The other day I had a shot at Steve Lewis of The Australian in
Crikey when I claimed that Tony Smith, Chairman of the Electoral
Committee, had put one over him. Now let me commend Lewis for his
latest article – “Reasons to tremble as Howard starts up the
(October 11).

In the article Lewis article rails against Howard, calling
him a control freak, and arguing:

Increasing the parliamentary term from three years to four makes sense
and is likely to have bipartisan support. But the other reforms put
forward – and which appear likely to be brought into law – should be
opposed. Closing the electoral roll at the time the election is called
(or when the writs are issued a day or two later) risks further
alienating large numbers of the populace from the political process.
Labor is right to argue that this reform would particularly affect the
poor, indigenous Australians and others less familiar with the
electoral process.

Likewise, there is no merit in the plan to lift the disclosure level for political donations from $1,500 to $10,000 . . .

Lewis then gives more detail. All of that is very sensible except for
the first sentence. Increasing the parliamentary term makes sense to
politicians because it
gives them more power. That is why it gets bipartisan support. It also
makes sense to the Business Council for a simple reason. Business
people have the politicians in their pockets. They do not have
ordinary voters in their pockets. Of course they want a “reform”
which increases the power of politicians and reduces the power of ordinary voters.

Fortunately for ordinary voters that particular change cannot be put
into effect without a referendum. Howard is the most cunning Prime
Minister we have ever had but even he knows that the Australian people
cannot be persuaded to overturn their past verdict on this, namely a
resounding NO.

I say NO NO NO NO – a thousand times NO.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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