all a lot easier in practice.

Market Equity has designed a very simple survey that takes only a few minutes to complete and, because of the web-linked system, staff are guaranteed confidentiality.

For the company involved, the benefits are twofold. The winners are celebrated publicly while those that don’t make the grade remain unknown.

Participating companies will get confidential feedback from the survey to see how they performed against the benchmarks set by all involved, and those that don’t win can quietly review whether they need to change things in their business.

I certainly look forward to seeing the winners and what makes a Best Employer really tick.

Most influential

DON’T forget to look out for our Most Influential survey next week.

We had a secret panel of experts review our results from last year, bearing in mind the changes in circumstances.

It’s amazing what can happen in a year and you’ll be surprised about who’s in and who’s out.

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