29/04/2013 - 06:51

It is not all about centre stage

29/04/2013 - 06:51


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Australians wisely adopted a federation with restrictions on the central government, something Julia Gillard has worked hard to undermine.

It is not all about centre stage

On day one of last century, six British-founded Southern Hemisphere colonies that make-up Australia created a new federal government – deliberately, so a centralised old world-style nation could not emerge.

The overriding intention was for this government’s powers to be limited, which were listed in Section 51 of the Constitution.

That nation-building contract of association, negotiated by colonial politicians at several 1890s conventions was democratically legitimised by referendum.

What is also too often forgotten is that there were two overriding reasons for creating a federated nation; firstly, to ensure combined defence of the ‘realm’, Section 51 (vi), and, secondly, to standardise immigration administering, Section 51 (xxvii).

Other responsibilities such as communication, posts and telegraphs, quarantine, weights and measures, and the like, were included.

Interestingly, therefore, 112 years on Julia Gillard’s government has slashed defence outlays to 1938 levels – the eve of WWII – and lost control over who enters this country via her shambolic so-called asylum seeker policy.

Gillardism will, therefore, forever be judged as having failed dismally in both these paramount foundation areas.

Little wonder her party’s standing slumped again in Fairfax’s latest poll to below the 30 per cent approval rating.

That slump, it must be emphasised, has nothing to do with her being a woman, as she loves to contend.

Not only has she been dismally negligent in what her government should, first and foremost, be doing, but she persists in moving ever further into areas that in 1901 the newly formed national government was never assigned to undertake.

Consider just two – education and mining.

Both are indisputably state responsibilities, except that Canberra has, unfortunately, been allowed by state Labor and coalition governments to gain virtual monopoly control of the nation’s universities – something that should not have happened.

In part because of that creeping encroachment, Canberra’s bureaucrats and their political masters now believe they can re-run the same stealth-driven approach to acquire monopolistic sway over primary and secondary schooling.

That’s why the Gonski Report was commissioned.

Ms Gillard, who launched her political career while a student by heading up the Australian Union of Students, followed by becoming convenor of the Socialist Forum, wants state education to be increasingly controlled from Canberra.

And, like all ardent centralists, all she ever highlights when promoting this old-world obsession are the amounts of taxpayers’ dollars she is seeking to allocate.

Whether or not more federal money is spent will actually improve education is another matter.

Nor is it coincidental Ms Gillard has earmarked a whopping $5 billion for NSW (Sydney’s western suburbs no doubt), where Labor must retain so many threatened seats, and the least, $300 million, for big exporting Western Australia, where Labor has performed so unimpressively over several state and federal elections.

A key ingredient of her centralist mentality is favouring those viewed as needed and sidelining those out of favour.

Her approach to mining is simply a variation on the same theme.

Royalties from minerals mined are a state matter, except in the eyes of the ‘gang of four’ that was once headed by former prime minister Kevin Rudd with help from his centralist deputy, Ms Gillard.

But because Australia is temporarily experiencing boom times in minerals sales, Canberra’s sticky fingers began being massaged to snap up a larger slice of the returns presently going to investors who had outlaid billions, miners that had constructed costly mines, and state treasuries that constitutionally oversee these activities.

So for the gang of four this became a case of ‘to heck with previous constitutional practice, we’re going to get some of that mining money’.

Unfortunately for Mr Rudd, this sparked a groundswell of opposition from the mining states, big miners, investors and thousands of families whose members were benefiting from high salaries in this sector.

Bizarrely, this broad-based revolt against that money grab resulted in Ms Gillard and her now deputy, Treasurer Wayne Swan, arranging promotions for themselves by ousting Mr Rudd as prime minister.

And that unprecedented response, plus the dishonouring of her promise not to tax CO2, have dogged Ms Gillard ever since.

The hopefully short-lived Gillard era thus further wrong-footed itself by her kowtowing to the Greens on a tax on CO2.

Rather than providing less burdensome and costly governance, she is pressing ahead with boosting centralising Australia.

Ms Gillard is simply incapable of appreciating that Australia is a new-world polity, one whose people wisely embraced federalist principles of governance, not rule by a single all-powerful, all-seeing and all-knowing, jumbo-sized government in one faraway capital.



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