07 August 2007

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A top letter to the ed in today's Sydney Morning Herald. Good stuff, Michael Leslie of Alstonville.

Secrecy and the deals done at the top are the biggest betrayals

Your editorial "An Australia more than just the sum of its parts" (August 4-5) makes much of the damage done to Australia by inefficient federal-state arrangements.

This is trivial compared to the change in both layers of government such that we are now ruled by elected dictatorships protected by secrecy imposed in the name of national security or, more banally, commercial-in-confidence arrangements with the rich and powerful.

Just reading the weekend paper we see the following examples: John Thorpe of the Australian Hotels Association is to visit every minister to prevent any competition to his grog and gambling palaces; Sydney is to be closed down and a ludicrous wall built to hold a conference which should be held in Canberra; the NSW Government is to sell off all Crown leases while hiding the environmental value of the land; and the bizarre case of the Tasmanian hospital takeover despite opposition from both doctors and economists.

What has happened is that parliaments have lost their sovereignty. They are now rubber stamps to an executive which operates in both state and federal spheres by transferring some public property or monopoly power to a private person or group in return for their political support. The winners don't complain and the losers either don't know they've lost anything because of the secrecy or are powerless to do anything about it.

At election time, the winners support the government and most doubters are convinced by sophisticated propaganda to vote against their own interests with the promise that they will personally benefit in some way. Both Liberal-National and Labor governments use the technique.

It's our own fault - a mixture of selfishness and gullibility has turned us into a scared, xenophobic country prepared to put up with the national security state as long as we can buy cheap electrical gadgets.

We put up with the destruction of the institutions that made Australia great: our public schools and hospitals and our telecommunication infrastructure are a shadow of the past, our public services are a mixture of propaganda offices and sales agencies. And for what benefit? The workers work ridiculous hours and neglect their children while the rich get richer.
This concentration of power in the executive is leading us to disaster.

Michael Leslie Alstonville

P2B=lazy but enthused

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