John Chan writes: Re. “Why Abbott can wreck with impunity” (yesterday, item 9). When I left the USA a few years ago, the political climate was becoming so toxic that the opposition Republicans essentially held the Democrat government hostage by using procedural tactics to prevent the government from performing even the most basic duties.
It was a great breath of fresh air when I moved to Australia for work and started following Australian politics. It seemed that the opposition was there to point out the flaws of the government, but fairly and with suggested alternatives. This appealed to me because the behaviour of a responsible opposition holding the government to account in turn strengthened democracy.
Now in the USA the Republicans political strategy is to oppose everything the government suggests, without exception. Even the most trivial procedures and minor duties are delayed or opposed by the Republican Party. Major policy initiatives once introduced or supported by Republicans are now opposed simply because the Democrat government supports them. This has made the country ungovernable. This behaviour is not about effective opposition. Its purpose is to destroy the government and through that, the country.
Sadly, this toxic political climate has begun to seep into Australia.
With the Coalition refusing to honour their agreement to pair the speaker, the tactic to delay even the most minor progress for the Government has begun. When opposition leader Tony Abbott introduced Malcolm Turnbull as his new Shadow Communications Minister his objective was simply to “demolish” the National Broadband Network.
This does not sound like an opposition interested in strengthening policies through discussion. It’s simply the Coalition opposing the government’s policy on principle. This feels all too familiar: it’s how the Republicans are stalling progress in America.
Governments should be held accountable to act in the best interests of the country, not simply to retain power. The power of opposition is an equally important function of democracy. If you squander that power and that opportunity, you are no better than a government that fails to act in the national interest.
Terry Towelling writes: Re. “The whys and wherefores of bureaucratic blogging” (yesterday, item 5). Grog of Grog’s Gamut advises other wannabe bloggers to avoid being outed by being ineffectual. With the experience of 20 years of mischievous and (as far as I know) successfully anonymous bucketing under my fading white Terry Towelling hat, I would humbly suggest the best way to remain anonymous is resist the temptation to play with fire and not to give away so many frickin clues about your identity!
I suspect that Mr Grog, like many other “anonymous” bloggers and muck-rakers, lives for the danger, the near-death experience, the thrill of being a “player”, the rush of seeing your words in print and of being in the game but not of the game — and ultimately never having to be held accountable in name and reputation.
Like the pyromaniac and the kleptomaniac before them, the personality type of the blogging danger-person is worthy of closer study. Enjoy the momentary frisson of notoriety, Mr Grog, but please, get back to working for my taxes as soon as possible.
Chris Johnson writes: It could be that James Massola’s article is more about personal retribution than public interest. Whether kudos for Gamut’s blogs got up his “professional” nose or he’s come off second best in Twitter exchange its more concerning that News Limited deems the “outing” as public interest. Or perhaps Massola really believes public servants can’t express an opinion in the minor commentariat albeit using an alias.
Should that be the case he’s blind to the DNA of his profession and our rights to free speech. Between them Massola and News Ltd have finally cemented the long and widely held views that both have an axe to grind and will use pay-back well beyond the politisphere.
James O’Neill writes: Crikey seems to be becoming more and more fixated with domestic trivia. Has it escaped your attention that in the past week Australia has quietly increased its commitment to Afghanistan, still with no parliamentary debate let alone (heaven forbid) some discussion on the original rationale for that illegal war.
In the same week the “non-combat” American troops in Iraq engaged in combat; Obama cancelled (for the third time) his proposed trip to Australia; the Chinese government announced a major fast train development; a US Court of Appeal upheld the government’s argument that to disclose reasons for targeting for assassination a US citizen not charged or indicted would reveal state secrets thereby removing the President from any form of legal accountability for unlawful acts, etc etc.
These developments are of more than passing relevance to Australia and one would have thought deserved at least some mention even if intelligent comment seems increasingly too much to hope for.